There is always a danger in talking about a “revolution” in high-end audio. I’m sitting near my turntable as I write this, and listening to an LP dating back to the 1960s. I’m also listening through a classic tube amp and preamp I have in for review, and through a Quad 2905 electrostatic speaker. This is roughly the same basic mix of recording and playback technology I had in my first real high-end system back in the 1960s. At the same time, various “revolutionary” speaker, amplifier, and tape technologies are long dead, my collection of DVD-As gathers dust, and I find it hard to believe that SACD will survive when some of the best recording companies now make their material available as high-resolution downloads on HDTracks.com.
And yet, I still believe we already are in a true audio revolution. I’ve been using my computer and a DAC to store some of my music, and downloading from the Internet instead of buying individual CDs, for more than a year. The only things that stopped me from storing my CDs were my uncertainty over which digital-music-storage systems would emerge as lasting standards and the constant ergonomic and sound quality problems that emerged in using computer-management systems like iTunes, and in relying on the digital output from the sound cards I tried in an older computers.
Times changed the moment I got the new Control 10 version of the Sooloos 2.1! It took me all of four days with the Sooloos to convince me to buy it! For the first time, I found an audio server that had equal or better sound quality than a reference-quality CD transport, as well as an audio server that did virtually everything I wanted in terms of storing and handling several thousand CDs and downloads. The Sooloos software was substantially more convenient to use than the computer systems I’d explored to date. It had truly advanced search features to handle a collection of virtually any size. It allowed me to make quick changes in music labeling and indexing that suited my taste. It could search out even the most esoteric classical and jazz recordings and tracks, and it allowed me to set up comparisons of given performances and composers in seconds.
I now store all my CDs on the Sooloos. I can no longer see any reason to stick with an aged digital storage format like CD that requires a demanding and vulnerable storage medium for each recording.
Enter the Sooloos Control 10: The Case for a Gold Standard
Yes, there are cheaper ways to do some of this than the Sooloos. The new Control 10 version of Sooloos is a luxury product designed for serious audiophiles, music lovers, and music students. It does have a perfectly good analog output, and can be used to drive a perfectly credible high-end system at the quality of say a $1000–$1500 DAC or CD player. The Control 10, however, is designed to take full advantage of home-computer networks as well as the superior sound quality of state-of-the-art DACs or CD players with advanced DAC features. It also is designed to interface directly with Meridian’s new 808.3 Signature Reference CD Player.
I found the investment in the Sooloos to be well worth its cost. The upgrades to the Sooloos have made it today’s state of the art in user-friendly features, and a tool that quickly transformed my musical listening experience. The touchscreen and software of the Sooloos make operating it a source of pleasure rather than frustration, and I do not say this casually. I have no patience with any piece of electronics that is not reliable and easy to operate. I want something that looks good, that I can live with in a normal room, and that my family and guests can use and enjoy just much as I do.
At the same time, the Sooloos does have separate control, configuration, and set-up software for use with PCs and Apple computers. This makes downloading off the Internet a snap, and it allows you to use your computer for more complex operation of the Sooloos and management of your collection. This interface is still evolving and is far from as easy and intuitive to use as the touchscreen interface on the Control 10, but it also adds a substantial layer of sophistication. It will be particularly useful to serious music collectors, students, audiophiles who are managing large collections of recordings and switching from discs to downloads.
The Sooloos 2.2 system can also be integrated with a Crestron control system, and you can link it to the Rhapsody Internet music service. Rhapsody gives you access to an immense range of popular music with at least mid-fi quality, although not the kind of sound quality that will suit truly demanding music lovers.
The Components That Make Up the Sooloos Control 10
The full physical description and operating details of the Sooloos are available on the Meridian Web site at meridian-audio.com/sooloos. The key points for the high-end audiophile are that Sooloos is physically convenient as well as user-friendly. The Sooloos can be used in a range of different configurations, but for most high-end users, it is a relatively compact control unit—called the Control 10—with a large touchscreen display that conceals its core electronics and connections in its base. Aside from the touchscreen of the Control 10—which allows you to perform just about every sort, selection, and control option imaginable—the only other operating feature in the control unit is a slot for loading CDs. This does place some limits on the unit. It will load the CD track from SACDs. It will not accept DVDs, although this is not much of a loss given the death of DVD-As and other DVD-based music formats, which cannot be downloaded for storage in digital format in any case. (You can load home or professional digital DVDs that are not tied to “secure” storage systems like DVD-A and SACD using your computer, as well as load down-loaded CDs and high-resolution material up to 96kHz/24 bits).
The back of this control unit has a variety of sockets that allow it to be used to control Meridian-powered speakers and interface with an entire Meridian system, as well as RCA jacks for the analog output that comes from a built-in DAC which offers perfectly acceptable sound quality by ordinary high-end standards, but not state-of-the-art performance. (I do have a hope that Meridian will provide a “Control 20” with a built-in DAC more equivalent to a more affordable G08.2, but that so far is only a reviewer hope.)
If you do not use these features, the Control 10 requires only two connections: a standard Ethernet connection to your home-computer network and an RCA digital output to a top-quality DAC or CD player with DAC input features. (There is no optical or TosLink connector, and a DAC that only has AES inputs will require an RCA jack adapter—such adapters are lossless and do not present the problems you have in using similar devices with audio connectors.)
The control unit is relatively compact and only needs a limited number of cables to connect to your system. This, along with the ability to store the drives in a remote location, means that the touchscreen can be placed directly at your listening position. I suspect, however, that most audiophiles will opt for the Meridian software that allows you to load roughly the same remote-control features into your iPhone, wireless iPod, or iPad. If you are computer-smart, you can then use this same device to access the Internet while you listen and get independent data on the performer, the composer, the nature of venue or hall, and sometimes on the specific performance or recording.
Another unit—called the Twin Store—stores the music. It is a compact box with a hard drive and a mirror-image back-up to guard against drive failure and the loss of your music. The Twin Store is dead quiet in operation, but it also connects directly to your computer network rather than to the control unit. This means the Twin Store can be placed near the router that your Internet company provides, or anywhere else with a network connection. It is nicely styled unit, but it does not have to take up part of a shelf in your audio system or be visible in any way.
My Twin Store was supplied with 1TB drives, which can hold well over 2000 normal CDs in the FLAC lossless formats. (Meridian is conservative in providing 1TB capacity because there were earlier reliability problems with the newer 2TB drives, but does now make 2TB drives an option.) In any case, I suspect 1TB will be adequate for most audiophiles, but I have a very large collection of music and swapped the original 1TB drives for a matching pair of Western WD Caviar Green 2TB drives ($200 to $300 for a pair on Amazon). This allowed me to store well over 3000 CDs in one Twin Store and a large collection of downloaded "high-res" material. As far as I know, there is no limit to the amount of drive capacity you can add.
Using the Sooloos in a High-End System
The Sooloos is also far more than sexy equipment with a pretty face. When I say the Sooloos is fun to operate and easy to learn, and allows you to concentrate on your music, I mean it! The large touchscreen data-and-cover-art display and touchscreen keyboard features on the control unit of the Sooloos make operating it extraordinarily easy, and the ergonomics of most operations are so well designed that they are nearly intuitive. Its touchscreen features are a real pleasure to use, and its large screen and touch-the-cover-to-play features engage non-audiophiles in ways no other piece of high-end gear I know of yet approaches.
Most importantly, even an hour with the Sooloos will quickly show you why audio servers are far more than toys and status symbols. You gain a whole new level of access to your music. With a device like Sooloos—one with fully integrated software and a large display that have exceptional search and sort features—you can easily compare performances of the same movement, song, or entire recording by different performers. You can program your recordings to hear how a given artist has performed the same work over time or how a given composer matured. You can create “play lists” of favorite recordings and of music suited to given moods, and select the few tracks you really want to hear from the vast number of one or two song albums that are mostly boring filler.
You can instantly search through several thousand CDs and other digital recordings to find the smaller classical pieces that are often buried in major, well-known works by equally well-known composers. You can use the “search,” and “swim” features to explore the history of jazz, rock, or any other form of music. You can make musical sense out of the various “collections” recordings that focus on a given performer and whose musical content mixes different composers in an almost arbitrary fashion.
These are not luxury features in truly enjoying a serious collection of music. You soon find that they make your music far more accessible. You also find they soon lead you into areas of exploration—and study of your music—that has never before been possible.
Burying CD in Unhallowed Ground
Storing a CD on the Sooloos and especially downloading digital music offer serious sonic advantages as well as convenience. Once a CD is stored, you don’t need to worry about scratches or damage, and it may well sound better. The new Control 10 version of Sooloos has an improved digital output with minimal jitter. As is discussed later in this review, virtually all jitter will be eliminated if you use the Sooloos with the Meridian 808.3 that has a special interface card to eliminate any residual clocking problems.
The Sooloos, however, is scarcely tied to one CD player/DAC. The Control 10’s digital output worked superbly with the Meitner XDS1, Boulder 1021, and PS Audio Perfect Wave combination (all use different mixes of technology to minimize or eliminate jitter). As for more affordable CD players, I did not hear any of the problems I associate with audible forms of jitter. Other aspects of their sound character—primarily that of their sampling methods, filters, and analog sections—clearly dominated the sound quality. I also can say that you are safe in going from CD to lossless FLAC or AIFF compression for both storing your CDs as well as downloaded material.
Trusting the Sooloos Approach to Lossless Compression
I have become a full believer in lossless compression for best sound quality as well as convenience. Meridian’s Bob Stuart has led much of the design effort in lossless compression that is now used in the Sooloos 2.1 system and Control 10, and some of the key white papers involved are available on the Meridian Web site (meridian-audio.com/support/white-papers.aspx). Bob, however, is scarcely the only expert who has this view. I checked with several other top high-end digital designers and recording companies and they all agreed that storing music in FLAC or AIFF really is lossless in terms of sound quality. [This parallels my experience with lossless compression. —RH]
This also is a case where theory is supported by a good pair of ears. I compared the original CD with compressed FLAC and uncompressed WAV material on the Sooloos using the Meridian 808.3, the PS Audio Perfect Wave transport and DAC, the Boulder 1021, and Meitner XDS1. I not only compared a wide range of CD and 44.1kHz/16-bit downloads in FLAC and uncompressed audio, I did A-B listening tests comparing the same high-resolution material taken off HDTracks.com.
You do not lose anything in terms of bass, upper octave data, dynamics, air, and soundstage. If you make sure you compare the performance as played back from the Sooloos with the original CD played back though some of the world’s best player/DACs at exactly the same levels, they sound the exactly same. This not only means the Sooloos is a true high-end sound source, it also means that you can use forms of lossless compression that are more convenient than WAV, and reliably transfer the metadata that identifies an album, and ensures the tracks are in the proper order. This makes getting the cover art and performance data easy, and makes it easier to move musical data from hard drive to hard drive. Once again, let me emphasize that this is not a minor issue with large collection.
As for putting your music on the Sooloos, you can have your dealer arrange to store your CDs on the Twin Store in FLAC form. This, I can assure you, is not a minor chore with several thousand CDs, and is not fun with any serious collection. Your dealer will need to charge a fee, but man will it make life easier!
As for downloads, I also found the sound to be the same when I compared a download going directly into a DAC, and one stored and played back through the Sooloos. In fact, the sound quality of a download was sometimes better than from the same performance on the CD. Downloading high-quality material can eliminate the jitter and electro-mechanical interface problems in a regular CD or DV. It also reduces or eliminates the jitter problems in high-resolution DVDs—problems that can be far more serious that the jitter in CDs.
I also found that there is no reason not to use lossless compression for recordings to at least 96kHz/24-bit resolution. This saves large amounts of disk space, and if a serious shift occurs to “high-res” digital, this will become steadily more important. Knowing audiophiles, I’m sure there will be many who disagree, and I should hasten to admit that no one listener or listening panel can hope to be authoritative. Nevertheless my listening comparisons of downloads of recordings of 96kHz/24-bit FLAC material from HDTracks.com proved to sound just as good as the same recording on uncompressed 96kHz/24-bit DVDs and on SACDs.
This is not a minor issue. If you download your new music from a top company like HDTracks, you can bypass a now-obsolete 44.1kHz/16- bit format, a dead DVD-A format, special DVD formats that only work with older home-theater equipment, and a slowly dying SACD format. The Sooloos will store WAV, FLAC, AIFF, and all the normal formats up to 96kHz/24-bits through downloads to your computer.
I should stress, however, that the sonic benefits of higher sampling rates are recording specific. Just as many DVD-As and SACDs were not better than their CD equivalent, so are all too many “high-res” downloads. Downloads of 88/24 and 96/24 sampling rates should sound significantly better that 44.1/16, but everything depends on the overall quality of the recording. [Some “high-res” downloads from the less reputable sites are merely standard-resolution files upconverted that sound no better than CD.—RH] Don’t discount the value of your existing CDs—or the need for a very high quality CD playback capability—simply because better technology is now available. Good CDs are good CDs; higher sampling and bit rates simply make a good thing better.
That said, don’t pass up the opportunity to listen for yourself. HDTracks is easy to use, and you can be certain that if you compare a Chesky or Reference Recordings download of 96/24 material, or most Pentone 88/24 material, the sound quality will be significantly better than the CD version and at least as good as the SACD version, if not better. Some SACDs seem significantly less musical in the highs than their high-resolution 88/24 or 96/24 download equivalent, and all sound as good through the Sooloos as directly through a DAC.
You will find it particularly interesting to compare the download of a really good Chesky recording like Area 31 or Rebecca Pigeon’s Four Marys with the CD and SACD version. The same is true of the Keith Johnson’s recording of Eiji Oue and the Minnesota Orchestra’s Exotic Dances from the Opera, or Michael Stern and the Kansas City Symphony playing Britten’s Symphony on Reference Recordings. You may never be able to go back to buying CDs.
I can’t give you equal assurances about listening comparisons between 176kHz/24-bit and 192kHz/24-bit recordings with 96kHz/24-bit FLAC or uncompressed recordings. I was initially prepared to more or less dismiss the value of the higher sampling rates until I listened to a range of 176kHz/24-bit recordings from Reference Recordings and 192kHz/24-bit recordings from Chesky. I could not make comparisons direct enough to be sure how these recordings compare to their 96/24 equivalent. I have far too little material to be certain and it is far from clear that today’s recording and playback equipment is really capable of showing what going up to 192kHz/24-bit or higher frequency and bit rates can do. I can say the Chesky and Reference Recordings versions of such recordings really are superb, and getting a few are almost “must” experiments if your player or system can use such discs and drive a true high-end system with them.
At the same time, these are discs and not downloads, and going to 176kHz/24-bit and 192kHz/24-bit recordings will eat up a tremendous amount of hard-drive capacity if they become more than a select demonstration of a few examples of the absolute state of the art. One such disc can take up to 4.7 gigabites. I don’t find the 96kHz/24-bit limit of the Sooloos to be important relative to all of its other merits, and the uncertainty as to when or whether higher resolution material will become broadly available.
Summing Up the Sooloos
Don’t get me wrong. Sooloos is not the only revolution in music servers. There are a steadily growing number of competing servers at a range of different prices. The Sooloos does, however, demonstrate today’s state of the art in the form of a truly user-friendly server can replace your existing CD collection with a far better way of managing your music, allow you to use downloads of regular or high-resolution music to make your future (non-LP) music purchases, and, above all, allow you to change the way in which you listen so you can get far more pleasure out of your collection of recordings.
Moreover, I feel the Sooloos, and other audio servers are already leading to other kinds of revolutions. One is redefining what you should buy in a digital front end. More and more high-end manufacturers now focus at least as much on DACs, or the digital input capabilities of their CD players, as they do on the ability to play CDs, SACDs, and DVDs. They can see the future as well or better than I can. In fact, I would now avoid buying a state-of-the-art CD player—or even one costing more than a few hundred dollars—that does not have digital inputs and cannot be used as a DAC with an audio server. A CD player that lacks such features is already obsolete. In a year or so, even the best sounding and most expensive CD players without a digital input are likely to be little more than yesterday’s rubbish.
Another revolution is taking place in storage space, and the physical size of serious music collections. You can get an amazing number of recordings on a 1TB or 2TB hard drive, and download services offer inexpensive access to both a far larger range of music and much of musical history. I was able to store well over 3000 CDs on my Sooloos, and could still easily control the entire collection. I also was able to eliminate two walls’ worth of CDs in the process, potentially freeing space up for more LPs. Given today’s costs for space, the frequency with which we move, and the pleasure that visual art offers in contrast to large numbers of CDs, these are not minor issues. For that matter, neither is the ability to use Sooloos to easily load your iPod or equivalent with any part of your entire collection.
Enter the 808.3 Signature Reference CD Player/DAC
I almost feel guilty in taking so long to get to another superb piece of equipment that made the sound quality of the Sooloos so exceptional. The Meridian 808.3 Signature Reference CD player is designed to be the natural partner of the Sooloos as well as another step forward in state-of-the-art CD player/DACs from the firm that arguably pioneered the first real high-end CD player in 1984, the MCD. The fact is, however, that the odd volcano in Iceland delayed its arrival for several weeks, and I did most of the Sooloos review with other CD player/DACs.
At the same time, I did have enough listening experience with the 808.3 to be certain that it is one of the finest pieces of high-end equipment that I have yet encountered. It also is designed get the best possible sound quality out of the Sooloos. The 808.3 includes an ID40 Sooloos Card with sockets that allow it to be connected to the Sooloos Digital Media System through a standard Ethernet connection to your home computer network. Once connected, the ID40 card appears as a zone within the Sooloos system and renders audio for playback through any of the 808.3’s outputs. The ID40 signal is upsampled via the apodising filter, and the internal Sooloos card runs at the stored resolution in the server, which also decodes the files, so anything Sooloos can play back appears in ID40 (WAV, FLAC, ALAC, MP3, AAC). Meridian says that this ID40 card in the 808.3 operates with Sooloos in a way that results in the lowest possible clock jitter.
As for features, the 808.3 is also a DAC, and a preamp with a wide range of both analog and digital inputs. In fact, I would not call the 808.3 a mere CD player. It has six unbalanced coax line level analog inputs, three S/PDIF coax digital inputs, and two TosLink optical digital inputs. It has a jack for input through the Meridian Sooloos digital media system connectivity via an RJ45 Ethernet connection. Its analog outputs include on unbalanced pair of phono outputs, and one balanced pair of XLR connections. It also has a Meridian SpeakerLink digital interface for single-cable connection of other Meridian equipment. These features are combined with source switching, volume control, and balance control capabilities, which mean the 808.3 can serve a high-performance pre-amplifier for virtually any source in a high-end system.
And yes, the 808.3 is a truly excellent a CD player and involves a range of new technologies. It has a new internal CD-ROM-based drive, which Meridian says has “data recovery and error correction that are many times better than that employed in standard CD systems.” It has new master clock and timing circuitry to minimize jitter for improved sound source localization, clarity, and imaging. It also uses a proprietary “apodising” digital upsampling filter system Meridian has developed to add, “a new accuracy and clarity to CD replay—even correcting digital faults in the original recording, and helping to make CDs played on the 808.3 sound like high-resolution recordings.”
It also can be used with “high-res” recordings, although not in the 176/24 or 192/24 formats. The digital inputs (S/PDIF or SpeakerLink inputs) take in PCM. Sample rates supported are up to 96/24 and, 88.2/24. Analog inputs are sampled at 96/24. The 808.3 has a display that shows the incoming (original) sample rate. Lower rates (44.1/48) are automatically upsampled in the 808.3 to give its digital outputs at either 88.2/24 or 96/24 using Meridian's proprietary apodising process. This is an important part of its sound quality. Moreover, all inputs are upsampled using a parallel apodising process so that the internal DACs (analog out) run at either 176.4/24 or 192/24.
Bob Stuart of Meridian summarizes these features as follows:
The 808.3 has several important improvements in the electronic
hardware. The analogue and digital inputs and outputs and clock
systems are re-crafted in this version. We made targeted improvements
in the clock structure of the product and the net result is reduced
jitter both on the output and at intermediate stages. Both CD and
Sooloos are played back under the control of this new regime and the
result, in our opinion, is another big step forward in openness,
transparency, sound stage and low-frequency definition.
The end result is a true contender for “world’s best” if you have a large CD collection and really want the best possible CD sound. Moreover, this applies to all CDs and not simply to the best recordings. I have early release CDs that I was given before the first CDs were put on sale in October 1982. I have acquired nearly 30 years of commercial CDs since those first samples. I also have CDs made in small batches and sold almost at street level that include live performances by local U.S. and European jazz and classical music groups, as well as other live material.
The Meridian 808.3 and my other three players all revealed that the material on these CDs—for all their different flaws and ages—can sound better than state-of-the-art equipment revealed in the past. At the same time, the 808.3 and the other players showed the advantages of higher sampling rates. When I used them as DACs, they showed that the problems in digital sound quality largely disappear in high-quality recordings made at 88.2kHz/24-bit and 96kHz/24-bit sampling rates. They all showed that downloading through a good Internet provider and home network can eliminate the need for CDs, SACDs, or DVDs.
Where the Meridian really shines, however, is in its ability to get truly musical detail and dynamics out of “ordinary” CDs, as well as something approaching the ultimate in sound quality out of the best CDs. This comes through both in its role as a CD player and with the Sooloos. While I have not yet had time to make comparisons with other top players in the depth I’d like—and I should stress that some are direct competitors in sound quality, albeit with a different mix of nuances and strengths and weaknesses—I can say that I have never heard a clearer, more accurate, musically relevant mix of upper midrange and treble detail. Moreover the only contender that I have heard to date in terms of lower midrange and bass energy, detail, and dynamics is the Meitner XDS1. This is an area where far too many of even the best CD players and DACs fall slightly to seriously short. Far too many seem to focus on getting the upper octaves right, or seem to make their analog stages slightly warm and colored rather than accurate.
In talking to Bob Stuart about this, he explained that,
Apodising filtering (which is a technique that Meridian developed) is refined beyond that given when we published in the AES Journal. The key goals in 808's filters are: minimum phase (no pre-ringing); ultra-smooth response and a carefully optimized 'apodising' null which is intended to remove any pre-ringing introduced earlier in the chain.
This last point means that, in practice, the 808 will take you back to the mixing desk and even to the analog-to-digital converter (ADC). Especially in early recording equipment the high-frequency behavior of the ADC filters left a lot to be desired and this defect is ameliorated—hence bringing older recordings to life. The goal here was definitely to recognize the huge catalogue of music on CD and extract the very best from it. Finally, the apodising filters, despite the science, were hand tuned by careful listening. Not all apodising filters are born equal!
The Meridian’s excellence came through with a wide range of recorded material, including all of the references I cited earlier. I found the 808.3 consistently took the “digital” out of most CDs, and revealed the strengths or weaknesses in the recording with both accuracy and the kind of balance that did not emphasize “information” or “detail” over musical realism. It provided effortless handling of even the most demanding dynamic and deep bass material of the kind on the Reference Recordings Crown Imperial mix of organ, wind, and percussion instruments.
At the same time, the 808.3 did as much as any CD player ever had to salvage “difficult” or “problem” CDs. Gluck’s Orfeo and Euridice is not to everyone’s taste, and my Allegro OPD-1241 recording is more a sign of a commitment to the music than any effort at the state of the art in sound quality. The 808.3 got more detail and realistic nuance out of this recording, however, than I previously had believed possible.
The same was true of a cleaner, but equally esoteric recording of voice and period instruments in the Newport Classic recording of Handel’s Acis and Galatea [NCD 60045/1]. This is not an “audiophile” recording, but it is still a truly demanding in terms of recovering all of its voice detail, sound stage, and character of instruments. And yes, for less esoteric music lovers, it did one hell of a job in reproducing the various Blue Note jazz recordings made over the years, showing what different levels of mastering and production value can do to the sound.
Other players have additional features and different strengths, but the 808.3 really deserves the name “Signature Reference.” It also is a truly outstanding partner to the Sooloos. You not only get all of the best sound qualities out of the CD drive in the 808.3, but also out of any CD or “high-res” material you have stored on Sooloos. Given the cost of both units, this combination will be dream most audiophiles can at best hear at a show or a dealer. For the lucky few, the Sooloos and 808.3 combination is a top contender for the best digital sound around, and one that gives a CD collection a whole new musical life.
SPECS & PRICING
Meridian Sooloos 2.1, Control 10 Music Server
Touchscreen panel size: 17** diagonal, 1280x1024 pixels
Network connections: 1 Ethernet (RJ-45) or Neutrik EtherCon
Audio connections: 1 SPDIF coaxial output on RCA jack, 1 Meridian SpeakerLink
Control connections: Meridian Comms, RS232
Disc drive: CD drive for importing CDs
Dimensions: 18** x 13.6** x 7.3**
Weight: 23.6 lbs
Price: $5500 for C-10 and $3000 for Twin Store with 1TB drives
Meridian 808.3 CD Player/DAC
Outputs: Balanced on XLR jacks, unbalanced on RCA jacks (user-selectable fixed or variable output level); twin RJ-45 jacks (AES/EBU format); SpeakerLink interface
Analog inputs: Six unbalanced on RCA jacks
Digital inputs: Five SPDIF (three coaxial, two TosLink), ID40 Sooloos card, Meridian interconnectivity via RJ-45 Ethernet
Control connections: Two 5-pin DIN sockets for Meridian Comms, RS232, three programmable 12V trigger, RJ-45 SpeakerLink
Dimensions: 18.9** x 16.9** x 16.2**
Meridian America Inc.
8055 Troon Circle, Suite C
Austell, GA 30168
Reviewer Reference Stereo Systems
Dynavector 20X, Sumiko Celebration, and Koetsu Onyx Cartridges
VPI TNT HRX rim drive turntable and JMW 12.7 tone arm
Tact 2.2X digital preamp-room correction- equalizer-D/A converter
EMM Labs SACD/CD player
PS Audio Perfectwave transport and DAC
Pass XP-15 phono preamp
Pass XP20 stereo preamp
Quad 99 stereo preamp
Pass XA160.5 power amplifiers
Quad 909 power amplifier
Vandersteen 5A speakers
Quad 2905 Speakers
Modified McIntosh G5 and Ipod remote control acting as music server for Tact
Audioquest Niagara and K2 cables, Kimber Select, Transparent Audio Reference XL, and Wireworld Super Eclipse and Eclipse interconnects and digital cables