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Meridian 557 review

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by Daneel, Aug 28, 2004.

  1. Daneel

    Active Member

    Dec 5, 2002
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    The Meridian 557 is a 200W into 8 Ohms stereo power amp with a retail price of £1700. It can be picked up 2nd hand for around £800 depending on condition. The full specification is available from the Meridian site

    The 557 was swapped in for my Parasound 1205A , a 5 x 140W power amp that I was using to biamp my front speakers.

    The rest of the test system consisted of

    Pioneer 2011 functioning as a preamp
    Arcam CD72T using digital output to the Pioneer
    JM Lab Electra 926 speakers

    The specification of the 557 is very appealing. It has both XLR and RCA inputs and dual outputs. The transformer is a 1.6 kVA unit, the 1205A has a similarly rated transformer but it is 5 channel not 2! The difference between a power amp of this quality and an integrated receiver soon becomes clear when you turn up the volume, particularly if your speakers are hard to drive (the 926s aren’t particularly so).

    I take issue with Meridian’s description of the amp as dual mono however. There is only one transformer, so although there may be separate paths for each channel from that point onward, it all comes from one source, unlike say the Primare A30.2 or the Korato KT100.

    Build quality is good. At 27 kg it’s heavy for its size. It’s not particularly pretty but the glass top adds a touch of class. The power switch on the rear encourages you to leave it on but if you do want to turn it off and it’s in a rack against a wall, it can be fiddly.

    I tried a wide variety of music and found the 557 to be very good at just about everything. Compared to the 1205A it had slightly softer highs which might be useful if you have bright speakers or a harsh top end. This is a double edged sword however as it did take a little sparkle off high-hats and guitars for example. There was no lack of power, bass was strong and as tight as my room will allow (enabling EQ on the Pioneer helped with this). Vocals were clean and smooth.

    Stereo separation was good producing a well defined image across the soundstage. My speakers aren’t ideally placed however so I was unable to test this as well as I would have liked.

    As the tracks rolled on and I switched a couple of times between the 557 and the 1205A it became clear that there was little to separate them. Given the price differential this is surprising. You can look at it in two ways, either the 557 is over priced or the 1205A is a bargain. You could also take the view that I don’t know what I’m talking about!

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