Meridian G06

Product Review by Björn Törnroth
Date: 24 October 2006
Copyright © Björn Törnroth 2006
Additionally licensed for the exclusive use of Harri Henell at SoundWorks
Meridian Audio's home page

Meridian G06
QUIBBLES AND SUCH

Um. None, really.

No, wait! The remote's a bit silly, actually. But it works really well, since its beacon is strong enough to overcome obstacles on the table.

The Meridian G06 oozes confidence and quality. It's really well designed and made. Every last detail has been given serious thought. Behaviour is predictable. The pride of ownership factor is sky high.

It played all discs, regardless of copy control and other silly stuff. Some of my older discs made it growl like an angry dog, but this usually stopped when actual playback began. One Deutsche Grammofon disc suffered from pops and clicks very much like an abused vinyl, which is a mystery, since no other player have reacted to it in any way whatsoever.

SYSTEM

Amp: Primare I30
Speakers: Sonus Faber Electa
Subwoofer: REL Strata III
Filter: Isotek MiniSub GII
Interconnects: Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval
Speaker cables: Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval 8
Mains cables: LAT AC-2, Russ Andrews The Reference

This could be the one

"Right, this is the one!" was my initial reaction to the immensely natural sound of the Meridian. It was big, effortless, sweet, detailed, punchy and engaging. Timbre was beyond criticism. The soundstage was huge and airy with terrific three-dimensionality. There was no harshness in the treble whatsoever. Transient speed and dynamic capability was tremendous with that spellbinding liquid quality.

All this makes for a really musical performer that had me dive straight for those tricky discs played less often, and after listening to them for a while, to wonder why. Throughout, it was really hard to switch discs, since time after another the Meridian G06 pulled me deep into the music, forgetting all else. I auditioned this player six hours straight, with higher sound levels than usual, with no listening fatigue. That's praise indeed.

The sound of the Meridian G06 reminded me very very much of the Primare CD31, and I will unashamedly quote myself:

"There was an immediate sense of ease. It sounded effortless, agile and nimble, almost liquid. It made the other players sound like they were trying too hard or had to push themselves. The combination of sounding pleasant and mesmerizing at the same time is a curious one. It's the same with the [Meridian G06's] ability to sound detailed and powerful at very low listening levels as well as refraining from sounding harsh and over-powering at high listening levels."

And furthermore:

"There was a surprising amount of detail, air, spaciousness and three-dimensionality, however without sounding fake, artificial or analytical. I thought it wasn't possible to be this detailed and yet to have such a delicate touch. The soundstage is huge but refrains from being in your face, although special effects seem to leap around you effortlessly."

The Meridian G06 made instruments feel very palpable and to have an autonomous existence and still to play an integrated part in the music.

Treble is extended and detailed as well as sweet and delicate, a bit like the Primare CD31, although I feel the Meridian G06 to have greater treble resolution and a tad more proper bite when required. It made a better job of letting different discs sound different, letting me know which discs were less polished in the treble. In comparison, the Primare CD31 may have smoothed things over just a bit, making all discs sound sweet and palatable. Although the Meridian G06 showed up less than perfect discs clearly, it did this with such delicacy and precision that it was still listenable, and not as ruthlessly as the Bladelius Freja.

The midband can once again be described with my words from the Primare CD31 review: "Pure yet rich in timbre, allowing me to hear nuances like never before. There's none of that hard and cold thinness I think is described as 'neutrality'. Violins and cellos sound delicious with strings of steel and bodies of wood. Cymbals sizzle and crash with both crispness and brassiness. Voices are full with delicate phrasing, vocalists sounding more present, more human and happier somehow."

The Meridian G06 without a doubt made my classical discs more vivid than any other player. Lute music was plain perfect with strings of metal, wooden body and a big church. John McFairlane is a genious musician, and the Meridian G06 made the absolute most of his delicate phrasing and timing. It's not just how he plucks a string, or the amount of force, it's exactly when he does it in the musical flow, that had me gasping for breath. This may well have been the finest rendering of Johns playing I've heard to date. Other classical discs faired impeccably as well, be it violins, cello, grand piano or choir.

Do not let the above for an instant make you think that the Meridian G06 is purely a "classical player". It's rendering of rock and electronic music came second to none of the other players, and death metal really prodded buttock. It's just that it seems like the classical and acoustic bit is where CD-players have the hardest time, and where the Meridian G06 showed it's most startling superiority.

Bass goes very deep with great power. It's juicy, fat, throbbing and sexy. Perhaps I've heard greater resolution, but I have reason to suspect my rig is a bit discotesque in this area. So I like plenty o'bass. So sue me.

Ramblings

It's not just about listening to music, but - dare I say it - experiencing the music. Being overwhelmed by it. Like really understanding why it had to be made. Seeing that the world got just a wee bet better because precisely this piece of music now exists in it. These ramblings may have nothing to do with the Meridian G06, but nonetheless, for some reason I fell into these reveries while listening to it.

And while I'm rambling, let me share my thoughts on soundstage, three-dimensionality and air, once again, for some reason or another, inspired by the Meridian G06. I personally think they are only secondary and contingent properties of music, stemming mainly from the stereophonic reproduction method. I do enjoy them, but I also think they are a possible distraction from the constitutive properties of music, such as timbre, dynamics and timing. I also think the three-dimensional properties present a misleading temptation for us audiophiles, since it's quite easy to be enchanted by them and to start pursuing them instead of music. And hifi gear really wants you to do just that. Some CD-players seem to induce air into all recordings, making them sound lush. Other players just don't have a clue what those things are, yet manage to create quite enjoyable music. It's all up to you if you feel those attributes necessary or not. The Meridian G06 seems like the first player that's somewhere in the middle, extracting ambience from discs when present, but if it ain't there, then it ain't. Never before have I had such an easy time discerning between different acoustics, be they natural or created in a studio. In this regard the Meridian G06 made my discs sound more different than before, and that, I think, gives me the right to call it the most truthful yet.

Conclusion

The Meridian G06, as the Primare CD31 before it, is the best CD player I've auditioned so far. It is a genuine jack of all trades, from classic to metal, acoustic to electronic. It has a tremendous sense of ease and rightness in its presentation. This is the first player I did not have to excuse anything. It made my system sound as if I suddenly had a beefier amp and bigger speakers. This CD-player - too - could be the one for me.

Björn Törnroth
bjorn.tornroth.net
bjorn at tornroth dot net