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post #1 of 146 Old 11-16-2009, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm in the market for a surround sound processor, heard the 861 + HD621 the other day and fell in love with the audio, but haven't had any gear to compare it with.

Can anyone recommend alternative processors that I should be listening to? This is for movie/TV multichannel use only, no stereo audio sources, and they're all over HDMI. I'm planning on mating it to Meridian G41s w/Meridian 350s.

I think my big concerns are that the 861 is getting a little long in the tooth and seems to be focused on an awful lot of stuff I don't need (lots of inputs/outputs, etc). Additionally, I'm worried I'll have sources in the future that are only capable of bitstream output, rather than LPCM, over HDMI. Since the HD621 doesn't decode DTS-HD MA or Dolby TrueHD, that'd be a problem. (I'm noodling around with building my own Kaleidescape-like HTPC, which would output bitstream via HDMI, for example) Finally, I'm worried that 192kHz sources will become prevalent at some point, and the 861 is 96kHz.

My ideal processor would probably have a lot of HDMI inputs, two HDMI outputs (at least one of which could passthrough audio), XLR speaker connections, and exceptional surround processing, including decoding the advanced formats internally. No analog or SPDIF inputs at all. I don't think such a beast exists, but if there's anything close, I'm all ears.

The 861 + HD261 sounded fantastic, I just want to make sure it's right for my needs. Any advice or recommendations would be very appreciated.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 146 Old 11-16-2009, 12:46 PM
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I went from a Meridian G68 (close to the 861 series) to Classe's 800. Would do it again if I had to decide all over.

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post #3 of 146 Old 11-17-2009, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1thumb View Post

I'm in the market for a surround sound processor, heard the 861 + HD621 the other day and fell in love with the audio, but haven't had any gear to compare it with.

Can anyone recommend alternative processors that I should be listening to? This is for movie/TV multichannel use only, no stereo audio sources, and they're all over HDMI. I'm planning on mating it to Meridian G41s w/Meridian 350s.

I think my big concerns are that the 861 is getting a little long in the tooth and seems to be focused on an awful lot of stuff I don't need (lots of inputs/outputs, etc). Additionally, I'm worried I'll have sources in the future that are only capable of bitstream output, rather than LPCM, over HDMI. Since the HD621 doesn't decode DTS-HD MA or Dolby TrueHD, that'd be a problem. (I'm noodling around with building my own Kaleidescape-like HTPC, which would output bitstream via HDMI, for example) Finally, I'm worried that 192kHz sources will become prevalent at some point, and the 861 is 96kHz.

??? The Meridian 861 decodes 24/192 for many years now.

I have been looking for 3 years for something to replace my Meridian 861 version 2. Finally, I went with a Meridian 861 version 4 and 621 combo. The only thing that the Meridian needs is 8 channel capability with a new 4 SPDIF SMART input card and software update to decode DTS-HD MA/DD True HD.

Now that you mention it, how is Meridain going to implement DD True HD and DTS MA? I haven't thought that through...

Quote:
My ideal processor would probably have a lot of HDMI inputs, two HDMI outputs (at least one of which could passthrough audio), XLR speaker connections, and exceptional surround processing, including decoding the advanced formats internally. No analog or SPDIF inputs at all. I don't think such a beast exists, but if there's anything close, I'm all ears.

The 861 + HD261 sounded fantastic, I just want to make sure it's right for my needs. Any advice or recommendations would be very appreciated.

Thanks!

I've been looking for a long time. No other processor compares unfortunately. The Classe is not even in the same league, not even close. The 861 V4 with 621 is the purest all digital audio pathway possible with the best digital processing available. I do look forward to the room correction as well.

The main concern I have is when and how 7.1 DD true HD and 7.1 DTS Master HD Audio will be implemented.
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post #4 of 146 Old 11-17-2009, 04:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Health Nut View Post

The Classe is not even in the same league, not even close.

Have you heard both the 861/621 and the Classe? What was your impression of the latter vs. the former?
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post #5 of 146 Old 11-17-2009, 05:37 PM
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"??? The Meridian 861 decodes 24/192 for many years now."

No, it doesn't. Try and feed your Meridian 24/192, it won't lock onto the signal.

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post #6 of 146 Old 11-17-2009, 06:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Health Nut View Post

??? The Meridian 861 decodes 24/192 for many years now.

Not through the HD621. 96kHz max.

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post #7 of 146 Old 11-18-2009, 11:38 AM
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If memory serves, the HD621 accepts 24/192, but outputs at 96kHz max
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post #8 of 146 Old 11-18-2009, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will Binegar View Post

If memory serves, the HD621 accepts 24/192, but outputs at 96kHz max

Yup.

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post #9 of 146 Old 11-27-2009, 02:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1thumb View Post

...
My ideal processor would probably have a lot of HDMI inputs, two HDMI outputs (at least one of which could passthrough audio), XLR speaker connections, and exceptional surround processing, including decoding the advanced formats internally. No analog or SPDIF inputs at all. I don't think such a beast exists, but if there's anything close, I'm all ears.

The 861 + HD261 sounded fantastic, I just want to make sure it's right for my needs. Any advice or recommendations would be very appreciated.

Thanks!

As a Meridian fan myself, I understand the quandary, as I was there last year.

I addressed it by getting a Denon AVP-A1HD.

After more than a year with it, I'm more than pleased with it.

HDMI compatibility is excellent, the scaler in this unit is very good (Realta T2) and the audio quality is very, very good.

The Audyssey Pro support allows one to really get the most out of surround music and soundtracks in your room, even if it's ideally sized and treated (as mine is).

The fact that it has DenonLink4 and support of Universal players like the 4010 or A1UD that will give you jitter-free CD / DVD-Audio / SACD / BluRay playback is a huge plus.

With full balanced topology internally, feeding balanced downstream processors or amps, this preamp really does it all.

Check out the owners thread here on AVS, one of the happiest bunch of consumer electronics owners around.

Jonathan

My System
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post #10 of 146 Old 11-27-2009, 03:08 PM
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The Meridian 861 version 4 with a 621 is still the best option. I put my money where my mouth is and ordered a Meridian 861 V4 + 621 which should be here soon. I am, confident that Meridian, as usual, will offer a discount to an upcoming version 5.

I had th eMeridian 861 version 2.X for way too long... This upgrage is most welcome.

When is comes to a surround processor, nothing beat the meridian in terms of the digital pathway, custom algorithms, custom filters, and simply still the best pure digital processing available. The only problem I have is the slow nature of upgrades. There is still no other processor I would rather own at this point in time. I have no other Meridian products and I don't care for their speakers very much, but the 861 + 621 is still king IMO. Looking forward to the Vesion 5 upgrade very soon.

If you want the best surround processor, get the Meridian. If you want the best video processor, get something like the Lumagen or such. Processors like the Denon, Classe, etc., are just glorified receivers... Meridian = digital audio purity.
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post #11 of 146 Old 11-27-2009, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Health Nut View Post

The Meridian 861 version 4 with a 621 is still the best option. I put my money where my mouth is and ordered a Meridian 861 V4 + 621 which should be here soon. I am, confident that Meridian, as usual, will offer a discount to an upcoming version 5.

I had th eMeridian 861 version 2.X for way too long... This upgrage is most welcome.

When is comes to a surround processor, nothing beat the meridian in terms of the digital pathway, custom algorithms, custom filters, and simply still the best pure digital processing available. The only problem I have is the slow nature of upgrades. There is still no other processor I would rather own at this point in time. I have no other Meridian products and I don't care for their speakers very much, but the 861 + 621 is still king IMO. Looking forward to the Vesion 5 upgrade very soon.

If you want the best surround processor, get the Meridian. If you want the best video processor, get something like the Lumagen or such. Processors like the Denon, Classe, etc., are just glorified receivers... Meridian = digital audio purity.




there is nothing about meridian that makes it the end all be all pre/pro over any other product. there are many different brands for many different types of preferences. comments like:

Quote:


Processors like the Denon, Classe, etc., are just glorified receivers... Meridian = digital audio purity.

are just plain ignorant and very arrogant.

If the OP is happy with Meridian, I say stick with it. If you are interested in looking at what is available, the Denon makes a great swiss army knife, the classe is an excellent option, and the forthcoming bryston will be worth considering. IMO, the rest is not up to the task, though I have not heard the cp-8 or the theta, which seems to have a following on the boards.

ultimately, our opinion means nothing. whichever makes the OP happy will be the right choice.

ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for you.
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post #12 of 146 Old 11-27-2009, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by sikoniko View Post



are just plain ignorant and very arrogant.

Would you care to describe why, in terms of audio processing my comment is "ignorant"?

Ignorant and arrogant are not terms I am associated with.

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whichever makes the OP happy will be the right choice

Wow that is really insightful and helpful...

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ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for you.

Sounds like Acorn...
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post #13 of 146 Old 11-27-2009, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Health Nut View Post

Would you care to describe why, in terms of audio processing my comment is "ignorant"?

ignorant - taken from dictionary.com: lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject

your comment is ignorant because you profess one product better than another without stating your experience of the other products. how does anyone know what experience you have with the "denon" and "classe" products? you certainly don't provide that information. so, as a reader, I am led to believe that you make passionate statements of the meridian being the best without any experience or knowledge transfer of how it is better than the denon or classe. you come across like a sales guy. you taking commission from meridian on refferrals?

care to share your experience with these other lesser products? because I have experience with the meridian, and to me it is just OK. it has its merrits, but certainly not an absolute supreme product.

Quote:


Ignorant and arrogant are not terms I am associated with.

now is as good a time as any to start associating. your opinion is not fact. i stated that you are arrogant because you come across like your opinion sets the bar that all of us should follow. perhaps you should reconsider your words next time.


Quote:


Wow that is really insightful and helpful...

well... my current paradigm is that questions asking for direction from online communities often end up being unproductive. I am guilty of asking them as well, but it is my experience that the best advice anyone can offer is to help narrow down a product search. so, lets say the OP ends up sticking with Meridian based on your comment, but ultimately never auditions the options for him/her-self. he/she may always ask if the grass might be greener on the other side. so he/she regrets not taking the option of evaluating current offerings now.

the best advice anyone can give is to find out what products are offered in your region. go to the dealers and listen for one-self. I know there are dealers that will break the rules and sell product outside of the region, but you take the chance of support with that, and to be honest, spending greater than $1000 and not having first class support and service is a risky gamble that MUST be factored into a purchase decision. how much will it cost to warranty the product if/when something goes wrong?

buying a product because you want to impress the online community is lame. ultimately, a person needs to be happy with his/her decision. not be happy that some internet board is impressed that another member has a $50k+ system.


Quote:


Sounds like Acorn...

actually, my comment is a play on words based on a speech from a democrat. I find it incredibly ironic that one democrat can make such a profound statement in the '60s while the current mantra of the democratic party is to drive this country into a socialist state where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, while squeezing out our middle class.

I saw on the history channel recently that the fall of the roman empire can be contributed to the loss of the middle class. We, as American's, are awfully arrogant if we believe the American Empire cannot fall if we do not preserve the principles we were founded on. I don't care if anyone is republican or democrat, our congress are all a bunch of self-preserving theives who are raping our country for their own personal gain. as far as I know, our congress has the only job in the world where they are allowed to vote for their own raise. have you ever seen them turn it down?

now, I apologize to the OP for my reply completely drawing this discussion off-topic. It is my opinion that the best advice anyone can give you is to go listen for yourself. I know it isn't what you want to hear, but as John Lennon once said "just give me some truth".

As direction on where to look, my short list includes the Classe SSP-800 and the up-coming Bryston SP3. I admit my lack of experience with the Sim product as well as the theta. I saw them both at CES last year, but they were static displays. To my budget, the cost is not justified. I also think that if you are happy with the Meridian, why change? if its not broke, don't fix it.

ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for you.
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post #14 of 146 Old 11-27-2009, 05:43 PM
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Apparently there isn't much going on in Jacksonville. I'm at work. You missed the fact that I am not fond of Meridian speakers, so I am hardly Meridian biased. I don't have hours for a reply, Meridian's virtues, room correction, and capabilities are well known. This is the $20,000.00 forum so we tend to talk about cost no object. I believe that the Meridian 861 and HD 621 is still the current best (cost no object) audio processor (Unfortunately). I would love to buy another brand since the upgrades are slow, but the 861 + 621 is still the best cost no object solution IMO.
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post #15 of 146 Old 11-27-2009, 06:10 PM
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if you got over $20k+ to spend on ht, may be you be looking at a room the size of a standard cineplex theatre with speakers and amps to boot...
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post #16 of 146 Old 11-28-2009, 05:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Health Nut View Post

Apparently there isn't much going on in Jacksonville. I'm at work. You missed the fact that I am not fond of Meridian speakers, so I am hardly Meridian biased. I don't have hours for a reply, Meridian's virtues, room correction, and capabilities are well known. This is the $20,000.00 forum so we tend to talk about cost no object. I believe that the Meridian 861 and HD 621 is still the current best (cost no object) audio processor (Unfortunately). I would love to buy another brand since the upgrades are slow, but the 861 + 621 is still the best cost no object solution IMO.

actually, my company is closed the day after thanksgiving.

I'd like to revisit my question. what experience do you have with the current crop of pre/pro's that forms your opinion? There must be a reason that you think it is the best other than cause you said so... would you care to qualify your answer for the OP and myself?

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post #17 of 146 Old 11-28-2009, 07:43 AM
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I've got a great idea. Read the white papers on Meridian's room correction and their use of notch filters. Learn about their custom digital filters/crossovers, learn about how they do volume/level control, FIFO buffers, clocks, Apodizing filter in the 621, bass management (including the ability to use 1 Hz increments in crossover choices), custom 1 Hz increments on LFE filter, the amazing surround modes and the almost infinite ability to adjust every known factor (that I don't have time to explain), and then get back to us. I appreciate your effort to help the OP. I have done the comparison with the Moon, the Denon (which I own for the bedroom, the Classe, etc... I do own (7) Bryston 7BST monoblocks, but the Bryston processor, including the upcoming processor are not in the same league.

When you are finished, set up a DBT and we will throw a party. Thanks in advance.
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post #18 of 146 Old 11-28-2009, 08:47 AM
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well you could say denon is likely the babe in the woods when you compare it to this pre-pro, while we class the denon in the high end arena to be honest it's likely to be entry-mid level when you stack it up against pre-pro's in the $25-150k price range of course the more expensive might have a better feature set though sometimes the features are seldom required..

to be honest from the reviews i've read on the amp section they seem to be more in tune with class a/b amplification than class d amplification...
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post #19 of 146 Old 11-28-2009, 09:24 AM
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The Meridian 861 may not be for everyone; however, the HD621 is a very elegant solution for supporting HDMI and adapting to HDMI changes in the future without the requirement to upgrade ones entire kit. Equally to the point, HDMI license fees are paid only on the 621...why pay an HDMI license fee if you have no intent to use HDMI? When it comes to audio in the digital domain, one will be extremely challenged to find anything which does a better, more thoughtout job, than the 861. And, yes, I have heard, calibrated and tested a long, long list of pre-pros (including the big Denon unit coupled to a Meridian 810 projection system, in, ah, Jacksonville, Fl).

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post #20 of 146 Old 11-28-2009, 10:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Health Nut View Post

I've got a great idea. Read the white papers on Meridian's room correction and their use of notch filters. Learn about their custom digital filters/crossovers, learn about how they do volume/level control, FIFO buffers, clocks, Apodizing filter in the 621, bass management (including the ability to use 1 Hz increments in crossover choices), custom 1 Hz increments on LFE filter, the amazing surround modes and the almost infinite ability to adjust every known factor (that I don't have time to explain), and then get back to us.

I've actually already read it. doesn't change my opinion based on real-world listening.

Quote:


I appreciate your effort to help the OP. I have done the comparison with the Moon, the Denon (which I own for the bedroom, the Classe, etc... I do own (7) Bryston 7BST monoblocks, but the Bryston processor, including the upcoming processor are not in the same league.

I don't believe you. and yes, that is arrogant of me to say. Why? because the best conclusion that can be made by listening to different products is that they all have their strengths, but one might *prefer* one to another. the end result will never be that one is "superior". that is a passionate response based on subjectivity - which is something you are requesting me to have, but are not willing to have yourself.

There is no way you can project what the new bryston pre- sounds like, because it has not been heard outside of bryston to the best of my knowledge. the reason I take interest in it is because it uses similar boards to that of the classe ssp-800. the big difference is that classe took a more advanced chipset than bryston. it doesn't mean though that it is not plausible that bryston can not acheive a great product. It isn't always the ingredients that makes the end result, but the chef who combines them to make the main course.

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When you are finished, set up a DBT and we will throw a party. Thanks in advance.

OK. When can I expect you? you bring your meridian and we will dbx against the ssp-800. since cost is no object for you, you are more capable than I to afford the plane tickets.

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post #21 of 146 Old 11-28-2009, 10:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mystic_sniper28 View Post

well you could say denon is likely the babe in the woods when you compare it to this pre-pro, while we class the denon in the high end arena to be honest it's likely to be entry-mid level when you stack it up against pre-pro's in the $25-150k price range of course the more expensive might have a better feature set though sometimes the features are seldom required..

to be honest from the reviews i've read on the amp section they seem to be more in tune with class a/b amplification than class d amplification...

the denon would not be my first choice either, but there are many who favor it, so our of respect for them, I say it must be worth listening to. It does not make sense to allow personal bias into the equation, unless precedent of the OP dictates such.

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post #22 of 146 Old 11-28-2009, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Health Nut View Post

The Meridian 861 version 4 with a 621 is still the best option. I put my money where my mouth is and ordered a Meridian 861 V4 + 621 which should be here soon. I am, confident that Meridian, as usual, will offer a discount to an upcoming version 5.

I had th eMeridian 861 version 2.X for way too long... This upgrage is most welcome.

When is comes to a surround processor, nothing beat the meridian in terms of the digital pathway, custom algorithms, custom filters, and simply still the best pure digital processing available. The only problem I have is the slow nature of upgrades. There is still no other processor I would rather own at this point in time. I have no other Meridian products and I don't care for their speakers very much, but the 861 + 621 is still king IMO. Looking forward to the Vesion 5 upgrade very soon.

If you want the best surround processor, get the Meridian. If you want the best video processor, get something like the Lumagen or such. Processors like the Denon, Classe, etc., are just glorified receivers... Meridian = digital audio purity.

wow...i couldn't disagree more.
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post #23 of 146 Old 11-28-2009, 10:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Erskine View Post

The Meridian 861 may not be for everyone; however, the HD621 is a very elegant solution for supporting HDMI and adapting to HDMI changes in the future without the requirement to upgrade ones entire kit. Equally to the point, HDMI license fees are paid only on the 621...why pay an HDMI license fee if you have no intent to use HDMI? When it comes to audio in the digital domain, one will be extremely challenged to find anything which does a better, more thoughtout job, than the 861. And, yes, I have heard, calibrated and tested a long, long list of pre-pros (including the big Denon unit coupled to a Meridian 810 projection system, in, ah, Jacksonville, Fl).

Please let me know the next time you are in Jacksonille. I would be more than happy to invite you into my home and give you the opportunity to hear my Classe SSP-800 based system. I promise you won't be disappointed.

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post #24 of 146 Old 11-28-2009, 11:09 AM
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Maybe, just maybe, if we try even a little, this thread can be saved from the "my gear is better than your gear" crap that will waste everyone's time with 3 pages of back and forth........


Jim
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post #25 of 146 Old 11-28-2009, 11:52 AM
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I would be more than happy to invite you into my home and give you the opportunity to hear my Classe SSP-800 based system.

I always enjoy hearing other people's systems. As to the Classe SSP-800. Been there. Done that. Thanks for the invite.

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post #26 of 146 Old 11-28-2009, 11:54 AM
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Maybe, just maybe, if we try even a little, this thread can be saved from the "my gear is better than your gear" crap that will waste everyone's time with 3 pages of back and forth........

Whose KoolAid you been drinking counselor?
Not here. Not on this forum.

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post #27 of 146 Old 11-28-2009, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by dennis erskine View Post

whose koolaid you been drinking counselor? :d
not here. Not on this forum.


One can hope...
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post #28 of 146 Old 11-28-2009, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by JlgLaw View Post

Maybe, just maybe, if we try even a little, this thread can be saved from the "my gear is better than your gear" crap that will waste everyone's time with 3 pages of back and forth........


Jim

without trying to sound defensive, I have been very careful not to say my system is better than any other system. My system is not a "cost-no-object" system and I am fully aware of its deficiencies. My point all along has been that there is no one system that is perfect and I find it annoying when people profess that they have found the grail. the truth is, it doesn't exist. some people like white wine, others prefer red. neither is wrong.

ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for you.
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post #29 of 146 Old 11-28-2009, 03:11 PM
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without trying to sound defensive,....


You have.

(My comments were not directed at anyone.)


Jim
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post #30 of 146 Old 11-28-2009, 03:36 PM
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The Meridian 861 version 4 with a 621 is still the best option. I put my money where my mouth is and ordered a Meridian 861 V4 + 621 which should be here soon.

Please post your impression. No doubt the sound quality will be top notch as all of the other happy owners relate. I would really like to see some great blu-ray concerts with top notch audio. The Meridian 861 is first rate. What will be the associated gear?

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