Meridian 565 mini review (Was : Bi amping from single phono feed)


Active Member
Hi All,

I've just added two power amps into my system, a 5 channel and a 3 channel Primares set up so that the rears and centre are being fed off one amp channel, and the fronts are being bi-amped from two power amps outputs.

Now I've got a Denon 3802 acting as the preamp/processor and it only has one phone putput for each channel so I just got some Y splitters to take the main L and R feeds to both power amps for each channel.

Now the sound is "ok". I've never heard the Denon sounding really good, its always been muddied & cloudy to me, but I can now add a little bit of distortion (like overdrive) to its list of sins. Is this likely to be the amps revealing more detail? (they are revealing more musical details) Or is it the way I've split the single phono feed to the two power amps?

I really am getting fed up of spending *more* money to get *worse* sound :(

Tell you all one thing though, this is absolutely, positively the last piece of Denon kit I ever buy. Flashy, nice build quality, list of features as long as your arm, nice processing in DD/DTS but audiophile quality of an Alba. IMHO Denon really have lost their roots.

<fx : looks at processors>



Distinguished Member
Rich, I still have my Meridian 565 processor, which is due to go back to audio T. As I'm leaving the country tomorrow for six days, it certainly won't be leaving until I get back.

You're welcome to borrow it for the duration, see how you get on it with - I guarantee you will utterly love stereo through it.

You'll need to collect it tonight though, I'm leaving @ 8.30am tomorrow. lmk


Active Member

After listening to a few more CDs and DVDs it turns out that the first CD was just badly mastered.

The others don't have any distortion. The bi-amping does produce the usual benefits and I'm pleased with that, but the Denon still sounds "boxed in" and "flat".

Many thank Smurfin for the offer! I'll be happily playing around with the 565 and look forward to seeing what difference it makes :)


Standard Member
"Boxed in and flat is "a very good description. Dry is another word I would use. Pity so many people are taken in by the gizmos of HT and don't concentrate on the music side of things. No doubt the 3805 will sell but I thing Denon is overrated. Denon has a clinical edge which doesn't create great tonal warmth and image. I wouldn't call it cloudy but certainly not warm and inviting to listen to. What HT has done is ruin good stereo all for the sake of movie bomb blasts!

Sorry to rant and side track...


Active Member
No problem bluesfan.

I just bought the 3802 as a "cheap" fix until I could afford something better than the previous Arcams I had.


Active Member
Denon has a clinical edge which doesn't create great tonal warmth and image.
4-5 years ago this was said about Yamaha and Denon was to have a "warmer" sound.
Could it be that Denon is (tonally) going into a more neutral direction, i.e. what you describe as "clinical" is actually "neutral"? That's how I would describe my Yamaha at least (sh.. in, sh.. out). :)


Active Member
I wouldn't describe it as neutral.

When listening to it there's no projection of the sound stage beyond the speakers, you can't pinpoint the individual instruments and they all sound a bit mixed up.

For what it costs, and what it does, its good, but the reputation Denon have as the best, since they came from audiophile roots, isn't deserved now.

Maybe the top of the range ones are a lot better but simply I can't get the sound I want on 5.1 channels and stereo without spending "eeek" pounds :(

Ahh, if only speakers were a lot smaller / more discreet we could all have two totally different systems and not have to compromise! :) (but we'd all be skint! :) )


Active Member
You can't really have one system for stereo and HT and expect outstanding results on both, its always going to be a compromise, I went from high end valve gear to a Pioneer surround system, and stereo really suffered, I toyed with the idea of using a decent amp just to run the front speakers with a direct feed from CD but decided was too much hassle, I love to hear a purist system playing some quality music but still think HT is a very rewarding subject (If you can ever sop tweaking, which I can't seem to do). I thought Denon was supposed to be the mutts thingys ??


I more than happy with my AVR3802's movie performance but the stereo/music side of things I found to be lacking. The addition of an integrated amp was very painless and added a whole new dimension to my cd collection. The addition of a good designated cdp was the icing on the cake.

I'm a happy camper in both arenas (av & HIFI) and will be even more so when my P80 power amp arrives Friday:)


Standard Member
As soon as money permits I shall be getting an integrated amp for my 3802 for CD replay. While it's fine in stereo with my budget kit it's nothing special. Its movie performance is good though.


Well-known Member
i had a 3803. previously i had a yam A3090. the 3803 sounded compressed in comparison - and for the first time ever, i blew a tweeter! that is how horribly underspec'd the powersupply is. i had no idea my "110w/ch" reduced to a little over 35w when all channels were driven!
so i borrowed a meridian 561 from a dealer - it was night and day. all of a sudden, dynamics returned! fraggle, if you are not blown away by the difference, I will be amazed! the Meridian will show you detail, imaging, dynamics and a soundstage. The 3803, and I suspect 3802, can't do any of that.

Gliese 581c

Distinguished Member
I find the stereo image from my denon pretty good. Better than others Ive heard.

does this only affect denon's avr 38** range ?

I'll be changing my receiver soon anyway to seperate power amp/processor.


Well-known Member
actually i would like to retract the following:

"the Meridian will show you detail, imaging, dynamics and a soundstage. The 3803, and I suspect 3802, can't do any of that."

and change it to:

"the Meridian will reveal much more detail than the Denon, and dynamics are presented as they should be. The 3803, and I suspect 3802, seems to present a subdued, slightly compressed sound in terms of dynamics. It doesnt dig as deep into the recording as the meridian: The soundstage with the meridian is well defined and three dimensional, the Denon's is somewhat muddled and confused, although it can image fairly well in a 2 dimensional plane.
The overall result is much less impressive with both stereo and 5.1 soundtracks with the 3803. I suspect a lot of this is to do with power amps, but I compared the 3803 and 561 with my two Meridian 505 power amps, thus avoiding the Denon's own amps, and the subdued presentation was still very evident."


Active Member
Hi again,

Wiell having had a little watch of 2 Fast 2 Furious (got to unpack all the DVD, want to demo the Matrix lobby scene, I normally use that one as a good test), and Lost In Space, I can certainly say the meridan is more dynamic. Its actually TOO dynamic for me.

Let me xplain that, I'm partially deaf and with the meridan if I have it at a volume that I can hear all the little quiet details the house practically falls down at the loud bits! But setting the compression to "Min" gets round that problem.

*But* it does seem to be just lacking in the small "surround" noises that make the sound eveloping. I'm hoping thats just the DVD, I'll report back again when I've watched a few more.

I've emailed Meridan to see if the 565 can actually be set up the way I want. I suspect it can't and I'll need a 561 because that can do what I want (large main, mono sub, small centre). I'm unsure exactly what the protection setting does but I've got it set to '0' on the centre channel to try to simulate a small centre, but I'm not convinced it acheives that properly.

I'd also like the way the 561 can be set to completely not use the centre speakers for all music modes. (My centre speaker is rather mismatched against the mains - I need to borrow some good centres to find one that does match :) ) I kow Epos were thniking about making a matching centre but I'm unsire if they've made it yet?

As to stereo, again I've got to unpack all the CDs so I can demo with my favourite CDs but it certainly sounds better. And the Primare 30.5 amps, bi-amped into the Epos ES30s certainly produce enough volume, easily overloading the room, and my hearing!

I'll have to stop playing around with the Pronto setup (its still annoyingly fiddly ATM) and get down to some proper demoing :)

One annoying thing is the OSD is only composite (although the quality of the composite feed through it, from the DV88+ is amasingly good though), but I'd like SVideo. That 561 is calling again.

Pity there's none out there I can find.

So results so far:
for music it sounds better. Not tremendously better, but I suspect thats just the couple of CDs I have available at the moment.
For movies it does the business but doesn't draw you in as well as the Denon or Arcam A22 DAVE I've had. Again Ive got to add the proviso I haven't completely set it up yet, I realised last night I haven't set up the delay setting yet!

As to the processing modes I prefer stereo, DD5.1 and DTS. I still find all the "enhanced modes" just annoying. But since most of them ustilise the centre speaker, the poor one I have would be a large reason for this.

<fx : goes off to unpack DVD & CDs & grab measuring tape :) >


Active Member

The Meridian is a really nice processor/pre amp, no doubt about that, but not the one for me I'm afraid.

Here's what I've determined so far.

On stereo music : it is leaps and bounds above the Denon, but still the 'transparencey' and projection of the soundstage way beyond the physical speakers just isn't happening.

When I listen to music its tiring at loud volumes, and takes effort to pick and place individual instruments. Everythings kinda, muddy, very very slightly.

I'm trying to acheive a system I once heard where no matter what was played, or what volume, the speakers were there in front of me, but they appeared to be doing nothing, the music was just "there" in the room, spread out in front of me from wall to wall, beyond the wall even.

As to movies, DD5.1, it just seems to get it slightly wrong. The Lobby scene in the Matrix, the music is far to recessed into the background, the 'chink' of the shells hitting the ground is too loud, the 'whumphs' and 'growls' of the explosions are too quiet. The racing scenes in 2F2F, the louds are too loud, and the quiets too quiet. Setting the 'depth' to -2.5 and upping the rear gain to +5Db in the Digital setting improves things a lot.

Everythings there, and there's a lot more there and clearer than the Denon, but its still tiring to listen to.

The Arcam A22 / P25.3 I had was better musically and in DD5.1, but didn't bring out quite as much information as the Denon 3802, but the Denon 3802 is let down by poor analogue stages.

So the Denon comes bottom
Meridian second (i suspect that any processor that does a lot of number crunching aside from basic D/A & A/D might be the same)
Arcam A22 DAVE / P25.3 / 10P better for stereo and better for DD 5.1 sound quality and sound stage, but not quite as good processing as the Denon 3802 from purerly the DD 5.1 processing front.
Audiolab 8000MX x 2 / 8000Q best on audio. Useless on Digital (no real suprise that one! :) :) :) :) )

Thanks to Smurfin for the loan and you're more than welcome to come along to listen and play with it any any of the other gear I've got.

Apologies for any spelling mistakes, I'm typing this with one eye closed cause I'm that tired at the momoent and can't see the words!



I have to say i have the feeling that the meridians are sensitive to partnering equipment. Mine is seriously special and i cant understand anyone thinking anything else!


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