X

Going up close at the Meridian Audio factory (pictures)

A factory tour of the high-end British audio company Meridian.

headshots_Geoffrey_Morrison_140x100.jpg
headshots_Geoffrey_Morrison_140x100.jpg
Geoffrey Morrison
Geoffrey Morrison is a writer/photographer about tech and travel for CNET, The New York Times, and other web and print publications. He's also the Editor-at-Large for The Wirecutter. He has written for Sound&Vision magazine, Home Theater magazine, and was the Editor-in-Chief of Home Entertainment magazine. He is NIST and ISF trained, and has a degree in Television/Radio from Ithaca College. His bestselling novel, Undersea, and its sequel, Undersea Atrophia, are available in paperback and digitally on Amazon. He spends most of the year as a digital nomad, living and working while traveling around the world. You can follow his travels at BaldNomad.com and on his YouTube channel.
Geoffrey Morrison
01.jpg
1 of 18 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

No photography

I have a feeling I will not be obeying this sign.
1.jpg
2 of 18 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Factory

Surprisingly quiet, actually.
2.jpg
3 of 18 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Blank board

Here's the base circuit board. Several small ones, actually. Onto this, the P&P machine (next slide) places the components that turn this simple board into something that actually does something.
3.jpg
4 of 18 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

P&P

The P&P (pick-and-place) machine. This is also called an "SMT component placement system." The reels in the foreground hold components like capacitors, resistors, IC chips, and so on that get placed onto a base circuit board.
4.jpg
5 of 18 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

P&P closeup 1

Multiple little robot arms place the components on the board.
5.jpg
6 of 18 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

P&P closeup 2

Here's an even closer closeup of the Pick-and-Place machine.
6.jpg
7 of 18 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

P&P in standby

You can't open the protective cover of the P&P without it going into standby (for safety reasons, obviously). With the cover open, and the machine static, it's a lot less creepy. Notice the reels of components on the lower right.
7.jpg
8 of 18 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

End result

Here you see a completed board (though to be fair, not the same one we started with).
8.jpg
9 of 18 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Optical check

This is the first stage of the multistage QC process: an optical check. The big box on the right (with the tray open), is basically just an ordinary optical scanner (or, if you like, a fancy camera). Software checks the image of the board placed in the tray against a stored master image. It compares dozens and dozens of individual points for variation. This could be as simple as a component placed in the right direction, down to actual serial numbers and product names on chips. If it senses a discrepancy, it flags the item for a check by a human.
9.jpg
10 of 18 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Handmade

Even with the complexities of these circuit boards, there are still some parts that are, for various reasons, better for a person to install.
10.jpg
11 of 18 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Continuity

A additional check is for continuity. The board is placed on this device (this one is a demo, the real one is a machine), and it checks to make sure all the electrical connections are working. Check out the next slide for the bottom, it's really cool. Also, check out this video to see the machine in action.
11.jpg
12 of 18 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

WIRES!

This is the underside of the continuity checker you saw in the last slide. So many wires.
12.jpg
13 of 18 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Performance testing

The final stage in QC testing is actual performance testing. After running in the board (soaking), for 24 to 72 hours, the performance is checked against a reference.
13.jpg
14 of 18 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

USB DAC

The Explorer DAC (digital-to-analog converter), which Steve Guttenberg checked out, is entirely made in this factory.
14.jpg
15 of 18 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Speaker cutaway

Meridian makes speakers, too. Here's a cutaway of one of the towers. In addition to incredibly rigid wood layers, you should be able to make out a thin piece of metal in the middle of the sandwich. Solid.
15.jpg
16 of 18 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Anechoic

Anechoic chambers are as cool as they are creepy.
16.jpg
17 of 18 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Listening

In this beautiful and acoustically excellent listening room, the final testing gets done.
17.jpg
18 of 18 Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Theater

Meridian also sell high-end projectors, including a 4,096x2,400-pixel-resolution, 4,000-lumen monster.

More Galleries

My Favorite Shots From the Galaxy S24 Ultra's Camera
A houseplant

My Favorite Shots From the Galaxy S24 Ultra's Camera

20 Photos
Honor's Magic V2 Foldable Is Lighter Than Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra
magic-v2-2024-foldable-1383

Honor's Magic V2 Foldable Is Lighter Than Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra

10 Photos
The Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus Looks Sweet in Aluminum
Samsung Galaxy S24

The Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus Looks Sweet in Aluminum

23 Photos
Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra Now Has a Titanium Design
The Galaxy S24 Ultra in multiple colors

Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra Now Has a Titanium Design

23 Photos
I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites
img-0368.jpg

I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites

34 Photos
17 Hidden iOS 17 Features and Settings on Your iPhone
Invitation for the Apple September iPhone 15 event

17 Hidden iOS 17 Features and Settings on Your iPhone

18 Photos
AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?
img-1599-2.jpg

AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?

17 Photos