Hosted at Meridian Audio’s headquarters in Huntingdon, Meridian Live! welcomed around 60 integrators and members of the media on November 16, showcasing a number of new products including the 200 Series. Attendees had to the opportunity to have hands-on workshops, demonstrations and networking opportunities, which helped mark the company’s 40th anniversary.
Opening the event, John Buchanan, CEO of Meridian Audio, presented the new ‘brand book’, a helpful marketing tool for integrators to show prospective clients what can be achieved.
The company also underlined that it is keen to work with integrators to create eye-catching case studies providing support with photography and media coverage, as well as help with event promotion where appropriate.
A key focus at the event was placed on the new 200 series; helping integrators understand the abilities and use case scenarios of these agile products, described by the Meridian team throughout the day as the ‘swiss army knives for audio’.
Focusing on product features, installation, and IP control integration, guests were educated on the new 251 Powered Zone Controller, 271 Digital Theatre Controller, and the winner of CEDIA’s Best New Hardware of 2017 award, the 218 Zone Controller.
The range is in some ways different to many Meridian products in that the look is more industrial with little emphasis placed on aesthetics, however the products are intended to be hidden behind the scenes, delivering installation flexibility in terms of placement, power and control. All the 200 series can also be set up and controlled via the Meridian IP control app, as well as be controlled from more elaborate interface options such as the company’s multi-room music platform Sooloos.
The 251 is a class D model and is expected to ship in December. The unit delivers a surprising amount of power for a compact unit (2x100W into 4Ω nominal load) and is designed for in-room or rack-mounted applications. The 251 has all the chops needed to create a Hi-Res audio zone, with two cool-running channels of on-board amplification, it can also deliver a 2.1 set-up with a sub via analogue outputs.
The unit is MQA compatible and has IP, as well as IR control. The web-based setup page is designed for easy, repeatable and quick configuration. The 251 can also act as an endpoint for Meridian’s Sooloos music management platform. In demo the 251 was put through its paces driving a pair of Dali speakers with a Sonos/Tidal partnership as the source.
The 271, which is set to launch in Q1 2018, allows the installer to place Meridian speakers into any immersive 3D cinema set-up, gaining the advantages of Auro 3D, Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. The unit is compatible with any 3D audio processor, which is convenient since Meridian Audio doesn’t have a unit of its own, and has no immediate plans to build one.
Visitors also got the chance to experience the recently-updated Digital Reference Theatre. Accompanying Meridian’s DSP Digital Active Loudspeakers, DSW Subwoofers and a 861V8 Reference Digital Surround Controller, is Barco’s Wodan projector and DT screen. Combined with acoustically treated walls, courtesy of CATS, the cinema certainly packs a punch, delivering movies and music with equal precision and power.
Brand-new at Meridian HQ is the media room designed to show off what can be done when the environment is less than ideal and the AV needs to be integrated into an existing living room.
Revealed for the first time at the event, the room features the 271 Digital Theatre Controller and a demonstration of the new Barco Residential Medea projection system. Available as part of Meridian’s complimentary Design and Specification service, the new media room shows integrators the complete solutions offered by the maker and its partners, and how the service can help integrate Hi-Res audio into residential projects.
The new products were positively received by dealers, with the company reporting a large number of pre-orders received at the event. Meridian is also offering dealers a 10% discount on orders placed before the end of November, as well as attractive partner rates for personal purchases.
The installer view
After attending the event, Stuart Paton of Home Integration, says, “You read about these products, but you don’t believe them until you see and hear them. I know the products very well, but I didn’t know some of the technical details, and I think that it was a very constructive and informative day. I liked the new media room and all the integration with several media; Meridian’s never done that sort of full integration before because it didn’t have a complete solution, but now there is, and it’s much easier to understand that.”
William Hopkins of the Intrinsic Group adds, “It was really good to get an overview of the product range and the potential of these products. The range boasts some innovative new kit that opens lots of possibilities for installations.”
Peter Russell-Wilks of Clever and Simple was also positive, “Meridian Live! has been really helpful. It’s good seeing the new products that haven’t quite been released yet, in the applications they are going to be used in. Listening to them, seeing them and then getting an explanation on how they actually work and how they are programmed has been really informative.
“From this, it will allow me to explain to my customers more about how to use the products, why they should have one over the other, and linking them all together.”
Des Lee of Media Max, was definitely a fan of the cinema, “The cinema room blew my mind, and the new media room is very good. These rooms show what can be achieved with different budgets.
The 200 range also got a good reception, “Adam Fisher of Music Matters, commented, “It was great to find out more about the 200 Series. This range is going to be implemented very well within our portfolio. The 271 is a very good product that can integrate with other AV products. This allows us to target a wider audience with Meridian.”
Luke Newland of New Land Solutions was also impressed with the 200 series, “The highlight for me was seeing the 200 Series – they are such versatile products, and I can see us using these in our projects. In particular, the 251 which has the amp built in. This will be a great product to install on the back of TV’s. It is the product to keep an eye on.”
Dave Henderson of BrownHen Solutions, rounds off a positive response, “We started the day with a demo in the cinema room, and really liked the way that we got the surround audio feeling with height from the ceiling speakers. It was also good to see the way that Meridian incorporated audio treatments into the room – behind the false wall and all around the room on the ceiling. In the new media room, it was great to see how the screen coped with a big white room.
“We like the way that the projector is mounted on the wall, we might look do to this in one of our projects. Lastly, it was a great opportunity to talk to Hugo and to find out more information on the 200 Series. All in all, it was a really worthwhile day for us.”
Meridian’s range of Hi-Res audio solutions, as well as some new products, will be available to see and experience at ISE 2018 on Stand 7-E210.