My audio journey ends (?) with Meadowlark

I think it was an article by Pat on 6Moons that brought me here. As with all good endings, there's a story, so here's mine, and why I think my new Meadowlark speakers will be my last.

This is likely to be long and rambling, so here's the exec summary: New tech drivers with DSP = WIN!!!

Like many of us, I started a LONG time ago by building my own speakers. I quickly learned 2 things. #1 was that my woodworking skills were nowhere close to good enough (hand tools = leaky enclosures), and #2 that book knowledge (college electrical engineering courses) in no way qualified me to make good sounding passive crossovers. Another example of where theory just doesn't line up with reality.

So I put that path to audio nirvana on hold and went shopping. I'd say there were 3 phases overall in my shopping. In the beginning, there was what I could afford. I listened to a lot of things that I couldn't, and then tried to get as close as possible with what I could. I ended this first phase with Spica TC-50's with a Hafler amp. That alone probably dates me to anyone who remembers these pieces!

Once I got a real job, that started the next phase. "More" disposable income. I moved from the Spica stand mounts to Thiel CS 2 2 driven by a Rowland Model 2 amp with a Proceed CDP source (all on the used market). In this phase, I was playing with a lot of cables. Why? because they sounded different. To this day, I'm not 100% sure which ones sounded "best." Some sounded much better than others, but there were obvious reasons. EG: small gauge lamp cord makes terrible speaker wire.

Spica, Thiel - If you remember these speakers, you already have a pretty good idea of the sound profile that I look for. I'll trade time-aligned, minimum phase accuracy and resolution over low frequency extension every day of the week. No Cerwin-Vega for me.

So on to phase 3... There must be a better way! I discovered Meridian Audio around this time. Meridian started doing digital speakers in the late 1980's. By the time I found them, they had gotten pretty good at it. The theory was awesome - digital input to the speakers, crossovers in the digital domain, and amps directly controlling the drivers. Sound familiar? I get digital. Computers are my profession. I bought into the theory whole hog, and I love my Meridian sound. I thought I was done at that point.

Then something changed... Meridian stopped innovating, and the new HT surround formats are no longer supported by my Meridian gear. But I'm still sold on digital to the speakers, so the first hunt was a new processor that would output digital. And then the unthinkable happened...

While I was hunting for a processor with digital outputs on all channels, I listened to current technology speakers. Passive speakers with traditional amps and preamps and all that... And while my Meridian speakers still sounded good, they were showing their age. Replacing aged capacitors helped... These speakers are 20-30 years old at this point, after all. But even with the refresh, they couldn't match up to what I'm hearing. When all is said and done, these speakers use 20-30 year old tech. If you remember the DACs from 20-30 years ago, well, modern DACs blow them away. It's not even a fight.

So now I'm back in the speaker hunt, and I have to catch up on 20 years of information that I've been blissfully ignoring. I'm hearing things that I love, but I hate having to give up on the digital speaker philosophy. In the professional audio space, there are quite a few these days - Kii, Genelec, Dynaudio, etc.. AES67 and AoIP are finally coming. But I really don't want my room to look like a recording studio.

Days turn into weeks, and I'm frantically Googling trying to find options that meet my digital philosophy and can meet the needs of sound quality and furniture aesthetic... And that's where I trip over the article on 6Moons.

So money has changed hands, and I am now in the queue for a new pair of Meadowlark speakers. Nervous and excited, as you can imagine. As PM said, it's a leap of faith, but I remember the old Meadowlark speakers. They were in the same conversations when talking about Thiel and Vandersteen at the time. I'm putting my faith in Pat's ears, and his desire to create the Grand Illusion.

Why do I think this is the end of my audio journey?

Well, if you caught the timing, I basically "got out of the game" when I went to Meridian. I sat back and just enjoyed the content. I didn't worry about cables. Didn't get distracted by isolation games. For almost 20 years, I was blissfully ignorant of the SOTA, and just enjoyed what my system produced. I'm hoping to do the same with the new speakers. What I see is that Pat has taken the idea of digital speakers and cranked it up to 11. He's got ideas and implementations that couldn't have been conceived of 20-30 years ago with the tech at that time.

I hope I'll get another 20 years out of these speakers. If I do, then I'll be either dead, or have enough hearing loss that it will no longer matter.

And it will have been glorious.
 

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
@tsai
Congrats! I can't hear more of how this works out for yoI. As you say, being a speaker builder really opens your eyes to what @Pat McGinty has achieved. I'm sure you will be blown away once you finally hear them.
 
So, what's a person to do while waiting (somewhat patiently)...? Learn as much as possible, of course. I went and bought a Hypex Fusion amp to learn and play with so I have a better understanding of the electronics before my speakers arrive.

WOW! Yet more eye-opening stuff. I pulled out one of my older Meridian DSP5000 speakers, and yanked the guts so I could play with the Fusion. Not too hard, actually. The back panel contains all the electronics, and it is just screwed on. 2 cable assemblies attach the panel to the rest of the speaker. One for the display assembly with IR sensor, and a second to connect the drivers.

Made a quickie harness to plug the Fusion outputs to the correct wires on the driver harness, and boom, we're in business.

Started playing around with crossovers in the Fusion and... OMG, this is fun. Meridian claims the DSP5000 is a 2.5 way speaker with a crossover at 2.6k. Replicated that in the Fusion, and started taking measurements with a UMIK-1 and REW. Took measurements of the original speaker before I started on the Fusion transplant, and now I'm tweaking the Fusion crossover to match the REW curves between old and modified.

Once I get the measured curves close, I'll sit down and have a critical listen to see how it all comes out. Looks promising so far...

After that, well... lots of variables to play with -
- DSP5000 is ported. How about closing the port?
- Measure the actual volume of the box - can I make adjustments here (with port closing) to get better driver response and make up for the FR loss with more power!!!?
- It's a 2.5 way... I bought a 3-way Fusion amp. Let's make it a true 3 way.
- Since we can make it a 3-way, how about replacing the "0.5 driver" with a proper woofer instead of it matching the mid-woofer.
- As long as we're at it, choose a proper midrange driver....
- Well, the tweeter is pretty old... and since the midrange and woofer were both replaced....

Yeah... it's not really the same speaker anymore with all these experiments, but who cares? Let the games commence!
 
Over on the other half of the continent, all the hardware has arrived at Pat's shop. Maybe, if were lucky and time allows, @Pat McGinty will have a chance to snap a photo and give us a pron shot of the raw goods. :)

Anyone want to guess what speakers I'm getting?
 
I suppose it wasn’t that tough to guess for anyone following what Pat’s been doing.

Nightingale it is, but Pat is allowing me a minor tweak using the Seas 10” LF pumps instead of the Dayton.
 

prime minister

Site Owner
Staff member
I suppose it wasn’t that tough to guess for anyone following what Pat’s been doing.

Nightingale it is, but Pat is allowing me a minor tweak using the Seas 10” LF pumps instead of the Dayton.
Having heard what Pats big systems can do, I must say I am jealous as heck. I can't wait until your listening impressions.
 
I’m pretty pumped to see the Royd forum (excellent speakers) and this, the Meadowlark forum.

I try to keep audio regrets to a minimum but not trying harder to wrestle a pair of Meadowlark HotRods back home from a dealer friend remains a sensitive spot with me. I cannot recall if they were Shearwaters or early Kestrels but they were something special.
 
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