Ayre CX-7 vs. Meridian G08 ?

Anyone had the chance to compare these two units? I'm in the market for a new one-box CD player and am leaning towards the Ayre CX-7 unit. Thanks in advance for any input you may have on these two units.
I've been using my brand new CX-7 since Nov 04 and I enjoy every moment with it. It's a very analogue sounding CDP with no grain whatsoever. Its tonal balance leans towards the warm side of neutral, with smooth highs and excellent bass.

I've not heard the Meridian but if I were asked to choose one of them, I'll definitely go for the Ayre's. The Ayre's entire line up has received very very good feedback from many customers. The Ayre also has an excellent upgrade policy and very good after-sale service - that may be an important factor for consideration when making purchases.

Hope this helps.
Since I am in the market to upgrade I recently listened extensively to the CX-7 at my local dealer (he thought it would give me a sense of the Ayre sound since I'm interested in the new Ayre universal - which he didn't have at the time). The CX-7 was run through a VTL 7.5/Ayre VX-1(?), Goertz cabling and Vandy 5A speakers. To be frank, the sound was thin by comparison to my 588 (BAT/Nirvana/Parsifals). I listened to Hank Mobley, Vasser Clements, Bill Frisell, Oscar Peterson and Dire Straits. I don't mean to say that the sound was bad, it just wasn't nearly as well-defined as my Meridian: bass wasn't as deep or articulate, midrange wasn't as clean - but these characteristics might be the byproduct of system matching, quien sabe? I still intend to give a thorough listen to the new C5XE universal at the end of this month. As always, YMMV.
Peter and Isleander - thanks for your input. As further info, I am currently running an all tube conrad-johnson system (premier 16LS Series 2, premier 12's, into a pair of Maggie 3.5R's). I'm going to listen to both of these units withnin the next two to three weeks - I'll let you know my thoughts.
I owned the Merdian 508.24 and tommorrow I hope to bring home for a trial a Ayre CX7.
I will post my thoughts.
I've tried both in my system and ended up buying the G08. Tonally, the two players are more similar than different. They both sound very natural with a slight bias toward warmth, but the CX-7 is a little warmer than the G08. The main reason I bought the G08 was it has a deeper soundstage and higher resolution than the CX-7. You can hear some low-level things clearly with the G08 that are lost below the noise floor on the CX-7. The G08 is somewhat sensitive to ICs. I've found Kimber KS-1130 to work well in my system (Rowland/Soliloquy 6.5).
Good hunting, CJ. BTW, as Nighthawk points out, Meridian is sensitive to IC/PC/isolation tweaks. Mine is on a Symposium Ultra and Rollerblocks, power running through a Shunyata KCv2, all of which further accentuate its soundstage depth/width. Also, keep in mind the 588/G08 runs $4K retail as opposed to $3K for the CX-7...sometimes you do get what you pay for. FWIW, any change I make in my system will have to produce substantial improvement for me to give up the 588.
Gentleman, I have lsitened to both players and ended up ordering the G08 - I like the deep soundstage and bass response - plus, it mates well with my cj electronics. Thanks again for your thoughts.
Picked up my new G08 last night - right out of the box this is a KILLER CD player. The bass is very good, huge soundstage and the resolution of low level detail is scary - I'm hearing things on my CD's that I didn't even know was there. I can only imaging what this unit will be like once it is broken in.

I would HIGHLY recommend this CD player to anyone in the market for a one box CD player - you won't be dissapointed!!!!!
My G08 went back to the importer and I don't recommend this player...
I had picked up this machine after an extensive market review and listening (didn't have chance to listen to Ayre though). The sound stage is huge, and it is really musical, clear and extended in the highs.
The problem I faced is that with around 10% of my CD collection (they're all originals) the transport was noisy, vibrating, sometimes shaking my stands...
I returned the unit with one of the defective CDs for Meridan to study. They said that using this CD the behaviour could be reproduced on all their G08 in stock. I had tested the CD in many other players (Copland, Samsung DVD, Electrocompaniet, some esoteric player using Philips drive, my computer CD-rom...) and never had any issue.

I quote Meridian anwser :"The complaint regarding the vibration coming from the G08 is due to the following problems. The disc appears to be badly manufactured in that possibly the hole and data are not completely centered on the disc, or the disc is slightly warped.This results in the disc spinning not occurring smoothly causing air turbulence and resulting in the low rumbling noise. The reason that this isnot a problem with most CD players is that they spin the disc at 1X speed which is around 200rpm to 500rpm, depending on where the head is positioned on the disc, where as we spin the disc at 4X which results in the disc spinning at around 800rpm to 2000rpm. We can do this because we read the audio data digitally from the disc whereas most players read audio in an analogue form which the drive generates, which enforces 1X. Spinning the disc at the greater speed allows for the drive to re-read bad sectors on the disc if a problem is encountered. It also allows for buffering of the audio to ensure no dropouts. The reason the customer complains that the noise goes away after track 6 is because the drive uses Constant Liner Velocity where the disc spins faster when reading the inner tracks, then slows down for the outer tracks so slowing the disc down. This then causes a lower rpm on high track numbers making the noise quieter. (...)

My solution would be for the customer to back up the disc onto a CDR and use this disc which will not have the manufacturing issues."

To me this is a major design weakness if your player cannot accept CDs that are not 100% perfect, and none are given the industrial process variations (except maybe XRCDs) !

I could stand with this and worry everytiem I buy a CD that I will have to back it up on a CDR to listen to it in my high end player...
I have not seen the problem reported by Chinanico. The G08 seems to be wokring very nicely. One thing I have noticed is the following: when I use the volume up/down and mute keys on my conrad-johnson premier 16LS Series 2 preamp remote control and don't point the remote directly at the preamp, the G08 will shut down, just quit and go into stand-by mode. If I point the remote directly at the preamp, all is fine. I emailed Meridian about this but their answer wasn't very clear or helpful. FYI...
I've owned Meridians (506, 508, 588) for over seven years and have never experienced what Chinanico or what CJ relate above. On occasion I have experienced long read times when I load a hybrid disc but the platform ultimately accepts and plays these discs without a hitch. Just out of curiosity, Chinanico, what was the CD(s) that your G08 was having problems with?
Anyone heard the G07, which is less money? This one does not use a ROM drive, so it doesn't spin at the high speeds of the G08. Hence, it wouldn't have this 'problem'.
Cjlundgren...I used to listen to Meridian CD players at my dealer extensively and for some reason almost every remote in the store would control them. I'm not talking the "play" button on the Sim remote would play the Merdian, I'm talking the "play" on the Sim remote would turn the 508.24 on and off or try to jump to another track. It was really strange but it seems to me Meridian's remote codes need to be changed on the equipment(as opposed to the remote itself).

BTW, the 508.24 was the best player I heard at the time and the G08 would certainly be my first listen if I was in the mkt for a $4000 player. I feel one of the problems(problem for audiophiles, good thing for Meridian) with Merdian is it is sold at home theater type of places that have little equipment similar to what many of us own. There is one dealer in NYC that carries it and besides Rowland(which they don't pair with Merdian players) they are nothing more than a step above Best Buy.
Chinanico, what you describe would have me absolutely livid. The first job of a CD player is to PLAY CDs. Will be curious to learn how this resolves, if it does.
Anyone compare the G08 with any quality SACD players? I am in the market for a new CDP and am currently trying to decide whether to go with a SACD/Universal player, or a high quality redbook only CDP. Here's my story (if you are interested):

Now that I have spent some significant time with an Exemplar 2900, I ask myself, is SACD really necessary? This player forced me to stop and think.

Prior to owning the Exemplar 2900 I owned the Sony XA777ES. SACD's on the Sony sounded very, very good to me. Way better than my redbook versions of the same discs. But after spending several months with the Exemplar I began to notice no significant difference, on many quality recordings, between the SACD and the redbook. For example, I owned two versions of Bill Evans 'Waltz for Debby': one was the SACD and one was the Super-K2 20 bit remaster. Well, on the Exemplar Denon, in my system, I could not tell a significant difference between the two, and, on a few tracks, I actually preferred the 20 bit remaster. This exeperience repeated itself a few times.

This has given me pause. It makes me wonder whether I should just go for a really high quality redbook only player and forget the whole Hi-Rez thing altogether (especially because I am two-channel and don't need DVD). While I have invested a lot of money in SACD only about %10 of them were music I re-bought and the vast majority were hybrids -- so it would not be hard to divest myself of the single-sided SACD's and keep the hybrids (which is mostly new music for me) if I wanted.

I have learned a lot and one of the things that keeps coming back to me is that maybe I just had never owned a really exceptional redbook player before the Exemplar. I have not come to any conclusions...I will definitely audition the G08. Thanks for reading,
FWIW, I have had my G08 14 months now and have only had one disc that caused any mechanical noise. That was solved by levelling the player. That disc no longer causes any noise.

Also, in the manual it says the G08 runs its transport at standard CD speed most of the time. It only speeds up when it encounters errors, then it re-reads the tracks at a higher rate to try to correct the errors.
Bhvf - I'm seeing the exact thing you are describing. The volume up/down buttons on mj c-j remote routinely turns the G08 off (putting it into the standby mode). Pressing the mute button on the c-j remote makes the G08 skip tracks - not necessarly the next track, just another track.

This is annoying - you're playing a track and press the volume control for a little more volume and, POW, the CD player shuts down. You would think manufacturers would have standardized on remote control codes by now.
Pardales, that's an interesting observation. I've been auditioning cdp's for more than the past month with the intention of upgrading my 588. In some cases (and I won't be too specific here) the universal platform handled hi-rez material very well at the expense of redbook playback. I have loved my Meridian and am not prone to replace it unless another product is really compelling. So far, my search has narrowed to three players: Classe's Omega SACD2, Ayre's new C5xe and Meridian's 808. The first two are dedicated 2-channel CD/SACD or CD/SACD/DVD-A platforms. (The Ayre, still not broken in, was outstanding in my system, and because of its relatively affordable price is a distinct possibility.) The Meridian is a redbook player only..."only" being an inadequate qualifier here since its redbook performance is absolutely top drawer. I have about a thousand CDs, and about 5% are SACD hybrids so the question remains, is the redbook-only performance worth an extra $4-5K? Or do I sacrifice getting optimal redbook performance to support my 50+ SACDs?
Islandear: We do find ourselves in a similar dilemma. The CDP's you mention are all serious dollar, top notch, players. Hard to imagine going wrong with any of them; it would probably be more a matter of system synergy at that point.

I have about 400 redbook CD's and 150 SACD's (most hybrids), only a few DVD-A's. I listen to my Hi-Rez discs a lot. But I do not want any compromise of redbook performance because redbook CD's are still so plentiful and they are always less expensive and easier to find than SACD's and DVD-A's. I don't know,
Drubin, this resolves by changing my CDP to another model. Sorry but eventhough I enjoyed the musicality of my G08 now I turned to another brand. Actually my dealer has been kind enough to take the meridian back and I kept the model he had sent to me for replacement, it is a french brand named Eera (used to be called Helios in the past), model is DL1. The new CDP doesn't have XLR outputs though, and I guess this migth be one of the reasons why I don't have the soundstage of the meridian through my Jeff Rowland Concentra 2.
Anyway it still has some kind of magical "analog" sound and I enjoy it... waiting to upgrade to DL2 with XLR that will be released in a few months.

I had always been skeptical in our audiophile world about products with a CD-ROM drive (but impressed by the Meridian sound), and now I am back to a Philips drive.
Islandear, I had sligth issues with around 10% of my CDs on the G08. But in particular one of them was making the Meridian and my Atacam stands shake like hell : it was "Oscar Perterson we get requests" by Verve, a CD I own for many years and worked well on all my previous players. A brand new Molly johnson CD also had issues. I own 2 original CDs of "Norah Jones Come away with me" (my gf and I bougth it) : one had the issue and not the other. Really is a question of tolerances, I guess.
Chinanico, it's too bad the G08 didn't work out for you. Hopefully, Meridian will get its act together re this issue (and since others have mentioned similar or dissimilar problems we have to hope that Stuart and Boothroyd are aware of these complaints). Let us know how you're enjoying the Eera. Happy listening.
I have heard this Eera cd player in my system. It sounded very good. However I thought sometimes its highs were a little to hot. Now I am testing Meridian G08 and it is easier on highs with better bass and liquidity to overall presentation. It is a better player in my opinion. And the looks are just killing me.
How does the GO8 compare to state of the art dacs and transports of a few years back, such as Theta's Gen Va ?
I have the G07 and it is awesome.
Have owned 508.24 and a slew of other high end digital including Cary, Audio Aero, Audiomeca and dCS.
The G07 is significantly better than the 508 to my ears. It retains the evenness, truth of timbre, natural and neutral quality of the 508, but adds more detail, more air, more depth. Highly recommended. Never did like the 588, but Meridian got the G series right.

No functionality issues to date. Nice display, nice remote.
Zosima --

Which Audio Aero player did you own? I ave the Capitole 24/192 and am curious how it compares to either the G07 or G08.
Denf, I have just replaced my 588 with a new Capitole after a series of auditions which included the G08. Based on Sue Kraft's review of the G series in TAS I expected the G08 to be substantially better than my 588. It wasn't. It was, like my 588, an outstanding cdp that captured the essence of the music I played, with very good staging, and very good low frequency reproduction. That said, after hearing the AA in my system I bought it. The soundstage is wider, but the real improvement is how well the stage is defined. Rounder, fuller if you like. The bass is, surprisingly, even more articulate than my 588. Prior to this upgrade I maintained that I wouldn't replace my 588 unless another product compelled me to purchase it. Yes, it is more than twice the srp of the G08 but, for me, the difference was worth it.
Denf, yes I think you should keep the capitole. It's an excellent player as are the Meridians. Different flavor, different prices.
Thanks guys. Yeah, I really love my Capitole, but it is starting to get quite a few hours on it, so I begin to worry about possible future repair issues.

I will probably step up to the new MKII version of the Capitole, if I make any change at all.

Lastly, I owned a BAT VK-d5 (non SE version) and always thought it too was a very musical beast. Anyone compared the "SE" version of the BAT to the A.A.??