how good is Meridian 808 variable volume output?

Since I am using only CD, I don't really need a preamp. I am therefore considering replacing my Wadia 20 / Wadia 25 combo with a Meridian 808 feeding directly an ARC ref210 amplifier. I have 2 questions:
- how good is the variable volume output of the Meridian (in particular compared with best in class amplifiers such as the ARC ref3)?
- how much have CD players improved over the past 10 years? the wadia 20-25 transport-wandler combo was considered as excellent.... 10 years ago. How would it compete today against a player like the Meridian?
thanks for your insights!
I just purchased an 808I a few weeks ago and tried doing the same thing that your're talking about doing. I have a First Sound (tubed) preamp, and thought maybe I could run the Meridian directly to my VAC Renaissance 30/70's, and eliminate the First Sound. Not going to happen, although initially I thought it might. The sound was crystal clear, just as open and detailed. I got excited thinking I had success. About 20 minutes later, listening fatigue that I never get with the First Sound set in. The Meridian directly to the amp was brighter, it lacked the tube-like warmth. I then hooked the First Sound back up and jammed on for hours. Smoother, more liquid, more tubey, but just as detailed. For me it just didn't work. I heard enough in that twenty minutes to know it isn't ever going to work for me. It's a great idea though, worth a try in your system. Good luck. Also, as far as how much better cd players are getting, I had a Sonic Frontiers SFT-1 transport hooked up to a Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista 21 DAC, which also had the $1000 upgrade from Chris Johnson at the Parts Connexion. I then bought a Meridian G08, and the difference was remarkable. The Meridian blew the other combination away. I then scrounged enough money up for the 808, and again the difference between the G08 and 808 is remarkable. Three weeks earlier I had thought the G08 was about as good as it gets in digital, but now I could never go back. I actually still have both and can't listen to the G08 for very long. I start yearning for the 808.
How much of a price difference is their in the Meridian players?What wires feed it to the what speakers.This ios probaly out of my range but wondering if perhaps the top end Sony units getting A+ ratings in Stereophile might get me some of that quality.Surprised that a well rated DAC getting a $1K mod culdn't keep up.Wonder how much of that was the transport and how much of that was the DAC.Have you experimented hooking the Meridian's up to the Tri-Vista to detrmine if it was tarnsport or DAC that was bested by the G08.
The Meridian 808i retails for $14850.00, while the Meridian G08 retails for $4495.00. Basically a $10000.00 difference. As far as Sony goes, I have about a 10 year old CDP-X303ES model, and it is a great player for the money. I think I paid about $650 for it new, and I've seen them on Audiogon for a couple hundred bucks. The tranport mechanism on it is heavier duty than either of the Meridians, believe it or not. In short, I don't think you can go wrong with the high end Sony's, especially for the money. My friend, who is another audiophile, is coming over tomorrow and bringing the Sonic Frontiers transport (my old unit) and a Sonic Frontiers SFD2 Mark III DAC. It should be very interesting. We are going to do comparisions with the two Meridians, and even the Sony. The Tri-Vista has been sold, so I can't compare it. From what my friend tells me, the Sonic Frontiers all connected via I2S is awesome, we'll see. If it's even close to the Meridian G08, then the Tri-Vista was the problem. Because when I compared them, it wasn't even close, which is why I sold the Sonic Frontiers and the Tri-Vista. We are also comparing the following amps: Vac Renaissance 30/70, two Golden Tube Audio SE-40 Special Editions monoblocked, and Decware Tori mark II, another even lower powered Decware (I can't remember the model) and a Cary 300 SE Signature. We are comparing the following preamps: a First Sound Presence Deluxe Mark II Statement, a Golden Tube Audio SEP-3 upgraded by Loc Vu, and a Decware Zen. It should be a very interesting an informative day. I'll keep you posted on the results if you'd like.