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Meridian G65 Surround Controller Preview

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Meridian G65 Surround Controller

Meridian G65 Surround Controller

Summary

  • Product Name: G65 Surround Controller
  • Manufacturer: Meridian
  • Review Date: November 15, 2013 08:55
  • MSRP: $7,000
  • First Impression: Mildly Interesting
  • Buy Now

INPUTS
1x MMHR (Meridian Multichannel High Resolution) 6-channel input designed to receive audio from the Meridian HD621 HDMI processor
2x SpeakerLink (RJ45) inputs for connection to Meridian products
6x S/PDIF digital (coax), D1–D3 can be configured as a six-channel digital input with Meridian MHR Smart Link®
2x Toslink S/PDIF optical inputs
8x analogue stereo inputs, (phono). A1–A3 can 
be configured as x1 six-channel analogue input. 0.5–2.5Vrms adjustable, input impedance 20kΩ

OUTPUTS
8x SpeakerLink digital (RJ45): L, R, C, Sub, Side L, Side R, Rear L, Rear R
8x analogue balanced (XLR): Main L, Main R, Side L, Side R, Rear L, Rear R, Centre, Sub

COMMS
2x Legacy Meridian Comms (DIN),
1x 12V Trigger, 1x IR in for G12 receiver, USB & RS232 remote control/configuration

PROCESSING
5x Freescale processors running at 750 MIPS (million instructions per second). 48-bit arithmetic throughout

CONVERSION
24-bit Sigma-Delta converter chips operating at up to 96 kHz on analogue inputs and outputs

Meridian, an old name in the high end audio market dating back to 1977 and known for distinctive-looking high-end speakers and electronics, has just launched their new G65 Surround Controller.  Building on the heritage of the world's first digital surround sound controller produced in 1994, the Meridian 565, the G65 is the definitive new Digital Surround Controller of the G Series. In conjunction with the HD621 HDMI Processor it becomes a two box solution as opposed to the more conventional one box surround preamp/processor (like the Denon AVP-A1HDCI or Yamaha CX-A5000), and combines the diverse range of the latest audio and video sources with unified control over time alignment, bass management, and surround sound processing. The G65 builds on the achievements of Meridian's flagship 800 Series, with entirely new circuitry developed specifically for the product.

The G65 also follows Meridian’s distinctive looks and traditional design.  Hand built in the U.K. and available in either silver or black, the chassis is double skinned, and bead-blasted metal with glass accents.  Unlike most electronics on the market, the G65 features a soft key system.  The unit’s soft keys on the front panel only show the options available to you for a particular operation.

Meridian G65 Surround Controller-Front

Meridian G65 Surround Controller Front View

The G65 is primarily designed to be paired with Meridian’s DSP-based loudspeakers and components.  There is a proprietary MMHR 6-channel connector for the complimentary HD621 to pass the audio signal from HDMI sources.  The G65 likewise includes eight-channel Speakerlink outputs, an “Ethernet style” cable for connecting to Meridian's DSP Loudspeakers, which carries both digital sound and control between Meridian components.  The G65 can also be used with traditional, non-Meridian amplifiers and passive loudspeakers via its balanced analog outputs. In addition, the G65 also features a wide array of conventional & proprietary inputs, including: 6 coaxial digital inputs (3 of which can be configured as a Meridian High Resolution link for multichannel Meridian legacy sources), a pair of optical digital inputs, 8 pairs of analog stereo inputs (three pairs of which can be configured as a six channel analog input), and a pair of SpeakerLink inputs for connecting compatible Meridian products (i.e. CD players & streaming devices). Custom installers can integrate the G65 via the bi-directional RS-232 connection and Meridian’s proprietary room correction system. 

Meridian G65 Rear Panel

Rear view of the Meridian G65 Surround Controller

The G65 features a card-based construction utilizing 7-layer boards. Meridian claims this architecture makes it possible to build cards that handle specific audio tasks, rather than the large, multifunction boards common in much audio equipment, where the operations carried may not be complementary, and which can introduce problems like long tracks that can act as antennae for noise and interference.

At the heart of the G65 Surround Controller’s features is its DSP engine made up of five Freescale processors, as well as 24 bit/96kHz Sigma-Delta DACs.  The DSP engine handles the bass management, which they say can support up to three separate subwoofers and manage up to 60 filters created by Meridian’s Room Correction (MRC) software.  Having room correction for up to three subs is a great boon to those who want to integrate multiple subs seamlessly into a multichannel system. But, three is a bit odd. It's more common to see either two or four, so it would have been extra nice to see support for up to four subs.

Meridian touts the G65’s advanced DSP functionality such as its ‘apodizing’ upsampling filter, which Meridian claims audibly improves audio quality and can even correct problems in an original digital recording.  Those familiar with Meridian’s previous DSP surround offerings will be glad to know that the G65 includes the full complement of their DSP presets, which include Cinema, Discrete, and Trifield.  The latter converts two channel sources to multichannel.

Conclusion

The G65 is tailor-made for integrating into a larger Meridian electronics stack.  Thus, if you already own older Meridian electronics, have one of their DSP loudspeakers, or have been contemplating making the plunge into their ecosystem, then the G65 Surround Controller is probably worth a look. If you’re wondering about putting the G65 on your Christmas list, then you may just be in luck as it's supposed to be available sometime in early December.  Just note: if you’ve been nice, then make sure that Santa has been saving his Benjamins because the G65 will list for $7,000.  If you think you’ve been really good, then you can try asking Santa for the G65 and HD621 packaged bundle, which will go for $10,000. At the same time, for a pile of cash that large, you might ask Santa to shop around a bit.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Steve Munz is a “different” addition to Audioholics’ stable of contributors in that he is neither an engineer like Gene, nor has he worked in the industry like Cliff. In fact, Steve’s day job is network administration and accounting.

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