Meridian digital gears

I have recently acquired a Meridian G68 processor for my multi channel music system. So far I have been pretty impressed with the digital section. The sound is very detailed and balanced. It's neither on the bright side, or warm side. It brings out tremendous amount of detail from redbook CD, and I'm going through my CD collection again.

Previously I was using California Audio Labs CL-15 for redbook, and Denon universal for SACD and DVD-Audio. My impression back then was the redbook through CAL was rich and musical, and high resolution format through Denon was detailed and more articulated.

Now G68 changed all that. The impression of redbook through G68 is almost as good as the high resolution through Denon that I was used to. It's just amazing to hear what a good DAC could do.

On the flip side, now there isn't really an easy way to get a proper SACD play back any more, thanks to A/D conversion on all the analog inputs. I have G98 on the way to cover the DVD Audio side, but it looks like I'm somewhat stuck with SACD side of the world. For one, G68XXV has all balanced output, and my Sony multi channel preamp is all single anded. Does anyone make a decent multi channel preamp with balanced inputs?

The "honeymoon period" with Meridian so far was mostly good. The digital section, upgradability, firmware updates, supports, and the quality of the sound is all first class. I don't know why Meridian gears are not talked about as much in the forums, as I found mine simply superb.
1) Audio Research makes a nice MCH preamp with XLR in/out.
2) You can probably have your Denon converted to 3xS/PDIF outputs to feed into 3 such inputs on your G68.

Kal, thanks for sharing your expertise. I'll have to find out who could mod the Denon for multi channel SPDIF, as that looks like the solution with least complexity.
The only place I know is
Great! I'll check them out. Thanks Kal.
I have just added G98DH to the system. For the time being I have both Denon universal and G98DH connected to G68 for comparison. G98DH is using three SPDIF digital connection. Denon has both coax SPDIF and MCH analog connected to G68. My bias going in was that the quality of the digital transport is pretty much the same nowadays, and I probably won't be able to hear much (if any) difference between Denon and G98DH when using digital connection. I wanted to confirm the hypothesis, then maybe dispose one of the Meridian and use the fund elsewhere (balanced MCH analog preamp or MCH SPDIF mentioned above).

To my surprise, G98DH as redbook transport provided another level of improvement over Denon. Redbook with Denon used as a transport sounded very very good. However it sounded tad sweeter with G98DH as a transport. That wasn't really what I expected, so I brought up Meridian configuration program again, and double triple checked that the settings are identical for both inputs. I need to spend more time with this setup to make sure what I hear is really what it sounds, but I thought it was an interesting first impression.

Also it's ironic to note that while I am impressed with the multi channel performance of G68, I think I'm smitten with its sound as two channel DAC with redbook.
I am picking up my Meridian G-68 and G-98 next week; to be used in a blended two channel audio/home theater system with MBL 111'es main; Dali Halicon C-200 center; Velodyne DD-15 subwoofer; and like you was happy with my SACD collection; I was using an Integra 10.5; I don't like giving up SACD by going all Meridian; and now with the buzz of quality music servers; I'm not sure what I will get by spending this money for redbook CD's only with the G-98. I'm thinking of keeping my Integra universal 10.5; and getting a quality Suros music server; great review in this months Absolute Sound. any thoughts or comparison by quality CD player, vs music server for the future. To be fair; the review recommended adding a quality DAC to the server to improve sound. I'd like to see other experiences with sound quality of servers using the FLAC lossless compression; not just mp3 files...glad you like your meridian gear; I'll let you know about mine soon.
Mribob, congratulations on your purchase. I haven't used the advanced music servers of today, but I have been using a computer based network music players for some times. The first network music player that I bought was Roku, which really wasn't good sounding. Now I have iTune on Airport. I liked it a lot. I would set it to random play, and let it play hours as a background music. I would use my laptop to quickly find the song that I want. I was using a upsampling Musical Fidelity DAC then, and the sound was pretty good. For a while I was exclusively using the network music player, and put all the CD disks in the stroage.

Then a couple of thing happened. I started to experiment with high resolution format. I started collecting SACD and DVD Audio. Unfortunately there isn't any solution when it comes to high resolution format. The digital data cannot be extracted to the computer in the raw format for later play. In order to use high resolution format I had to go back using the disc player.

Also, the price of storage medium came down a lot in the recent years. Back then when I first copying the CD to my computer I used 128kbps bit rate. The storage was still fairly expensive, and I didn't want to invest too much on the storage. When I moved to iTune I then started using 192kbps. And then the storage price kept falling, and I eventually moved to 256kbps bit rate. Looking back, I probably should have been using lossless format all along. But the storage was expensive, and I really didn't want to spend too much on gigabytes of storage space. Now the storage cost has come down quite a bit. You can get a terabyte of fault tolerant mirrored disk system for under a thousand dollars. But now I don't want to spend hours and hours to re-rip hundreds of CDs, especially when the high resolution format is still out of question.

Nowadays I occasionally use the network music player, but in most cases I just pop in the CD / SACD / DVD Audio to the disc player when I listen to music. I see the convenience and other benefits of using the music server. I'll probably want to experiment with it in the near future as well. If you end up getting a music server let us know how you feel about it.