The Meridian Deck

by Anand Lal Shimpi on September 13, 2007 1:04 AM EST
If you saw any of our CEDIA coverage you might have noticed this expensive little item: the Meridian F80. Meridian calls it "the ultimate high performance transportable sound system", but it's basically a table stereo. It's got iPod support, a handful of outputs including composite and S-Video for DVD playback (no component). The F80 weighs just under 15 lbs and measures 16" x 9" x 7.25". Oh and it's co-branded by Ferrari and thus available in 5 different Ferrari colors. Otherwise, a normal looking tabletop stereo right?

Here's the kicker; Manveer and I were at the Meridian press conference where they demoed this thing, and we nearly left because we didn't expect it to be anything big. We'd already been to the Sony and JVC press conferences the day before, all the major announcements had happened, why even bother sticking around for some silly Ferrari radio? Oh boy was I glad we stayed.

The rep from Meridian fired up the deck, playing something I don't remember but the sound was incredible. This little box filled the entire room, which had to be at least 40' deep, 20' wide and with 15' ceilings, with sound. It's honestly the most amazing thing I've heard in that form factor; it was loud and it actually produced bass! Both of us were thinking "hmm I may actually buy this thing" and you've got to understand, for Manveer to think that is nothing short of an incredible feat; this guy wouldn't spend money on air if it cost something to breathe, he'd just take shorter breaths.

We were sold on the F80 and whenever the rep asked if we wanted to hear another demo everyone in the crowd eagerly said "yes". Each demo was amazing, putting one of those childish grins on our faces. This was a cool product, but then our dreams were ruined when a latecomer asked if the Meridian rep had discussed pricing.

"No"

He hadn't discussed pricing, and for good reason, this amazing box was just $5 shy of $3,000 USD. At $2995 it was no longer interesting, after all for that kind of money you can actually build a decent home theater setup, granted not in such a small package but seriously, $3K? I get that you're paying for the Meridian and Ferrari names, but I'd honestly put the money towards the Ferrari and shop elsewhere for the sound.

There has to be someone else out there building a competitor for a lot less money, speaker technology hasn't really changed all that much over the years - I have to believe that there's an equally capable clone out there.

Oh and the iPod dock is optional. Such a beautiful product, but it's a NeoGeo to me, just too much.
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  • infernaldevice - Friday, September 14, 2007 - link

    So let me get this straight, Meridian creates a tiny table radio that creates comments such as "oh boy was I glad I stayed", "the sound was incredible"," It's honestly the most amazing thing I've heard in that form factor", " Each demo was amazing, putting one of those childish grins on our faces." And then the only thing you guys can do is complain about price and believe that somebody has already knocked this thing off for much less money? You're joking right? You obviously missed the whole point of the demo, and learned nothing about Meridian. Reply
  • Reaktiv - Monday, September 17, 2007 - link

    Honestly, the first thing I expect from any Meridian product is quality, but with quality comes a price - especially in Hi-Fi audio.

    Most people have never even heard what real music, real instruments, or real singing sounds like, unless they by chance heard a guy playing the sax at an airport because their Bose Quiet Comforts' batteries died. If you want to hear music, really hear music buy products that actually come close to recreating it. I'm sorry you have to pay a price for a quality transducer.

    The irony of it all is that companies like Meridian, who creat quality audio products, plays second fiddle to a company that creates craptastic products that people are willing to pay the same price for(actually a little less, but they're still over paying). Marketing makes the world cry.

    Reply
  • judmarc - Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - link

    'struth.

    Anand, it isn't just the *speaker* tech that makes this thing work, just like it isn't just the CPU or the graphics card or the memory or the hard drive that makes a fine system. It's attention to detail and excellent ($$$) components that go into building each bit of this. Of course, I'm sure Meridian will be making a good chunk of money off each of these that they sell, since they won't exactly compete with the iPod on sales volume.

    Re buying a stereo system instead, my home system (just considering the music components, not video) would cost something north of $20,000 to replace in today's market, and I am nowhere near top-of-range for the manufacturers whose components I purchased. For people who *are* buying near top-of-range, we're talking easily $100,000 or more. When that's what you've paid for your home system, yeah, $3000 probably is about what you'd expect for a table radio.
    Reply
  • cciesquare - Saturday, September 15, 2007 - link

    It makes perfect sense to me. If you asked someone to build you a flash light and they give you a flash light but charge a price as if it is a large spot light you'd react the same way. Price is a big factor in buying any product and as such it makes perfect sense to say that the product is great but is way over price. Reply
  • crimson117 - Monday, September 17, 2007 - link

    quote:

    It makes perfect sense to me. If you asked someone to build you a flash light and they give you a flash light but charge a price as if it is a large spot light you'd react the same way. Price is a big factor in buying any product and as such it makes perfect sense to say that the product is great but is way over price.

    It's more like someone says "Hey, check out this flashlight I made." And it's as bright as a theater spotlight, and runs for 24 hours on a pair of AA batteries.

    Then you find out it costs as much as a professional theater spotlight, so you're no longer interested because it's out of your budget.

    But it's still a great piece of luxury technology.


    Whether or not this new sound system is overpriced will be discovered in time, when we see if other manufacturers can offer a competing device at a lower price. Until then, it's priced what it's priced.

    For me, I'm not spending $3000 on a stereo, no matter how good it sounds. I'd rather have a brand new PC and a nice pair of headphones for $3000 than one tabletop music player. But some people might value it.
    Reply
  • brshoemak - Friday, September 14, 2007 - link

    Actually it seems they learned what they needed about that product. For their needs it was over-priced compared to a full audio system which would allow for piecemeal component upgrades over time as audio technology advances instead of the static nature of this device. Doesn't seem to me they are putting Meridian down, just reacting as most consumers with average buying power would - I can get more for less.

    There are surely people who will snatch this up for a variety of reasons (travelers, salespeople giving presentations, Steve Ballmer's w00t sessions at Microsoft) but the widespread appeal is lacking at that price point. Still great product for a consumer electronics show - definitely has that 'wow' factor

    BTW, great Neo-Geo reference :)
    Reply

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