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The Meridian Component amplifier was the second series by Meridian after the 100 range. The range consisted of a pre-amplifier, a 200 Watt power amplifier and an integrated 30 Watt amplifier with switch mode power supply.
The integrated amplifier could take more module than the pre-amplifier version with it's external power supply.
Modules are bolted between the volume control and mono and power on sections. The Power supply, on/off and mono section appear as 4 double units but are in fact one section. The system shown here had the CD, aux and Moving coil modules added to the original moving magnet, FM tuner and tape modules.
In strict listening the MCA MC out performs the 101B but the difference is minor. On other sources there is no difference.
Each module has a selection (what you hear) and source switch (which the tape module picks up). There is a mains switch on the back as well as under the flap on the left. With the flap closed a small amount of movement enable the module to be selected, pressing top left on the labelled flap to select.
The system will not switch on automatically when power is supplied, so can not be used with a timer. The flexing between modules may be the cause for the faults in the unit over the years. When new modules were added the amplifier would fail to switch on. Meridian have repaired this amplifier three times. Then again the power amplifier of the M1 speakers have both been in for service. Fortunately Meridian had continued to repair and service all their products.
The finish is nextel, a soft to touch grey. The auxiliary module is darker than that of the other modules and the CD one lighter. This is most likely to be due to the different environment they have been used in for 25 years.
The volume control has a balanced DIN output that can connect direly to active speakers such as the M1 or M2. The tape module is connected with a 5 pin DIN cable. Confusingly some modules swap around which RCA socket is for left channel as with the CD module shown here.
The FM Tuner appears like a pair of double width modules but these can not be separated. Although it has a digital display of the selected station it has the same method of tuning with a small screw driver and pots along the bottom as the 104 FM tuner.
The power supply is a "brick" and feels very cheap with the inside of it rattling when picked up. Like the 104 there is no off switch but selecting 0 turns off the display. There are only 6 pre-selected stations and no tuning knob. In practise I have never found this an issue on FM.
Although the specifications for the outputs of a tuner are similar to an auxiliary, CD or tape input on an amplifier Meridian matched the tuner module to be optimal to match this tuner.
The CD modules is still an analogue RCA phono input. It is not a digital input.
In 1983 I purchased this ex-demo MCA unit from Meridian and added the matching tuner from University Audio in Cambridge. The modest 30W amplifier is adequate for a range of speakers.
The system replaced a Uher Miniline system with a 60 Watt into 4 ohms amplifier that was purchased to drive the JR149 speakers and super woofer. The Uher Miniline is an excellent amplifier and first rate tuner, but the power amplifier kept blowing out expensive and rare capacitors.
To be fair the 30 Watts was never really enough for the JR149. But for the listening levels my parents where happy with there wouldn't have been a difference.
Although the audio experience is good my father found it progressively harder to use than the neat switches and buttons on the Uher. If you are not careful it is easy to switch it off immediately after you switched it on. The slight delay as it warmed up meant you hang around thinking have I pressed it hard enough. The same applied to the selection and it was usually better to flip the flip down and make sure you really pressed the button. None of this bothered me.
I liked the modular approach but not the fact that I couldn't use it to switch on the radio for me in the morning with a timer and the modules end up taking up a lot of shelf space as the amplifier grew wider. An option to bolt the tuner to the amplifier, taking power from the switch mode supply might have been nice. I don't think anyone would buy this tuner for use in a non-Meridian system; not that it lacks performance but just that it wouldn't match.
The Nextel surface does not age well, although the Meridian MCA is harder wearing than most. Products from Minox wear off the Nextel but the hardest wearing has been that of the Visonik David 5001 speakers, which by the way sound great with this amplifier.
The CD module was purchased to connect a DVD player via a long cable to the DVD player sitting under the TV. Auxiliary for the Super VHS video recorder.
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Last updated 1st February 2010