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January 2012 Issue - page 4

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January 2012 Issue
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MORE SOOLOOS

When I first read your review of the Meridian Sooloos music server I thought here at last was a really usable music server, something that could replace my old Squeezebox system that has been in use for the past five or six years. Then as I reread the review I noticed a number of questions that were not addressed.


1. What is the distinction between the Control 15 and the Media Source 600? The review does not explain that clearly enough for someone who doesn’t know the Sooloos series.


2. Does the Sooloos server have one hard disc or more? Are they mirrored for safety of your media? To expand a little on this, a hard disc can fail; sometimes they fail unrecoverably without warning - even multiple discs, because they usually come from the same manufacturing batch, can fail quite close together when they are installed in the same machine. I would not be interested in a media server that does not offer at least the following features:

Multiple mirrored hard discs, at least in a RAID 1 configuration or similar, so that all media is stored on two separate discs

Prominent reporting whenever one of the hard discs reports or shows signs of failure or distress. Most modern hard discs can be interrogated to find if they are experiencing read errors; this can be reported to the user as a warning to replace the discs.

Have the ability to automatically rebuild the mirror if one disc has been exchanged for a new one; in other words, if a disc is changed, the server should recognise this and automatically copy all the media from the remaining disc to the new one;

Have the ability to rebuild the mirror onto larger capacity discs; that is, if the original discs are not big enough it should be possible to replace one disc with a bigger capacity disc, wait until the media is automatically copied to the new disc, then replace the remaining old disc with a second larger disc, so that both discs can be changed without loosing the media or having to copy it manually

Have a backup facility to another device, e.g. a plug-in USB backup device that can then be taken away and stored somewhere else

It would be nice if the discs could be hot-swappable also, like in some server computers, so they could be swapped without having to stop and open up the media server.


Does the Meridian have any of these features?


Also, have you reviewed any of the Logitech media players? They are surprisingly good for low-budget music devices. I have several Squeezebox 3 players (pre the Logitech take-over of Squeeze Devices) streaming music from a Synology NAS box running the Squeezebox server. It provides me with all the features I mentioned above, but without the quality I get from my other Meridian and Musical Fidelity devices. That said, the quality from the Squeezebox players is surprisingly good; you can even here the benefit of HD media (24 bit/96 kHz) compared to CD-quality media.

Keep up the good work.

Kind regards,

Gerard Lardner

Ireland

 

 

 

meridian-media-source-6001

 

meridian-media-source-600

Meridian Media Source 600 complements the Sooloos, say Meridian.

 


Meridian say –

All Meridian Sooloos Digital systems include three key elements. They are Storage, Control, and Playback. In the case of Control 15, all three of these functions are combined in to a single product – a combination that makes Control 15 a powerful stand-alone system, and as such the most simple and effective way to communicate what a Meridian Sooloos Digital Media System offers. For this reason it is also the most practical Meridian Sooloos product for review in Hi Fi World.


For the more advanced Digital Media System user, a Control 15 may not offer all of the features that their specific installation requires, which is why we produce a wide range of products under the Meridian Sooloos umbrella that can all be used in combination through IP network connection to make systems of almost any size – be it to accommodate larger collections, or multiple rooms each with different audio systems to connect to.


To answer your first question: what is the distinction between the Control 15 and the Media Source 600? As described above, Control 15 may be considered an all-in-one or stand-alone Meridian Sooloos Digital Media System, integrating storage, control, and playback in a single appliance. By comparison, Media Source 600 is a playback only device for a Meridian Sooloos Digital Media System. In the case of the review system Media Source 600 can be connected to the same DHCP network as Control 15 to provide an additional independent zone of high-quality audio for connection in to a traditional hi fi system, through outputs on balanced or single ended analogue or S/PDIF interfaces.


Your second question in its various parts all relating to storage lends itself to both a long and a short answer. I shall try to be comprehensive in my reply, but not take up too much of the editor’s generosity by keeping the answer concise at the same time.


Control 15 includes a single 500GB internal hard disc drive which is used as primary storage to hold up to round 1000 CD albums in lossless FLAC format. In this particular system configuration, backup would be maintained through a separate third-party storage device, connected either to the same DHCP network as the Control 15, or via USB to a personal computer on that network.


So far this answer only covers the specific system that was the subject of the review, however where the question is applied broadly to Meridian Sooloos Digital Media Systems in general the answer changes because we also offer a number of products that include multiple hard disc drives – such as Media Drive 600 or Media Core 600 – that by default offer RAID1 storage with mirrored backup as an integrated feature. These products also include automatic drive recognition features whereby when a replacement drive is loaded in to the product through one of the front panel bays, that new drive will be appropriately formatted by the host product, and have the content from the primary drive copied on to it as a background task requiring no user intervention.


Even in a Meridian Sooloos Digital Media System that provides integrated backup of your media library, the option to perform an external backup that can be taken away and stored somewhere else always exists, and we offer free applications for both Windows and Apple personal computers – Control:PC and Control:Mac – from which this process can be managed. We would always recommend that a separate backup such as this be kept at a second location as this provides an extra layer of protection against catastrophic loss. It is also worth pointing out that in addition to being backed-up your collection can be exported for use in other locations or with other music server systems including, of course, your portable MP3 player.


Whatever products make up a Meridian Sooloos Digital Media System, they are all always connected to the Sooloos cloud. From here we manage features such as the Sooloos aggregated metadata service – the service that ensures a Meridian Sooloos Digital Media System can provide the most detailed and accurate metadata for your music collection – and we also provide remote monitoring and technical support, so when a hard disc drive does start to show signs of age and fatigue we are able to advise preventative intervention, which helps protect all of our customers’ valuable music collections.


I trust this reply has answered the specific questions that prompted you to write.However, I appreciate that they are all somewhat conceptual as the discussion related to Meridian Sooloos Digital Media Systems in general rather than being exclusive to the review system. For further information on the complete Meridian Sooloos digital Media System range I should direct you to our website www.meridian-audio.com, or to your local Meridian retailer who would be happy to help you with your specific requirements if you do indeed think the time has come to replace your old Squeezebox system.

Yours sincerely,

Roland Morcom

Meridian Audio Ltd.


TIME TO SWITCH

I have a WAD K5881 Mk2 amp, built from a kit and now about 14 or so years old. Reading the descriptions of it in previous DIY pullouts from HFW, it does state that the amp should not be switched off and on again in short order.


As someone who uses the amp most days, I do find myself having to decide how long it is going to be before I will again be using it. If within an hour or so, I leave it on, but am aware that this is reducing the life of the valves, or so I gather.


As someone who likes to let the amp warm up for half an hour beforeI use it, turning off and on isn’t really an option, so I have decided a Standby Switch might be useful, as I understand that it keeps the amp warm, but am not sure where it should be located within the circuit.


Which part of the circuit does a standby switch isolate in a valve amp? Somewhere, I seem to remember reading that it keeps the heaters alive, whilst closing down the main power supply and cutting the power to the main circuit. Is this correct?


Is it possible to to include a Standby Switch in the WAD, or does the circuit design preclude this option? I still have the construction notes and circuit diagram for the amp, so not a problem to make the mods myself.


I’m sorry to have to ask for this information, but as a hobbyist my electrical/electronics theory isn’t very good. I can build and repair, but not design circuits. Many thanks, for many years of enjoyable reading and great articles.

Russ Betts

 

 

k5881

 

A Standy switch breaks the HT line at the point shown by the red arrow. But watch out, because it must insulate against 500V.

Switch-off thump suggests the 5881 valves need replacing by a new matched pair. But check C8 and C9 too.

 

 

 

Hi Russ.  A standby switch breaks the HT line, and is connected in at the point shown by our red arrow. This allows the valves to idle with heaters on, with no current being drawn through the valve, so preserving its life. The point to note here though is that the switch must be able to withstand 500V d.c., where most are rated at 250 V a.c. max. You need to go to a reputable supplier like RS Components for a special high voltage switch.NK

GOT THE THUMP

I am the very happy owner of a WAD K5881 Mk 2 amplifier, but it is causing me a certain amount of concern. In recent months, I have noticed an increase in the number of times that, when switching off the amp, it produces a loud thump in my speakers.


Earlier this year, having experienced a particularly loud thump when switching off, upon switching on again the next day, I found one of my Quad ESL 57s had stopped working. As I am about to have the speakers rebuilt by One Thing Audio, I don’t want to find the speakers being further damaged, given the cost of the rebuild.


Currently, I am using a pair of KEF iQ30 speakers, won from you three years ago. They also get a mighty kick, each time I switch the amp off. Is there anythingI can do to stop these loud thumps? Some components, maybe, that can be included in the circuit as a filter, or whatever.

Russ Betts

Hi Russ. The amplifier is running down asymmetrically after switch off, due to unbalanced R/C time constants. This is almost certainly due to the valves becoming mismatched and you need to buy a new matched pair. It could conceivably be due to one of the cathode bypass electrolytics C8/9 failing or, less likely, a cathode bias resistor R15/16 changing value. To check this you need to measure their values with a CR meter, which Maplins can supply. Just make sure there is no HT on the HT line first of course, before fiddling. Use a meter to check. NK



 

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