Meridian or Audio Research - Weigh in Please

OK I am looking for a CD player to upgrade to. Top 2 condenders are 506 or 508 series Meridian or ARC CD1 or CD2. Balanced outputs are not required. If you have other suggestion, fine, but I want some opinions on these players. Present system consists of:

ARC 100.2 amp
Supratek Syrah preamp
Pioneer PD-54 CD (same as PD-65 minus wood sides)
VPI mk4 TT
Gallo Nucleus Reference speakers

Let the opinions begin!
I owned the Audio Research CD2 for over a year and now have the Meridian 508.24. They are both excellent, but very different. The CD2 has a very sweet sounding 1/3 to mid-hall presentation. It's more forgiving of poorly recorded cd's than the 508.24 only due to the Meridian's ability to delineate each instrument and pull in more detail. I really wanted to keep both because each one had it's own strength. The reason I went with the Meridian was its forward presentation, which makes me feel like I'm in the front row, and in some cases (depending on the quality of the recording) on stage. Also, the 508.24 allows me to hear the individual instruments with more detail and bloom without losing its coherence, yet remaining palpable. You really need to hear both on your system before you decide. Or you can just buy both...

If you listen to mainly classical music, the CD2 (IMHO) sounds wonderful and would be my choice.

I had some difficulty playing CDR's on the CD2. Sometimes the same cdr worked and sometimes it didn't. The Meridian has never had a problem playing CDR's.
Bought the Meridian 508/24 just after it came out,never had a lick of a problem.Still sounds as wonderfull as the day I got it. This really is a great palyer.It does not call attention to itself at all. Good Luck
Have had both the 506.18,506.20 and finally the 508.24. The 508 is a great player.The 506 is good but not up to the level of the 508.No reason to upgrade at this point.I have Meridian equipment throughout so it is matched perfectly to my system.
i strongly recommend the ARC CD 3, if you can afford it. it is one of the most analogue sounding cd players i have heard.
good luck !
I agree strongly that if you can swing the $ for the cd3 you won't regret it .Absolutley one of the best sounding players you could get.Wouldn't even consider a SACD since the software will never approach the volume of titiles available in the redbook format.And the cd3 makes great music!