Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited

Posted by: spinaltap

Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-02 10:26

In a Financial Times (subscription required) article today, it states that Meridian was sold in 2014 for £25m to partly fund MQA.

I was not previously aware of this golden nugget of information.
Posted by: Albert

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-02 11:03

To whom?
Posted by: spinaltap

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-02 11:27

Indeed. The article didn’t say.
Posted by: Carl

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-02 12:35

Companies House - Meridian Audio Limited lists John Buchanan and Reinet Investments as persons with significant control.

There was speak of management buyout but I didn't follow up with any investigation.

Regards,
Carl
Posted by: VirusKiller

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-02 13:16

MBO happened last year. The 2014 thing was probably just the change in ownership; that's old news. I expect the £25MM was the cost of 5 years of research, not the sale price of the company.
Posted by: spinaltap

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-02 13:34

The complete Financial Times article...
Quote:
Like Heinz’s famous range of condiments, there are some 57 varieties of digital music format currently available. Most are open-source and free for music companies and fans to use. They run from highly-compressed and dull-sounding MP3 to huge WAV files, bulging with juicy music data.

A new and widely, though not universally, acclaimed digital format developed by a 70-year-old British electronics engineer might not then seem to stand a chance of capturing a slice of the market — not least since it is a paid-for software.

But the invention of Bob Stuart and a 29-strong team is gaining remarkable traction. Mr Stuart’s MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) format has just been adopted by Alibaba’s Xiami music-streaming service, with its 14m subscribers in China.

That deal, Mr Stuart says, could earn MQA “several millions” a year in royalties. It would enable the company to start recouping the £25m that went into developing MQA, which was funded in part by selling the high-end HiFi company, Meridian Audio, in 2014.

MQA promises to replicate the “emotion” of a live performance or studio master-recording, even when listened to on mobile phones. Extra audio quality, Mr Stuart claims, can even be teased from old magnetic tapes, 78rpm records and music cylinders.

Additionally, MQA files are “folded” in such a way — he calls it “music origami” — that they are under half the size of rival high-resolution audio formats. This means, when downloaded, you can get more, and arguably better, music on a device.

MQA’s Xiami contract follows agreements with Warner Brothers and Universal Music in the US to apply the format to their back catalogue as well as new music. Tidal, the high-quality streaming service partly owned by the rapper Jay-Z newly features MQA.

The software is popular in Japan, especially when encoded into CDs, which are still popular in the market. Elsewhere, Mr Stuart says some broadcasters are considering using a version of the software, MQA Live, to transmit concerts.

But is MQA better than the competition?

Most people probably cannot hear the difference between one HiFi product and another. Leading scientific sceptic James Randi once offered $1m for a journalist to submit to a blind test of speaker cables. No one accepted the challenge.

Yet I think one can tell the difference. I pay £19.99 a month to Tidal for their highest quality Masters version, because it streams MQA. To me, it has a clean, rich quality I enjoy. I probably would not pass a blind test of MQA against another fancy format. Similarly, I prefer more expensive wine without being able to explain quite why. I like to believe I’m experiencing the best.

Audiophiles are notoriously discordant. For all those endorsing MQA, there are some online angrily decrying it. Yet others post passionate arguments that all high-resolution audio is nonsense and only a dog or a scientific instrument could tell the difference.

“Human perception is complex,” Mr Stuart told me. “There are ways neuroscientists can convince people they’re drinking coffee when they’re drinking tea. But we love the art of what we do, the bringing of pleasure through high quality to millions of people. For those millions of people to translate into millions of dollars of revenue is almost secondary.”

“The jury is still out,” says Thomas Steffens, founder of Primephonic, a new Netherlands-based, classical-music, streaming service. “When you listen to MQA against the best format we use, I would almost say it’s a matter of taste . . . I like MQA’s vision, I hope they will be successful producing the highest audio-quality possible, but it would be a big technical overhaul for us to adopt it.”

It seems that the new digital music format MQA could yet become a valuable, invisible, supply chain-free export for the new-format, post-Brexit UK. But like post-Brexit Britain, it is not yet clear who is going to like it.
Posted by: 3dit0r

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-02 14:10

I like MQA, but I like Meridian audio equipment a whole lot more. My Meridian equipment gives me endless music and movie joy on any format available, of which MQA is a truly tiny portion.

Very sad to me the way the company appears to have lost its way in recent years, with the real innovators and leaders like Bob Stuart and Richard Hollinshead gone. MQA may have been worth it to Bob, but to my mind, I'd say the decline of Meridian is a bigger loss at this point than anything which was gained from MQA.
Posted by: spinaltap

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-02 15:01

I don’t subscribe to any music streaming service: I prefer buying/owning physical discs.

The one-and-only MQA CD that I own, fortunately, is by one of my favourite musicians - and cost less than £10. Any other MQA CD that I’ve seen for sale (that I would like) is prohibitively expensive.
Posted by: Asa Post

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-02 16:51

This significant news explains so much. Meridian is now a moribund company. No-one apart from here seems to have heard of them. They have no new products and have difficulty launching those that have been announced.

I agree totally with 3ditOr who has summed up the situation very well. No wonder Linn and Naim appear so vigorous in comparison.
Posted by: gIzzE

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-03 12:00

I think Bob knew that Meridian could no longer compete with the competition and needed to find a new thing to play with, MQA.

Meridian could have worked with others to create some products at kenner prices, I mentioned this a couple of years ago.

A high end Meridian/Sonos/Roon bit of hardware would get the M name out there with some serious upgrade possibilities and with it some serious sales for Meridian.


MQA killed Meridian as far as I'm concerned.
Bob shouted so loudly about the virtues of MQA and by doing so killed off loads of Meridian customers who saw no upgrade path with Meridian to get this fabulous new format into their home.

The way I tested out MQA was with an Roon - Explorer 2 - Quad 405-2 - Quad Z4 speakers.
Problem was, although I was not over impressed with MQA, I was seriously impressed with the set up and preferred it to my MS600 and DSP5200s.

It was that moment I realised that for me, my Meridian journey was over.
I actually found it pretty tough to let go, I had after all been running Meridian gear for nearly 25 years. There had been times I had moved away, but not for long.

If I am honest I still think the DSP speakers are amazing, especially for low level listening, but I feel buying into them now you are buying something that feels like it has been left behind.
Posted by: 3dit0r

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-03 12:22

Although I share your feelings at how Meridian was seemingly the sacrificial lamb at the altar of MQA, my listening impressions are the opposite.

I was greatly impressed by MQA through SEs, it’s just that I don’t consider it the be all and end all - well recorded and mastered music sounds fantastic whatever the format, in my experience.

I continue to buy and support Meridian because, to my ears, the gear they produced under Bob/Richard et al. is still the best I’ve heard and their DSP speakers and 800 series endpoints are still very hard to match, let alone beat. That’s why it’s so utterly frustrating to see an apparent decline for the company.

I suppose at least if they keep producing DSPs and world-class endpoints and DACs, but I fear greatly for them that if they’re perceived to be has-beens, it won’t be sustainable in the long-run. Sad times and I greatly hope I’m wrong.
Posted by: gIzzE

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-04 22:03

Originally Posted By 3dit0r
I was greatly impressed by MQA through SEs, it’s just that I don’t consider it the be all and end all - well recorded and mastered music sounds fantastic whatever the format, in my experience.

I continue to buy and support Meridian because, to my ears, the gear they produced under Bob/Richard et al. is still the best I’ve heard and their DSP speakers and 800 series endpoints are still very hard to match, let alone beat.
I totally agree with you, it is just a shame that it was MQA that led me away from Meridian as I couldn't afford Meridian's cheapest way into MQA.

In hindsight thought I wish I had just kept my non MQA Meridian system, but once you have sold up and moved out of Meridian getting back in is not cheap.
Posted by: Ogri

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-05 16:58

Originally Posted By gIzzE
If I am honest I still think the DSP speakers are amazing, especially for low level listening, but I feel buying into them now you are buying something that feels like it has been left behind.
You could argue that with very soft second hand prices, a possible cap refresh and a modern SPDIF source with good power supply (Pi plus hat even) (maybe a good switch), there’s a system there which would perform well above its pay grade. Surprisingly good IMHO. Not sure how good the MS600 is/was but I think the speakers can do justice to a better front end.
Posted by: VirusKiller

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-05 17:46

Originally Posted By Ogri
Not sure how good the MS600 is/was
Probably more than adequate for feeding DSPs, but its reputation for analogue isn't holding up well (and I'm partly responsible for that; I was shocked at how poor it is for a Meridian piece of gear at its price point).
Posted by: 3dit0r

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-05 20:44

They can definitely shine on the end of a better front end. I was never been impressed at all with MS600 even in a DSP only setting. Never understood what all the hype was about. Even feeding them with a 500 series source would sound considerably better, IMO. Add an 800 series of any flavour, for a very considerable upgrade.
Posted by: Hector

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-06 08:40

I must jump to the defence of my old faithful MS600.
Originally Posted By M release market speak for MS600
The Media Source 600 is an audio endpoint for a single Meridian Sooloos zone, designed to make it simple to integrate Meridian Sooloos into any system, whether Meridian or third- party, with the ultimate in audio performance.
I use this with AC200 and 5200SL and in my opinion today it represents good pre owned value and performance. Never tried analogue out though but this performance is surely related to amps and speakers employed.

Still sounds good to me.
Hector
Posted by: 3dit0r

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-06 09:42

Hector,

You’re in an ideal position to compare - have you ever swapped in your 861v4 (does it have ID40/LPS?) or 808.6 to compare with the MS600?
Posted by: Hector

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-06 12:24

Hi 3dit0r
Yes 861v4 has ID40 and LPS and I have run this to DSP5200SL and found little difference with MS600 using Sooloos. 861v4/ID40/LPS is marginally better but room acoustics were also different. Latest software upgrade to 5200SL, EBA et al in dining room also made an improvement but increased toe in was required to get the best performance.

My son also has MS600 with DSP5000 96/24 this is also a very pleasant listening experience in his small cottage.

808v6 / 5200SE / MQA is another league and price bracket. However some might say just different.
Hence my comment on value today.

Final comment, I much prefer the look of MS600 to that of 218!!

Hector
Posted by: Jon Raines

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-06 14:01

Aren’t we all going slightly off topic here.
Posted by: Hector

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-06 15:13

Way off, but it was an interesting discussion to hear other people's views.

Hector
Posted by: 3dit0r

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-08-06 21:08

Originally Posted By Hector
Yes 861v4 has ID40 and LPS and I have run this to DSP5200SL and found little difference with MS600 using Sooloos. 861v4/ID40/LPS is marginally better but room acoustics were also different.
So, just for clarity, you haven’t tried the 861v4/ID40/LPS in place of the MS600 in the same room/acoustics?
Posted by: NavSWEDEN

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-10-30 09:58

MQA and Meridian are owned by the same corporate owner.
Posted by: VirusKiller

Re: Meridian Audio sold in 2014 to fund MQA Limited - 2019-10-30 10:24

Originally Posted By NavSWEDEN
MQA and Meridian are owned by the same corporate owner.
No they are not. Meridian was subject to a management buy-out last year. The majority shareholder is CEO John Buchanan.