A digital DVD-Audio interface is part of Meridan’s v3 upgrade for their 800 series products.
Known as MHR Smart Link, the proprietary, encrypted digital interface enables multi-channel content from either DVD-Audio or DVD-Video discs to be delivered from Meridian’s 800 DVD player to the company’s 861 reference surround controller and DSP loudspeakers via a trio of RCA coaxial cables. Meridian MHR is the first proprietary link to be approved for the transmission of DVD-Audio content entirely within the digital domain. The link also carries meta information about the format and type of material being played, enabling the 861 to accurately identify all incoming formats without needing to analyse the bitstream itself, something that often leads to processing delays. According to Bob Stuart, Chairman of Meridian Audio, even incorrectly flagged DTS material from DTS music discs can be reliably identified and decoded this way.
The benefits are clear; not only can the 861 be programmed to react in a desired way to any type of incoming data and channel content, but also by transmitting DVD-Audio material digitally it allows the processor to perform bass management and time alignment entirely within the digital domain.
As part of the v3 upgrade, Meridian have increased the processing power of both the 800 disc player and the 861 surround controller by installing Motorola Symphony DSP56367 150MIPS DSP engines; they enable 96kHz processing for all available channels (up to ten) at 48bit precision using custom Meridian code.
This increased DSP horsepower also enables lossy multichannel material – Dolby Digital for example – to be decoded then upsampled within the 800 player before being passed to the 861 for additional processing. The benefits of upsampling lossy material may not be readily apparent, but Bob Stuart advises that those who are sceptical should just “…listen to it. We were astonished…”
In the UK, the suggested retail price for the 861 version 3 chassis is Ј7,635 with audio and video cards being priced individually (Ј87 to Ј875 according to option). The version 3 800 chassis carries a suggested retail price of Ј10,295, with the optional extras ranging from Ј430 to Ј645 (the MHR Smart Link I/O card will be priced at Ј510).
In America, the basic 861 version 3 chassis will retail for $13,745 with audio and video I/O cards being priced between $155 and $1,575. The version 3 800 chassis will retail for $18,525 with extras ranging from $695 to $1,165. The MHR Smart Link OE22 I/O card will retail for $915.
Upgrade pricing for current 800 and 861 owners has not yet been announced.