Cary 303 or Meridian 508.24?

I am looking to replace my current cd player and wanted to know if anybody has had experience/opinion about the Cary 303 and the Meridian 508.24. Also, does the HDCD capability of the Cary significantly improve the sound to the level that it is better than what the Meridian, which doesn't have HDCD, could deliver? Thanks.

I can't speak to the Meridian, but I recently bought the Cary 303. It was a big move up from my Arcam. The sound is detailed and smooth. I hear things on my CDs that I never heard before. I should also mention that it is somewhat forgiving on less than stellar recordings. That is important to me. It does me absolutely no good to have great gear that only sounds good with a hand full of CDs.

Ultimately your choice it will depend on the rest of your system. My Cary is hooked up to:

Rogue 99 preamp
Odyssey Stratos Amp
Dynaudio 1.3 Mk II Speakers

Good luck
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The few HDCD recordings I own all sound excellent, and are perhaps the best in my CD collection. I cannot speak specifically about the Cary 303 (my CD player is Classe). On my system HDCD sounds better.

Can anyone comment on HDCD in general? Is HDCD still a desirable feature now that SACD is available?

There are many HDCD CD's out there although I think the format is about to croak. Check out the HDCD website: for details on the format.

I used to own a Krell 300cd which had HDCD decoding and found that it sounded better than standard redbook CD's on that particular CD player. Today, I use an AudioMeca Mephisto 2 CD player and it plays redbook CD's better than my old Marantz SA-1 played SACD's.

My feeling is that NO ONE should buy a Cd player simply because of the HDCD format. I doubt they will be making it for much longer. There are remasters and formats out there that play on any CD player and honestly sound better than any HDCD I've ever listened to.

I've heard great things about the Cary CD player but mostly from people who just seemed to like Cary in general and were perhaps a little biased. The Meridian is a great player too. Another great player to check out in that range would be the Electrocompaniet EMC-1.

If you want to buy your LAST redbook player try out the Audio Aero Capitole or AudioMeca Mephisto 2. These two players are where its at right now in high end.
I have to put my vote in for the Meridian. I just love mine.
I compared both these players and would have been happy with either - they're both great. You can't go wrong with either of 'em.

I was definitely NOT a fan of Cary CD players until an audiobuddy insisted I listen to the 303, which is a wonderful player in its price range: smooth, gorgeous mid-range, plenty of detail without etch, very dynamic, and much deeper/tighter bass than previous Cary CDPs I'd heard. This player is heavily discounted by a couple dealers, and can be found new for under 2K. I don't own any other Cary gear - just the 303 - but I do use a tubed pre (Rogue, with ss amps and Alon speakers).

The Merdidian 508.24 is discontinued, but can be found used occassionally here at A-gon. It's also a very musical performer with a beautiful, transparent clarity, and it's similar in quality to, but a slightly different flavor than the Cary. The 303 is probably a little more forgiving, if that matters to you.

I enjoy the HDCD decoding on my 303 on well recorded discs - Cary implemented this chip very well. However, HDCDs vary in quality, just like all software, and HDCD is by no means available on the majority of discs in my collection. It's a nice feature to have, but not, methinks, a major factor in determing one's next digital front end.

Actually, if I had the bucks, I would be tempted by the Cary 306/200, which is truly exceptional...but I don't have 3300-3700K at the moment for a new CDp.

The Electrocompaniet, the Audio Aero and the Audio Mecca are all well regarded, musical players and I would love to hear them, if only there was a dealer in my town...some day.

Good luck - enjoy the hunt.

Which has the better PRAT ?? (PACE Rhythm and Timing)
The Cary 303 or the 508.24??