Classe vs Meridian vs. Theta

I am building a new home theater from scratch, but i am limited in the availability of products to audition in this area. Does anyone have a recomendation on the best processor. I will be listening to music 50% of the time, so this plays a major role in the comparisons. Please help!!!
I think the answer probably really depends a lot on how much you value the movie reproduction, how many of the countless surround sound formats you care about, etc. The Lexicon MC-1 is widely applauded for it's ease of use and it's top-notch movie performance, but many don't think that it's top notch on music reproduction. The Proceed AVP can be had used pretty reasonably and is higher regarded for music reproduction, but is a slightly older model than some you might consider. Personally, having basic 5.1 DD and DTS meets my needs, but if you want all the new 6.1 formats, your choice of processors may be somewhat more limited. It's widely believed that having an analog-pass-through channel in the pre/pro will aid music reproduction, and many nice pre-pros don't have that capability.
You should really try and audition the new Classe CD/DVD-1. You can email Classe through their website to get the tech specs.
Of the 3 processors you listed my personal choice would be Meridian. It's Home Theater performance is right up there with the Lexicon MC-1 and the Music is great as well. Even better the Meridian processors are the only ones at this time that have Pro-Logic II and they can be upgraded from Meridians website.
Your 3 choices are all excellent. If you're not too concerned about upgrading to future surround modes, the Classe' SSP-25 is probably the best for the money. IMHO, its Dolby Digital & DTS performance is just as good as the others and its 2-ch stereo mode is phenomenal (best I've heard from a <$6K surround pre). The only major drawback is the fact that it may not be upgradeable to the new multichannel formats (DVD-A & multichannel SACD). For under $2K, it's the best I've heard.
If you can audition these preamps (preferably in you own home), I would strongly recommend comparing them side by side. Good Luck.
Theta CasaBlanca II is the champ IMO. It handles both HT and 2ch. superbly. Its upgradability is limited only by the imagination of those setting the standards. Any new standard is handled with hardware/software mods available from Theta as necessary.

I couldn't afford it the CasaBlanca (even used $5000) and got a Proceed AVP instead, but the Theta CasaNova was a close second. Both of these units offer really great performance, with few compromises, at a more affordable price ($3000 used).

Both are upgradable, the AVP via software, the CasaNova via both software and/or hardware. Both offer really great HT performance (maybe a tie), with most considering the AVP slightly better for 2ch. performance. The AVP has the pass through feature many processors lack as Kthomas has suggested. This is important is you ever get a CDP or a DAC that has better DACs than the pre/pro you buy, otherwise you are basically limited to the performance of the pre/pro DACs.

As mentioned, it all depends on how much you value HT over 2 ch. performance. Another factor in my choosing was upgradabilty. I refused to purchase anything that was not in some way upgradable. If you want really great HT, and you can stand compromises in 2 ch., look at the Meridian, Lexicon, and the others. If 2 ch. is a main priority (it was for me) then CasaBlanca or AVP (or even that PAV/PDST or whatever that combo thing is from Proceed/$5000 used). I too am happy with just 5.1, though the AVP is 7.1 capable I don't have the room for more speakers yet. My den is a den, not a movie theater--yet at least, my next den might be different though.

Another unit I understand worth a look is the Bryston SP-1 pre/pro. Though it does not have the video switching all mentioned above have, its supposed to offer top notch pre/pro performance at a lesser price point. (Don't know if its upgradable?) I don't use the switching of my AVP anyway. Another may be along shortly to give more on it.

Finally, I recommend you see a few threads that have been posted lately going over some of this stuff (I wrote this same thing a couple of weeks ago). They may not speak to your exact question, but may offer some insight. Also see the websites of Theta and Madrigal. Hope that helps.

Tahnks for all the great responses. Please, keep them coming!!!!!!
Does anyone know what the musical nature is of the new meridian ht combo???