Basically Better

Meridian has completely redone its Signature Reference 808 CD player, now the 808.2 ($14,995). "We've changed its drive, drive navigation software, power supply, DSP, and clocking and buffering. I'd like to say that the only thing we've retained is the case, but we've improved that, too," said Bob Stuart.

Meridian's proprietary Resolution Enhancement system upsamples 44.1/16-bit CD data to 176.4/24-bit with 48-bit internal precision, and applies a newly refined delta-sigma digital-to-analog converter system of reference accuracy. Stuart says that allows the 808.2 "to extract from the finest CD recordings a degree of transparency, detail, and musical life that simply must be heard to be appreciated."

The Meridian Signature Reference 808.2 comes in two flavors: standard and 808.2i. The difference? The standard Meridian 808.2 provides digital audio outputs in two formats, including an upsampled 88.2 kHz output that exploits Meridian's proprietary MHR resolution-enhancement system when connected via a compatible Meridian DSP Loudspeaker or surround processor. It also has two sets of analog audio outputs, which can be either fixed- or variable-level. The 808.2i ($15,995) adds analog and digital audio inputs, so it can function as a basic preamplifier in a simple two-channel system in conjunction with a power amplifier or active Loudspeakers.

Jack McEwan's picture

The Meridian web site indicates the 808.2 is a limited edition player. Does this suggest that Meridian will continue to produce the 808? How long does Meridian plan on manufacturing the 808.2? Does Meridian plan an 808.2 replacement in a year or two?I assume the 808.2 possesses HD CD capability as did the 808. Has SACD capability been added?How does the 808.2 sonically compare to the 808?

Wes Phillips's picture

Most $13,000 disc players are "limited editions," no matter how fervently their manufacturers hope otherwise. It is a marketing term that makes customers feel special. Again, most companies, especially technologically driven companies like Meridian, make replacement models as the state-of-the-art changes, so while Meridian isn't saying, you can safely assume that if they can make a better player, they will. HDCD? Yes. Meridan and SACD? Not bloody likely

Tim Nay's picture

The 808.2 is arguably as good as it gets in the reproduction of two channel Red Book CDs and is a full page add in both Stereophyle and The Absolute Sound magazines.The 800v4 supports two channel Red Book CD reproduction, as well as multi channel matrixing of two channel Red Book audio CDs, discrete 5.1 / 7.1 DVD A multi channel and 1080p HDMI DVD Video output when combined with a compatable processor and screen.Wes is right. Meridian spinners will never support SACD. If your passion is two channel front speaker Red Book CD rreproduction, the 808.2 is for you.But for a small amount more and your multi channel audio/video system, the 800v4 in my humble opinion is a much better investment in your system's infra structure.

Michael Lukas's picture

I just bought the 808.2, and it takes about 150 hours to burn in. Once it is ready, it really is quite amazing in its musicality. It has a "happy" tonal balance, with not too much of anything, not analytical, not too "transient-heavy"; just sweet and addicting. It reveals the venue, all aspects of any Red Book CD I put into it, and does so with aplomb. What an expensive source, however! I figure that CDs are going to around for a very long time, and this is going to be my last CD player. Its upsampling handles 24bit/ 96kHz rez in its sleep, so that's all I really need. Actually, all I need is for it to play music like music, not a bunch of tones and sounds, and it does that with better "balance" than any other CD player I've heard. I'll be happy to give you a list of comparisons if you request one (and there are several!).

Michael Lukas's picture

Matching the 808.2 to the rest of the system is absolutely critical. With an all solid-state system, it can have a lower sound ceiling than with tubes, making it sound somewhat constricted relative to what the tube front-end can do for it. The 808.2 fares best into a top-line tube preamp and amp(s), especially the ARC Reference gear (especially the Ref 3 preamp). The information retrieval by the 808.2 is without parallel, but as with all highest-end components, system matching is critical, and I highly recommend listening to it (after it's broken-in!) in YOUR system, not just in the stereo store. Big differences occur in the two venues, and subtleties matter immensely to this player's performance.

DVD-A's picture

I was wandering if you have trouble playing DVD-A on tyhe 808.2! None of my DVD-A Discs is working!

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