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Day 4 - Page 1

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The prime Meridian

Meridian is at the forefront of digital technology, and their algorithm for Meridian Lossless Packing has been integrated into the DVD-Audio standard. Bob Stuart gave a course at CEDIA on the basics of digital audio.

Meridian displayed their Digital Theatre technology, utilizing their best gear.  This includes the unique Digital  Loudspeaker line, which takes a digital output (PCM encoded) from the Surround Processor, performs DSP functions on the PCM data to correct for speaker placement in relation to room boundaries, separates the signals out for each driver with a digital crossover, performs the D/A conversion for each driver, and finally amplifies the  analog output at each driver.  While expensive, the Digital Loudspeakers also include amplifiers, so there is a cost savings involved when using the speakers.  It is my opinion that Meridian's use of a digital signal chain out to the loudspeaker represents the future of audio reproduction. 

For this show, the Digital Theatre consisted of the Model 861 Reference Surround Processor, the Model 800 Reference DVD transport system, the Model 8000 Digital Loudspeakers (US$45,000/pair) acting as Front Left, Center, and Right, Model 5500 Digital Loudspeakers (US$12500/pair) as side surrounds, and Model 6000 Digital Loudspeakers (US$19,995/pair) as rear surrounds.  No subwoofer was in use, and none was needed.

Rather than waste space trying to describe the sonics of this system, I'll only say it's the finest music and movie reproduction I've yet had the opportunity to hear.  If you have a Meridian dealer in your area, go there to hear this system demonstrated.  It is a reference by which other systems should be measured and compared.

The Digital Loudspeakers are available in custom finishes, and Meridian had a pair of Model 8000s in Ferrari Red on display at their booth.  Pictured below are a front and rear view of the Model 8000s.

Meridian 8000 Digital Loudspeaker front view Meridian Model 8000 Digital Loudspeaker - Rear view

Also at CEDIA 2000 was the new Meridian Model 596 DVD-Video player.  The player has digital outputs available for AC-3 (Dolby Digital), DTS, and 24bit/96KHz bitstreams.  The internal DACs are capable of decoding up to a 24bit/192KHz PCM signal, indicating a future upgrade to stereo DVD-Audio.

Meridian 596 DVD-Video player

A future model, the 598, will be DVD-Video and Multi-Channel DVD-Audio capable.  No release date was given.

Thiel gives the lowdown on subwoofer offering.

Thiel presented a late prototype of their upcoming SW-1 subwoofer and SmartSub crossover.  Release of these two products was given as late 2000 or early 2001.   The SW-1 utilizes two 10" woofers built by Thiel with their usual attention to detail, including minimization of as much driver distortion as possible.  Other unique features include controls to adjust equalization for room boundaries to side and rear wall, a 600watt Pulse Width Modulation amplifier which is 92% efficient.  The SW-1 can be used as a dedicated LFE channel with existing Home Theater systems, or it can be used to augment existing speakers' low bass output.   The SW-1 can output 105 dB at 20 Hz.  Below are shots of the SW-1 cabinet in amberwood, and the back panel that has the controls for the subwoofer.

The SmartSub crossover is a highly flexible active crossover unit, which can correct for any number of configurations, including augmenting a main speakers bass in the lowest octave.  It can provide augmentation for either ported or sealed mains, with configurable crossover slope, and crossover frequency.  There are many other features to this intelligent crossover, which will be covered at some time in the future.  Below is a picture of the SmartSub crossover with the cover removed to display the construction.

Camelot shows analog and digital wares.

Camelot Technology displayed their line of predominantly digital products.  Vinyl lovers take heart, Camelot now has the Lancelot Phono Stage, which utilizes a DC battery to keep AC noise completely out of the circuit.  The Lancelot phono stage (US$995)  has separate inputs for MM and MC cartridges, and dual mono construction.  The price also includes the Charm II DC battery that can power the Lancelot and one other DC power based device from the Camelot product line.  The Lancelot is centered in the picture, with the Charm II power supply to the right.  The Dragon 5.1 de-jitter filter is on the left side of the picture.

Also on display was the Round Table DVD player (US$3,495).  This player has a sizable list of features including progressive scan output with the DVDO chipset, a powered S-Video output that allows an S-Video cable run to reach 150', HDCD decoding capability, and Burr-Brown 24bit/96Khz DACs in the analog stage.  

How to add a channel a la carte

What happens when you go to a 6.1 surround environment, but only have a 5 channel amplifier?  The most cost effective solution is to add a monoblock amp to the system.  Most monoblocks are expensive propositions, but the folks at Sherbourn have introduced their M300 monoblock.  This monoblock is the same as a single module in their popular model 5/1500 amplifier -- with its own chassis.   Also included in the price is a balanced input.  It is under US$500.

A picture of the back of the chassis is below.

Sensory (Science) Overload

Sensory Science now owns California Audio Labs.  Displayed at CEDIA were Sensory's CaL line of home theater components.  These are CAL's assault on the home theater state of the art.  Clean aesthetics and robust build are in evidence in all products of the lineup.  There are four products in the CL 2500 series.

The CL-2500 DVD (US$2,500) includes sampling rate conversion, a proprietary CALNET serial connection, which allows these components to function intelligently, the ability to play computer CD-ROMs with MP3 files, and flash memory updates via CD-R that can be performed in the field.  The DVD player is pictured below left.

The CL-2500 MCA is a  5 channel amp (US$7,500, pictured above right) weighing a substantial 109 lbs, and is 27" deep.  When you get this amp, make sure you have a location in mind to place it.  The amp operates in Class A to 50 watts, and is rated at 500watts/channel into 8 ohms, from 20 Hz - 40 kHz.  Power is not specified into lower impedances, but be warned you'll need a 20 ampere circuit to get anywhere near its rated output with all channels driven simultaneously.

The CL-2500 SSP preamp/processor (US$5,400) and CL-2500 VSW video switcher (US$2,100) control A/V switching for the system.  CAL uses two separate chassis to completely isolate the analog and digital preamp from high frequency video switching noise.  The video section has a 100 MHz bandwidth, more than adequate to switch HDTV sources via component video.  The SSP includes a Philips Pronto universal remote which is pre-programmed with all CAL component remote codes.  Analog bypass is included, and each of the 6 channels in the digital section has a dedicated DAC.  While pricey, the SSP can control a 2nd and 3rd zone.   Shown below is a rear view of the CL-2500 SSP and VSW.

 

- John Kotches -

 

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