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High End Red Book CD Player Opinions?

post #1 of 251
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post #2 of 251
OK, I'll jump in. Your mind almost seems to be made up. Without having heard the other players in your list, I can only list the reasons I chose the Meridian G08:

- Smooth highs and good mids.
- Good imaging, detail, separation and layering of elements in the mix.
- Upsampling (which might be partially responsible for the above characteristics).
- Balanced outputs. I may buy a balanced headamp for it now.
- Universal power supply (110V to 240V).
- Potentially good resale value.
- I didn't need HDCD capability at all.
- Plays MP3s.
- I knew I liked the Meridian house sound.
- Warm, weighty and articulate bass. I put a higher premium on this aspect over speed/PRaT, which is what the Cyrus 8x + PSX-r offered.
- Available for purchase secondhand, although I had to courier it from the US to Australia, then pay import duty. Ouch. All worth it, though.

After living with the unit for a month in my HT set-up, here are some additional comments:

- The reported "laid back" nature of the player can be alleviated if you have responsive, bright speakers. As always, synergy is the key.
- Once the player had settled in, I found that it gave an excellent toe-tapping vibe to any music. And I mean that literally: I've often caught myself tapping my foot when listening to music, especially stuff such as Goa trance and commercial techno.
- The universal Meridian remote control is overkill if you just have the CD player. The buttons are also stiff and unresponsive.
- Phase switching is possible via the remote. This is not mentioned in the manual, but trying it didn't make an audible difference with 'correct' CDs.
- The display mode (time remaining, etc.) resets itself when you change CDs. This is vaguely annoying.
- The display can be turned off. This didn't make an audible difference to the sound quality.
- The G08 is better than my Pioneer DVD player (three years old) transport / Marantz pre-amp DAC (six years old) combo in direct two-channel mode, but not by much. For reference, this combo is/was worth roughly $3000 USD.
- The Marantz is more forward, but it lacks the additional subtle texturing and detail of the G08. Bass also seems to be less articulate from the Marantz (all bass is subwoofer assisted in my two-channel set-up).
- The slow CD load time (six secs on average) of the G08 doesn't bother me.
- The G08 O/S has 'crashed' once. Doing a cold start reset it. It also refused to play one CD, but then played it later on with no problems.

Hope that helps.
post #3 of 251
Thread Starter 
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post #4 of 251
A bit off-topic but I'm curious are you not happy with your modded pioneers redbook performance?
post #5 of 251
The Esoteric DV50, which is an audio-oriented universal player, offered redbook performance that was as good or better than the Meridian G08 to my ears. And I definitely prefered both over the Cary 303/300. The video on the Esoteric is pretty awful considering the price, and you can turn off the video circuitry altogether.

The Ayre C-5xe is an audio-only universal player. No video outs whatsoever. And it's garnered some high praise from Stereophile.

Not in any way to steer you away from the choices you listed. I think all are outstanding options. In fact, it was pretty much the same list I agonized over less than a year ago. But just wanted to point out that you don't have to necessarily sacrifice anything by going with the right universal player.

And FYI, there is a used Ayre C-7xe sitting on Audiogon right now...
post #6 of 251
Hi Welly Wu,

Have you auditioned Marantz SA-11S1 ? How about it ? I know it's not an American-made CDP.
post #7 of 251
Cool. No worries, Welly Wu. I look forward to your impressions of the borrowed G08.

Comparing the G08 to a HD650 is spot-on, more or less. The G08 has the same kind of lushness, punchy bass, soundstaging, treble control, etc, as the HD650 + Zu. It's not super speedy and nimble like a Sony MDR-5000, but nor is it harsh like a Grado SR325i can sound. The G08 does have an excellent sense of rhythm and 'swing' though (or what my drum teacher called "groove"), at least to my ears. Since I love my HD650, it's little wonder I like the G08 too. Pairing them together in balanced mode....well, it could be altogther too much lushness, heh heh, but the right SS amp and ICs should help to balance things out.

I too was hesitant about the G08 and it's vulnerability to software crashes. Basically I make sure to operate its functions slowly and methodically. No quick button pressing, or changing my mind mid-way through an operation....let the player complete one task at a time. As a programmer, I know it's very difficult to cover all contingencies during the QA/testing phase of a user interface.

The main concern about the G08 now is the potential for the transport to fail. A few owners in www.meridianunplugged.com have mentioned replacing their G08 CD/DVD-ROM transports. One dude even had to replace his more than once.

I also haven't checked my G08 for DualDisk compatibility yet. But if I bought a DualDisk, I'd be playing it on the DVD HT gear to get 5.1 sound and/or 48khz stereo, not on the G08. It plays the CD layer of SACDs fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tkam
A bit off-topic but I'm curious are you not happy with your modded pioneers redbook performance?
tkam, were you referring to my Pioneer DVD player? If so, it's not modded. The G08 is a replacement for my old Arcam 8 player in the headphone set-up. But the G08 has been installed in my HT rig since I bought it, along side the Pioneer and Marantz.
post #8 of 251
Thread Starter 
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post #9 of 251
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bordins
Hi Welly Wu,

Have you auditioned Marantz SA-11S1 ? How about it ? I know it's not an American-made CDP.
Yes, I have auditioned it awhile ago. I remember it for both its audio jewelry aesthetics and superlative Red Book CD and SONY Super Audio CD performance, but I have not given it much thought since. I am not trying to admonish you, but the purpose of this thread is my search for a high end Red Book CD player.
post #10 of 251
I can't help but beleave that the Rega Apollo should not be overlooked.
post #11 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosch
I also haven't checked my G08 for DualDisk compatibility yet. But if I bought a DualDisk, I'd be playing it on the DVD HT gear to get 5.1 sound and/or 48khz stereo, not on the G08. It plays the CD layer of SACDs fine.
When I got the demo G08 from TTVJ a while ago it refused to play any of the 3 dual discs I had.
post #12 of 251
Thread Starter 
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post #13 of 251
Thread Starter 
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post #14 of 251
Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Welly Wu
Yes, I have auditioned it awhile ago. ..I am not trying to admonish you, but the purpose of this thread is my search for a high end Red Book CD player.
It looks SA-11S1's Redbook playback isn't good enough (for you). Interested to hear its downside, if you wouldn't mind. (just want to hear your comments for being my reference).
post #15 of 251
Quote:
Originally Posted by PsychoZX
When I got the demo G08 from TTVJ a while ago it refused to play any of the 3 dual discs I had.
Yep, thanks. This is common knowledge with the G08...I only mentioned it because perhaps, with my player being a newer model, Meridian had implemented a fix in the factory for them. I suppose that depends on how elaborate/costly the DualDisc fix is.
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