Review: Meridian Sooloos Control 15 Music Server

Key Features
• 500-gigabyte hard disk stores approximately 1,000 CDs in lossless FLAC format
• 17-inch, 1,280 x 1,024-rez color touchscreen with slot-loading CD drive for importing discs
• Simultaneously stores files in lossless FLAC and MP3 formats for easy export; supports WAV, AAC, and AIFF files up to 96-kHz/24-bit resolution
• Free iPhone/iPad app for system control
• Coaxial digital audio output; Ethernet port; Meridian SpeakerLink and Comms connections; Trigger and Remote IR minijack connections
• Dimensions + Weight: 18 x 13½ x 7¼ in; 23½ lb

The original Sooloos music storage and server system was one of those products that captured my attention right off the bat: It stopped me dead in my tracks the first time I saw it in action. After viewing its oversize touchscreen and noting all the great options for browsing through a thousand or more stored albums, I knew I had to review it.

Spoiler: I loved it. (Read the review here.) The original Sooloos, which earned a Sound+Vision Editors’ Choice Award, was a terrific product that offered a true option for audiophiles looking to move beyond high-end CD transports. I clearly wasn’t the only one who thought so: Shortly after my review appeared, audiophile gear maker Meridian decided it liked Sooloos enough to buy the company.

When a small company is purchased by a larger, far more established entity, scary things can happen. Key people are often pushed out, good ideas get lost, and what was once great becomes mediocre. But in this case, the marriage could not have worked out better. Meridian got to add a music server to its line, and Sooloos benefited from Meridian’s audio wizardry.

The new Control 15, the first combined Meridian Sooloos server, is a different animal from the earlier Sooloos products. Whereas my previous system consisted of three separate components, weighed close to 70 pounds, and cost $11,600, the Control 15 is a single, 23½-pound unit that costs $7,500. The system underwent a major software overhaul, and its audio “guts” are now handled by Meridian. I wasn’t sure how Meridian could improve upon the Sooloos experience, but I knew that I couldn’t wait to find out.