Best of the Best 2008: Home Entertainment: Meridian-Ferrari F80 Music System

An all-in-one tabletop system’s sound might be relatively feeble, but its simplicity can be preferable to the complexity of separate audio components. The Meridian-Ferrari F80 strikes a welcome and overdue compromise. It offers the simplicity of a one-piece system while delivering performance robust enough to satisfy all but the most demanding of audiophiles.

Into the F80’s compact chassis Meridian fits a DVD/CD player, an AM/FM radio, two front-facing 4-?inch speakers, a rear-firing subwoofer, and 80 watts of digital amplification. An iPod docking station is optional, and other audio source devices also can be connected.

Like other Meridian products, the $3,000 F80 benefits from the digital-audio dexterity of cofounder Bob Stuart and his team of engineers. Digital processing enabled them to coax a natural, enveloping sound from the F80’s closely spaced drivers. It also allows the F80 to deliver sound that can fill a modestly sized home with crystal-clear audio. An extraordinarily dense composite material borrowed from Ferrari racecars provides a rigid enclosure for the F80’s hardworking drivers, and contributes to its surprising 14.3-pound weight. Meridian will finish the F80 in any one of the five stock Ferrari colors.

Meridian, 404.344.7111, www.meridian-audio.com

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