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Meridian Audio Core 200 Stereo Audio Controller

Meridian has introduced the Audio Core 200 Stereo Audio Controller designed to work with any pair of Meridian DSP Loudspeakers. The two-channel preamplifier is coupled with powerful audio enhancement technologies that unify all of your audio sources, including CD player, radio tuner, set-top box, games console, media player, PC audio replay via USB, and a Meridian SpeakerLink input for single-wire connection to a Meridian Sooloos Digital Media System.

The Audio Core 200 is fully compatible with Meridian’s i80 Dock for iPod charging and playback through Meridian DSP speakers. Intelligent front-panel controls feature smart buttons for intuitive control, and an auto-dimming OLED display that’s always at the right brightness for maximum readability. Simple, single-wire connection to Meridian DSP Loudspeakers with easy access to the DSP features. Stereo width control optimises the stereo stage, freeing the sound from the loudspeakers, making it even bigger and more open.

Two Meridian SpeakerLink connectors are provided for simple, straightforward connection to Meridian DSP Loudspeakers via Cat 5 cables. Speakers can be connected either via the ‘home run’ technique (recommended) straight from the Master (lower) and Slave (upper) connectors, or they can be daisy-chained. The outputs include Meridian High Resolution (MHR) encryption and operate at high sample rates (88.2/96kHz).

Meridian Audio Core 200 Stereo Audio Controller - back

The AC200 also offers a 3.5mm stereo mini-jack headphone output for personal listening. This output may be configured to turn the loudspeakers off when headphones are connected, if desired.

Inputs
On the input side, the AC200 provides a wide range of possibilities. The SpeakerLink input can be used, for example, to connect a Sooloos Control 15 or similar product, or other Meridian products with SpeakerLink outputs.

Two S/PDIF coax digital inputs are provided, and these operate at sample rates up to 96kHz. Two 3.5mm mini-jack inputs are also included and these offer both analogue line level and optical digital interfaces.

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A mini-DIN connector is provided for connecting an i80 iPod dock to the AC200. Connecting an i80 not only allows an iPod to play back through the loudspeakers connected to the AC200: it also charges the iPod — without requiring a separate charger — and enables it to be controlled either from the AC200 front panel or from across the room with the remote control provided.

A USB B-type connector is provided allowing the AC200 to be connected to a computer system and used as an external sound card. Two stereo analog inputs are provided on gold-plated phono connectors. Power input to the unit is 12v DC at up to 300mA, provided by an external wall- mounted universal voltage power supply (included). The rear connector panel is recessed and effectively hidden by the enclosure.

Audio processing
The Audio Core 200 features high-quality audio processing which provides treble and bass tone controls and a stereo width control. Analogue inputs are converted to digital at 96kHz sampling and all input signals are processed with Meridian’s exclusive ‘apodising’ filter that ensures maximum audio quality and can even clean up the results of poor digital filtering at previous stages in the recording process, such as in the case of historic digital recordings. Digital inputs accept signals up to 96kHz and this is also the case with the SpeakerLink input, thus allowing the replay of high resolution files from a Meridian Sooloos Digital Media System.

Controls
The AC200 features nine front panel keys. The middle five are software-defined with their functions indicated above the buttons according to context. In addition there are four fixed function keys: the far left Home key returns to the Home display and the far right Display key cycles through different sets of information shown on the display, including turning the display off entirely. The two remaining keys cycle through the available functions left and right. The interface is a development of that used on the M80 Compact Entertainment System.

The display is an advanced OLED design and has an automatic brightness control that adjusts the display to suit ambient light levels. As a result it’s always visible — or you can turn it off completely.

A large knob controls the volume and may be pushed to mute the loudspeakers.

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The Audio Core 200 communicates fully with Meridian DSP Loudspeakers, making it possible to access control features of the loudspeakers from its front panel, such as boundary gain compensation, which allows speakers to deliver the very best performance irrespective of their position or orientation in the room.

A stereo width control feature allows the stereo soundstage to be optimised irrespective of the loudspeaker positions, increasing soundstage width when the speakers are located close together, and optimising it for best envelopment and imaging when more ideally placed.

Enclosure
The Audio Core 200 is presented in an elegant compact enclosure with a recessed connector panel. The curved sides and top echo the curves of Meridian’s M80 and DSP Loudspeakers.

Specifications

  • Inputs
    • Meridian SpeakerLink (RJ45)
    • 2 x S/PDIF coax (phono)
    • 2 x mini-optical (3.5mm jack)
    • USB for use as external computer sound card
    • i80 connector (Mini-DIN)
    • 2 x Stereo Analogue (phono)
    • 2 x Stereo Analogue (3.5mm jack)
      (same connectors as optical digital)
  • Outputs
    • Twin Meridian SpeakerLink (Master & Slave, RJ45) with MHR
    • 3.5mm Stereo Headphone out (optionally mutes speakers)
  • Processing
    • Upsampling to 2xfs (88.2/96 kHz). (Output is always high resolution)
    • Meridian ‘Apodising’ filter cleans up muddiness in digital recordings
  • Control
    • Allows access to DSP speaker functions such as Treble, Bass, Stereo Width, Loudness, etc
    • Nine front-panel keys, five of which are context-defined.
    • Large knob for volume control and muting
    • IR remote control (included)
    • USB connector for serial control and maintenance
  • Display
    • OLED (Organic LED) display with automatic brightness feature (can also be dimmed/brightened/disabled manually)
  • Power: 12v DC, < =300mA, provided by external wall- mounted universal supply
  • Weight: 2.7 kg (6 lbs)
  • Dimensions: 280 x 280 x 91mm (11 x 11 x 3.6 in) including feet but not including control knob (WHD)

Price and Availability
The Meridian Audio Core 200 Stereo Audio Controller is available from January 2011 for $3,000 in high gloss black or high gloss white

Meridian Audio Core 200 Reviews

From Critics Around the Web

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