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How good an AV processor to match hifi quality of Meridian 507 CD player?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by dunkyboy, Jul 14, 2003.

  1. dunkyboy

    dunkyboy
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    Kind of a specific question here, but maybe somebody can help. I've currently got a Meridian 507 CD player, hooked up to an excellent ATC stereo preamp for hifi duties, and a cheapie Yamaha processor for home cinema.

    I'm hoping to upgrade my processor, but I thought I could maybe save a bit of money and sell the ATC preamp, and probably the Meridian CD player, and get a cheap-but-decent 2nd-hand transport which I could hook up digitally to the AV proc for stereo CD replay.

    Now, my question is: what sort of AV proc would I need to match the quality of my current setup..? Ideally I'd like to use the DACs in the processor, but if it were better I suppose I could keep the 507 and just use the processor as a preamp (but I distrust this method as I think I'd have to spend an AWFUL lot to get an AV amp that sounds as good as a preamp as my ATC, plus I'd like the extra cash from selling the Meridian.)

    I've had my eye on a Lexicon MC-1 for £1500, but I've heard these aren't so great for 2-channel hifi. Is this so?

    I've heard a barebones TAG AV32R (non BP-192) but preferred the sound of the Lex DC-2 that was also for sale, though this comparison was only with movies. I wouldn't count out a TAG, however, as it wasn't a very in-depth test.

    I will almost certainly have to spend less than £2000, and preferably less - of course I'm happy to buy secondhand/ex-dem.

    So, has anyone tried any of the following connected up digitally to a CD transport for stereo music:

    * TAG AV32R
    * Lexicon MC-1 (or DC-1/DC-2)
    * Meridian 561, 565, 568.1
    * anything else in that sort of price range (e.g. from Cyrus, Rotel, Myryad, Arcam, etc.)

    Note: I'm assuming this question is best-suited to the Hifi forum, however if it should be in the Amps section, please do move it Mods.

    Cheers,

    Dunc
     
  2. Mr 928

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    Buy the Lexicon. MC-1 if you can, they are as awesome with 2-channel as they are with 5.1. Plus, you'll get Logic 7 :smashin:
     
  3. alexs2

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    I haven't heard the MC-1 in stereo mode,but do use an AV32R with a CD transport and upsampler,running the AV32R's sdacs at 24/96....honestly does sound very good....not as good as running the Perpetual Technologies P1A/P3A together,but fairly close,and a lot less wiring to contend with.
    On their own,the Tag's DACs are ok,but much better fed a proper signal.
     
  4. nathan_silly

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    Music Logic mode sounds very good for music (I don't think much of 2 channel on the MC-1), compared to my Tag DAC/8000S/8000SX/Etude system.. the MC-1 sounds pretty good for music, but doesn't seem to have the detail & soundstaging of my Hi-Fi system.. however for AV it's VERY good. I've noticed lots of little things that I just weren't reproduced.

    For example, in Toy Story 2 into- when the robot heads land next to Buzz, they got "THUNK-THUNK" before just seemed to lack the impact.

    I use a CD, DVD, USB sound box (digitally to the MC-1) and VCR analogue.

    The typical Audiolab/Tag sound can be a little too much (sometimes too forward), if you prefer a slightly warmer sound the MC-1 is the better one to go for.
     
  5. Gary Palmer

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    Hi there,

    For the money the MC-1 is very very good.

    However, I would recommend that you connect the CD player via it's digital output so it acts as a transport and not the analogue outputs - i.e. use the MC-1 as an off-board DAC.

    If you use the analogue outputs, the LEX coverts it to digital and then back to analogue even in 2channel. You should also keep in mind that the MC-1 does not have 5.1 analogue inputs so you can't upgrade to 5.1 SACD/DVD-A.

    I suspect that a lot of bad press about 2-channel performance of an MC-1 is because of the lack of a true, analogue bypass.

    Cheers
    Gary
     
  6. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    That and the fact that it doesn't sound very good with stereo music no matter how you connect it. :rolleyes:

    Dunky, have a read over the "Tag vs Bryston" thread on the "Amplifiers And Receivers" page - there's a lot of stuff about processors (not just Tag and Bryston) in there.
     
  7. Gary Palmer

    Gary Palmer
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    I have to disagree with NicholasB that the MC-1 can't sound good in 2-channel regardless of how it's hooked up..

    I would agree that the MC-1 DACs may not match those on a high end CD player though.

    Dunkyboy, I'd suggest you try to get a demo at home and trust your own ears.
     
  8. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Gary's point is absolutely right....especially with very revealing gear such as ATC actives,you really do need to put together a shortlist such as the one you have,and maybe a few other processors such as the Parasound,and just work your way throught them at home,until you find the best overall balance.
     
  9. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Well, MC-1 or not, I'll grant you that with a maximum of £2K to spend, your options are a little limited.

    You might find a 2nd hand Arcam AV8 for that, but you'd have to be lucky.

    A 2nd hand Meridian 568 mk I would be a possibility (although you have no choice but to use the processor's DACs).

    2nd hand Bryston SP1 is a remote possiblity, but again, they're very rare.

    You should probably check out a new Naim AV2 - you might be able to get a dealer to discount it to £2K or a tad over.

    Or if you really want an excellent pre-amp with only rather limited movie capabilities, then an unconventional choice would be a 2nd hand Linn 5103.
     
  10. Spligsey

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    the 568's are very good for stereo.

    Adzman
     
  11. Gary Palmer

    Gary Palmer
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    I seriously doubt you'll better the ATC preamp for stereo.

    Maybe you should consider the MC-1 or the Cyrus processor feeding into the ATC at line level and use the ATC for stereo
     
  12. dunkyboy

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    Yup, I was afraid of that. :) Thanks for all the replies though.

    Demoing Lexicon, TAG, Bryston, Parasound, even Meridian and Naim processors is difficult enough - getting home demos of them without paying a full deposit is even harder! As I said my budget is limited, but the only reason I could afford it now is if I sold my CD player & preamp - otherwise I have very little cash to play with, so full deposits on home demo kit is out of the question. :(

    I think I'll probably have to just grit my teeth and continue saving for the next 6 months or so. Hang on, for that I'll need a job first... d'oh! :p

    Thanks again,

    Dunc
     
  13. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    I am very happy to agree wholeheartedly with that statement. I was simply pointing out that, with Meridian processors, you have no choice but to use the processor's DACs even for music. So if you have already spent a significant amount of money on, and you really like the sound of, a particular stand-alone CD player, then they may not be the best choice as a pre-amp. It is better to think of a Meridian processor as substitute external DAC and pre-amp combined, as far as stereo use is concerned, so the player is (perforce) reduced to a transport when playing CDs.
     
  14. Spligsey

    Spligsey
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    Nic, i wasn't having a pop @ you mate, i was just doing my time honoured thing of putting forward the 568(.2) as a really good stereo performer:D
    The 568.2 can easily hold its own against the 2 channel world.
    People tend to make out that there is some big void between the two disciplines. the quality of engineering in the digital domain ensures that units like the Meridian, are worthy stereo performers in the multi-audio format age we live in.
    People are too quick to dismiss....

    Adzman
     
  15. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    I was just making sure I'd explained myself clearly. :)
     
  16. ncpl

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    Dunc,
    Most dealers will make a swipe of your credit card for the full RRP of a demo item but won't actually process it unless you a) buy the kit after the demo, or b) do a runner !!

    Re: Meridian 568.1 - It does handle stereo very (very) well and is a really nice bit of kit. The 568.2 does it even better as it has even more powerful DSP chips inside as well as operating a digital FIFO buffer which helps to bring jitter down even further than before.

    Assuming you are running an analogue setup, the DACs inside either will give most higher-end players a good run for their money. The thought of relegating your player to the status of just a transport is worth a brief consideration, although this is exactly how Meridian base their full digital systems (including some pretty pricey transports !!). Keep it all digital until the last minute etc. A certain degree of immunity from cable issues is achieved this way.

    Granted the 568.2 is going to blow the budget, I would suggest that there are some good deals to be had on the 568.1.
    I have seen several demo units in store which the dealers will have to mark down to sell due to the 568.2. Have a check on 7Oakes for example.

    If you mostly use your HT for 2 ch rather than 5.1, then the 568 offers a few nice options like trifield which is worth a play with.

    Also, the 565 can be had for about £700 now and although a bit long in the tooth, it has been well regarded for a long time.

    Yes...before you ask.....I have a 568.
     
  17. dunkyboy

    dunkyboy
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    Hmm, a 568 would be nice... I assume a .1 can be upgraded to a .2? What's the difference? And how much does the upgrade cost?

    Thanks again,

    Dunc
     
  18. nathan_silly

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    I would class 2 channel performace on the MC-1 similar to the Arcam Alpha 9-safe sounding. The MC-1 has lower noise floor (less hiss) and more cleaner bass (Arcam bass was a bit bloated)

    MC-1 is defently not worth £5500, but at £1500 it's a good buy.
     
  19. ncpl

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    Yes the 568.1 can be upgarded to 568.2
    Mine is away right now. RRP is about £1180.

    If you keep you eye on ex-dem 568.1's and get the right deal, it might be good if you then do an upgrade at some point in the future.
     
  20. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    I think the upgrade is £700 to 568.2 spec and £1180 to 568.2mm spec, which has the MHR smartlink (great if you can also afford a Meridian 598 player, not very useful if you can't).
     
  21. common

    common
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    What about a 2nd hand upgraded Meridian 565 ? approx £700
     
  22. ncpl

    ncpl
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    Sorry - Nick B you are abs correct. The 1180 is for the mm.
    The 565's for £700 seem to be the fully loaded versions although I don't know when those upgrades finished.... a while back I'd guess.
     
  23. dunkyboy

    dunkyboy
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    Hmm, 565 for £700 sounds tasty... How does it compare to the 568.1/.2? I'm assuming it's not as good in stereo..?

    Also, what's the difference between the 561 and 565? It looks on paper that the 565 is a 561 with analogue switching, but isn't the 561 more expensive? Does that mean it's better? I'm confused...

    Cheers,

    Dunc
     
  24. Spligsey

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    Dunc.

    If it were me, i'd sidestep the 561/565's and try and blag a 568.
    Seen a few 568's keenly priced of late
    I think it's been yonks since the boyz from Stukeley Meadows did anything with the 561. The 565 has slipped down the pecking order of importance (my opinion) @ Meridian.
    Seems to me that their time, dosh & technical advancements are likely to be kept for the 568.2 & 861'S - (The one's with DVD-A capability) There's whispers in the wind that perhaps something is in the pipeline for a processor to enter the product list beneath the 568.
    (just an old wives type of talk)

    It would seem the 'better' option for me, although, sometimes, getting anything out of Meridian is about as easy as running the 100 metres in 6 seconds:rolleyes:

    Whack a good transport onto the end of the 568 and Bob's your uncle's sister ;)

    Set your crossover settings for 2 channel, Logic & 5.1 and wallop!!

    You could always stick an ATC motif on the front panel!!!!!

    Spligs
     
  25. ncpl

    ncpl
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    agree largely with Spligs. It will depend on whether this is the end of you line or the start of a new one. If the latter - go 568 and get a spanking good deal. If the former, the 565 or it's sort of replacement 561.
     
  26. dunkyboy

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    Yeah, I'm hoping this will be my last processor until some REALLY new formats start coming out - equivalent to the jump from Dolby Surround to Dolby Digital, for instance. I don't need or want >5.1 channels, for one thing. I just want the best quality 5.1 and stereo I can afford. I would appreciated it if it had a 6-channel bypass for SACD/DVD-A but it's not essential as I don't see these formats taking off for several years at least (if ever).

    So yeah, I would be happy with yesterday's proc with no upgrade potential - as long as sound-quality wise it was top notch.

    Cheers,

    Dunc
     
  27. Gary Palmer

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    Hi Dunkyboy,

    If you're serious about music, SACD and DVD-A (needing an analogue bypass) is worth considering more carefully.

    A lot of the 2-channel magazines seem to be reluctantly embracing multi-channel music as a significant improvement over stereo PCM......

    Personally I love it.

    Cheers
    Gary

    :D
     
  28. ncpl

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    For me it is not just about 5.1 music.

    I've picked up a few stereo PCM discs with 96/24 PCM and they are stacks better than normal CD resolution. And the DVD-A that I have with 2ch MLP tracks are also quite exceptional.

    You may want to do a few what-if's with your kit in various configs e.g with/without 565/568, a universal player, analogue surround o/p's, digital surround o/p's, hi-res, std res etc etc.

    You may see a current choice in the pot that doesn't rule any of your potential future routes.
     
  29. dunkyboy

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    Okay, went to the local shop and they had a selection of Meridian procs: 2nd hand 565 fully upgraded for £1400 (is this the same as was mentioned could be had for £700??); 561 new £3K, ex-dem £2.3K; 568.2 new £4K.

    Now, the only one I could definitely afford out of this lot is the 565. I could maybe stretch to the ex-dem 561 if I saved up a bit and haggled them down a bit... But that's it. How much does a 561 go for 2nd-hand usually?

    Tomorrow the guys from the shop are coming round with a 568.2 to try out in my system over the weekend. I was going to go with the 561 at first, but then remembered my ATC speakers take XLR input and I don't have any RCA-XLR cable handy, so I've gone with the 568 for its balanced outs. One thing surprised me, though: the guy in the shop told me that the difference between the 561 and 568.2 is minimal - he said the 568.2 is basically identical except for the balanced outputs and the MHR link, and that the performance is very similar... is this true?? Given that the 568.2 lacks most of the analogue switching capabilities of the 561, and is still a good £grand dearer I would've thought the differences would be clearer...

    In any case, I'll at least get some idea of whether or not I can live with a high-end AV proc for stereo duties, and I'll get to play around with a shiny [very expensive] toy for a few days, which is always good. :D I'll also get to see how much of an improvement over my current cheapie Yamaha processor a high end proc gives for movie sound. :devil: And this is the first time I'll have tried out a high end proc in my own system, so I'm looking forward to this. Cripes, better tidy my room - don't want them seeing it looking like a tip! :p

    I'll post back with my thoughts on the 568.2 after I've had a chance to give it a play.

    Cheers,

    Dunc
     
  30. buns

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    To my mind, those prices are alot for products which are now no longer being upgraded......

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