Ask Mr. H: ATC: Meridian, ATC and Harbeth SHL 5s

Hello Howard, I feel as though i know you although we have never met, having read your articles and comments for some time. Frankness and honesty is a quality i greatly admire. I'm a music and audio enthusiast of 40+ years. Won't bore you with my hi fi history but in my sitting room is a Meridian 200 series pre amp CD player, a 204 tuner, pair of 205's driving a year old pair of Super HL5's originally supplied by you. it sounds terrific. I have a fully active Meridian/ATC set up in the loft for movies. Despite the huge price difference the aforementioned older 2 channel set up sounds far more natural on stereo music. 

Couple of questions I'd be really interested in your comments on. Why have you suddenly stopped selling/recommending/referring to Harbeth loudspeakers. I would have thought they were still right up your street sound and philosophically wise. it's part of the reason why I ended up with what I have. Second, I agree with you about the older Meridian equipment. how much better [if at all] was the 600 series gear than the 200? Look forward to hearing from you and maybe meeting up one day.

I'm very touched that you wanted to write to me like this. Such a pleasant surprise and, as such, one that I never take for granted. Not even a little bit!

Seems to me you have a well-balanced system there with no obvious weak points. Although a Meridian fanatic, I never felt that their tuner designs (sonically speaking) were anything special. I think the 205s are minor classics though.

Re ATC I sold tons (literally) of them. Curiously though I never wanted to take a pair home with me. In some respects they are/were I feel reminiscent of Wilson Audio speakers in that they do every individual thing ‘right’ but never came together as a cohesive, compelling combination. I still believe Meridian remain state-of-the-art when it comes to active speakers. My 33 year old M1s produce a depth, quality and tone of bass that not only is astonishing but at no price have I ever been able to match let alone exceed. A true masterpiece.

Re the Harbeth story, take a look here if you will. In a nutshell, I was fed up with the makers devaluing the worth and worthiness of potential UK buyers. Simple as that, really. MORE

Re the Meridian 600 series, I owned most of it. The 601 hybrid digital/analogue was a brilliant but deeply complex device. Utterly brilliant in concept but a bit flawed in execution. The 602 transport (sadly the drive mechanism is not serviceable today) was magnificent and indeed was the matching (but slightly outdated) DAC. The rare tuner was, again, only so-so. Power amps from the range were/are all outstanding.

I hope the above has proved interesting for you. Yes, maybe one day we’ll meet. I don’t demo in my place any more. All demos are in the potential end-user’s place because of the variation in tonal ‘slant’ between the rooms. I want to reduce the buyer’s risk.

Kind regards


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