Meridian have today announced their new 598 DVD-Audio player is now available; the 598 introduces DVD-Audio to Meridian’s 500 Series of source component and processors.
As those familiar with the DVD-Audio format will be aware, Meridian developed the loss-less coding system that is mandatory for DVD-Audio and DVD-AR, thereby enabling multi-channel 96kHz 24-bit and two-channel 192kHz 24-bit audio playback.
The 598 is designed around a proven DVD-ROM drive and proprietary disc navigation software for CD, DVD-Video and DVD-Audio. Two powerful DSP engines and three FIFO buffers are used to smooth the delivery of both audio and video, with the resulting exceptionally low jitter specifications benefiting picture and sound quality alike.
The ability to decode movie soundtracks inside the player using Meridian’s proprietary software-based format decoding is another of 598’s unique features. Used in conjunction with Meridian’s 568.2 or 861 surround processors, the 598 is able to deliver up to eight channels of up-upsampled 96kHz 24-bit audio from all playable formats (including DVD-Video discs encoded with lossy Dolby Digital or DTS, and PCM from Compact Disc or DVD).
The 598 is available with a number of different rear panel I/O configurations (see details below), one of which includes an MHR Smart Link interface, Meridian’s digital, multi-channel connection that allows the player to pass high-resolution audio directly to Meridian’s 568.2 or 861 (version 3 and above) surround processors. The MHR Smart Link uses proprietary encryption and signaling technology and is the first digital connection to be officially sanctioned by the music industry for DVD-Audio content.
For those without a Meridian processor, the 598 is available with a six-channel analogue output board that follows the same audiophile philosophy and design used in Meridian’s critically acclaimed 588. Each discrete analogue channel is derived from carefully selected 192kHz 24bit D/A converters, while separate analogue power supplies feed audiophile grade components mounted on a specialised 6-layer PCB. The 598 does not, however, offer either internal bass management or time alignment for DVD-Audio sources, so those considering partnering the unit with a processor or receiver from another manufacturer will need to examine external, alternative solutions.
S/P-DIF digital outputs are also provided; on MHR Smart Link models a single coaxial terminal is available, while models with analogue outputs boast both coaxial and Tos-Link optical terminals. On 598 models with analogue outputs, the S/P-DIF output can be configured to carry bitstream and PCM signals native to DVD-Video and CDs, thereby enabling time alignment and bass-management for Dolby Digital, DTS and PCM sources within a suitably equipped processor.
The 598 boasts equally impressive video capabilities, configuration options even include a choice of black level settings for NTSC sources (0 or 7.5IRE). All 598s are equipped with composite and S-video outputs as standard together with the option to specify an interlaced or progressive video output, carried on a set of component video terminals. A SCART option, which outputs RGB signals, is available in European markets.
The progressive video output is another optional extra – when installed the 598 uses a unique implementation of Faroudja’s DCDi technology. Per-pixel motion-adaptive de-interlacing delivers the highest resolution picture while suppressing motion artifacts. Note that the progressive video output is only available with NTSC sources – PAL progressive is not supported.
The 598 model options are as follows:
598 DC — MHR Smart Link — standard BNC video — Ј2,875.00
598 DP — MHR Smart Link — progressive BNC video — Ј3,195.00
598 DS — MHR Smart Link — standard SCART video — Ј2,875.00
598 AC — 6-channel analogue audio — standard BNC video — Ј3,025.00
598 AP — 6-channel analogue audio — progressive BNC video — Ј3,335.00
598 AS — 6-channel analogue audio — standard SCART video — Ј3,025.00
- Supported formats: DVD-Audio, DVD-Video, DVD-R; Video CD (VCD), CVCD, MP3; CD Audio (CD-DA) including CD-R and the CD layer of hybrids such as CD+ and CD/DVD (DVD+).
- Audio outputs: Optional MHR Smart Link digital output. 15 Pin ‘D’ type connector and 3 Ч coax. Optional 6-channel analogue output on phonos. 2V/47W. 1 Ч auxiliary digital coax. 1 Ч auxiliary optical Tos-Link (only on models with analogue outputs.)
- Video features: Automatic PAL or NTSC encoding on composite and S-video. NTSC black-level setup adjustable as 0 or 7.5IRE. 16:9 and 4:3 displays supported. Screen saver timeout.
- Standard outputs: Composite, S-video and component (Y, Cr, Cb,) video on BNC connectors.
- Progressive out: As standard video out plus progressive (480P) output on component video (Y, Cr, Cb,) for NTSC.
- SCART out: SCART socket provides composite, S-video and RGB. Also features Function Select plus aspect ratio trigger.
- Controls: Front-panel controls for Open/Close, Play, Stop, Pause, Previous, Next and Off.
- Full RS232 control and status enables custom integration or automation.
- Front Display: 12 character display. Indicator lights for DVD, CD, MLP and repeat.
- On-screen: Switchable custom On-Screen Display allows instant review of disc status. Screen saver with user timeout options. Logo screen with pluge bars enables brightness setting of display device.
- Dimensions: 88mm (3.46in) Ч H, 321 (12.64) Ч W, 332 (13.07) D.
- Weight 6.4kg (14lbs).
- Power: Universal supply 100–240V, 50–60Hz, 25W.
Meridian 568.2 processor (top) and 598 DVD-Audio player (bottom).