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Meridian 568.1 vs Tag AV32R

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by Smurfin, Aug 29, 2004.

  1. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    As some of you may know, a couple of weeks ago I picked up a stonking bargain - a black Tag McLaren AV32R (96khz dacs with PLII), for £675. This was to replace my Pioneer VSX-D2011 receiver, which I was using purely for processing. However, on Friday I stumbled across a Meridian 568.1 for such a silly price, that it would've been rude not to buy it.

    I've got in on a 2 week sale or return basis, but I thought it was worth doing a comparison, bearing in mind the .1 can be upgraded to the .2 spec (which is a juicy prospect with the new beta firmware).

    So how do they compare?

    Well, I must admit I love the Tag. It's a noticeable improvement over the pioneer (even with MCACC, which I rate very highly), with an incredibly detailed, precise and neutral sound. Perfect for cinema soundtracks in every way, this has had me grinning:)

    I've tried a number of discs, notably Terminator 3 (R1, DD) and Return of The King (R2, DD). The Oliphant battle scene in ROTK can be described as busy at best, but the Tag handles everything with aplomb. Separation is fantastic, and there is a real fizz and sparkle to the sound...it's a sound that I really like. You can really hear the snap of the bows being fired, and arrows whizzing, and the LFE delivery is wonderfully tight (a touch better than the Pioneer but not as much in it as I was expecting) which runs in a low growl throughout the entire battle scene.

    If anything, the Tag combined with my Blueskies - which have a bright edge to the treble - can get a little edgy at high volumes, but it's a sound I'm used to and since becoming an M&K convert many many moons ago, it's a sound that I've grown to love. Lovers of "warm" hi-fiish combinations though, might find it a little tiring.

    The other things which are worth noting are that the aesthetics of the Tag are great (I don't find the same of the silver version strangely, I think it looks a bit cheap?), the interface is superb and the setup comprehensive. I only wonder what improvements the 192khz dacs would make, and the upgrade to the DP spec? (TMREQ looks to be the biggest bonus, I'd love to hear a DP Tag).

    So onto the Meridian. How does it compare? Well for movies (the main source of comparison), it's fantastic. I've previously owned a Meridian 565 which lasted all of a week before I sent it away unhappy. The 565 I found to be lacking for AV, though my perception of this is undoubtedly coloured by the fact that I had some issues with the unit in my setup, with a horrible faint ringing to DTS soundtracks and some horrible burst-noise incidents which I found grating - Fraggle from the forums borrowed this unit for a few days and strangely didn't have the same problems though.

    Anyway...back to the 568. It impressed me. It possesses a wonderfully detailed sound, and surprisingly I found it clean and crisp too (I was just expecting that with the Tag). The differences were actually a little more difficult to spot than I was expecting too; it's a poor description but I'd say that the Meridian is just a little more refined than the Tag, which some people would certainly prefer.

    For music, in my limited testing here, the Meridian trounces the Tag - a more open, smoother sound....I dunno, it sounds less "forced" if that makes sense?

    The only issues I have with the Meridian is that I can't stand the interface (I left my laptop at work so I had to use the front panel to set it up), despite the fact that it's a tweakers delight (so I'm told:) ), and I really don't like the look of it!

    So what am I going to do? Well, I'm keeping the Tag: movies are my top priority, and coupled with the interface and aesthetics, for me it's a winner. It's cheaper certainly than the Meridian, and if I DID keep the 568, I wouldn't be able to resist paying the £700 odd upgrade charge:D

    Was a fun comparison though, glad to say I'm happy with the original purchase:)

    cheers
    Matt

    [edit]Rags is borrowing the 568 for a week while his Parasound C2 is being repaired (cheap American rubbish eh?;) ), will be interesting to hear his thoughts partnered with the A52 power amp and B+W nautilus set.
     
  2. Daneel

    Daneel
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    Nice review Matt. You are tempting me to buy a pre/pro now! I really need to get one of these things for a demo.
     
  3. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    You need EQ though don't you? Kiss goodbye to several £000's for a DP Tag then:D
     
  4. Matt Horne

    Matt Horne
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    gotta ask... whats the difference in price between the tag and meridian??

    I too think the silver tag look cheap... think the shiny ali knob does not help.. black all the way there :)
     
  5. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    That would be telling :D
     
  6. Matt Horne

    Matt Horne
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    Tell me after it goes back then :)
     
  7. 337GUS

    337GUS
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    I'd be interested in the 568 :)
     
  8. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Not sure how much it's worth tbh? Was planning on putting it on ebay
     
  9. Matt Horne

    Matt Horne
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    aha....now it makes sense ;)
     
  10. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Interesting thoughts, very similar to mine from years ago, loved both.
     
  11. Matt Horne

    Matt Horne
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    I'm loving mine (av32) :)
     
  12. rags

    rags
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    Well I have been playing around with the Meridian for over a week now. Thanks Matt.

    Let me start off by saying the interface is absolutely sh*te. The menus etc are a bit of a joke to use - I hope the G series has significantly improved things. Adjusting anything is a major headache

    For movies the sound is lush but not as detailed as the Parasound C2. Rear channels dont seem as lively and the 568 doesnt bring the room alive like the C2 does. It's an unfair comparison I suppose as this model has been superceded by the 568.2 and now the G series. I only heard the C2 briefly with my Nautilus 804's before it went bust but from recollection for movie sound the 568 lags behind. It definately does offers a slightly smoother sound but not as exciting. I wouldnt call it boring but there definately something missing especially in fast action scenes.The meridian has something about the LFE channel which I dont like either but I cant put my finger on it.

    For music the 568 had loads of quite nice DSP's. Trifield especailly sounded good and had me bringing out a couple of CD's from my car ! I honestly have heard very few CD's on my C2 (mainly when people come round for a demo - in total about 2-3 hours of listening in over 8 months) so the comparison is difficult. When the C2 does come back I will definately give a few CD's a try to try to draw a comparison. However for now I can definately say that I enjoy the Trifield mode - much better than PL2 music. The CD player used was an Arcam CD33 connected via its digital out (I couldnt be bothered trying different connections). I just hope the C2 comes back before the CD33 goes.
     
  13. rags

    rags
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    And another caveat is that I really dont know whether I have set up the Meridian properly or not ! There so much going on with the menu system that im really quite confused about it. I understand that the job becomes a lot easier when you use your laptop to set it up.
     
  14. Daneel

    Daneel
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    If you remember rags I wasn't too impressed by music on your setup but I would suggest a lot of that was down to room acoustics (hard surfaces, bright sound) and speaker positioning (no toe in) rather than your amps, pre/pro.
     
  15. rags

    rags
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    TBH as you know I dont really care for music at home (my Yamaha mini system in the kitchen does me fine and otherwise I only listen in the car) and I havent bothered setting up anything for it on my C2 but the Trifield mode on the Meridian is rather engaging. I like it !
     
  16. Matt Horne

    Matt Horne
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    The C2 went bust ? what happened!
     
  17. rags

    rags
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    Some screw up with the power supply - just kept on switching itself off.
     
  18. Spligsey

    Spligsey
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    Setting up a 568.2 without a laptop?????????


    Schoolboy error!


    (apart from GaryG's notes - * how he implements his 568.2*)

    Adz
     
  19. Spligsey

    Spligsey
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    All these years later - The Meridian beats TAG for music..........


    Who'd have thought it!


    Adz
     
  20. rags

    rags
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    No - setting up a 568.1 without a laptop !
     
  21. Spligsey

    Spligsey
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    U got me there Ragsy boy....
     
  22. Spligsey

    Spligsey
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    It's still a schoolboy error
     
  23. rags

    rags
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    No mate got myself - took me nearly 3 hours to set up !
     
  24. GaryG

    GaryG
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    ;) (I just wanted to reply with the smilie but have to type at least 5 characters apparently!)

    Btw Adam, what's happened to your sub project?
     
  25. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Not sure I said that! I thought I had always been supportive of Meridian despite owning Tag? They are both great processors but different :smashin:
     

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