|Meridian 568.2 Digital Surround Processor|
|Home Theater Preamplifiers AV Preamps|
|Written by Bryan Southard|
|Monday, 01 September 2003|
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Some may applaud the diminutive size of the 568.2. I think that it is a little too small, or at least too narrow. I see little reason why it doesn’t extend to the full rack width. This wouldn’t be an issue, except that it limits the real estate necessary for ample connections, forcing you to purchase a second unit to handle anything more than the most basic connections. By basic, I mean that you lack the inputs to run multiple players and your game machine at the same time. Most A/V preamps today provide more connectivity than you could dream of ever using, yet the 568.2 is decidedly sparse. However, with the purchase of a Meridian 562V.3 at $2,700 and a separate chassis, you will have all the switching and connections you will need, albeit obviously at an additional cost.
Although I found Meridian’s set-up software a joy and the next best thing to sliced bread, it requires a portable PC. This software is also Windows-based, which means that Mac users (reports say as many as 11.5 percent of the installed computers out there run a Mac OS and maybe an even higher number of potential Meridian clients, considering Mac’s lifestyle advantages) are out of luck. Set-up from the face of the unit is possible, but so cumbersome that you will go out and buy a portable PC out of sheer frustration. I simply recommend you purchase any Meridian new from an authorized dealer and insist that they set it up for you. If you are buying Meridian used, factor into your price working with a local dealer to make sure your system is up to date with the latest software and programmed for your specific system.
As mentioned in the Meridian 598 review, I had a love/hate relationship with the Meridian remote. On one hand, it is large and uncomfortable to handle, yet on the other hand, its layout is nice and it controls your entire system. It has the best reading IR sensors that I have yet seen, registering inputs from the oddest and farthest angles in your room, and is frankly simple to use. My final verdict on this remote is a thumbs-up, yet others will undoubtedly give it a thumbs-down. One thing that you cannot deny is the ease of control when manipulating both the Meridian player and preamp. My largest annoyance is the remote’s lack of backlighting. This is a huge downside, in that this is a video product, and video is viewed in the dark. Meridian is not alone in this flaw, as many A/V manufacturers skip this detail, yet it is my belief that the A/V industry needs to immediately backlight their remotes.
The Meridian 568.2 falls into an interesting price point. At $6,995 to $7,745, it is expensive in relative terms but a value when you consider what it does and how well it does it at its price point. I would guess more than 50 percent of users must factor in the additional cost of $2,700 for the Meridian 562V.3 Digital Controller for ample video switching. This brings a fully loaded 568.2 in closer to Lexicon’s MC12 preamp than Proceed or Krell’s units in terms of price. In terms of performance and cool factor, the 568.2 is in a league of its own.
For multi-channel music and movies, the 568.2 performed phenomenally well. It supplied enormous detail and musicality. When auditioning standard CDs, The 568.2 compared favorably to the absolute best two-channel preamps available today – cost no object. I found the audio performance of the 568.2 to be one of its strongest advantages. While DVD-Audio and SACD are exciting and something I would not live without these days, let’s not forget that the majority of music that we now own, and possibly will ever own, still remains on CD. Add in studio grade upsampling and tasteful DSP modes like Trifield, and you give even more value and life to your old record collection.
The 568.2 handled DVD-Audio with perfection and movies sounded simply magnificent. The Meridian 568.2 is a preamp that performs and reproduces every format without compromise. It proved to be easy to operate, easy to set up and, most importantly, it made music and movies hugely enjoyable. Unless you have the nearly $20,000 for the Meridian 861, you can consider the Meridian 568.2 to be one of the top five best AV preamps on the market and the perfect segue for the audiophile looking to do more with his or her system, without compromising audio quality. There is no compromise in a Meridian 568.2.