Meridian F80 - please share your views and experience
Mar 29, 2008 at 9:30 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 5


Headphoneus Supremus
Jun 29, 2004
Glowing reviews of F80 are flooding the market. Everyone says it is real good. I haven't have a chance to listen to it but would like to hear feedback from real users instead of "reviewers".

For $3,000, I think the digital amp and speaker system is the main selling point, but strangely I haven't noticed comparison made against similar value systems. Besides, I would also like to know how the optical in and out works (I will need that if I am to pair it to a headphone amp) and there is absolute silence in this regard - no one talks about it.

So, may I kindly ask members who own or have listened to the F80 to come forward and tell me how do you like it ?

Many thanks in advance.

F. Lo
Apr 9, 2008 at 12:10 PM Post #2 of 5
I had a short chance to listen to it. I've been in and out of the hi-fi world for 30 years or more so I have a sense of the issues. But I'm no longer as sophisticated nor as interested as most here are in micro-analysis of hi-fi so take my opinions with a grain or two of salt.

I have been using a Linn Classik and Linn Keileidh speakers in my living room. I live in a flat and can't play my hifi very loud so my main listening is done off of my Sennheisser 600-iQube-6thGeniPod setup. What I need is something for those times when I am not critically listening but something more than simply wanting background noise for cleaning or cooking. I was tired of having so much space in my living room dictated by speaker placement; sofa placement and the knock ons. So when my Classik stopped working I went looking for an alternative. The two alternatives I could find were the Linn Classik+speakers and the Arcom Solo mini+speakers. I think NAD now has a similar unit out. For my needs they all have speaker placement issues. So the only ball game in town was the F80.

As others have reported the F80 is surprising in its ability to produce clean, controlled sound down to surprisingly low tones. I think its at least as good if not better sounding from a tonal point of view as my Classik with speakers. It can play loud, indeed, it sounds better loud. It was good enough to hear just how badly two of the orchestral things I had with me were recorded. I wished I had brought a greater selection of CDs.

IMO It's main limitation is that all its sound is coming out of a single point and gives only a mild soundstage like effect which is broad given the single point that it really is but not as broad as two speakers correctly positioned. If you are sitting down to critically listen to music I think soundstaging would be an important factor. If you were sitting down to enjoy some music while for example looking at some beautiful photography book or dancing (some people enjoy dancing at home, what can I say?) or while doing some mindless work like sorting the bills or some other activity where you weren't as completely engaged in soundstaging then I'd say that the F80 is incredible. You can dip in and out of the music and be amply rewarded.

The other point in its favour, as I mentioned above is that its just a tiny thing that doesn't dictate a room. It's transportable so you can easily move it from room to room. Put it in the guest room when there are guests, in the kitchen if you want to suddenly have great sound while dicing onions or in the bedroom if you have the flu and can't get out of bed without a major effort. It can do DVDs to your tellie if you can live with the absence of HDMI. It can work with AirPort Express playing iTunes from your computer through wifi which to me is great (my iTunes library is in Apple lossless). It can hook up directly with your iPod which is also great if you're not in the same room as your cd collection or you no longer have one.

So in the end I think the question comes down to your usage. If its meant to seriously compete with a speaker system of equal quality, the regular HiFi will win simply on soundstaging issues. But if its for that in-between world of listening and you can afford the price then its a uniquely cool piece of kit that has real audiophile capablity.

The only other issue for me is the phony linkup thing with ferarri. I suppose this is to appeal to the macho in us men but I could have lived more happily without it. YMMV. I'm not blown away by the styling but HiFi styling in general leaves me cold. I hope this helps anyone looking for some insight.
Apr 9, 2008 at 3:46 PM Post #3 of 5
All Day Breakfast,

Thanks for your input.

Last weekend I finally have a chance to listen to the F80. And you know what - I bought one home.

During the auditioning I was using 3 favourite CDs - the K2 HD Sampler, and the Red Cliff Rapriccio (also a K2 HD mastering by FIM), and a not-for-sale sampler of female voices by the Music Lab. And I am astounded to hear how capable this little desktop, all-in-one player can do.

You are right - it won't be fair to compare it against stationary big rig with separate components, but I just cannot believe what I hear is from the F80, placed 10 feet in front of me with volume turned all the way to 90/100. There was no distortion even at this level, bass remains tight and deep (for this size), and the overall tonal balance is amazingly accurate !

I did compare. Using the same CDs, but from a Meridian G08 connected to a Krell amp and some US$8,000 / pair speaker, with a whole host of power conditioner, Crystal Cable interconnects and power cords .... And yes, there is audible difference - easily audible. There are better sound stages, and instrument imaging are more pin pointed, and there are more resolution.... and you can tell which one is the upper class. But in terms of musicality, tonality, engagement, the F80 holds its own.

When I set the F80 at home, I notice that the F80 comes with "tilting" and "sound stage" setting - allowing on to fine tune the warmth of the sound, as well as sound staging. It is amazing to realise how good it sounds in ultra-near field listening - as close as 2 feet when I am less then arms-length the unit, and at very low volume. The volume control has a lot of play - you can find a volume even when put your ears next to the speaker - at around 20/100. Less than 20 it becomes a hearing test - I hear nothing.

At my location, there is no digital radio, so I cannot tried the DAB. But FM reception is reasonably good using just the filmsy antenna the comes with the unit, in a high rise, concrete cased building. No bad at all. Even the Tivoli's famous FM tuner suffers at times in this situation.

Regarding the involvment of Ferrari - I would say the key contribution is in the casing of the speaker cabinet, which is said to be developed by Ferrari using innovative high tech process. The colour is also Ferrari's. And then the blage is just one reason behind the relative high price.

I have yet to tried the digital in / out. I am still burning in the speakers - it has been 3 days. It sounds better than new now. I have no plan to play DVD with the unit. It is more like a handy all-in-one that I can use it anywhere in my home when I am not listening to headphones. For serious listening, headphone is still my first choice.

F. Lo
Apr 9, 2008 at 10:31 PM Post #4 of 5
Well thanks for the update fkclo, its very well written, you hit key points and all this is useful to me. I've been sitting on the fence on the F80 making my mind up one way and then the other several times a week. It's always nice to get confirmation from someone who has extended experience as sitting in a listening room with a piece of kit and a few CDs is still to my mind a less than ideal way to get to know a piece of audio equipment. Stereophile had a totally useless writeup this month which said almost nothing about how the unit sounds. Based on your feedback you can guess which side of the fence I"m now leaning towards. All the best with your new toy.
Apr 10, 2008 at 3:35 AM Post #5 of 5
There are two other things that impressed me :

1. the OLED display (may be the first application in high-end audio) is very nice,

2. the context dependent user interface is very thoughtful and real user friendly. I can go through the setup without referring to the manual.

Now, my other interest is in the mysterious DIN-connection which was said to be there for future iPod compatiable products - like a dock that can let you have the information of sounds appearing on the main display, or who knows what ?

F. Lo

Users who are viewing this thread