Meridian DSP7200
Credit: Courtesy Photo

Meridian DSP7200

Meridian's DSP7200s are likely the best stereo speakers you will ever hear. They are also almost certainly the most expensive you might ever consider investing in – they retail for a stratospherically high $35,000 a pair, after all. For those with the means and the inclination, however, they offer an exceptional audio experience that has few equals.

The DSP7200's obvious and imposing physical attributes – each speaker is a towering 43 inches high and almost 14 inches wide – is matched by an alluring design: The rounded edges of the glossy shell look more like sculpture than traditional boxy speakers. (And, amazingly, Meridian offers them in 270 color and shade combinations.) Their gorgeously crafted enclosures are more than eye candy though since the rigid metal and wood laminate is designed specifically to minimize vibrations. The result is a rock-solid speaker that produces a truer sound without distortion or vibration. That and some serious heft: Each speaker tips the scales at a husky 121 pounds.

Much of that weight can be attributed to an impressive complex of electronic wizardry tucked inside. Each cabinet houses four drivers (two 200mm bass drivers, one 160mm midi and a 25mm tweeter), each with its own digital signal processor and power, which means no external amp is needed and digital audio sources can be plugged in directly. (Note though that Meridian also sells the highly recommended AudioCore 200, a $4,000 pre-amplifier that acts as a hub for use with multiple components, and which also allows for granular control of audio settings – a must for home theater uses.)

Rather than rattle off the spec list though (check it here yourself), we're happy to focus on performance. Listening to our music, we discovered a whole new world lost by other sound systems – one with notes, breaths, and squeaks – that we simply never knew existed. And that's because our speakers, like those likely found in your system, just aren't capable of reproducing the level of sonic detail and nuance that the DSP7200s can. It's actually thrilling: We can hear a song we've heard hundreds of times, and it sounds different enough to make it feel completely new. Think you've heard "Kind of Blue" before? Think again. These speakers make every note of John Coltrane's lightning-fast saxophone runs distinct and you hear the very clack of his valves, which is lost to most speakers. You'll hear Miles breathing through each note. And the speakers especially shine with music that has low lows and high highs: They produce deep bass without distortion on songs like the Beastie Boys' "So Whatcha Want" and sharp treble tones without warble on pieces like Miles Davis's "Concierto de Aranjuez," in which he reaches for his brightest trumpet tone, isolated from the orchestra. Listening to your music collection is like experiencing it anew. And it's as close as you could ever get to having your beloved artists performing front and center in your own living room.

The lesson for us is that $35,000 goes a long way to fulfilling a fantasy for those who love music and more, sound. Once you hear the DSP7200s, they will haunt your dreams. And when it comes down to a lifetime of therapy or buying the speakers, it's easy to see the value of exceptional sound. [$34,995 for the pair; meridian-audio.com]