In-wall towers with power

Home Cinema Choice|May 2020

In-wall towers with power
Richard Stevenson gets active with Meridian's DSP-toting installation speakers
Richard Stevenson

In-wall loudspeakers are a bit, well, Marmite. You are either going to love the sleek, seamless look when installed or fret about whether traditional speakers would have sounded better, particularly up the front. But with the right DSP, sonic compromises can be eliminated. Enter the DSP520.2.

This fully active in-wall speaker is the smallest of Meridian’s three-strong line up of column-format designs, with a fourth compact in-wall model, the DSP320.2, completing the brand’s architectural range. Drawing on technology from its M6 active floorstander, the DSP520.2 uses a shallow sealed aluminium cabinet, a wide-dispersion 3.5in midrange/ high-frequency driver, and a 5.5in bass unit.

Both these drive units are fed separately by 100W of Class D power, each using paired and bridged amp modules. The position of the mid/high driver is roughly central to the cabinet, allowing for vertical L/R installation or horizontal positioning for the center-channel (or top-notch soundbar).

Gathered under the auspices of Meridian’s CLASS-M DSP Engine, the speaker's processing tech includes Enhanced Bass Alignment, to best match bass timing to the HF driver, and Centre Elevation, which aims to raise the perceived output height when the DSP520.2 is used below a (large) screen.

There's also an anti-jitter system called FIFO (First In, First Out) Buffering, Meridian’s own Apodising filter to improve clarity, bitrate upsampling, and support for Meridian High Resolution (MHR) audio… which is Meridian’s bespoke steroid-enhanced version of MQA/ HRA. This isn't your usual in-wall speaker.

Dynamic duo

One of the huge advantages of DSP-fettled in-speaker amplification is that you can change the processing dynamically with the speaker’s output. This has enabled Meridian to best balance the sound, whether you are listening to a whisper-quiet scene or huge crescendos that would otherwise see that 5.5in bass driver jettisoned out of the cabinet. This gives the DSP520.2 its eye-watering specification of a 114dB maximum sound pressure level and bass output to below 50Hz. You would need a large and very efficient floor-standing loudspeaker to get even close to those numbers.

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May 2020