Review: Meridian Sooloos Control 15 Music Server Page 4

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In my review of the original Sooloos system, I didn’t have any qualms with its audio quality. My exact comments were, “Sonically, Sooloos was utterly beyond reproach, producing audio that was both detailed and engaging. . . . It never felt like I was listening to ‘data’ but rather enjoying music reproduced as faithfully as my system would allow.”

Even so, Meridian has given the audio portion of the system a Britney Spears-level makeover by incorporating the same upsampling process and “apodizing filter” found in its $20,000 808.3 Signature Reference CD player, which outputs audio at 88.2 kHz. Ken Forsythe, Meridian’s director of technology, told me, “If you compare the very best CD player, the Meridian 808, with the sound quality from a Meridian Sooloos system, you won’t notice a difference.”

While Redbook CDs do indeed sound wonderful on the Control 15, the system truly shines when doing something that even Meridian’s $20,000 CD player can only dream of: playing high-resolution 96-kHz/24-bit FLAC fi les. Music playback becomes more rich and dimensional, with tighter, more refined bass and a lower noise floor. To fill out my high-rez audio experience, David Chesky generously allowed me to download several albums via HDtracks (the online store he founded with his Chesky Records partner and brother, Norman), and listening to each album was like rediscovering the joy of music anew. (A free high-rez audio sampler can be downloaded from hdtracks.com.)

Female vocals sounded especially impressive in 96/24, displaying increased presence and texture. Rebecca Pidgeon’s Four Marys album is a very sparse recording made inside a church. A cappella tracks like “The Cruel Mither” show off a world of space around each lyric, letting you experience every subtle vocal inflection. “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” the first track from Diana Krall’s When I Look in Your Eyes, ends with tinkling chimes — and you can hear the individual tinkle of each chime! Each piano note Krall plays has space and depth; you can actually hear the notes decaying into the recording environment. Furthermore, because these recordings have absolutely no noise or distortion, you can listen at higher volumes for longer periods without any ear strain or fatigue. Gotta love that.

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