It was 1989 and like many men in possession of a reasonable end of year bonus I decided that a trip to a high end hi-fi specialist was in order.
Graham’s HiFi were pretty top end and had a reputation for being professional and easy to work with – they still are, are still thriving in the same premises in Islington and still capable of delivering eye watering quality and eye watering prices if a 15 seat private cinema and music room is what your bankers bonus can now afford.
I went into their embracing and knowledgeable arms with a budget and a plan to buy something very simple and very nice – I recall thinking I’d probably buy a Naim system with their minimalist components, usually just a green power light and a single control knob – this in an age when the average Tottenham Court Rd hi-fi looked like the control panel of an airliner with graphic equalisers etc.
I left Graham’s Hi-fi 5 hours later having ordered a multi-room system for about 5 times my initial budget – having bought the most beautiful piece of industrial design meets sonic excellence available to man, a Meridian 200 Series.
If Jude, the consultant who walked me through the options on the day, had told me then that 23 years later it would still be with us, still played virtually everyday and still able to impress sonically… I would probably have said “For what I just paid I damn well hope so!”. I’m still in contact with Jude and David Graham, the company’s MD, and I think even they are amazed that it has stood the test of time quite so well.
Meridian was in 1983 the first UK company to engineer it’s own CD player – albeit using the basic CD technology and components that Philips had pioneered and owned the copyright on. By 1989 Bob Stuart and the technical team he led at Meridian had worked and reworked the CD technology to totally transform what a CD player sounded like.
At the same time Allen Boothroyd, the design partner in the Boothroyd Stuart company, had designed a modular system that simply revolutionised the way the components not only looked but inter connected, switched and talked to each other. Their philosophy was what Johnny Ives and his design team at Apple were to base so much of their design approach on many years later.
By 1989 Meridian were able to build their own CD player – and the 207 Pro was probably a landmark product as it contained so much experimental electronics as well as the company’s understanding of the unique characteristics and demands of CD as a music source. There were lots of clever firsts in the 200 Series – stuff like housing the actual CD mechanism in a separate unit from the control unit so that there was no disc vibration.