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#278994 - 2018-09-18 21:45 My journey with Meridian (and Shunyata, AQVOX etc)
Registered: 2009-08-29
Posts: 215
Jeremy A-H Offline
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Jeremy A-H Offline
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Registered: 2009-08-29
Posts: 215
Loc: Hampshire, UK
I've recently upgraded a few bits and pieces of my Hi-Fi setup and, while some of the discussion has been on other threads, I thought I'd put in one place what I've been up to as well as how much of a difference I feel they made for anyone else who might be thinking along similar lines.

If anyone has tried the same or alternative upgrades, I’d love to hear your thoughts...

A short while after I bought my 7200's (all of four weeks later), Meridian launched their SE speakers. Unfortunately, I couldn't justify the cost of the upgrade given I didn't get a lot of time to listen to the system as it was stuck in our living room. We moved house about a year ago and now have somewhere seperate to listen to music, which meant it made sense to think about upgrading the system to SE speakers and the 818v3.

So, I thought it would be interesting to describe how the journey went along with some commentary:

1) I upgraded the speakers from DSP7200's to SE's, which was a definite improvement, but nothing compared to what was to come

2) I then upgraded to the 818v3 which was a huge difference (I think the moral here is to do both upgrades at the same time if you can). I can't see the 818v3 upgrade making such a dramatic difference on its own. All of a sudden the sound stage became far more realistic and stable. MQA was even better.

3) I then got stuck down a rabbit hole of mains noise. What started as a 'let's not risk missing anything by not replacing the mains cables' became a project of understanding why this could make a difference and I ended up a long way down this particular hole. First with the Shunyata Triton v2 and Shunyata cables. This easily matches, if not beats the upgrade from the standard speakers and 818v2 to the SE's with the 818v3 upgrade. Seriously, go and listen to one of these (or a Denali, I suspect, would also be pretty damn good). Up until now, lead singers on the virtual stage would shimmer or get lost at times. The v2 fixed this completely and I think the lesson I learnt here is not overlook the mains supply!

4) The Shunyata Triton v3 upgrade a few weeks later made everything sound much more musical, the soundstage now had a sense of depth and the instruments sounded much more life-like.

5) So, if noise on the mains makes a difference, how about noise on ethernet? I tried an SotM dcBL-CAT7 special edition and the sound got even better, the sound stage more clearly defined (not as much an improvement of the changes above, but still worthwhile)

6) I then upgraded to the Antipodes CX and this was better (but has a really apparent burn-in time), although I don't think I noticed the quite the difference that others might achieve. This maybe because I'd already put a lot of effort into building my own low-noise music server with an 'audiophile JCAT ethernet card. Nonetheless, I think most people would hear a great improvement and it's easier to have Antipodes test upgrades to the machine over time than doing this myself.

7) I also decided to look at the speaker cables. After all, if Meridian feel that using someone else's mains cables wouldn't help, and they did, why not the speaker cables? On the advice of Velcro22 (and this is probably the most difficult one to justify price-wise), I went for the AudioQuest Diamonds (I did look at others, but I could understand how the Diamonds might work, and the alternatives would have paid for an upgrade to DSP8000SE's!). Now we're getting way beyond anything even close to anything I've heard from a Hi-Fi before. Piano's, Guitars, Vocals etc sound so lifelike, it's unreal. At this point, friends who couldn't tell the difference between previous changes are now sat there with the mouths open.

8) Also on the advice of Velcro22 (thanks, mate :-) ), I ordered an AQVOX SE Ethernet Switch. I then went a step further and ordered an SBooster linear power supply feeding an Uptone LPS1.2 to drive the switch. Again, this wasn't the largest difference I've heard to date, but a great improvement on how clearly defined everything is on stage.

If I were to pick upgrades in order of priority, I'd likely suggest either looking at the SE/818v3 or the Shunyata power conditioners first (then the other), followed by the AQVOX (at least until we know how good the SoTM and Uptone Audio switches are), followed by the Antipodes and the AudioQuest Diamond's. To round it off, ethernet filters are definitely a good thing.

Not sure what I should do next, probably more work on the SotM ethernet side of things, but I thought I'd describe this journey in case it helps someone else. One, perhaps, obvious note is that I did this in the order above and doing this in a different order may have better/less obvious benefits and, as always, YMMV!


DSP7200SE's, 818v3, Antipodes CX, Shunyata Triton v3 & Typhon (original version)
[Using a mix of Alpha NR's, Delta NR's, SotM and AudioQuest Diamond cables]
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#278998 - 2018-09-19 06:07 Re: My journey with Meridian (and Shunyata, AQVOX etc) [Re: Jeremy A-H]
Registered: 2007-09-23
Posts: 1,598
Syles Offline
Working on the ultimate question
Syles Offline
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Registered: 2007-09-23
Posts: 1,598
Loc: London, UK
Originally Posted By Jeremy A-H
We moved house about a year ago and now have somewhere seperate to listen to music
Not sure what I should do next
Have you thought about acoustic room treatment?


-
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#278999 - 2018-09-19 07:17 Re: My journey with Meridian (and Shunyata, AQVOX etc) [Re: Syles]
Registered: 2011-08-22
Posts: 1,604
Not'arf Offline
Working on the ultimate question
Not'arf Offline
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Registered: 2011-08-22
Posts: 1,604
Loc: Abruzzo, Italy
A great piece Jeremy & very interesting. Reading your journey, I was surprised at how low down the list the Diamond cables came but each step is nicely written.

If you aren't too modest, would it be appropriate to add in rough costings for each upgrade?

As Syles says, I'm sure some room treatment should be on your list.. GIK Acoustics could be a good place to start.


Audio: MC200, G61R SL, HD621, DSP5500, 5500HC, DSP3100. Subs: 2 x REL Gibraltar 2.
Video: JVC X70, Black Diamond Zero Edge screen 129"(2.35).

Meridian owner since 1998
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#279021 - 2018-09-19 19:39 Re: My journey with Meridian (and Shunyata, AQVOX etc) [Re: Jeremy A-H]
Registered: 2002-02-14
Posts: 8,470
ncpl Offline
President of the Imperial Galactic Government
ncpl Offline

President of the Imperial Galactic Government

Registered: 2002-02-14
Posts: 8,470
Loc: Surrey, UK
Thanks for sharing.

Question... the AQVOX people specifically state not to change the PSU. I noticed you went down a fairly typical route of LPSU etc.

What was your thought process here? Did you test?

Cheers


Rgds,
Nick

#15SE
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#279023 - 2018-09-19 20:01 Re: My journey with Meridian (and Shunyata, AQVOX etc) [Re: Syles]
Registered: 2009-08-29
Posts: 215
Jeremy A-H Offline
Hitchhiker
Jeremy A-H Offline
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Registered: 2009-08-29
Posts: 215
Loc: Hampshire, UK
Originally Posted By Syles
Have you thought about acoustic room treatment?
I have indeed. That said, room treatment is something I feel you can very quickly end up heading in a backwards direction if done incorrectly or too many assumptions are made, so I'm taking this slowly. First some personal feelings on what I've learnt using Meridian kit over the years (although I don't think any of this will be new to anyone):

a) I find the sound is improved when the rear wall consists of two layers of plasterboard, as opposed to plasterboard on brick. I find any brick (or concrete) even behind the plasterboard is damaging to the sound;

b) Try not have a brick or concrete wall too close behind the listening position either, unless you cover it with fibreglass panels (which is what we had to do at our previous place)

c) Carpet is better than wooden flooring, even wooden flooring with a large rug. Lots of glass windows are your enemy.


Luckily all of those considerations could be taken into account this time around, although I managed to find some new issues:

1) Marble-like hard surfaces on a fireplace are as horrible as glass, so we now have a 4" thick fibreglass panel cut to the size of the fireplace. I'm sure my wife loves this feature!

2) Glass windows and other objects such as radiators aren't totally avoidable and we have a thick, double folded woollen acoustic curtain where there is a reflection point, along with a canvas-like blind a few inches behind the curtains, which also absorbs some of the reflections

3) Trying to use any sound dampening on the walls was a step backwards (as was adding a bass trap), so I need to get advice on what I should do next...


DSP7200SE's, 818v3, Antipodes CX, Shunyata Triton v3 & Typhon (original version)
[Using a mix of Alpha NR's, Delta NR's, SotM and AudioQuest Diamond cables]
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#279024 - 2018-09-19 20:15 Re: My journey with Meridian (and Shunyata, AQVOX etc) [Re: Not'arf]
Registered: 2009-08-29
Posts: 215
Jeremy A-H Offline
Hitchhiker
Jeremy A-H Offline
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Registered: 2009-08-29
Posts: 215
Loc: Hampshire, UK
Originally Posted By Not'arf
A great piece Jeremy & very interesting. Reading your journey, I was surprised at how low down the list the Diamond cables came but each step is nicely written


Thanks Not'arf :-) I was hoping this would be useful, despite what some might argue is a controversial topic.

The AudioQuest Diamond cables being added towards the end of this set of upgrades was, in part, because it wasn't until I discovered how other cables could make a difference did I realise this could too.

The reason I recommended the speaker cables further down on my list of recommended upgrades was because: a) I feel like I got more bang for the buck from the previous upgrades; and b) I'm not sure you'd hear the improvement I did until the other upgrades are in place. This doesn't make this upgrade any less important, though.

Equally, the SotM ethernet filters were a very important part of the progression to a system that I reckon sounds two to three times better than the stock Meridian system, I should hasten to add in my particular environment. But, they're not cheap, if you want to cover the typical three network connections (Main network, switch to endpoint and switch to music server). I'd start with one on the endpoint and progress from there...


DSP7200SE's, 818v3, Antipodes CX, Shunyata Triton v3 & Typhon (original version)
[Using a mix of Alpha NR's, Delta NR's, SotM and AudioQuest Diamond cables]
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#279026 - 2018-09-19 20:45 Re: My journey with Meridian (and Shunyata, AQVOX etc) [Re: ncpl]
Registered: 2009-08-29
Posts: 215
Jeremy A-H Offline
Hitchhiker
Jeremy A-H Offline
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Registered: 2009-08-29
Posts: 215
Loc: Hampshire, UK
Originally Posted By ncpl
... the AQVOX people specifically state not to change the PSU. What was your thought process here ?
It's a pleasure - I've learnt a lot from reading these forums and it's nice to be able to contribute to the discussion smile

They do indeed. I did a lot of reading before taking any of these steps and there were three reasons for taking this approach with the AQVOX:

a) I didn't want an SMPS close to the system. Whatever anyone claims about being able to filter out the noise, I don't believe it's possible to filter noise in the constraints of a really tiny box, without resorting to inductors and the like*. Inductors, by definition, introduce a varying impedance. Impedance means there is a varying voltage, which creates radio frequency noise on the circuit. I think RF noise is something you want to go to the end of the earth to avoid as much as possible in a digital system (largely because it can play havoc with the ground reference and also because there is a timing signal embedded into the data signal which gets skewed by noise).

b) The reviews I saw suggested that using an LPS 1.2 with the AQVOX sounded better - and I could understand this could be the case (have you seen the output voltage ripple from one of these? It's incredibly small).

c) To my mind it sounded better, but I should admit I didn't spend more than an hour comparing. I just want the music to sound great and don't want to spend ages comparing one approach against another. If I can afford the entry ticket and it sounds better, then I'm happy to just listen to the music.

* Incidentally, for those who are interested, the reason I went for Shunyata rather than go for active mains conditioner was exactly this reason. Shunyata don't use inductors, but instead use very large coils (to give you an idea, each Triton weighs about 20 Kg) and none of the coils use an iron core. This means anything connected to it will just see a very, very low resistance to what is akin to a big power source, but one that nonetheless also filters the power.

You obviously can't completely avoid conductors and capacitors, but I feel you should use them [in a Hi-Fi environment] where they are required rather than to fix a problem you've created.


DSP7200SE's, 818v3, Antipodes CX, Shunyata Triton v3 & Typhon (original version)
[Using a mix of Alpha NR's, Delta NR's, SotM and AudioQuest Diamond cables]
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#279027 - 2018-09-19 21:05 Re: My journey with Meridian (and Shunyata, AQVOX etc) [Re: Not'arf]
Registered: 2009-08-29
Posts: 215
Jeremy A-H Offline
Hitchhiker
Jeremy A-H Offline
Hitchhiker

Registered: 2009-08-29
Posts: 215
Loc: Hampshire, UK
Originally Posted By Not'arf
If you aren't too modest, would it be appropriate to add in rough costings for each upgrade?


If I want to be alive in the morning, probably not! :-)

What I can say is that you can get the RRP of all of these online - and, for the more expensive items, it's worth keeping an eye out for new or newly new items that come up for sale. I suspect for cables, you can go for older than nearly new (although, I believe the Shunyata Alpha cables are probably too new to find second hand right now).

I've been really, really fortunate with most of what I've bought, for example finding through dealers that wanted to sell their (in most cases, almost new) demo stock. Obviously watch out for cons on eBay etc


DSP7200SE's, 818v3, Antipodes CX, Shunyata Triton v3 & Typhon (original version)
[Using a mix of Alpha NR's, Delta NR's, SotM and AudioQuest Diamond cables]
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#279032 - 2018-09-20 04:53 Re: My journey with Meridian (and Shunyata, AQVOX etc) [Re: Jeremy A-H]
Registered: 2009-11-20
Posts: 81
OldDogCan Offline
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OldDogCan Offline
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Registered: 2009-11-20
Posts: 81
Loc: New Mexico, USA
Two surprising sonic improvements this year on another, similar journey:

1) After I upgraded 5000 smileys to 5200SEs in my theater at the end of 2017, I set up a new stereo system with the old equipment in an odd-shaped room with lots of stone and glass. I measured around the listening position with REW software and a calibrated mic to save an .mdat file, which I then sent to Thierry at homeaudiofidelity.com whom I'd heard about on the Roon forums. His room correction filters make a huge difference! Up until now, my only experience had been with MRC which is clearly not in the same league.

2) I asked Bruce Sinclair at CMB, who had sold me the new speakers, about power conditioning. He offered Shunyata, so I bought their PS8, Defender and Venom power cords -as I was very skeptical about this expensive stuff (and don't have Jeremy's budget). Wow! I am now shocked that M recommends against anything beyond their stock power cables. I foolishly took their advice for decades, and sincerely hope this post will save others my chagrin.


ODC

Theater: C61R, DSP5200SEs,420s,33s, NHT amp/subs, HD621, 218, DigiOne, OPPO 203, JVC RS500, Fire,Apple,DirecTVs, Mac Pro 2010+, MF V-LINK II, iFI, Shunyata & Uptone voodoo

Also: 598DP, 568.2mm, 565, DSP5000.2s, Roon endpoints incl Allo USBridge, Explorer², iFi nano iDSD BL, Audeze LCD-X, AudioEngine spkrs, M&K subs, Apple MBP, OPPO BDP-83
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#279051 - 2018-09-20 14:07 Re: My journey with Meridian (and Shunyata, AQVOX etc) [Re: OldDogCan]
Registered: 2009-08-29
Posts: 215
Jeremy A-H Offline
Hitchhiker
Jeremy A-H Offline
Hitchhiker

Registered: 2009-08-29
Posts: 215
Loc: Hampshire, UK
Good point, I also looked at REW and bought the relevant mic only to find my 818's USB port doesn't work, so I can't play the sample files through it. Meridian say they need it back, but my dealer didn't respond when I tried to book this in during my holiday, so it's going to have to wait another few months until I'm next on holiday.

My only concern is that this will break MQA as to use REW on Roon, you need Roon to do the first unfold and then get the Meridian to do the second. And, right now, this process is broken as the 818 can't understand partially unfolded MQA, so everyone's waiting for a fix.


DSP7200SE's, 818v3, Antipodes CX, Shunyata Triton v3 & Typhon (original version)
[Using a mix of Alpha NR's, Delta NR's, SotM and AudioQuest Diamond cables]
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#279054 - 2018-09-20 14:22 Re: My journey with Meridian (and Shunyata, AQVOX etc) [Re: Jeremy A-H]
Registered: 2002-02-14
Posts: 8,470
ncpl Offline
President of the Imperial Galactic Government
ncpl Offline

President of the Imperial Galactic Government

Registered: 2002-02-14
Posts: 8,470
Loc: Surrey, UK
I agree with your a, b and c points regarding walls. I treated the rear wall in my living room and it made a huge difference. Not sure if this aligns with your point 3 about not using dampening.
Containing the primary reflection from the rear wall in my case resolved almost all the front/back interference which was really annoying me. Only with these fixed could I ever expect to resolve changes to power delivery etc.


Thanks for the PSU vs AQV comment. I have several LPSU's so could test if I ever tried one of these units.


Rgds,
Nick

#15SE
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#279056 - 2018-09-20 14:47 Re: My journey with Meridian (and Shunyata, AQVOX etc) [Re: OldDogCan]
Registered: 2012-10-22
Posts: 695
Albert Online happy
Paranoid android
Albert Online happy
Paranoid android

Registered: 2012-10-22
Posts: 695
Loc: Shanghai, China
Originally Posted By OldDogCan
I measured around the listening position with REW software and a calibrated mic to save an .mdat file, which I then sent to Thierry at homeaudiofidelity.com whom I'd heard about on the Roon forums. His room correction filters make a huge difference! Up until now, my only experience had been with MRC which is clearly not in the same league.
Thanks for sharing, shame we still couldn't setup filters for each channels in Roon.


HT: Audiocom Oppo203 signature with Vanity HD/HD621 861v8, DSP7200.2 DSP5200SEVC, DSP5200.1
Revel b112*2 b110 AntimodeX4 JVCx790
Lot of GIK panels
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