Image: Hugh Threlfall
May 07 2011
This is the first fun-size serious hi-fi system from British superbrand Meridian. Those squat speakers you see are barely more than a foot high. But they, and the whole system, are whatever the audio equivalent of spectacular is – audacular, we’ll call it. This is really special if you want audiophile sound without turning your room into a hi-fi shrine. Being Meridian, the speakers don’t only pump out sound; they amplify it, too. Meridian’s big thing is installing amplifiers in the speaker cabinets. It means, for one, that you don’t need fancy, thick speaker cables – just computer networking cable.
While the DSP3200 speakers (which are miniature versions of Meridian’s flagship DSP8000s) do more than you’d think, the small box you also see isn’t quite what you think it is. You might assume it’s an amp with a slot for CDs; it’s actually what Meridian calls an audio controller. It doesn’t do amplification, which is fine because the speakers do, but it isn’t a music source either, so the system as you see it isn’t all you’ll need. Meridian rather hopes you’ll use its Sooloos multiroom everything system (which I reviewed in December 2009) as the audio source and it would, indeed, be spiffing. But so is an iPod (via Meridian’s own special i80 Dock for iPod) or any other classy streamer, such as the superb Micromega AirStream WM-10 I showed you last September.
You really need to hear this system in action. There’s something almost freakish about the solidity and precision of the sound coming from these dwarfish bruisers of loudspeakers. It’s like seeing a little guy lifting a car and smiling and singing Nessun Dorma as he does it. The DSP3200s are the best small speakers I’ve heard by a mile. I don’t want to sound too pretentious here, and I’m not sufficient of an audio buff to describe what is so good about them. I learnt once that the best coffee tastes nothing more or less than coffee-flavoured and with these, the sound is just extraordinarily… realistic.
Beware of one thing: this stuff is so good it can make some older recordings sound a bit, well, bad.