Mini event 2 processor comparison

sticker

Standard Member
Hi,
Together with Guy (General Skanky) & his wife Lou, I recently attended a demo at PJ HiFi in Guilford of the Meridian G68 processor and the Arcam AV8 (which I already own) playing via an Arcam DV27. The speakers concerned where a full set of Genelec actives and Genelec Subs, which I believe were at Event 2.

The demo was hosted by Elliot (X3ELS) who deserves a big thanks for giving up a considerable amount of both his working day and his free time. It was good to put faces to people who you've conversed with on the forums and also to share the enthusiasm of AV (Elliot has that in spades as well as huge knowledge)

All the kit had been previously calibrated and I must say that the room looked really good, the projector used is a huge step up form the plasma that I currently own.

As I already own an AV8 I was interested in 3 issues;

1) How would it sound in a proper H/C
2) How would it sound with top class active speakers (I currently have a Kef Ref 203/202/201, Paradigm servo set-up)
3) How would it compare against another high end processor

There was a 4th motive and that was to see and hear the new Meridian G series in the flesh, to my mind this is the sexist bit of kit on the market. Obviously we don't necessarily buy the kit for what it looks like, more for what it sounds like, but I was hoping that the Meridian, which has the former, would have the latter.

Although I have auditioned various bits of AV in the past, I have never really had the opportunity to demo things back to back and quite often I've come out of a demo wondering if what I perceive as good or bad about a piece of equipment is purely down to my pre-conceptions/lack of true memory recall/different demo rooms or a combination of all 3. I was hoping that this mini Event would enable me to not only get the answers to my original 3 issues of the AV8 but also stand me in good stead for any future demo's. I was also hoping that we would be able to do some truly blind demo's with no influences colouring me judgement, whether conscious or sub-conscious.

The Meridian was the first that we auditioned and this was awesome, superb front stage and sharp surround effects. The DTS demo of Spiderman where the little boy has awoken for the first time after losing his sight really put you in his shoes. What really was outstanding was how strong the bass was, whether this was a combination of the Meridian or the awesome output of the Genelec subs was difficult to say, but suffice to say that is wasn't about audio it was about feel, in your legs and backside !!! The demo of vertical limit was very impressive, you could hear the whoosh of the ice picks as they were swung through the air and the crunch of the compacted snow as they buried themselves into the mountainside. I looked to my left and Guy had a massive smile on his face, he obviously enjoyed what he had just heard. I myself was pretty astounded at what the Meridian had just delivered in conjunction with the Genelecs, no cinema that I had been in could have delivered that impact, yes a cinema would probably have been louder but the sound would have been harsh and to my mind intolerable¡K¡K¡K¡K¡K¡K¡K¡K¡K¡K¡K¡K¡K¡K¡Khow H/C has come on in the last 4 years

After a slight pause to chat about what we had just heard, Elliot connected up the Arcam and played the same demo's. Again there were incredible sound effects, with superb front stage and great steering of the surrounds and masses of thumping, exhilarating low frequency sound. When the demo's had finished Guy, Lou and myself started chatting about the Arcam, it seemed to all 3 of us that there was something missing, we all agreed that it seemed to be the bass that was missing. Guy thought that the Meridian had better surround effects, whereas I thought that the Arcam was stronger in that area but weaker in the front stage. Having said that if this was a scale of 1 to 100 and the Meridian was 100, the Arcam would have been at 92 (arbitrary number ). I only wish I could get near to these volumes in my house, I can't because of neighbours or the wife ƒ¼

We chatted this through for a while amongst ourselves without any real conclusion as to why the differences, although I think Elliot wasn't convinced as we were about the differences we believed that we had heard. So now we came to the exciting part of doing the demo's, the blind testing.

I'll keep this bit short as all the other observations that I made earlier, hold true here, only we didn't know what bit of equipment we were hearing. After hearing the 2 played through again I was stunned to find that I could not tell the difference between the 2, I made a guess (and it was a guess) and got it wrong. At first I thought that Elliot was playing a trick on us and had played only 1 processor, I put this to him and he admitted that it had crossed his mind but time didn't permit doing this (such a sadist). Guy, Lou and I talked this through and as Guy has mentioned he and I couldn't split these 2 apart.

I suppose it all comes down to either individual listening conditions or personal preferences when it comes to choosing kit at this elevated level. I, from a personal point of view, will not be buying any high-end kit without doing a back to back blind test. Whether you mean to or not, preconceptions enter the decision making process, from my point of view I love the looks of the Meridian and also the price premium of it over the Arcam puts it, rightly or wrongly in my view at a higher echelon.

So I came away glad that the Arcam I already owned had held its own against a much more expensive processor and the performance of the Genelecs had lived up to my expectations but most importantly the day had taught me the important lesson of blind back to back demo's. If it's VFM then the Arcam wins, from my point of view if I had the money I would buy the Meridian for its combination of looks and performance, in fact if you buy either of these you won't be disappointed.

Once again thanks to Elliot for arranging this and thanks to Guy for letting me gatecrash.

Hopefully General Skanky will come along and post his comments

Regards
John





Equipment:
Source ¡V Arcam DV27A
Processors ¡V Meridian G68
Arcam AV8

Speakers ¡V Genelec Actives (not certain of the models, X3ELS can fill us in)

Demo discs -

Vertical Limit

DTS Demo disc -

1. Lord of the Rings
2. Daredevil
 

Phil Hinton

Editor
Staff member
Very good thread and interesting results. I was looking at the Meridian yesterday and it is a stunningly good looking peice of kit, have yet to hear it though.
 

sticker

Standard Member
Phil,
Try to get a demo of it, you won't be disappointed. Only issue that I could see was the multitude of variations of it, but the flip side of that is that it is very accomodating.
Cheers
John
 

Phil Hinton

Editor
Staff member
Will do.

Surprised there isn't more chat on this thread, interesting results indeed.
 

General Skanky

Well-known Member
I've been thinking what to add. John has really said it all.

If it were my money being spent today, I'd be hard pushed to be convinced to spend more than the Arcam, based on what we heard the other day.

Listening blind just showed how good the Arcam is.

In AV only, the Arcam proved its worth against the Meridian. Really the Merdian should have shown it a clean pair of heels, on paper, the fact that I really couldn't tell them apart speaks volumes.

The question you really need to ask is what features does the Meridian have that 'YOU' want for the extra £2000? Because you sure aren't paying for a better sound. IMHO of course.:)
 

X3ELS

Active Member
Hadn't spotted this thread guys :)

Really was interesting and i have had several more extended listens between the two. The Arcam really does stand up exceptionally well (as i always thought it would).

I just wish it had some balanced outputs.......
 

Peter Baker

Novice Member
Differences may be more apparent on music. After much listening to many pre/pros at £2k+ I found differences on HT to be minor, but differences on Music to be significant.

Peter
 

Spligsey

Well-known Member
Maybe those people who have a Meridian player would deem it beneficial to use a G68.

There are advantages to that route.

You're right, it may come down to system integration.

Adz
 

sticker

Standard Member
Originally posted by Peter Baker
Differences may be more apparent on music. After much listening to many pre/pros at £2k+ I found differences on HT to be minor, but differences on Music to be significant.

Peter
Yep Peter you could be right, we were going to look at music but we didn't get time (goes quickly when your having fun :) ) I've always found the AV8 really good with music, I know that you were disappointed with it but I've never had any issues. With Meridian's history of 2 channel I would expect the G68 to be very good. As Adz pointed out, it would be good to hear the G68 with a Meridian source.

Regards
John
 

Nic Rhodes

Well-known Member
Why can't the Arcam JUST be better? This processor is a stunning achievement by Arcam, wiping Tag off the map in one foul swoop and giving the Meridian a hard time as well. It is the high bargain at the moment. I remember the thread on the Tag web site about this, two people spoke up for the Arcam (Gordon and myself), they were also the only two who had actually heard the Arcam. This is a great bit of kit, all praise to John and his team. It is the one to aim for at the moment unless you can afford the MC12
 

GaryG

Member
Go back and do the dem with the Meridian G98 as the source, I would be surprised if your 'blind' test was not able differentiate between the two processors then.
 

X3ELS

Active Member
Well said Nic.

I welcome anyone to come down and we will carry out the blind listening with Music, consider the gauntlet thrown down :laugh:

BTW Nic, sent you an e-mail, and left you a message on your answerphone.
 

X3ELS

Active Member
Sorry guys but i have to disagree, we were comparing the quality of the processing stages in each processor, if we were comparing which package is better, i.e. DV27a with AV8 or Meridian G98 and G68 then that would be different.

The fact we were using DV27a was a fluke, i had it in the room and couldn't be bothered to find anything else :laugh: i will happily redo the test using another third party player such as a unidisk but the results will be the same.

Both are fantastic processors, the Arcam is stunning for the money, don't get me wrong i love both and i know which i would buy, you should not dismiss the Arcam as a stereo pre-amp.

I would recommend anyone to visit their dealers and get them to do a blind demo if you are serious about buying one or the other.
 

Nic Rhodes

Well-known Member
Elliot, just got them, will email you over the next day with current situation, been away in Glasgow :) I always seem to go on tuesday when SS is shut though :(

Plans for trip to Guilford took shape today, got the company to pay :) Dinner on me?
 

GaryG

Member
Elliot

Would you be so kind as to PM me the prices of the two processors? I'm open minded, if the Arcam works as well with a G98 then I'm happy to go down that route instead.
 

Spligsey

Well-known Member
Originally posted by General Skanky

The question you really need to ask is what features does the Meridian have that 'YOU' want for the extra £2000? Because you sure aren't paying for a better sound. IMHO of course.:)

My post was in response to that.

Nothing to do with Arcam being better or Meridian being better.

Adz
 

General Skanky

Well-known Member
It'd be interesting to see if some people can tell them apart.

The Meridian certainly has the pedigree behind it. The Arcam essentially being the new boy on the block in terms of high end processing, has a lot to live up to.

The more people that dem them and can give an opinion will help.

At the moment I'm all poised to blame Sticker if the Meridian is deemed to be the best thing since sliced bread.:):)
 

sticker

Standard Member
I may have underplayed how good the Arcam is, but the one thing that I didn't want, was to be accused of bias (being an Arcam AV8 owner). I can honestly say that I went into the demos with a completely open mind holding no presumptions about the AV8. I left PJ hifi a very happy man as it vindicated my decision to buy the AV8 and as much as I love the look of the Meridian I won't be selling my AV8. I hope that both Guy & Elliot will tell you that I praised both Arcam & Meridian and tried not to be smug about the outcome :devil:

Interesting enough, today I bought Vertical Limit and played it very loud (-8), the sound was simply awesome. The bit at the begining where the 2 helicopters are flying over is phenominal :)

Now all I have to do is to make the decision whether to change my Kef's/P7 for the Genelecs :confused:

Cheers
John
 

rags

Well-known Member
Originally posted by sticker
Now all I have to do is to make the decision whether to change my Kef's/P7 for the Genelecs :confused:

Cheers
John [/B][/QUOTE

John - If I had the new Kef ref's like you do (I have heard them) then I wouldnt change them fullstop. Get another P7 and biamp those beauties !!!
 

rags

Well-known Member
Oh if ever you do make the wrong decision and want to sell them, please give me first dibs at buying them :D
 

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