In short, the CEC was much smoother, more liquid, detailed, warmer-richer, less digital sounding than the meridian. The meridian was good, but was too 'digital' in comparison. The CEC actually managed to provide more detail, while sounding smoother and much much more musical. It was an amazing transport.
If I had gone a new DAC route, who knows? I contemplated the chord, kora, CEC DACs, birdland, levinson, ECD-1, Audio Aero. Problem is, it was going to be much more $$$ and I couldnt justify it. I run direct into my amp and have no preamp so some of these DACs required the purchase of a preamp and tons of cables.
The DACs in the opus are top notch and I would love to compare a complete high end 2 box to it, but honestly do not feel it would better the opus without going into major major debt.
Also, having the preamp, DAC, transport introduces so many variables it will make you crazy. Every cable makes a difference and makes room for error.