Meridian 808.2i vs Ayon CD-5?

I'm looking to upgrade my current CD player which is the Audio Aero Capitole Reference and have narrowed down my choices to the Meridian 808.2i and the Ayon CD-5, each of which has the features I'm looking for: a preamp section to run the unit directly into my amp (a VAC Phi-200 100W tube amp), and a wealth of digital and analog inputs.

Unfortunately I do not have access to either unit where I live and have to buy sight unseen so am relying on the Audiogon community's experience of each one to make my decision. The Meridian's MSRP is substantially higher than the Ayon's ($16,000 vs. $9,500) but since it's being replaced by the Meridian 808.3 shortly I am getting a good deal on one of the last remaining pieces so the price differential is not really an issue. The main difference between the two appears to be that Meridian's appoach to avoiding digital glare is to use an apodising filter while Ayon's approach is to use tubes and a massive power supply.

Anyway, the community's insights into these units, especially from folks who've heard both would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Does the Meridian 808.3 differ sonically from the Meridian 808.2? The Meridian website gives very little information about the 808.3. (I own an 808.2)
I don't know the answer to that. Anyway I'm interested in the 808.2 so your thoughts on that would be appreciated. Are you extremely happy with your purchase?
It updates the analogue to digital section (the "preamp"), adds a Sooloos card, removes the CD only option and jacks the price up to $20K:
Smazi, I'm happy with my purchase. Among other things, there is an unexpected bonus. That is, the soundstage is much better than I had expected. I have a difficult room (instead of a side wall for the left speaker, there is a large opening into another room). Before getting the 808.2, I had corrected for the room disparity by using the balance control on what was then my preamp. The Meridian, however, rendered the balance control unnecessary for many of my CDs, and I sold the preamp and bought a better one without a balance control.
I am waiting for my 808.3 which I am exhanging for my 808.2i.Any owners of 808.2 here?
Mikedimitrov, I have an 808.2. Why are you trading in your 808.2 for an 808.3?
"Mikedimitrov, I have an 808.2. Why are you trading in your 808.2 for an 808.3?"

Maybe because it is suppose to be a better unit?
I heard the Ayon CD-5 when I was at Morrow Audio buying some new interconnects a few weeks ago, and it sounded utterly fantastic in Mike Morrow's listening room system. Unfortunately I don't have the $$ for Ayon gear, but you might want to give Morrow a look, I understand that he offers very aggressive pricing on the line. BTW, no affiliation here at all, just a satisfied customer of Morrow Audio-I have his cables, cords & interconnects in both of my systems (plus Mike is a great guy too boot).
Talk2me, what does it mean to say "a better unit"? Better in what way? I have heard that the 808.3 will better connect to other Meridian equipment and that it will prove easy to connect to computer driven music collections. But that by itself does not make it better sonically. Is it better sonically? Or is it better in some other way? Nothing is ever better by itself. If something is better, it is better in some way.
I own the CD-5. It's outstanding. And I haven't yet checked out the preamp in the unit yet, which a Dagogo reviewer said was superior to everything he tried up to a VAC Renaissance- a 14K preamp. Waiting on some new IC's.

Haven't heard the Meridian, but you might be interested in this post on AVGuide from about a month ago, addressing this exact topic:

"Gentlemen: I owned the Meridian 808.2, and in comparison to the Ayon CD-5, there is no comparison. The Ayon CD-5 is superior in every detail and manner."

One person's opinion, but this guy has heard them both, and it's a pretty straightforward opinion.
I hope it is ok to copy and paste from the Mereidian forum on what I think is a very well thought-out and written opinion on the "why better",

"I thought I should start a thread as I am an 808.3 owner and have been for going on three weeks now. Prior to owning the 808.3 I owned an 808.2 for about a year. I thought I would start by giving my impressions on what I hear with the 808.3. My listening is from an 808.3 to an 861v4 with all analog speakers. I do all of my music listening using 7.1 Trifield.

The 808.2 replaced my long time CD transport, the 800. The 808.2 was a benchmark product in my system. The apodizing filter was the key in its ability to extract the music and leave the digital artifacts out of recordings. In comparison, CD’s though the 800 sounded like really good digital but through the 808.2 they sounded like really good music. A short description of the difference but it really was that profound to me. I was happy enough with the 808.2 I was not looking to replace it. I was intrigued, however, by claims the 808.3 was a bigger difference than the 808.2 was. Meridian earned a lot of credibility with me based on 808.2 sonics so I took the plunge.

The 808.3 builds on the 808.2 with two items of particular note. First, the sense of the space the music was recorded in is, and I never use this term lightly, an order of magnitude better. Find a recording with a really large recorded space and it appears you are listening to all of it, front to back and side to side. Good recordings that have always had a clarity or transparency to them have had the digital artifacts reduced to the point that the true recorded space is readily apparent. The sense that you are listening to the real ambiance and not room, equipment or digital artifacts is spooky.

Secondly is the space between performers and instruments in the soundstage. The 808.2 was noteworthy in that everything in the sound field started to get it own space and was more distinctly placed in the sound field in comparison to the 800. With the 808.3, everything in the sound field has its own space and is locked down precisely within in. It’s like the space between everything is bigger but not exaggerated and more precise at the same time. Here, I hear a sound field that is utterly natural and believable. Front to back and side to side.

I could go on and I will later. What I hear are differences so profound that once heard, I would never want to be without them again. No going back differences. The kind of differences that connect you with your music like you have not been connected before. The kind of differences that time just melts away when listening to. You are listening to music stripped of enough digital artifacts that the advantages of digital really shine and the music flows through like never before. Sublime."