This headline is is front and center at the Meridian sponsored website Music Is Changing. I received a note from a reader today (thanks very much for the info) about a big announcement that will be happening on December 4. The site has a big counter ticking away the seconds until we can find out what Meridian has to say. At the top of the page are the letter “MQA”, which is obviously an acronym for something. My guess is it stands for Meridian Quality Audio. What could Meridian possible have up its sleeve?
For those who don’t know, Meridian is one of the uber brands in the world of high-end audio. There are just a few companies that really do push the envelope on audio quality and Meridian is definitely in the club. I’m not going to mention any others that I believe are standard bearers because to do so would detract from the purpose of this post. We’d spend the rest of the year arguing about who is and who isn’t in that exclusive club. But trust me, Meridian is one of them without a doubt.
Robert Stuart, the head of the company (and am acquaintance of mine), is a truly brilliant man. I’m one of those people that holds him in the highest regard because he knows his stuff and is always looking for ways to improve digital audio. I settled in on high-resolution PCM audio largely because of some conversations that Robert and I shared when DVD-Audio and SA-CD were launched back at the dawn of the 21st century. His explanations coupled with the additional information I learned from John Siau of Benchmark Digital formed the foundation of my format preferences. Those original thoughts have only been fortified as I’ve researched the realities of all recording formats.
I have a couple of Meridian components in my studio. Robert was very kind in letting me return from a CES show with a couple of the units he used during the company’s demonstrations. In my equipment rack, are the Model 800 DVD-Audio/Video Player and a Model 861 Processor. They are expensive components. When they were current pieces, they would set you back over $35,000. I thank my friendship (and months of gentle pestering) with several people at the company for having these state-of-the-art audio components. They really do deliver some of the best playback of my recordings and I still use them when showing off my DVD-Audio titles.
But the big announcement from Meridian is not about music at all. It’s certainly not going to be about it sounds…Meridian doesn’t control the actual fidelity of the recordings that labels large and small produce and release. They are going to announce their partnership with Tidal and the inclusion of the CD specification streaming within their hardware. The “change” that they’re talking about is the abandonment of physical media and even downloads in favor of streaming. With Tidal claiming to be the “world’s first high-resolution, streaming digital music” service, the shift is away from physical discs (CD, SACD, DVD-A, Blu-ray Pure Audio). The music is going to be the same…it’s the way you consumer it that is what’s changing.
So just how big a deal is this? Not very big in my opinion. The masses can’t tell the difference between a good quality MP3 files (at 320 kbps) and a CD, so I don’t understand what the fuss is about. The world doesn’t really need 25 million CD rips streaming to your home system or portable device. What we really need is better sounding recordings in any format.
I’m still looking to raise the $3700 needed to fund a booth at the 2015 International CES. I received some very generous contributions but still need to raise additional funds. Please consider contributing any amount. I write these posts everyday in the hopes that readers will benefit from my knowledge and experience. I hope you consider them worth a few dollars. You can get additional information at my post of December 2, 2014. Thanks.