The 5400 is an excellent cdp. I have listened to piano on a friends system with this cdp and it's very good. Hope this helps.
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If cost is not important, just buy the 5400 and arrange auditions with dealers for the Meridian and EMM so you can listen to them in your own system. You won't lose much on the 5400 in resale, and can determine which of the three suits you best. I have the 5400 and listen to a lot of jazz piano. It's very good. haven't heard the EMM or Meridian, but would be shocked if you didn't find either of them, or the PD, was better than the 5400. If I were spending almost $20,000 on a digital source, I would insist on hearing it in my system before writing a check. Forums and reviews are great, and you'll learn a lot about other people's preferences, but you really need to hear them yourself in your own system if you're going to spend significant coin.
Well Jwm, i'm not sure how to respond to that because my problem with the PD was some slurryness and lack of focus in the mids and lower mids, not exactly a lack of body.
But the EMM sound is full but not bloated, kind a just-right amount of body and texture, with loads of detail and character, especially in vocals, like it really digs into the real truth of things, and that's what I love about EMM. It's not that the others players aren't musical and listenable, there is just more there with the EMM, meaning a little closer to reality, and I just can't give that up, even for a more easygoing sound. But the newer EMMs seem to avoid the digital annoyances (glare, grunge, hashiness) and still keep the real character of things and deep details, so it's almost the best of both worlds. EMM seems to be the best at walking the line in digital in my experimentation. It's not a euphonic covered up (Harbethy?) sound either, but I'm really sensitive to glare and grain and now EMM is fine with me. With some of the other players, I feel like there is some judicious filtering going on there, but filtering nonetheless. I don't sense that at all with EMM. Again, the EMM bass is really a thing to behold, just a really nice foundation that is "just there" when needed.