Originally Posted by moonhawk
I for one would be happy to hear your observations on an ongoing basis, instead of waiting for a comprehensive review.
Might even help keep this thread OT...
Here are my initial thoughts and short summary on a number of points:Aesthetics
This is a matter of personal choice / taste and I will call this one a draw in that:
- Meridian's form factor (i.e. box) looks better on a table top than in a rack but it lacks a modern display (i.e. there one line display simply does not cut it in today's agae especially for a $25,000+ unit)...the scrolling that one has to do to get basic information can be painful.
- ADA's form factor looks great in a rack (at least I think so noting that my unit has the rack ears for mounting but not the rack handles, thank you Richard)...the ADA display is much more informative and modern than the Meridian's.Computer Software/Configuration Utility
Meridian and ADA each have their own approach and thus their own learning curves...
Meridian's software is easier to learn as it leads the user using a cookie/crumb trail approach that was -- at least for me -- rather intuitive. Meridian's software is also a little easier to manage / save because all the information is saved in one file.
ADA's software is more difficult to learn and more more difficult to manage (i.e. there is one file that saves the "configuration input parameters" [i.e. Defaults / Cinema Rhapsody tab in the configuration software, these are *.C43 files] and there is a one file that saves the "other parameters" [i.e. all other tabs in the configuration software, these are *.C4P type files] noting those that have played with the software will understand this). ADA's software is -- at least to me -- written by engineers for engineers.
ADA's software took me about 2 hours to learn and understand but once I understood the paradigm and the best / preferred navigation route it is very flexible and very powerful...
ADA does have three very powerful and preferred charcteristic over the Meridian in that:
- Changes to the ADA are immediately loaded into and "impacted on" the pre/pro...this is not the case with the Meridian where the entire configuration file needs to be loaded.
- The software application can be used to control the pre/pro in real time which is not possible with Meridian.
- The software application can be used over a LAN; that is, unlike the Meridan there is no need to connect the computer / laptop directly to the pre / pro via a serial connection...this is a big bonus because i) it is far more comfortable to program the unit at my desk than on the floor near my rack and ii) it is, for those of us that use RS-232 control systems, a pain to remove the control system's connection, plug int the laptops connections and then plug in the control system's connection into the one and only RS-232 connector...
Worth also noting is that the ADA can be programmed remotely by opening two ports on yoru router / vpn which provides easy access, dealer support and trouble shooting...
All that said, ...in terms of the software's look, learning curve and ergonomics Meridian is the clear winner...sorry, ADA.Configurability
Complexity and ease of use are often a double edge sword and this proves to be true in this case as well.
Each of the Meridian 861 and the ADA Cinema Rhapsody MACH IV B have their own unique features but at the end of the day the Meridian is not as configurable nor as powerful as the ADA offering (and the difference is not small).
The other important point is that one need not be an expert to configure the ADA unit; that is, someone with basic knwoledge can get the ADA pre/pro to sing but to extract the very best performance, the configuration is best performed in the hands of an expert or experienced user...this of course is my view and others are welcome to challenge it or differ from it.
With that, combining the comments in the immediately preceeding section as well as this section my strong preference is for the ADA offering.Controlability
This is not even a contest, the ADA wins hads down based on those features that are important to me noting that I am using a Crestron control system with 2 way control and a "control window" on my touch panels...the reasons include:
- ADA has a much richer rs-232 command set...again, this is written by engineers for engineers meaning there is literally (or as close to as is possible) as command for everything.
- ADA software has the ability to export the hex command strings; that is, press a button in the configuration software, the hex code appears and it can be copied directly into the programming application...very cool.
- ADA software, as communicated to me by the CI who programmed my Crestron system for both my Meridian 861 and my ADA Cinema Rhapsody MACH IV B, is much easier to integrate / use in a Crestron system particulalrly with respect to a control or feedback window which mirrors an OSD.Documentation
Meridian's documentation commonly contains errors and ommissions noting that this not just my experience but that of the Meridian HH group as well.
ADA's docuemntation simply does not exists; that is, there is now a HD Suite 7.1 manual but there no Cinema Rhapsody MACH IV B manual (i.e. the unit arrived with no manual; that is, th eonly thing in the box was the unit and the power cord).
ADA does however have 8 videos that describe the configuration of the unit using the HD Suite software but, again, someone with patience and a little skill can master the software (heck, I did, and I am neither a computer engineer nor a software engineer)!
All that said, errors and all, Meridian wins because at least they have some documentation. Richard, for a very nomimal fee I will write the manual for you, call me! Manufacturer Support
Meridian use to be one of the better/best manufacturers in terms of direct to consumer support in that in the not-too-distant past a consumer could either e-mail or telephone Meridian and get a very competent support technician respond with the right answer...think of Lumagen, Tag McLaren Audio ("TMA") and others...those days are long gone with Meridian now pushing end users to the dealers which is hit and miss because not all dealers know all the ins and outs of the Meridian equipment...
ADA brings back to mind the long ago days of TMA, not-too-distant past Meridian days and present day Lumagen manufacturer support...in short, ADA trumps Meridian hands down in terms of direct to consumer support and, as exmaples, I offer the following:
- Richard's participation in this and other forums whereas Meridian rarely participated in the Meridian HH forum.
- Richard et. al. availability when calling or e-mailing ADA in that in a very short period of time it has been easy to establish an excellent relationship with Richard and other of his colleagues.
- Particpation / support from the distributor is second to none. Neil (and Graham over at AVForum), thank you ever so much.
All that said where are we:
-- The key, or at least one of the key, determining factors is sound quality and this remains to be compared and heard (pun intended) which I will get to and provide a much more detailed review with time.
-- The other factors -- those noted above as well as those not discussed at this point -- have me leaning very much towards the ADA. And, while some (perhaps many) will say that this is because I no longer own a Meridian and now own an ADA I can honestly tell you that this is NOT the case and, to that end, I will debate and defend the above views as I have played with both enough to feel that I have a good basis of comparing the above categories.
Ahhh, bring on the comments...
PS. Apologies for the typos but it is late at night...