Vintage Meridian 208 CD Player vs Teac reference UD-501 DSD capable DAC

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I was recently cleaning my attic, where I found my old Meridian 208 bitstream CD player/preamp , it probably been sitting there for over 15 years.
Since I had good memories of this device, I thought it would be nice to hear it one more time.
At work I have the following system:
- an EL84 push-pull tube poweramp, with manual bias with about 15W output.
- aforementioned Teac UD-501 outboard DAC
- Sonus Faber Concerto home speakers, with high-grade revised crossovers
- Computer running Jriver player

So I plugged the Meridian in, switched on, no-problems, read the CD and started to play.
WOW! I could not believe my ears, what a sound!
The bass weight and punch would put many newer players to shame, infact slightly better than the Teac, to be honest.
Meridian sounds raw, forceful and engaging, compared to that the Teac is polite, with less engagement in music.
However this rawness also has a downfall.
When the passage gets complex, the low treble/high-mid starts to loose composure (slightly) when the Teac easily sails through.
Over all you might get a slight listener's fatigue after long sessions, with the Meridian, but before it kicks in, you'll be up'n'dancing, play air-violin or pretend bass guitar!
With the Teac you can esily hear every bit of what's going on, but your foot is hardly tapping.
So which one is better?
Depends on your requirements and habits.
Meridian demands your full attention, not for background music listening.
The Teac is slightly clearer, politer and better put together, it plays it's music whether you pay attention or not, and is fantastic for background, low level music.
Now considering the Meridian 208 came into the scenes in 1990, using one the early bitstream DACs (Phillips DAC3), compared to the Teac, which was the top of the range in Teac's reference system DAC until a few months ago, is DSD capable, using latest devices such as JRC MUSES opamps, dual mono balanced design - this was hardly a fair comparison .
The Meridian held it's ground with ease, I would be happy to listen to it for another few years, until something comes out with drastically better sound for normal 16/44.1 music.
If you are after a CD player, and you see one going cheap - grab it with both hands.
Mine ain't for sale!
« Last Edit: 23 Jul 2015, 08:42 pm by kentajalli »


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I don't understand how you were comparing a CD player to a DAC.

Were you hooking the DAC to the outputs of the player?