AVS Special Member
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: New York, NY, USA
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Yetis, there are a few good processors that serve the dual purpose well: Meridian 861, Bryston SP3, Theta Casablana with Extreme DACs (or outboard Gen VIIIs), Classe SSP800, and Levinson No. 502. That's the top tier. You can't really make a mistake with any of them, but of these, I think the 861 V8 is the best choice for 2-channel and surround sound quality, upgradeability, outboard HDMI video processing, and value. Trifield is a my favorite surround sound mode, as well.
Yes, I did say, "Value." The reason is that the 861, as expensive as it is, when combined with Meridian speakers, offers you a complete system that includes amps, interconnects, and speaker cables that is lower cost than a top flight system from the other worthies I mentioned above. Start adding up the cost of top-flight amplification, cables, and speakers, and you'll see what I mean. Meridian looks better and better.
What's more, with the 861's ID41 card option, you also get sensational sounding network music and very good sounding Internet streaming. Scaling the system for additional rooms of audio is also easy and surprisingly inexpensive. You can have an iPad controlling your system if you like, at no additional charge.
I would also submit that Meridian makes the most technologically advanced product:
1. Meridian invented high res blu ray sound. Dolby licenses the technology from Meridian. That's right; little old Meridian provides Dolby with the technology it needs.
2. Meridian doesn't buy off-the-shelf chips. It writes the processing code. Think what that means in terms of upgradeability.
3. Apodizing technology is solely found in Meridian.
4. Only Meridian has DSP processing that compensates for your speaker proximity to your walls (a crucial consideration in a Manhattan apt), center channel height adjustment (once you hear this, you have to have it), and bass enhancement.
If you're serious about purchasing anew 861, I will be happy to arrange an appt for a private demo on Greene Street. As a bonus, you'll get to see the Reference 810 projector, play with Sooloos, and hear 8Ks in all their glory. If you do purchase a system, we can also arrange for a Meridian field tech to tune and calibrate the system perfectly. I've sent you a PM.