Review: Meridian Sooloos Media Core 200 and DSP3200 Page 2

Located on the bottom of each DSP3200 are two SpeakerLink connections (in and out), which send balanced digital audio and control signals to Meridian’s powered speakers; a power connection to drive the dual 75-watt amplifiers; and a switch to tell the system whether the speaker is being used as a left, center, or right channel. While you could use regular Cat-5 cables for your SpeakerLink connection — I did for a bit — Meridian highly recommends using its own proprietary cabling. (According to the company, whereas traditional Cat-5 cabling pairs are twisted at different rates, SpeakerLink cabling, which is flat, untwisted, and of identical lengths, is specially constructed for optimal delivery of digital audio. Meridian further characterizes SpeakerLink as being “more robust, requiring less error correction, and producing lower jitter.”)

Meridian’s stands for the DSP3200s feature a large, smoked-glass round base with a stylish aluminum pole design that works with either the white or black version of the speakers. You can conceal the cabling inside the aluminum post. The speakers screw into the top plate, and unless you have a large, especially aggressive dog or toddler, I can’t imagine them ever toppling. The speakers could also sit on a shelf or be mounted onto a wall using an optional König & Meyer 24471 wall bracket ($300/pair).

Once everything was powered on and connected to my network, I was ready to go. However, without any video display, I couldn’t get the MC200’s IP address in order to access and control it. Meridian’s manual pointed the way: “You can find this address using a network scanner, the Meridian Sooloos Configuration application, or any of the other Sooloos applications.” This could be a tricky bit of detective work without some tech know-how (I managed to discover it by logging into my router’s DHCP routing table), so network novices might want to request help from their Meridian dealer. However, when I loaded the free Sooloos app onto my new iPad2 a few days later, it immediately discovered the MC200 and connected to the system. Once connected, I was ready for minimalist audio nirvana.

Performance

Prior to this review, I hadn’t spent any meaningful time with Meridian speakers, so I can’t offer any noteworthy comparisons or previous-listening anecdotes. But Meridian’s reputation certainly preceded it, and with a total price exceeding that of my first car, expectations were running high. When the first strains of audio reached my ears — “Heroes” in 96/24, from Peter Gabriel’s Scratch My Back — the system definitely didn’t disappoint. (My immediate impression was “Wow!”) The sound quality was nothing short of stunning: resolution, speed, punch, clarity — everything you would expect from a terrific loudspeaker. This would be one thing with a full-range tower, but what continually struck me was the immense depth of the sound coming from these relatively small speakers. I found myself checking — and rechecking — to make sure that my main system wasn’t also on with my subwoofer playing.

After many, many hours of listening, four things about the DSP3200s stuck with me. First is their richness and detail at low- to mid-volume levels. Many speakers will put out at loud volume but then sound thin as the knob starts going counter-clockwise. Not these. Even at background-listening levels, bass was still present and weighty, and details were easily apparent. Gentle brush strokes on cymbals and delicate piano notes in Diana Krall’s “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” from When I Look in Your Eyes, were never lost regardless of the volume. You don’t need to push things to appreciate how good these speakers sound.

Second is their amazing imaging and sense of sonic focus. These speakers created such an amazingly real phantom center that, again, I had to check my main system, this time to see that the center channel was off. Voices and instruments were always clearly identifiable in an easily discernible sonic space. And performance wasn’t limited to some narrow, headlocked-in-place sonic sweet spot.

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