Ditched my Meridian 861 V6 for ADA mach IV - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 235 Old 12-05-2010, 06:13 PM - Thread Starter
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I really have been under impressed after upgrading from the Meridian 861 V4 / 621 combo, to the V6 this past Spring. When I think about the $16K upgrade price tag, the nauseousness really sets in. Certainly at some you hit the point where the extra dollars spent versus the sonic improvements diminish.

However thanks to this forum I found that the point doesn't have to pass the price tag of an ADA Mach IV "B". I followed the ADA "Wow" thread, and messaged Joel and Jeff to ask their comments about the unit. I wanted to pull the trigger but was hesitant about starting the "equipment chase". I decided to give ADA a call and spoke to Tom McCarthy. After speaking with him he said that it is a no risk proposition as they give you a 30 day test drive.

I received the unit in about two weeks. This thing kicked ass from the moment I plugged it in. The detail and the impact is amazing. The Meridian had a nice ambiance to it but lacked detail. Also the bass was not tight and there was no slam. This by the way is with 4 Mark Seaton Submersives, Aerial 20T speakers and calibrated with a QSC 322.

I put on Master and Commander and felt my clothes move with the canon scenes. My wife said things vibrated upstairs in the family room. The detail was excellent and the bass was tight with a lot of impact. I was ecstatic.

I next put some two channel music and felt the same way here as I did for movies. Better bass and more detail.

I kept the Mach IV hooked up for about 10 days I then reconnected the Meridian again just to make sure before selling it. I didn't have to get past one song and one movie chapter to have my opinion of the Mach IV reinforced. My wife listened and she had the same opinion as I did. (Of course she thinks the Meridian was $1000 and the ADA was $500).

With regards to ADA themselves, they seem to be responsive.

I just wanted to share my experience with you.
Ken
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post #2 of 235 Old 12-05-2010, 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by ken6217 View Post

I received the unit in about two weeks. This thing kicked ass from the moment I plugged it in. The detail and the impact is amazing. The Meridian had a nice ambiance to it but lacked detail. Also the bass was not tight and there was no slam. This by the way is with 4 Mark Seaton Submersives, Aerial 20T speakers and calibrated with a QSC 322.

Well, I don't want to seem like a 'Meridian Apologist', but my own experience with the 861v6/HD621 combination could not be more different.

First off, I very much like ADA as a company and have had personal dealings with Tom and he is a terrific guy. I've no experience with the ADA Mach IV, so can make no useful observations about it in comaprison with the Meridian kit. I have, however, had the 861v6/HD621 in my system for almost 10 months now and am more than happy. As with all things audio, equipment interactions can play a significant role, so perhaps that is happening here, but with my equipment (Genesis 201 Speakers, VTL MB450 II amplification and Danley DTS-10 subwoofers) there is certainly no lacking in detail, nor in bass tightness or slam. Perhaps my only complaint is in the mid-bass (the 80-120hz. range) but that has been a consistent challenge in my system as a result of the main speakers (and the challenge of transitionning from ribbon mids to cone-based woofs) and has little to do with the front-end electronics (although the room corrction in the 861 helps here a lot).

I will say that I am a music listener first, and a movie watcher second. But it has long been my experience that getting music right is far tougher than getting movie soundtracks right: get the former and you get the latter!

Hope you enjoy your ADA. By all reports it is a very nice piece of kit, but if nothing else this thread reinforces for me that in all things audio/video different people see and hear different things and make different choices. Otherwise there would never be a debate about 'best'.

Certainty and conviction are a sure sign you don't know what you're talking about! The world is not black and white, rather shades of grey!
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post #3 of 235 Old 12-05-2010, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by ken6217 View Post

My wife listened and she had the same opinion as I did. (Of course she thinks the Meridian was $1000 and the ADA was $500).

Very funny! I'm embarassed to say I feed my wife the same line of BS. Do you think they believe it? I've often had this mental image of a bunch of 'audio wives' getting together an laughing uproariously about how clueless and stupid their husbands are for actually thinking they believe all the BS: 'honestly, honey, it's been here for years, I've just been moving things around'. The only time that obviously didn't work was with a pair of DTS10 subs (each of which is the size of a steamer trunk), but fortunatley since they were kits I fell back on the 'home made' explanation.

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post #4 of 235 Old 12-06-2010, 06:00 AM
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Hey Ken,

Welcome to the club! While I'm not completely surprised at your findings, ADA unlike many other 'high end' SSPs represents new thinking, design, and hardware in surround processing... the first of a new generation of SSPs. Meridian, Lexicon, Theta and others have opted to simply add HDMI to an old design and market it as a sonically new and superior product. Of course, we know better. You simply cannot be the best of the best if your technology is many years old.

The ADA represents an excellent surround processor that is about as good as it gets today. Like many here, I've owned and or demo'd many from (Meridian, Lexicon, Theta, Halcro, Citation, etc). They always get better from generation to generation. The steering between 7 channels is the best I've heard and bass is strong and authoritative while dialog and other nuance effects are delivered in spades.

Moreover, like all things digital and electronic, the performance improves while concomitantly the price drops. As I have been saying for some time, SSPs do not need to be 'expensive' to get 'state of the art' movie sound anymore. Your comparison to the reference Meridian V6 is more proof of such as after such an expensive upgrade (to Meridian V6 from V4), you didn't pretend it was better or claim such (like many here do) even though you had such a large investment into the upgrade ... you denied such and went out and got something better! A breath of fresh air and common sense. At well under $10K, the ADA delivers big performance and is perfectly at home in my theater as well.

Congrats!

There are more than a handful of [op amps] that sound so good that most designers want to be using them as opposed to discreet transistors. Dave Reich, Theta 2009
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post #5 of 235 Old 12-06-2010, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by thebland View Post
Hey Ken,

Welcome to the club! While I'm not completely surprised at your findings, ADA unlike many other 'high end' SSPs represents new thinking, design, and hardware in surround processing... the first of a new generation of SSPs. Meridian, Lexicon, Theta and others have opted to simply add HDMI to an old design and market it as a sonically new and superior product. Of course, we know better. You simply cannot be the best of the best if your technology is many years old.
Jeff:

Although I do noy disagree with you but to be balanced and fair I think the following should be noted:

1. The Meiridian V6 is a new design / thinking which i why the V4s had to be exchanged rather than upgraded...

2. The Lexicon MC-12B replacement will likely also be a new design / thinking which is why it is taking so long to be released...the last I heard was CEDIA 2011...

3. There are others with new design / thinking as well including, but not limited to, Classe, Krell, and SimAudio

HTH...

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post #6 of 235 Old 12-06-2010, 10:49 AM
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Thanks Joel for the correction. I, too, want to be accurate.

I was under the assumption that the V6 was simply a new HDMI interface but using the same, old hardware and DACs.

There are more than a handful of [op amps] that sound so good that most designers want to be using them as opposed to discreet transistors. Dave Reich, Theta 2009
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post #7 of 235 Old 12-06-2010, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by thebland View Post

I was under the assumption that the V6 was simply a new HDMI interface but using the same, old hardware and DACs.

In fact, neither the V4 nor the V6 have any HDMI interface. All HDMI/video is handled externally by the HD621. The new audio interface in V6 is the Smartlink/MHHR connection while the V4 used the MHR (3xS/PDIF) connection.

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post #8 of 235 Old 12-06-2010, 08:01 PM
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I know bland is attempting to 'prove' his point that $10K is all that needs to be spent on a SSP - but a whole set of eroneous assumptions doesn't seem like a good way to go about it!

Certainty and conviction are a sure sign you don't know what you're talking about! The world is not black and white, rather shades of grey!
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post #9 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 03:49 AM
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Originally Posted by ca1ore View Post
I know bland is attempting to 'prove' his point that $10K is all that needs to be spent on a SSP - but a whole set of eroneous assumptions doesn't seem like a good way to go about it!
No. It's true. $10K to $15K is the new normal.

(unless you have an audiophile set up and do not have an second room [ideal] for audio, sure spend more for a different type of audiophile pre-amp (e.g DCS)... but for Blu Ray, all else is laughing waste). I know if I had a dedicated audio room, an SSP wouldn't be my first choice for a pre-amp.

There are more than a handful of [op amps] that sound so good that most designers want to be using them as opposed to discreet transistors. Dave Reich, Theta 2009
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post #10 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 06:13 AM
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Simaudio is a Denon.
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post #11 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by thebland View Post
(unless you have an audiophile set up and do not have an second room [ideal] for audio, sure spend more for a different type of audiophile pre-amp (e.g DCS)... but for Blu Ray, all else is laughing waste). I know if I had a dedicated audio room, an SSP wouldn't be my first choice for a pre-amp.
This blanket dichotomy doesn't fly. Where would you play BR-audio discs and concert discs?

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post #12 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by CINERAMAX View Post
Simaudio is a Denon.
Ssshh. We are not supposed to tell.

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post #13 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 06:53 AM - Thread Starter
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[quote=ca1ore;19606265]I know bland is attempting to 'prove' his point that $10K is all that needs to be spent on a SSP - but a whole set of erroneous assumptions doesn't seem like a good way to go about it![/QUOTE

It is true what you said in your first comments after my original post about taking all of your equipment as a whole and how they interact. However your take on Jeff's comment is wrong. If you are saying his statement is erroneous, then you are also saying that you must spend more than $10k on a SSP. What do you have to back that up? At $29k for the Meridian gear, that is pretty excessive. I think if you listen to the Mach IV you will see how excessive it really is.
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post #14 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 07:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson View Post

This blanket dichotomy doesn't fly. Where would you play BR-audio discs and concert discs?

Excatly! Not to mention MCH SACD and DVD-A. Jeff will probably recomment a third room for this, acoustically optimized for MCH Audio.

You can make the case for a 2 channel preamp with HT bypass if you want to get the last bit of resolution out of your 2 channel audio (or more likely if you still own vinyl and need a phono stage), but a "two room solution" makes no sense.
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post #15 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson View Post

This blanket dichotomy doesn't fly. Where would you play BR-audio discs and concert discs?

hi Kal,

I look at SSPs as strictly Blu Ray movie. This is my opinion on it. Concerts, typically filmed in 1.78 are less of a concern and various modes in the SSP make them sound great! We're in a HT forum and I focus on the Blu Ray and home theater. The idea of getting audiophile grade playback in a room dampened for home theater, a large screen and speakers that ideally sit behind that screen takes an ideal audio setting out of the picture if you are looking for an ideal home theater experience (sans BD concerts and the likes as you rightly point out).

But my larger point may've been lost. I simply don't believe at $30K, there is anything ground breaking in these designs for Blu Ray. Let's face it, BD soundtracks will never have the sound of the best audiophile recordings as they are not engineered to that level and movie sound effects making is a whole different beast than a gorgeous recording of Bocelli's soaring voice or Lang Lang on piano. Two different systems would ideally give you the best experience with Lang Lang vs The Matrix. I buld towards the latter type and prefer to serve one master than split the difference and have reference audiophile audio and movie sound. There is no free lunch.

In fact, the analog circuitry / D/As for the Levinson, Theta, Meridian is all old stuff internally (if I am correct). The newer equipment is more advanced and better (as was surmised in this thread). Moreover, there is nothing ground breaking in SSP hardware or design that warrants such a price today. These are computer devices which boot up and get less costly with time. I don't doubt they can sound different... but better??

There are more than a handful of [op amps] that sound so good that most designers want to be using them as opposed to discreet transistors. Dave Reich, Theta 2009
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post #16 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 08:30 AM - Thread Starter
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I would imagine that a lot of what goes into the cost of the Meridian gear would be analog circuitry as well as whatever else is inside that allows it to work with their DSP speakers. (I'm assuming here). Neither of these things do anything for HT, but they are in the cost of the piece.

I am similar to Jeff in that HT is what I am interested in, and not 2 ch music. If the SSP sounds good for that too then that's a bonus. Of course you could look at it as Ca1ore said and that is that if the SSP sounds good for music then it will sound good for film.

The fly in the ointment is what Jeff said with regards to how you set up your room for HT may not be optimum for 2 ch. Certainly if I did not have a screen, my main speakers would not be 120" apart.
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post #17 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 09:01 AM
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To be fair to Meridian, they're not easy to install and this case the end user unhappy because of improper install and not taken the full advantage of filters that are within Meridian 861v6 . The system with Meridian 861v6 HD621 and their DSP speakers are a nirvana and joy to listen too in trifield for music.
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post #18 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 09:20 AM - Thread Starter
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To be fair to Meridian, they're not easy to install and this case the end user unhappy because of improper install and not taken the full advantage of filters that are within Meridian 861v6 . The system with Meridian 861v6 HD621 and their DSP speakers are a nirvana and joy to listen too in trifield for music.

Actually to be really fair, you should give the benefit of the doubt that I had mine calibrated correctly, which I did. Even with their Room Correction the sound did not even remotely approach what I got out of it being set up with the QSC. The QSC was far superior than what is in the 861.

So with that said, apples to apples set up 861/621 vs the Mach IV, I MUCH prefer the Mach IV.

Btw, go listen the the Mach IV for music in their Quad Bypass mode and you will hear it is nicer sounding than Trifield on the Meridian.

More importantly, here is the most telling proof. I took a financial beating making the switch. What do you think $29K new, is worth 8 months later?

The reality here is that the people qualified to give an opinion about the two pieces are people that are intimately familiar with both. Joel and I are both coming from Meridian and are more than happy.

Try it for yourself. They give you 30 days. How many companies do that?
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post #19 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 09:38 AM
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In fact, the analog circuitry / D/As for the Levinson, Theta, Meridian is all old stuff internally (if I am correct). The newer equipment is more advanced and better (as was surmised in this thread).

I think you are going a bit too fast . There is no question that in digital space, advances are fast and furious. A new PC is most definitely faster and more capable than one that is four years old. But analog reproduction? I am not so sure.

Much of what it takes to produce superlative analog reproduction of digital samples requires careful attention and over-design of surrounding analog components. Such things do not get old or become obsolete. Yes, DAC technology does advance but putting that Dac in poor surrounding can easily damage its advantages. And an older but better design will outperform a newer one in this space.

We can look at an example here. Let's compare the THD+noise specs for Mark Levinson NO 40 against Denon AVP-A1HDCI:



The Mark Levinson came out circa 2003 and Denon, circa 2007. Yet, the ML outperforms it by a factor of 5 in this test (THD+N of 0.01 vs .002).

This ADA machine may do better than Denon but we really don't know that from an anecdotal, subjective analysis. And as we have shown, the date of release is no proof that it will do better.

Let's see measurements of the box and be sure that subjective evaluations aren't impacted by such things as slight tilt in response and such. And of course get a lot more data from other users before we form an opinion that it is superior.

Quote:


Moreover, there is nothing ground breaking in SSP hardware or design that warrants such a price today. These are computer devices which boot up and get less costly with time. I don't doubt they can sound different... but better??

I don't know about that either . Are high-end CD players now going for $100? It has been 30 years since CD players came out but we have not seen that trend. Part of the reason is that the digital components are the cheaper parts. A large power supply in a high-end SSP alone will dwarf the cost of all the digital circuits in it! Heck, the cost of the chassis alone will blow the BOM let alone the rest .

Pricing of high-end gear is arbitrary at some level anyway....

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post #20 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 10:03 AM
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But my larger point may've been lost. I simply don't believe at $30K, there is anything ground breaking in these designs for Blu Ray.

Not lost. Just not accepted.

Quote:


Let's face it, BD soundtracks will never have the sound of the best audiophile recordings as they are not engineered to that level and movie sound effects making is a whole different beast than a gorgeous recording of Bocelli's soaring voice or Lang Lang on piano.

I will not tolerate Bocelli's bleating on any system.

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post #21 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by thebland View Post

But my larger point may've been lost. I simply don't believe at $30K, there is anything ground breaking in these designs for Blu Ray.

Not lost. Just not accepted.

Quote:


Let's face it, BD soundtracks will never have the sound of the best audiophile recordings as they are not engineered to that level and movie sound effects making is a whole different beast than a gorgeous recording of Bocelli's soaring voice or Lang Lang on piano.

I will not tolerate Bocelli's bleating on any system and, besides, there are music/concert BDs with equal or better sound compared to CDs/SACDs.

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post #22 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 10:51 AM
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Here is a thread with suggestions on good sounding concerts on BD: http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showth...ncert-Blu-Rays

I am behind in collecting BD music discs but mean to make up for that soon .

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post #23 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 10:51 AM
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I will not tolerate Bocelli's bleating on any system ---- KR, that blind brother can sing son. I know you must be joking. You may not like the lyrics but his range and pitch is outstanding.

Again AMIRM states fact. The most expensive parts of the BOM is faceplate, case and power supply almost in that order. Power supply could go to the top based on the type of copper and the windings in the transformer.

I think the guys like M. Levinson and Meridian demand bigger dollars is because the can so to speak. Now Meridian knows digital for sure make no doubt about that ajd true a soup to nuts Meridian system is impressive.

But getting back on track, for movies [Blu Ray, DVD or PC server] I don't think you need to spend big dollars any more. I think the ADA, CLASSE and ARCAM [Audio Control] will go toe to toe, for movies, with the upper crust for much less cash. Before the new codecs came along on Blu Ray I had a Cary Audio C11 [not the HDMI buggy C11a] and it was fantastic for a mere $3500 MSRP. At the time in made the McIntosh MX series a joke. With that said you don't need to dump big bucks in SURROUND SOUND processors any more.

If you are a two channel guiy you can get a pre with bypass like say the Parasound new JC2. Now some even like the CLASSE SSP800 for two channel as well.

So the SIMAUDIO is a DENON. I be damned can't trust anybody anymore.

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post #24 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by amirm View Post

Here is a thread with suggestions on good sounding concerts on BD: http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showth...ncert-Blu-Rays

I am behind in collecting BD music discs but mean to make up for that soon .

The only one not mentioned in this thread that is a stellar recording (and good music to boot) is the Pat Metheny: The Way Up
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post #25 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by ken6217 View Post

At $29k for the Meridian gear, that is pretty excessive. I think if you listen to the Mach IV you will see how excessive it really is.

I've done that, side by side with many other processors as well. Is it expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? In my opinion, yes. So you could say I've ditched the Mach IV.

What is somewhat surprising for me is, that you didn't get much of an improvement going from the v4 to v6. The differences are huge between the two. The v6 is completely new. New DACs, new clocking system, much better jitter reduction and so on. Maybe it is indeed not doing not too well with the rest of your system.

As I've said many times before, I consider the Mach IV to be an excellent performer for the money and it's in my Top 3 list of processors I'd look at, if I'd have to buy again. I personally consider the v6 to be better, but it comes at a price. Many have jumped the ship when the v6 came out, due to cost. I can't blame them. You could probably buy a Mach IV, a future Mach V in a couple of years and then even later a Mach VI for the same price of a single v6 today.

I don't agree that $10k does it all, it could be less or much more. I've ditched a Lumis for a Mico, which I yet ditched again. That sure doesn't tell the whole story. Then again, I don't care so much how expensive a processor is, as long as it delivers. What's most important is that you found something that works well with the rest of your system, so your whole system can perform at its best.
Others, myself included, made other decisions to get the best out of our systems. Congratulations on your Mach IV, as I've said many times before, it's an excellent performer and should be on everyones short list.

- Stephan
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post #26 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 11:56 AM - Thread Starter
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What is somewhat surprising for me is, that you didn't get much of an improvement going from the v4 to v6. The differences are huge between the two. The v6 is completely new. New DACs, new clocking system, much better jitter reduction and so on. Maybe it is indeed not doing not too well with the rest of your system.

Honestly I did not understand why I did not hear any recognizable difference. The rest of my system was unchanged. I assumed it should have sounded better. Believe me, I really wanted to keep the 861. Even after having the ADA hooked up for a week I figured I would keep it and the 861 and then sell one of them a few months down the road. Once I re-hooked up the 861 for one movie chapter and one song, I took it out of the rack and put it in the box. There was no reason to hold on to it.

The bottom line is that MY 861 V6 did not sound good to me and its not my related equipment. Now if you want to say that maybe there was something wrong with my unit, then I say F*ck You to Meridian for selling me a REALLY EXPENSIVE product that shouldn't have passed QC.
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post #27 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 12:59 PM
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Honestly I did not understand why I did not hear any recognizable difference. The rest of my system was unchanged. I assumed it should have sounded better. Believe me, I really wanted to keep the 861. Even after having the ADA hooked up for a week I figured I would keep it and the 861 and then sell one of them a few months down the road. Once I re-hooked up the 861 for one movie chapter and one song, I took it out of the rack and put it in the box. There was no reason to hold on to it.

The bottom line is that MY 861 V6 did not sound good to me and its not my related equipment. Now if you want to say that maybe there was something wrong with my unit, then I say F*ck You to Meridian for selling me a REALLY EXPENSIVE product that shouldn't have passed QC.
Ken

Why not talk to your dealer, explain your experience and ask for another unit to validate if indeed there is an issue with your v6? He (and Meridian) clearly has a vested interest in keeping you as a happy Meridian customer and spreading the word about the merits of the v6, so they should be very cooperative.
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post #28 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 02:42 PM
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It is true what you said in your first comments after my original post about taking all of your equipment as a whole and how they interact. However your take on Jeff's comment is wrong. If you are saying his statement is erroneous, then you are also saying that you must spend more than $10k on a SSP. What do you have to back that up? At $29k for the Meridian gear, that is pretty excessive. I think if you listen to the Mach IV you will see how excessive it really is.Ken

No, you've misunderstood my point. I was simply saying that misrepreseting the high-priced competition is not a good way to further one's argument. Bland made comments about the Meridian kit that others have pointed out were incorrect assumptions. Also, he's apparently not heard the 861v6, so I simply don't put a lot of stock in his view on this. You will also note that I have made no comparative statements about the ADA versus 861 as I have not heard the former. All I have pointed out is that, in isolation, your criticisms about the 861v6 ar not consistent with my experience - no more, no less!

I'm not saying one should spend more than $10K, but that one certainly can. How is $30K for a SSP any more absurd than $100K for speakers or $50K for a set of monoblocks. To assign absurdity to one rather than the others is to most certainly 'miss the forest for the trees'.

Certainty and conviction are a sure sign you don't know what you're talking about! The world is not black and white, rather shades of grey!
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post #29 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 02:48 PM
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The reality here is that the people qualified to give an opinion about the two pieces are people that are intimately familiar with both. Joel and I are both coming from Meridian and are more than happy.

Don't want to put words in his mouth, but my understanding is JoelC left prior to 861v6 so his comparisons, in this thread at least, are moot.

Certainty and conviction are a sure sign you don't know what you're talking about! The world is not black and white, rather shades of grey!
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post #30 of 235 Old 12-07-2010, 03:04 PM
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I will not tolerate Bocelli's bleating on any system ---- KR, that blind brother can sing son. I know you must be joking. You may not like the lyrics but his range and pitch is outstanding.

I was not joking.

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http://www.stereophile.com/category/music-round

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