As I see it it is a choice of whatever features you need;or sound quality. I feel the Meridian, once properly calibrated, is the sound quality winner.
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I have a vast amount of experience with the Meridian unit and I strongly suggest going with the Lexicon. You will enjoy it more. The Meridian unit is too problematic and a pain to setup. Sound quality of the Meridian is generally lacking in dynamics and that is something I am pretty sensitive about.
understand that Lexicon is first and foremost a pro audio company specializing in mixing boards and processors. Meridian is a consumer High-End focused company that has dedicated itself to digitizing everything. so neither is great at preserving the analog signal. my old Proceed AVP smokes both in the analog pass-thru and 2-channel 16/44 processing performance.....but it is really a Levinson 2-channel preamp with a Levinson 2-channel DAC......so it should be better than Lexicon or Meridian.
i also own the Lexicon MC-12 that i use in my Home Theatre room (2-channel performance is not important to me in my HT room since i have a dedicated 2-channel room----where i use a passive preamp). the MC-12 is best at DD and DTS processing; and their 7 channel processing. if your priorities are movies, the MC-12 is hard to beat.....and you don't have to put up with the unwieldy Meridian interface. the Meridian is also a good processor, is a better sounding 2-channel performer than the MC-12 (but still not outstanding) but really excells at DVD-A.....for all the good that will do you.
so it all depends on your priorities and the degree of complication you will put up with.
My suggestion would be to use the Lexicon 12B for your home theatre outputting the front channels to a Wadia. Run the Lexicon 12B L + R channels for movies through a Wadia CD player used as a preamp. For CD sound quality you can't do better than running straight from a Wadia to your amps. Now you also have your existing preamp free to sell. This way you have all the benifits of digital home theatre from the Lex 12B, balanced L + R theatre sound connects to the Wadia input, no preamp for your CD music to degrade the sound. You can have your cake and eat it too!!!!!!!!!!
I like the Meridian 861 for sound quality.
I like the MC-12 for surround functionality.
Another bargain that offers better sound quality IMHO is a used EAD 8800 Pro. I compared my old 8000 next to the MC12 and thought the EAD sounded better in stereo and bypass by a considerable margin. The MC12 had it beat in ergonomics and surround functionality without question.
Also, do not forget about Theta...another fine unit.
I guess it all comes down to priorities.