Sacd's are worth it if you are going to do multi-channel. For 2 track only I do not feel they are worth the extra cost IMHO
I LOVE SACDs and buy little else. Beside the fact that I love multichannel sound for large-scale Classical music, SACDs, including those mastered in analog, are significantly higher in transparency...clarity...than CDs. AND...the more transparent your system becomes, the better SACDs sound. :-)
NONE of my reference recordings are CDs, altho they sound OK in my car.
The fact that even SONY releases Classical CDs that are NOT SACD is a very bad sign. It is strange that more new Classical recordings are not SACD. But if you are going to have a CD player, why not make it a SACD player. The Classical music community does not seem to place great importance on making new recordings SACD.
I really tried to make SACD work, but ultimately, I decided to stay with CDs. In my case, I found that multi-function players did not play CDs as well as a dedicated CD player at similar cost. I got as far as a 5K player before giving up. Perhaps the more expensive players do a better job with CD. Second, if you are only going 2-channel, you have to remember that many of the intitial recordings were recorded digitally at 16/44, so you can never get more bits out of it. In your case, the Meridian is a very good CD player and I don't think you're going to better it with a cheaper SACD player, despite the theoretical advantage of hi-rez. All this aside, I was still considering one of those new Oppo 105s, which play SACDs and give you Blu Ray as well. Seems like it would be fun to fool around with.
To my ears, some SACDs sound much better than the CD of the same music, others not so much. The quality of the original recording and what happened to it on the way to the SACD or CD have a lot to do with how different the two sound, of course.
There is something I like about the sound of some SACDs though, an ease or flow to the music, even compared to high res files.
On recordings that were recorded in DSD then downsampled to 16/44 for CD, I found the SACD to be significantly better (for example Perahia's Goldberg variation on Sony, Paavo Jarvi's Beethoven cycle ). Some SACD release from older analogue tape (Living stereo series etc), really depends on the remaster. Some are really good, some are not that much different from CD. Also there are some rip off ie SACD that was upsampled from 16/44 which was a waste.
Personally I found Pentatone SACD to sound significantly better through SACD layer than CD layer as well.
Some of the cheaper, universal player also convert DSD to PCM before going through AD converter which does not help SACD much.
I would look through SACD catalogues first and see if there are enough music in SACD catalogues (preferably with original DSD recordings) that interest you. If yes, it would be worthwhile investigating this option.
One thing your Meridian has is trifield, which there are few recordings and players that can process it. You might search out recordings that have it.
I, too, have a Meridian processor with Trifield but I know of no recordings made with it. In fact, I do not think one can "make" recordings with it. Could you be thinking, instead, of Ambisonics?
Agree with Suteetat. Music well recorded in DSD not converted to PCM can sound significantly better than redbook. I cannot but a redbook only cd player because I have too many great sounding SACDs and only a few SACDs that are ripoffs. In fact, I have not upgraded my cd/sacd player in a few years because I knew that someday, a DAC would come around that processes DSD from downloads. They are just now starting to be made.
SACD is a system what I never Liked. For my work I bought a lot wenn it was still not sure if it would be a succes. I had always the DVD-A recording as well. In all the cases the DVD-A was always better compared to SACD. By the blind auditions people took the DVD-A for preference. Most people always thought that the DVD-A would be the SACD. DVA-A was superior in focus and depth. Sound was more analogue compared to the sacd version. The biggest problem is that the focus of many sacd's is often not natural anymore. At a show of Philips they used the Nautilus 801 for demo. The used a recording I know well. The voice was much too big. Wenn they went to the redbook version the voice became the normal dimension again. So I said: I did not know if the person had such a big head. They did not know what to say. It was a fact that the voices were all too big. SACD I would not want it for free or even wenn they give me 100 euro every day.