Meridian launches high-end HDMI extender and 4-into-1 HDMI switcher


John Archer

<img src="" align="right">Meridian Audio has announced the introduction of two products in a new line of HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) devices, called the ‘HDMAX’ series: an HDMI booster/extender, the HDMAX 121 Extender; and a four-into-one HDMI switch, the HDMAX 421 Switch. The units integrate fully with Meridian components and are also 100% compatible with third-party systems.</P><P>Placed towards the display end of the HDMI path, the HDMAX 121 Extender allows HDMI cable runs of up to about 50 meters (150+ feet), depending on the signal resolution. This is particularly useful when a digital video display device such as a projector is a considerable distance from the video source driving it. The unit is typically placed near the projector or other display device. Proprietary active termination, automatic cable equalization, buffering and de-jittering technology are claimed to visibly improve image quality, reduce noise and stabilize the video – even on short cable runs. Automatic signal correction allows signals between –20dB and +6dB to be restored to optimum levels, edges and eye pattern, potentially making the Extender an ideal HDMI or DVI problem-solver.</p><P>The 121 Extender is a small, sturdy metal box, finished in matt black, designed to bolt into position unobtrusively near the display unit (though it may also be positioned part-way down the signal path). The unit has one input and one output: the output is typically connected via a short HDMI cable to the display, while the input is connected via a long cable to the video source component. DVI/HDMI conversion cables can be used with DVI sources and destinations. The 121 Extender is powered by an external universal voltage supply or may be operated by any DC supply from 6 to 15V at under 2W consumption, making it suitable for powering from a projector trigger source, for example. An indicator LED illuminates when lock is established (a power indicator LED is also included).</P><P>The HDMAX 421 Switch is a four input, one output HDMI switching unit with extremely wide bandwidth, employing proprietary technology to switch high-resolution digital HDMI video and audio. Each input also includes Meridian’s HDMI Extender technology to improve image quality and stability and reduce noise on both short and long cable runs. The metal enclosure is finished in matt black with an acrylic front panel matching the appearance of current Meridian components such as the G Series.</P><P>The 421 Switch can be controlled in several ways. For direct use, a front-panel button allows the user to step through the inputs. LEDs indicate which input is selected. For serial control, a 9600 bit/sec serial port is provided, allowing interfacing via RS232 command. In addition, sources may be assigned to different inputs, eg DVD = input 1, etc. This allows the unit to be controlled via Meridian Comms (DIN or BNC) so as to select the correct input automatically when a source is selected in a Meridian system. Input assignment can also be carried out in the Meridian Windows-based graphic configuration application. </P><P>Input 1 on the 421 Switcher automatically senses the presence of a Meridian DVD-Audio/Video player. When the Meridian player detects the presence of a Switcher, a range of additional options become available in the player’s on-screen display, allowing video sources to be assigned to the other Switcher inputs instead of going via the player’s internal format conversion and scaling (player firmware revision 1.86 or later required). A G12 infrared sensor may be connected via a Comms port for infrared remote control applications.</P><P>The 421 Switch includes indicators corresponding to each input to show which is currently selected. The selected input indicator comes on solidly when an HDMI input is valid, and flashes when it is invalid. </P><P>The unit is powered by a separate universal voltage supply or may be powered by any DC supply from 6 to 15V, at under 3W. It has rubber feet that may be removed to reveal mounting holes for permanent installation.</P><P>Both the 121 Extender and 421 Switch pass both HDMI audio and video and are claimed to be completely transparent to handshaking, control and data signals, with extremely high bandwidth and virtually zero latency.

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