This weekend I am at the helm of a Jaguar XF. And I ordered up the test vehicle exactly as I would want to see it. Jaguar will probably only build a handful this way, but give me the four-cylinder powerplant coupled to all of the electronic wizardry the company can offer. And don’t worry about electrical gremlins anymore- much of the smoke-prone Lucas electrical gear has been replaced with components from Ford suppliers. Even though that marriage broke up, the parents still get along for the sake of the children. Including the wonderful powerplant. But more on that later…
I first experienced a high-end Meridian audio system about 20 years ago at a manufacturer’s rep house for the product. Straight from Britain, we listened to Dire Straights and it did sound like we were in the studio. Good stuff. Most of us will not be familiar with the brand, but it prides itself on audiophile performance coupled with simplicity. It is a perfect fit for Jaguar. Although not well known for their loudspeakers, they feature DSP technology that uses their own tuning and amplification to get the sound right. Sounds like a perfect fit for an automobile. And it is.
I got to sample the 15-channel, 17 speaker Meridian surround sound system option. Coming from the New York Audio Show last week, it was not a disappointment. Especially considering the listening environment is an automobile- complete with glass reflections and all sorts of weird surfaces that are bad for acoustics. Meridian spent a considerable amount of time tuning the system to rock in this ride.
Meridian notes that the loudspeakers were specifically designed and developed by Meridian engineers in collaboration with Jaguar’s suppliers. The economies of scale dictate that Meridian- a boutique audio company- can’t make all this product in-house. But at least they did their homework. The soundstage is deep and wide. There are three different surround sound modes to choose from, but I went with the DTS setting which seemed to have more midrange attack.
Hey, its a car. Jazz is wonderfully detailed, with all of the instruments evenly spaced across the soundstage. There is a real 10″ subwoofer in the back that makes decent bass too! Scrolling through satellite and hitting Shade 45 woke my daughter up in her car seat. Future hit hard. But not enough to knock you into the future.
Anything to improve? Therein lies the problem. Unfortunately, for better performance from the factory from this, you are going to have to spend upwards of $5000 in the aftermarket. And have great installation technicians with a keen ear for sound. If it were my ride, I would just upgrade the subwoofer and enjoy one of best systems the OEM has to offer. We look forward to hearing what B&W has done with the new Maserati Quattroporte and see if there is any competition. Listen for this space.