Yes, both the 588 (CD-only) and the 598 (CD/DVD-A/DVD) use DVD-ROM drives for multiple reads. They are superior to the previous generation 500/506/508 CD players as well as the 586 CD/DVD player as a result.
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I traded in my 598 as I just found it too uninvolving. Took a good hour warm up to sound okay and 2 hours to sound it's best, which still left too much to be desired (for me). There was just too much missing. My associate at work also bought one with me, and he never cared for it either. I did pay near $4k new, so at $1,200, I may have like it alot more. I used Tara Labs The One Balanced, and Shunyata Tapan Helix Digital PC, Walker Valid Points, so it was in a pretty decent environment.
Originally the Musical Fidelity kW SACD player, which blew away the Meridian in all aspects except transport too finceky. Played only 1 or 2 SACD's and failed on quite a few redbooks. It was also very noisey. (The transports on Musical Fidelity gear is very poor). When it did play, it sang. Traded that in last December for the Esoteric X03-SE and have been absolutely thrilled.
I haven't had a Meridian 598, but I had the similar 506.24, and like Cerrot, found it too uninvolving. That said, I feel the same way about the Cambridge - I guess a component either hits "that spot" for you or doesn't, and neither of these players were "it". The Meridian is just too relaxed, laid back, even a bit grainy. The Cambridge doesn't have those issues, but it doesn't throw a realistic soundstage. Between the two, I'd say that I prefer the Cambridge.
I'd be looking at used units by Naim, Simaudio, Ayre (if you can find an original CX-7 around $1600). These units are just more entertaining to listen to and, IMHO, provide a more realistic feel of live music as compared with Meridian and Cambridge.
Thanks for your informative responses, seems that the Meridian may not be the best choice, as you and another stated, and have read other so so reviews of newer Meridians that are better than the 598.
WAny thoughts about Naim CD5x and Ayre CX-7e; these seem to have some great reviews.