I've heard both players side-by-side and the EMC-1 gets my vote. The makers of Meridian approaches sound in a very clinical way (digital) whereas, the EMC-1 is so analog sounding (music separation is good, super mids, and very musical).
I'd just like to add as a helpful tip that the prior models will accept the new upsampling upgrade. Considering the prices I've seen on these units here on Audiogon, you could have youself one hell of a player for little money compared to what you'd have to spend to get better. Good luck!