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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If one were to use a pre/pro for 100% HT use in 7.1 format right now while planning for possible new formats in the future which pre/pro would you pick and why?


1. Lexicon MC-12

2. Theta Casablanca 2

3. Meridian 861
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Bone
If one were to use a pre/pro for 100% HT use in 7.1 format right now while planning for possible new formats in the future which pre/pro would you pick and why?


1. Lexicon MC-12

2. Theta Casablanca 2

3. Meridian 861
Hi Chris,


For me, it would be between the Lexicon and Meridian, especially if home theater is the main intended use. Both Lexicon and Meridian have extensive experience in surround processing, and their products offer proprietary 7-channel surround modes that no other manufacturers can match in quality and sophistication. The Theta is a nice piece in a music-oriented system (which is Theta's focus), but Theta lacks in-house expertise in surround algorithm development and their generic surround modes really aren't competitive with Lexicon's Logic 7 or Meridian's Trifield.


Lexicon and Meridian are both great choices for music as well as home theater; they do take different philosophical approaches to surround modes, though, and if you're spending this much money I would make a point of evaluating them first-hand, and avoid relying on the subjective claims you'll read online. Other objective differences and criteria worth considering:


- SACD/analog source support? (Lexicon offers true analog bypass on all inputs; Meridian is all-digital, with proprietary digital interface for DVD-A only)


- Expandability? Meridian 861 is a full card-cage architecture which makes swapping capabilities in and out very convenient, though this doesn't really offer a cost benefit. The MC-12 has three expansion slots for daughtercards, and its four on-board SHARC processors can be expanded to 16, but some parts of the architecture are fixed.


- Price? MC-12 Balanced is $10K; the revamped version of the 861 is $20-$25K. You should not consider an older 861, because the older architecture lacks the DSP horsepower for today's formats and the unit would require a complete internals replacement. Part of the higher cost of an 861 is its support for system-wide all digital capability, which is only a benefit if you use Meridian's own (pricey) digital active loudspeakers.


- Upgrade policy. Both companies have an excellent track record of supporting emerging technologies. They take different approaches to upgrades, though--since the 861 is really a highly flexible shell, Meridian will stick with the same platform for longer (but check the prices for daughtercards), while Lexicon will periodically move to newer platforms and offer very generous trade-ins for the older units; the highly expandable MC-12 is very new, so there won't be a platform upgrade for quite some time to come.


FWIW, I'm an MC-12B owner, and very satisfied with it. I wouldn't mind an 861 either, though.


Good luck,

Philip Brandes
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you so much phillip for your insight. I must agree that the price tag on the lexicon, for all that you get, sounds better than the Meridian. I don't know if there is a $15000.00 difference in sound,option and quality to make the expense of the Meridian merrit purchasing it over the lex. My speaker system is all active M&k 150P's,MX5000thx's, and when they come out-active M&K tripole 250's. Since I do not need a power amp. I feel free to spend more on a quality pre/pro.
 

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As a happy Theta owner I will go ahead and put out that option. There is an interview with the Theta people reachable from their web site. I think it does a good job of describing their outlook. They feel the job of the equipment is to reproduce what the source material was. So in general they have focused on clean flexible upgradable designs. The CBII is a bit long in the tooth. The 7 chanel formats are in the works from what I hear but not quite out yet. They do have Circle Suround for those that want synthetic surround, and in 96/24. Their DAC options and base management are second to none. The proven upgrade paths are also there, and in digestible increments. You can upgrade one card at a time as desired for a reasonable fee. I do not have the Circle Suround, but there are a lot of posts on this forum from those that do. I have not had any regrets over 5 years of ownership. The CBII will go up to 8.4 and the decoding is a software upgrade as available. There are also spare DSP spaces for more processors. But as is always the case in this game, listen to the equipment in a real space. If at all possible listen with the amps and speakers you intend to use. If the budget is at all an issue the CBII will give you more flexibility to spend some now and the rest later.
 

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Problem is we each think we have the best!!! What else is new!!!


But from an audiophile sonic standpoint, I will take my Theta anyday!!!


Good day!


(You can search the "Tweaks" forum for "Theta" and find lotsa info.
 

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The level of performance for those pre-amps is so high that I cannot think anyone would be disappointed by any one of them.
 

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Well as a MC-12 owner, I can only say that I am totally happy with it. It is the best I ever heard but, I previously had been an owner of other Lexicon's like the CP3+, DC-1, MC-1. So I just felt more comfortable staying in the Lex family. They have never dissapointed before.
 

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It was not sufficiently mentioned that one advantage Meridian has over the others is the direct digital input from their DVD-A player. Even if you use the analog outputs from the 861, you get the benefit of bypassing the DACs in the DVD-A player, and applying the same speaker adjustments (gain trims, bass management, time alignment) as all other audio modes. Thence converted to analog by arguably better DACs than any DVD-A player will possess. If DVD-A is important, this is the ultimate solution thus far.


The same 96/24 capable 861 also has some unique upsampling capabilities for 44.1/48kHz FS sources, (CD, DVD-V) which brings some sonic benefits to even the more pedestrian sources.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Roger Dressler
It was not sufficiently mentioned that one advantage Meridian has over the others is the direct digital input from their DVD-A player.
I did in fact mention this above. But if that wasn't sufficient mentioning, I do think it's a very neat accomplishment from an engineering standpoint. However, it was also not sufficiently mentioned that the 861 pre/pro ($15,000 - 20,000) + 800 DVD-A player ($12,000-15,000) is a combined solution that will cost you between $27,000 and $35,000...and how many DVD-A titles are out there...?

Quote:


Even if you use the analog outputs from the 861, you get the benefit of bypassing the DACs in the DVD-A player, and applying the same speaker adjustments (gain trims, bass management, time alignment) as all other audio modes.
And it's worth mentioning that with Lexicon's MC-12, you have the option of a high res A/D (at 96/24) for all 5.1 analog sources, which offers these same adjustments plus the ability to apply surround modes.

Quote:


Thence converted to analog by arguably better DACs than any DVD-A player will possess.
But the only player that supports this digital interface is Meridian's own 800, which uses the same DACs as the pre/pro, I believe?

Quote:


If DVD-A is important, this is the ultimate solution thus far.
But if SACD is important, you're out of luck as there is no digital interface for DSD, so you're stuck with a mandatory A/D conversion. At least Lexicon's MC-12 is format agnostic, and offers the option of true analog bypass for either SACD or DVD-A; Meridian has no analog bypass capability whatsoever.

Quote:


The same 96/24 capable 861 also has some unique upsampling capabilities for 44.1/48kHz FS sources, (CD, DVD-V) which brings some sonic benefits to even the more pedestrian sources.
What sonic benefits are those?


Cheers,

Philip Brandes
 

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>>And it's worth mentioning that with Lexicon's MC-12, you have the option of a high res A/D (at 96/24) for all 5.1 analog sources, which offers these same adjustments plus the ability to apply surround modes.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Roger Dressler
>>And it's worth mentioning that with Lexicon's MC-12, you have the option of a high res A/D (at 96/24) for all 5.1 analog sources, which offers these same adjustments plus the ability to apply surround modes.
 

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Philip,

I completely agree with your comments. I've been an audiophile for 20 years and a HT junkie for 1. And although I haven't auditioned the Theta, I've listened to Krell and Proceed and Tag. I'm convinced my MC-12 is superior (no need to start flame war... maybe I'm biased).


The lack of bass management in bypass mode is a minor irritation, however. It seems that Lexicon could have easily provided this. The digital "stuff" could passively read the analog input, process the bass and route it to the sub/LFE jacks --without affecting the analog bypass signal whatsoever. Sure, you wouldn't have HP filters on the mains, but it would be a nice option --especially for those of us with the ability to design (or choose) speakers with precise rolloff characteristics, obviating the need for an HP filter.

Considering the 100-page MC-12 instruction manual, it doesn't appear that Lexicon is shy about offering options! Perhaps this feature can be considered for the 1.2 software...
 

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Philip,


I am a bit put off by the tone of the missive directed at Roger.

His point about the digital interface for DVD-A in the Meridian system is quite an important one, particularly given the quality of the analog sections in the DVD-A players out there.


Moreover, I know Roger to be very carefully even-handed in his dealings with brands. Let us not forget that Lexicon is a business partner (licensee) as well. And I'm sure they are a much more significant royalty producer the Meridian in terms of numbers of processors sold.


I read nothing in his post which smacked of favoritism, and I tend for historical reasons to be biased towards Lexicon.


I don't wish to see this degenerate into a debate on semantics, I just feel you were a tad over the line in your reading into his motive for his post.
 

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Buzz,

That was one of the most even handed ***** slaps I've ever read! Well said.


TM
 

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Thanks for your feedback, Buzz--I do respect your opinion. Perhaps my judgment was clouded by having immediately beforehand read Roger's attack in a parallel thread, taking out of context words that I had carefully chosen and misrepresenting both their meaning and intent in order to perpetuate a trivial and unproductive hair-splitting argument. And not for the first time, and not just with me. Unfair rhetorical tactics do have a way of making me mistrust someone's motives. Nevertheless, I sincerely apologize for any unfair lines crossed on my part.


[edit p.s. - I have since gone back and removed the remarks relating to motives, in order to help keep the focus on the technical issues here]


To get back to the technical issue you raise:

Quote:
Originally posted by Buzz Goddard


His point about the digital interface for DVD-A in the Meridian system is quite an important one, particularly given the quality of the analog sections in the DVD-A players out there.
But Meridian's proprietary digital interface does nothing to help the poor quality of most DVD-A players' analog outputs, because those players cannot benefit from that digital interface. Only Meridian's player can take advantage of it, and the already high quality of that player's analog output, coupled with the (for most people) prohibitive cost of this player-pre/pro solution, makes its significance marginal, impressive engineering accomplishment though it may be (which I readily acknowledge).


A stronger case can be made for Denon's proprietary digital interface between its new flagship receiver and player, or the all-in-one player/pre-pros Sony just rolled out at the High End show--at least these solutions are affordable to a much larger population. But even here we're dealing with approaches that eliminate customers' ability to pick and choose their individual components, instead locking them into a single-vendor source. That is a troubling direction for this market to take, even if it solves the narrower technical problem.


What we need is an open standard for a high-resolution digital interface, but of course I'm preaching to the choir there--this is something you've been stressing for a long time.


Cheers,

Philip Brandes
 

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No doubt we are moving towards a correct interface between transport and processor, at least for DVD-A (I'm still not clear on what the point of DSD is if it ultimately gets trasncribed into 88k pcm for processing).

Yes, the Meridian solution is quite elite, but that is often where new ground is broken and I don't begrudge them their marketplace nor pricing strategy.

Personally I've finally broken and succumbed to the down and dirty pricing on players and wlll soon have both SACD and DVD-A in house (integrated into the system via the Sony TAP-9000ES preamp).

Since the total price for both players is the equivalent of just over a dozen discs, well, what the hell.

And I'll have spare DVD players for the garage and the outside shower when we finally get the digital interface:cool:
 

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Buzz,


From listening in on mastering engineers and other people in the production chain, I'm getting the feeling that SACD will become the ideal delivery format for the industry because it's relatively secure compared to DVD-A. Recording people will use high-rate PCM or DSD to capture, but will deliver on DSD. People who have heard both under good conditions say that both are transparent to the master tape.


--Andre
 

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Quote:
A stronger case can be made for Denon's proprietary digital interface between its new flagship receiver and player, ... --at least these solutions are affordable to a much larger population.
Actually the Denon link does not work all that often. It turns off on many DVD-As that I have tried. Their link is not secure so they must mute when copyright protected discsc are encountered.


Meridian will have a less expensive solution in the future. (500 series) I imagine that combo will be less than the cost of an 861 V3, but I have not heard any prices.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by sspears



Actually the Denon link does not work all that often. It turns off on many DVD-As that I have tried. Their link is not secure so they must mute when copyright protected discsc are encountered.
Thanks, Stacey--good info. The options for a digital interface remain depressingly slim.


Cheers,

Philip Brandes
 
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