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The MusicWeb Listening Studio

Most reviewers review from their own equipment but we do have high-end equipment for analytical listening where this seems appropriate. [None of this equipment is held at Len Mullenger's address]

Equipment Upgrade

A major upgrade was recently made to our equipment with significant improvements to the quality of sound now enjoyed…which is just as well considering the cost involved!

The most significant change has been the replacement of the trusty Chord Electronics

CPA3200 and DSC1100, along with the Proceed CD transport. These three items have now been replaced by a Meridian 808i, a CD player incorporating a digital pre-amp.

The result stated simply, is that the system, which is strictly two channel and used primarily for CD / CDR / DVD, now sounds superior in virtually every respect, and achieves better sound than we had dared to hope from our domestic environment. An additional bonus has been the result achieved from analogue cassettes replayed by a venerable Nakamichi BX300, the output of which benefits significantly from the processing effected by the Meridian.

The reduction from three boxes to one, admittedly large, box has also tidied up and simplified the racking required which could improve domestic harmony in some households.


Since May 2021 there has been an enforced equipment change, The Jeff Rowland amplifier, which has served us so well for several years, suffered some kind of seizure, just before the first UK lockdown in March 2020. The amplifier literally went out with a bang, Fortunately, it was in standby mode at the time and, even more fortunately, no other components were damaged. The dealer lent a replacement integrated amplifier, a Marantz MA10r. What was meant to be a short-term amplifier loan extended through some 12 months. Meanwhile, the damage to the Jeff Rowland amplifier proved to be irreparable. As a permanent replacement, a new amplifier, a Bryston-14B3 has recently been installed. This delivers 600 watts/channel into 8 ohms. Coinciding with the installation of the Bryston, the opportunity was also taken to make some other significant enhancements. The Meridian 808i CD player’s in-built digital amplifier is now used as a pre-amp. To maximise the Meridian’s pre-amp contribution, it was decided to upgrade the balanced output leads from the 808i to the Bryston, and also feed the digital audio outputs from each Humax recorder into individual inputs on the 808i. Audioquest cables were used for both the balanced and optical leads. For a first audition John Quinn, Len Mullenger and David Dyer gathered in the listening room and expressed them selves delighted at the improvement on sound in a system that was already pretty matchless.

The system therefore now comprises:

Meridian 808 Series 5 CD player with integral digital pre-amplifier. [~£11,000]

Pioneer PDR-609 CD recorder [~£400]

Bryston 14B3 power amp (Power output: 600 watts/channel into 8 ohms) [£15,000]

Nakamichi BX300 audio cassette recorder / player

Oppo BDP-105D DVD / Blu-ray player

Audioquest Interconnects. Pre to Power Audioquest Water XLR.

Nordost speaker cables

B&W Nautilus 802 speakers (bi-wired) [~£17,000]

NOTE: None of this equipment is located at Len Mullenger's address

So: a major return from a fairly hefty cash layout, albeit eased by the good people at Music Matters in Solihull whose co-operation regarding part-exchange made the venture possible.

David Dyer

With grateful thanks to all the staff at Music Matters who have patiently endured the trauma of this particular sale.


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