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Discussion Starter #1
For home theater application only. Video switching not necessary. (No two channel stereo, SACD, etc considered in the choice) which would *you* choose and why:


Theta Casablanca III w/Extreme/Superior DACS


Linn Kisto


Meridian G-68


Something else?


(Yes, I know the Meridian is just now shipping, so comment would have to be based on reputation of Meridian and what you know to be inside the G-68 "box" considering the price.)


Gotta make the final choice within next ten days--and it's tough.


Narrowed it down to above three, but open to suggestions.


Tom
 

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Choosing between the Theta and Meridian gear is a tough call. Both are great pieces and I think you will be happy with either. I have demoed the CB II (extreme/superior DACs) against that G68 and thought the CB 2 sounded better. The soundstage was more lifelike and the Theta conveyed a sense of presence that I have not heard from a processor. Having said that, the G68 offers bells and whistles that the Theta does not. For instance, the digital link Meridian has between their DVD player and processor is pretty neat. Meridian also offers their tri-field mode, along with a radio tuner, which Theta does not. I am trying to decide between the exact two pieces of gear. IMHO, the Theta, both in price and performance, is closer to the 800 Series than the G68. Be careful about people telling you that the G68 is another 861, it is not. However, for $8,800 it is a very compelling option. Does the Theta sound $3-5K better than the G68? You will have to decide. On Theta's side is the fact that they really support their product and offer a real upgrade path. You can take a CB I and, keeping the same chasis, have it upgraded to a CB III. In my view, that is a big plus for Theta.
 

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The G68 is on my brain too this week, and I will have to arrange for a proper demo at my dealer, or better still a home demo. As a former Tact RCS 2.0 owner, the G68 room correction features have me really curious. Also, I like the config options -> I would go for a "base-unit" ( no video switching ) then add the "G68XXV" option to give me all Balanced outputs.


I would not be too happy with Theta finally offering any 7.x support 2+ years after the first products hit the streets. But better late than never, and I'm sure the final result will be sonically worth it.


- Andy
 

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So you ruled out the Lexicon MC-12, Bel Canto PrePro, EAD TM8800 Pro, and the Mark Levinson No. 40? If you have unlimited resources, get the ML No. 40 or Meridian 861. Otherwise, get the one that has the features you want for the least price and put savings into room acoustics - that will make a more audible difference than you will hear between any of these processors.


Dsmith
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Quote:
Originally posted by dsmith901
So you ruled out the Lexicon MC-12, Bel Canto PrePro, EAD TM8800 Pro, and the Mark Levinson No. 40? If you have unlimited resources, get the ML No. 40 or Meridian 861. Otherwise, get the one that has the features you want for the least price and put savings into room acoustics - that will make a more audible difference than you will hear between any of these processors.


Dsmith
Appreciate the input.

I've had a Linn 5103 for several years and it has worked flawlessly and sounds very, very good. Tremendous dynamics. This is one reason I am a little hesitant about the G-68. In my experience over the years with Meridian, I have noticed all their pieces seem to have a definite sonic signature. Very sweet, somewhat "polite" with little dynamic punch.

This may be because the five series power supplies were very small. The new G series uses 100 volt PS. (800 series, 180 volt according to Meridian) and is, according to reports, quite superior to the five series sonically.


Tried the new Kisto, but unfortunately, it would not mute the digital output of my DVD player when going through the menu. It is back in Scotland having the software re-written. Does not have any room correction, and while modular, just how upgradeable it will be is open to question.


I'm looking to stay with the real pros in SS technology. (Two channel or multi hi rez music ability is not an issue as I am using this piece in a dedicated home theater. It is already thoroughly acoustically treated)

That's why the short list is: Theta, Meridian, Lexicon. Like to have some low end room correction, but absolute movie soundtrack quality is paramount. Video switching is not necessary.


So, anyone who can succintly point out the sound qualities of Theta, Meridian (G & 800) and Lexicon?

Much appreciated.

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Quote:
Originally posted by tdavism3
Choosing between the Theta and Meridian gear is a tough call. Both are great pieces and I think you will be happy with either. I have demoed the CB II (extreme/superior DACs) against that G68 and thought the CB 2 sounded better. The soundstage was more lifelike and the Theta conveyed a sense of presence that I have not heard from a processor. Having said that, the G68 offers bells and whistles that the Theta does not. For instance, the digital link Meridian has between their DVD player and processor is pretty neat. Meridian also offers their tri-field mode, along with a radio tuner, which Theta does not. I am trying to decide between the exact two pieces of gear. IMHO, the Theta, both in price and performance, is closer to the 800 Series than the G68. Be careful about people telling you that the G68 is another 861, it is not. However, for $8,800 it is a very compelling option. Does the Theta sound $3-5K better than the G68? You will have to decide. On Theta's side is the fact that they really support their product and offer a real upgrade path. You can take a CB I and, keeping the same chasis, have it upgraded to a CB III. In my view, that is a big plus for Theta.
Thanks for the excellent description of the Theta vs Meridian G series.

This is just the kind of input I am looking for.

Tom
 

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Quote:
You will have to decide. On Theta's side is the fact that they really support their product and offer a real upgrade path. You can take a CB I and, keeping the same chasis, have it upgraded to a CB III. In my view, that is a big plus for Theta.
I think that has been the case with Meridian also, their 565 having close to a 10 year lifespan.


And don't forget, Meridian writes their own surround algorithm instead of using off the shelf ones like much of the analog/digital guys coming from the 2 channel world.


Plus, as mentioned, the G68 has room correction, a worthwhile feature that is available on less than a handful of processors.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Quote:
Originally posted by tdavism3
Choosing between the Theta and Meridian gear is a tough call. Both are great pieces and I think you will be happy with either.
What's your opinion of the Casablanca III vs the Meridian 861?


If you could buy the Meridian for the same price as the Casablanca, which would you choose?


I am, at the moment, leaning toward the Meridian 861 for these reasons:


1. Local dealer support with setup.


2. Local dealer support should something go wrong.


3. Room correction included with Meridian.


4. Meridian "Smart Link" could come in handy down the road.


5. Meridian history of much quicker response to market/technical changes.


The other issues are probably too close to call: Sound quality and expertise in the digital domain. Both Bob Stuart and Neil Sinclair certainly know what they are doing and have been doing it for a long, long, time.


Still, always good to hear others' experience. Anyone have the chance to directly compare these two pieces?

Tom
 

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Since finances are not a problem, you may want to consider getting the Tact multichannel room correction system (about $15,000). That might make more of a difference than any of these processors.


Dsmith
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Quote:
Originally posted by dsmith901
Since finances are not a problem, you may want to consider getting the Tact multichannel room correction system (about $15,000). That might make more of a difference than any of these processors.


Dsmith
Thought about that.


Three dealers in the USA. Hmmm.

Support?


The total room correction is nice, though.


Little story: I have the full-blown Sigtech room correction system circa 2000.

Package was $12,500. On Ebay a couple of weeks ago, someone put this system up with no reserve and got not a single bid!


To me, the price of anything is not what you paid for it, but the difference between what you paid and what you sell it for.

It's not *the* reason to buy one product over another, but certainly *one* reason to do so.


Products from marques like Meridian, Krell, Theta always seem to find buyers. With others you pays your money and you takes your chances.

Tom :(
 

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I am not sure how to compare what does not exist as the CBIII is not really out yet. The CBIII is shipping but the surround board is not (supposedly ships march). There is no way to really compare the sonic qualities between the 861 and CBIII yet. As far as the digital connection for the Meridian, it does not work for SACD. It may never because they created MLP that is used in DVD audio. Theta plans to have a digital connection between its own compli and the CBIII by year's end (we all heard that before) that does both hi res formats. Finally, I am not sure about the 861 but because you can order the Theta stripped down (no video processing, 7 or 8 channels depending on if you are going xtreme supereior or all xtreme), the Theta might represent a better value.


The other thing that is never talked about as a feature for the casablanca is its bass management. You have a lot more flexibility here than in other processors. If you need it (I did), it becomes a more obvious choice.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Quote:
Originally posted by tpigeon2003
I am not sure how to compare what does not exist as the CBIII is not really out yet. The CBIII is shipping but the surround board is not (supposedly ships march). There is no way to really compare the sonic qualities between the 861 and CBIII yet. As far as the digital connection for the Meridian, it does not work for SACD. It may never because they created MLP that is used in DVD audio. Theta plans to have a digital connection between its own compli and the CBIII by year's end (we all heard that before) that does both hi res formats. Finally, I am not sure about the 861 but because you can order the Theta stripped down (no video processing, 7 or 8 channels depending on if you are going xtreme supereior or all xtreme), the Theta might represent a better value.


The other thing that is never talked about as a feature for the casablanca is its bass management. You have a lot more flexibility here than in other processors. If you need it (I did), it becomes a more obvious choice.
Interesting that that sound board issue--and this processor is to be used for HT only--was never mentioned by the dealer with whom I spoke! Perhaps he assumed I knew.


I'm really curious as to how the Extreme DACs compare to the DACs in the 861.

Anyone have a handle on this?

Tom
 

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Here's a thought. Buy all three (or more) of your choices, audition them and decide, then give me any one of your castoffs (LOL).


Dsmith
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Quote:
Originally posted by dsmith901
Here's a thought. Buy all three (or more) of your choices, audition them and decide, then give me any one of your castoffs (LOL).


Dsmith
If it wasn't such a PITA to program them, I might do it!;)


Well, not really.

Tom
 

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Too bad you are on such a tight timeline, the Anthem Director will certainly be worth a look in this price range when released. Personally, I love my AVM20 and would not consider upgrading unless there was a pretty spectacular new feature set available.
 

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If your only source is going to be movies and you will never play concert dvd's in stereo I think you will have a tough time telling the difference between the two (you may even if your were, I have not had the chance to listen to the 861 so I do not know). The fact of the matter is that the source material for movies is really bad from a fidelity point of view and each of these units is overkill for them. That may change in the future if HD-DVD catches on and they use a high resolution audio codec. In this case, I would probably go with the Theta, because I think you can get it configured cheaper to your liking, though I could be wrong on this. 861 owners, feel free to chime in on this issue :). I am a Theta owner btw.


You may also want to seriously look into the Lexicon MC-8 and MC-12 as they are priced lower than either the Theta or Meridian but may not be as upgradeable.


edit-- if you find the room correction feature to be important to you go with the Meridian. I have never looked into it so I have no insight into how god it is.


edit edit-- as far as upgradeablility goes. I think the new os will allow Theta to upgrad its stuff faster from now on. A good example of this is PLIIx.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Meridian 861.


Many thanks for all those who were kind enough to offer their experience and comments.


The deciding factors for me were pretty simple:


1. A great local dealer (Bernie and Harry at The Audio Store, Newington, CT)


2. Outstanding customer interaction from Meridian USA and their regional/national sales people, particularly Norm.


3. The outstanding reputation and track record of Meridian when it comes to DSP processing.


As others have pointed out; there are many excellent choices available to us--most costing many $$$ less than the 861.


Theta, TACT, Lexicon and other lesser known companies all do excellent work.


Perhaps, as others have suggested, any processor over about $4k is overkill. I don't know. Frankly, I doubt it. I know how important the analog section of these processors is to delivering all that some of the best soundtracks contain within them--nevermind the digital part.


Wish me luck. If it turns out to be less than a marriage made in heaven, it won't be for lack of research or the input from the savvy people on this forum.


Thanks again.

Tom
 

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I cannot imagine that you will not be happy with the Meridian. Congrats. The only thing I would do is take a 4k-6k processor vs the meridian and play some of you favorite movie tracks in your HT before making your final decision. I look forward to our verbal sparring in the future whenever a "what is the best SSP in the world" thread comes up :).
 

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Tom,


Congrats on the 861. I am sure you will be pleased with your purchase. INteraction with a good dealer goes a long way towards developing your view of the brand they are selling. For me, I have excellent interaction with Theta which is why I am leaning towards the CB III. In my opinion, unless you go the full Meridian route and use their speakers, etc. the 861 does not reach its full potential. Besides, I have an order for a new BMW M5, so I can't afford to drop $60K on a full Meridian set-up. :)


Best wishes to you.
 
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