What should I do to improve my digital sound?

DAC or SACD??? Help
Is Musical Fidelity A324 the ansewer or MSB Link DAC III (with all the upgrades) or should I just get give up on CD's & get a SACD Sony SCD X-777ES ($1200 in NYC).

CD Player is Meridain 506.20
AMP is Audio Research VT100 MKII
Speakers are Pro Acs 2.5
Melos PreAmp SHA1
VPI Turntable Van den Hul MM2
McCormick Phono PreAmp.
Hlt- Start by not listening to vinyl! It is very difficult to enjoy digital if your vinyl is sounding great;^). What is your problem with your digital in the context of your system? What is missing? Are you just in the mood to upgrade or is there a specific complaint? The responses might be more useful if we had a bit more insight. Good luck.
I have the problem that my digital does not sound as good as my vinyl (system is listed) but have done a number of things that have been real improvements. Problem is it still isn't quite there and the tweaks may be system dependent. I have only listened to the meridian once so I can't comment on it in particular. It will also depend on how much you want to spend. DACs may be the way to go but you will need to figure in the cost of the cabling. The cord 64 dac has also gotten great links as has the platinum msb. With regards to sacd again it depends on what you want to spend but then you have to figure in software costs. As far as tweaks that might be cheap, simpe and effective first make sure it is well isolated (consider darumas, rollerblocks etc). Second consider optimizing the disc - eg vivid or other cd treatments, perhaps a ring mat. I am currently trying out a cd lathe - by audiodesk but have not made a final decision. Third look at your interconnects but this too can be expensive. Finally optimize the power cord but this too is expensive (it is very listener dependent). Hope this helps
If you are interested in the sacd format by all means purchase the Sony player. I would also recomend purchasing the JPS digital AC powercord, they can be found here on Audiogon for around $200. It substantially reduces the digital noise and makes listening much less fatiguing.

Happy Listening,

The Chord DAC64 was certainly the answer to my prayers. Before I discovered it, as the result of reading the favorable review in Hi-Fi+, I was ready to bail out on digital completely and go balls-out on an update of my analog source. I replaced a Wadia 830 with a CEC TL-1X/DAC64 combo and never looked back.

As for SACD: Of course I have no idea what your musical tastes are, but I'm primarily into classical, chamber music in particular. The dearth of classical SACDs (mostly recycled analog stuff) keeps me from really getting excited
about the format. I have three hybrids and recently bought a Sony -775 (bottom feeder, but highly praised, for the money, by TAS) at a closeout price of $180 just to sample the alleged delights of SACD. As far as I'm concerned, the CD layer played on the CEC/Chord is superior. I'm sure there are much, much better SACD players out there, but right now I have no interest in the format, other than buying hybrids that appeal to me, in lieu of single layer CDs.
I had a 506.24 & sold it for a 508.20 because it had the older transport & balanced outs. Your 506.20 should have the older transport & should have a pretty smooth sound. Meridians are known for a more "laid back" sound but I have tweaked mine with Blackgates & Schottky's, Soler Points & a TG Audio 688 PC & I think it sounds pretty good. I'm also using Luminous Audio Synchestra Sigs. No digital glare in addition to a great sounding unit.

I decided to make my system digital only & have done what I think is necessary to get the most out of this format within my budget. All together, about $2500.00 for everything digital. That's a good 2k less than retail.
I took a similar approach to that chosen by 914nut -- I purchased a Dodson DA-217 MkIID processor here on AudiogoN, hooked it up to my Denon DCD-1650AR CD player, and got a big improvement in a hurry. I only listen to classical music (instrumental, chamber, and orchestral), which is much better represented on redbook than on SACD. My experience indicates that a high-quality DAC can have a big impact on the sound obtainable from CDs, provided that the rest of your system is of high-enough quality to allow you to hear the difference.

Good luck!
Thoughts in passing:

I find it interesting that at the same time CD players are becoming more and more sophisticated, and more costly (two years ago, if someone had predicted that I would spend what I've spent on digital gear, I would have laughed them out of the house!), SACD players are becoming more affordable. I'd almost be willing to predict that the latter will also bottom out in cost, and then follow an upward path similar to that of CD players.

Regardless, it is obvious that big money must be spent truly to retrieve all that a CD can offer. I think a valid comparison can be made with analog, in which modern 'tables,
cartridges, phono amps,interconnects, etc., are capable of getting more out of old and new LPs than anyone would have imagined back in their heyday, but NOT inexpensively. This is to say that high end digital players are providing much better sound than could have been imagined in the first years of the CD's existence, but obviously for a price; and this is in addition to the improvements that have been made in the digital recording process itself.

SACD is not the "be all, end all" at the present time, regardless of what we are being told. As much as I want the format to work, however, there is too much music available on redbook CD for me to turn my back on it and concentrate on SACD, especially in view of the appalling dearth of music, that appeals to me, in the latter format.

Although I am an engineer (retired), my field of endeavor was not electronics, and I'm certainly not up to speed in the complexities of digital sound reproduction. That said, it seems to me that the "step" function of digital---as opposed to the "ramp" function (for lack of a better term) of analog---can never provide a true replication of the original event, regardless of sample rates, etc., unless said sample rates are infinitely high ("steps" infinitely small). The best we can presently hope for is synthesis of "ramps" from one "step" to the next("upsampling"/"oversampling"?). For many---trained musicians in particular---this is not good enough; it is considered electronically-produced sound. I am willing to accept it, especially in view of the tradeoffs between analog and digital. Regardless of what is said in favor of LPs, they start to degrade as soon as the shrink wrap is removed; they are relatively inconvenient; and I don't expect ever to see a big variety of modern recordings, of the music that appeals to me, in the analog format. A CD remains the same from day one, which can be considered good or bad (its detractors interpret this as "lousy sound forever"). With the sound I'm presently getting from my system, I can no longer agree with its detractors. So, until something better comes along, the CD, "super audio" or otherwise, will have to do.