It would be remiss not to mention the Meridian line of DSP-active speakers. I have to admit that I love the very idea of Meridian as a company (or do I mean as a concept?). I’ve only heard one pair in my life, and they didn’t impress me, but this was at some audio show and they were being played at top volume with nondescript music – I hope to be able to hear some properly at a dealers in the near future. On paper, you could get a formidable bargain buying some secondhand on eBay, even though they might be quite a few years old, and you might, therefore, expect that their technology is out of date. But of course the technology to do this has been viable for a long time, and the basic maths hasn’t changed unless you believe that you can hear the improvement of ‘apodising filters’ (I wouldn’t like to bet on it) or higher ‘res’ (ditto).
Martin Colloms reviewed the DSP7200, and his impressions tally with other people’s reviews of DSP-active speakers:
It’s unquestionably ‘active’, with the grip, near effortless dynamic range, convincing integrity and authority that is typical of the breed. The stereo image was simply excellent, in depth width and focus. There was no aural confusion here, as it sounded almost effortlessly clear, with crisp stable imaging of believable width, coupled with stable off-axis placement where obviously phase displaced content so dictates.
The bass is unusually good, as powerful at very low frequencies as the two hard working 8.5in (216mm) bass units could supply… The bass clearly sounded ‘different’, even compared with very large and extended low frequency alternatives. Something about the 7200 got closer to the truth, with tighter control, better tune playing, and an ability to differentiate confidently between percussive and sustained bass sounds. Tracks combining both at once can tend to blur into one sound, but not so with the 7200.
Overall it sounds essentially neutral, if marginally rich and comfortable, giving a slightly distant effect that caresses rather than assaults the ears, even when playing very loud.
In the review Colloms has a moment of doubt, but resolves it by changing from the Meridian CD player to a different brand using standard S/PDIF (- I’m saying nothing…). He then says:
The sound was now so special that any thoughts about colorations, response errors et al paled into insignificance. It was fascinating to hear a speaker which so well commanded one’s emotional responses that any debate over objective criticisms now seemed nonsensical and irrelevant.
…which is somewhat similar to something I said in the post about my homebrew speakers i.e. that this DSP-active malarkey is so special, that it shows up that the things passive speaker users are imagining to be wrong with their speakers are, perhaps, red herrings; their problems go much deeper!