MERIDIAN: Retaining a Meridian source for a keen lover of Beethoven’s music

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Beethoven string quartets are not everyone’s cup of tea, I know, but for some they are a musical destination worth evolving towards. The equipment I play them on is Meridian 200 series CD transport, Meridian 263 Delta Sigma DAC7, Pioneer A400 amplifier and Ruark Talisman Mk I speakers, with budget quality cables and interconnects. I also have a pair of Usher S520 speakers.

I would be unlikely to return to vinyl and I would be reluctant to part with the CD player as I am extremely fond of it! Apart from the Ushers, this kit’s mostly twenty years old or more but is all fully functioning and in sparkling condition. What I am trying to achieve is a more natural sound for the string quartets, violin sonatas and piano music which I listen to most of the time. My system seems to shout, being sometimes aggressive and uncomfortable to listen to.

I am attracted by pre-owned the World Designs WD88VA amplifier and WD25T speakers. Do you think they would bring me nearer to the natural, insightful sound I seek using the Meridian source and optimal cabling? My room is 17ft x 12ft, with the speakers pointing up the long axis. A figure of £3,000 to £4,000 comes into mind but could be exceeded if sounds of exquisite naturalness met my ears from any other equipment you were kind enough to suggest. If pushed, I would change the DAC but I hope you will not insist on me replacing the 200 series transport!

Your Ruark Talismans are best suited to Rock, not Beethoven, and especially not string quartets. To listen to strings you need to consider an electrostatic from Quad or Martin Logan, I’d suggest, or the Princesound Prince II. Martin Logans are the most affordable and practicable and you really should try and listen to a Purity or Source both of which are in your budget. We very much like both vintage and modern designs from LFD Audio and if you can find one, a pre-owned Zero LE Mk3 with the uber-rare built-in phone stage might be all you’ll ever need if you retain the rest of the system. And yes, of course keep the 200 series transport.