|Industry||Audio/Visual Consumer electronics equipment manufacturing and distribution|
|Founder||Bob Stuart, Allen Boothroyd|
|Products||High-end loudspeakers, home theatre equipment|
Based in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, Meridian Audio was founded by Bob Stuart and Allen Boothroyd in 1977. They continue to lead the company with Stuart heading all technological developments and Boothroyd leading the design team. Since the company’s inception, all Meridian products have been conceived, engineered and built in the UK.
The company was the first to introduce active loudspeakers (loudspeakers with power amplifiers inside the cabinet) designed for the domestic market, and was the first British company to manufacture a CD player in 1983. The Meridian MCD, launched in 1985, was the first audiophile CD player. In his review of the MCD, audio engineer and Stereophile founder J. Gordon Holt wrote, "For the first time, the sound of the best CDs (Telarcs, RealTimes and Sheffields) is truly liquid and transparent, with an effortlessness that I have not previously heard except from the better analog sources... To date, then, this is the best-sounding CD player I've encountered." Meridian also created the first digital surround-sound processor and the first DSP-based digital active loudspeakers.
The flagship DSP8000 active loudspeakers were released in the late 1990s as part of the company's new 800 series. Subsequent loudspeaker models (DSP7000, DSP5200) employed the styling that contributed to the success of the DSP8000.
In 2007 a significant minority shareholding in the company was sold to the Muse Group, a consortium of the Swiss-based luxury goods group Richemont and U.S. film company New Regency. Muse is now a majority shareholder and is 100 percent owned by Reinet Investments, a sister company of Richemont.
Meridian Audio has been in the home theatre market since 1994 with the launch of the Meridian Digital Theatre. In 2005, The New York Times profiled Meridian’s $20,000 Model 800 DVD player. According to The Times, "The Model 800 represents what some believe to be the pinnacle in audio and video processing technologies."
Meridian has developed a number of unique technologies over the course of the company’s history. These include Digital Signal Processing (DSP) Loudspeakers and Meridian Lossless Packing (MLP). MLP is used in DVD-Audio and Blu-ray Disc as part of Dolby TrueHD.
In late 2014, Meridian launched the Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) audio encoding system with the intention of enhancing the quality of digital music experienced via downloaded files or online streaming. MQA utilises a novel digital sampling technology that is capable of capturing extremely fine timing information accurately, down to the microsecond level, which Meridian claims is not possible with conventional techniques, even at high sample rates. Meridian maintains that current neuroscience indicates such timing accuracy is necessary for truly lifelike recording and reproduction. When an original master recording is MQA-encoded, this information is "encapsulated" into the bulk of the audio signal by "folding" it in two stages into a standard (typically 24-bit; 44.1 or 48 kHz sampling depending on the sample rate of the original signal) digital coding space but beneath the noise floor. The resulting data is transferred using any lossless audio format such as WAV, FLAC, Apple Lossless etc. As a result, the bandwidth required to stream an MQA file (or the size of a file for download) is significantly less than using conventional techniques, while retaining the full detail of the original master. On replay via an MQA decoder, the encapsulated detail is recovered, providing an exact representation of the original master recording, and this is confirmed ("authenticated") by the decoding system, generally illuminating an indicator light. If the information is replayed without an MQA decoder, the encapsulated data is ignored and audio quality somewhat better than Compact Disc (16-bit, 44.1 kHz sampling) is experienced. Initial listener reports appear to be positive. In 2015, Meridian Audio Ltd spun off MQA into its own company, MQA Limited, set up for the purpose in July 2014 and based at the Meridian address in Huntingdon, UK.
Partnerships and acquisitions
Since 2005, Meridian Audio has been the manufacturer and distributor of Faroudja video processor systems, now marketed solely under the Meridian name. In December 2008, Meridian acquired media server manufacturer Sooloos to create Meridian's range of streaming systems.
Meridian has also engaged in partnerships with several luxury companies:
- Meridian and Ferrari developed the F80 compact system.
- Meridian and Alfred Dunhill partnered to develop the Alfred Dunhill AD88 Entertainment System.
- Meridian has developed high-end in-car audio systems in collaboration with McLaren, Land Rover and Jaguar.
- Imagination Technologies (IMG.L) and Meridian Audio have entered into an agreement to collaborate on the next generation of multi-channel high resolution wireless audio streaming systems.
Meridian runs several boutiques in major cities across the world. Boutiques are located in London, Oxford, Kuwait City, Bangkok, Mexico City, Santiago, Moscow, Bangalore and Singapore. Retailers also sell Meridian products worldwide.
Awards and recognition
Meridian products have received several awards, including:
- 2011 Robb Report Best of the Best, Audio: Meridian Sooloos Digital Media System
- 2010 CEA Human Interface Product of the Year: Meridian Sooloos
- 2009 Robb Report Best of the Best, Home Video: Meridian 810 Reference Video System
- 2009 CEA Innovations Design and Engineering Award in the Integrated Home Systems: Meridian Sooloos
- 1988 British Design Council Award: Meridian 200 Series
- 1982 British Design Council Award: Meridian Modular Amplifier System
- "The Meridian Story". Meridian Audio.
- "Time warp: Meridian's MCD, the first audiophile CD player". Gadget Guy. 15 June 2009.
- J. Gordon Holt (4 February 1985). "Meridian MCD & MCD Pro CD players". Stereophile.
- "Tim Ireland, CEO, Meridian Audio". Luxury Society. 30 March 2011.
- "Milchan high on tech buy". Variety. 4 December 2007.
- "Electronics That Enhance an Image (Yours)". The New York Times. 22 March 2004.
- "The great sound of Britain". The Daily Telegraph. 21 April 2012.
- "Lookin' Good, Soundin' Good". Popular Mechanics. June 2001.
- "Meridian DSP8000 digital active loudspeaker". Stereophile. 23 November 2001.
- "New Meridian M6 Loudspeaker delivers contemporary design and outstanding sound performance". Luxurious Magazine. 13 January 2012.
- "The Meridian Audio Group: A short history" (PDF). Meridian Audio.
- "In Judging DVD Players, Performance Is in Details". The New York Times. 8 December 2005.
- "Cool stuff for chilling". San Francisco Chronicle. 1 December 2009.
- "Meridian 810 Reference Video System 2,400p Three-Chip D-ILA Front Projector Reviewed". Home Theater Review. 21 August 2008.
- "Meridian Technologies". Meridian Audio.
- "Robert Harley listens to Meridian MQA". The Absolute Sound. The Absolute Sound. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
- "Presentation, June 2014: High Resolution: Capturing the Moment; Stuart, J. Robert; Craven, Peter". Audio Engineering Society UK. Audio Engineering Society UK. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
- "Meridian Audio MQA promises 'master quality' audio for downloads and streams". MusicRadar. Music Radar. Retrieved 25 February 2015.
- "A Hierarchical Approach to Archiving and Distribution; Stuart, J. Robert; Craven, Peter". Audio Engineering Society E-Library 17501. Audio Engineering Society. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
- "I've Heard the Future of Streaming: Meridian's MQA". Stereophile, Dec 21, 2014. Stereophile. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
- "Meridian's MQA: One Listener's Impression". Stereophile. Stereophile. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
- "MQA LIMITED - A business based in UNITED KINGDOM". Datalog. Datalog. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
- "Meridian Audio Group - Short History" (PDF). Meridian.
- "Meridian Acquires Sooloos". Stereophile. 5 December 2008.
- "Meridian Streaming". Meridian Audio.
- "Meridian F80 CD Receiver System". Stereophile. 22 April 2008.
- "Alfred Dunhill AD88 Entertainment System Announced". eCoustics. 4 November 2008.
- "Meridian Automotive Systems". Meridian Audio.
- "Imagination Technologies Collaboration". Meridian Audio.
- "Meridian Boutiques". Meridian Audio.
- "Retailers". Meridian Audio.
- "Best of the Best 2011: Audio: Meridian Sooloos Digital Media System". Robb Report. 1 June 2011.
- "CEA Announces Winners of 2010 Mark of Excellence Awards". Business Wire. 29 March 2010.
- "Meridian 810 Reference Video System". Robb Report. 1 June 2009.
- "Innovation 2009: Design and Engineering Awards". CE.org. 6 February 2009.
- "Meridian". Gramophone. May 1999. p. 193.
- "Design award for Meridian". Gramophone. July 1982. p. 90.
- "Meridian at the Movies". Meridian Audio.