I do not own one, but I have a friend who does. In my opinion it is a wonderful sounding player, and as good as many "new" players in the price range that you mentioned. I would hang on to it if I were you.
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I had a 588 - a big upgrade to the 508.25 - was just never happy with it. Long warm up, 2 hours, and just not involving-flat soundstage (depth), okay soundstage (left to right) and detail and resolution was okay until you hear something better-than you realize what was missing. Problem is, what I liked cost $7,000, so I really can't say what's better in your price range. I think good (okay, really good) digital is a little pricier. Not fair to compare a $3k player to a 7k player but I have listened to many cd players and regrettably, nothing realy fancied me til I go to the $7k price point. The Byston has had awesome reviewes--I would definately take a listen if that's your budget. Not to go off post, but I guess I am--my squeezebox with a benchmakk dac (CI Power supply) is simply blowing my bind--for $1,800 or so, it sounds better than anything I have heard under $7k. The benchmark w/o usb is $975-can you audition one with the Meridian? You can get a decent digital cable and go for it. Bet you a nickel it will beat the pants off of your stand alone Meridian.
I have listened to the 508 24 at home and now own a Muse model 9 genIII which is very similar performance (that is to say extremely enjoyable to listen to) and I have wondered the same thing. Bottom line, I am darn happy with the Muse and bet you are with the Meridian - let's spend our pennies on music! BTW sorry but my Muse is 8 yrs old so no help here!
I've owned the Meridian 508.24 and thought it was a very good player. I've also owned many other CD players in the $1500-$3500 retail price and none were significantly better. I would recommend keeping the 508.24 until it dies unless you want to spend a lot more money or convert to a digital music server setup. If your Meridian dies or you just decide you must buy a different player, the Resolution Audio Opus 21 is a very good player for under $2500 used.
I've owned my 508.24 since late 1997 and, except for replacing the laser once in 2001 it has worked perfectly since. Recently A/B'd against my friend's Parasound D3 it was not as bright in the highs D3 but did extend into the bass a bit further. This is still a fine CD player and I am firmly keeping mine until it works no longer. My other aging CD player is a conrad johnson DV2B that is simply a fantastic player with a wide soundstage and it provides a natural sound to the timbre of instruments. Piano is among the best I've heard with this player. Also a keeper.
I would hold onto to that 508.24; it is a valuable classic.
I have a 508.24 which sounds very nice with my ARC/Audio Physic system. I recently compared it to the newly released Cary CD 306 Pro and to a Meridian G08. The Cary was clearly superior, mainly more detail, but at a significant price difference. Not so the G08 - the 508.24 had better transparency and was more dynamic whilst the G08 was smoother and maybe a touch more open. I would happily change the 508.24 for the Cary, but the difference between the two Meridians was slight, so I wouldn't bother trading up to a G08.
508.24 has always been one of my favourites CDPs. I havn't heard one in a while, and when recently I put one in my system, against ARC CD-7 (~$4000 used) I was hugely dissapointed by its performance. I always remembered it as a 'giant-killer', but ARC soundes SOOOO much better across the board.
As good as 508.24 was 10-years ago - the technology did not stay still.
I owned a Wadia 850 for 10 years, before the Wadia I owned a Meridian, I don't recall the model anymore, at the time I bought because of it's analog sound. I recently replaced the Wadia with a Logitech Transporter. According to many reviews the transporter is on par with modern cd-players upto $5k. My experience so far is that it completely trounced the Wadia, soundstage is much better defined and the music itself is much more detailed, clear and extended at the bottom and the top. This experience led me to the conclusion that I will never buy digital in the +$10k range anymore, as in 3-5 years it's surpassed by mid-priced high-end.