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Meridian 808 Reference CD Player

by September 09, 2004
Filed under: Transports

Meridian Audio announced the release of a new Compact Disc Player in its flagship 800 Reference Series. The new player, the 808, is a special Limited Edition and marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Meridian's first CD player, the MCD. The 808 - its full title is the "808 Signature Reference Compact Disc Player", is hand-signed by Meridian designers and co-founders Allen Boothroyd and Bob Stuart. It offers the highest quality CD replay of any of the two dozen CD players produced by the company over the last two decades.

Like the 800, the 808 uses a multi-speed DVD-ROM drive to recover data from the disk. This normally runs at standard speed, but in the event of encountering a problem on the disk, it can re-read at high speed, allowing many opportunities to access all the data, even on difficult media. The 808 is specifically designed as a CD-optimized machine, able to play virtually any CD, from conventional pressings to CD-R, CD-R/W and disks of MP3 files (64-256kbps). It also plays the CD layer of an SACD.

Once the digital data stream has been recovered from the disk, three on-board digital signal processing (DSP) chips take over, each with a capability of an impressive 150 MIPS (million instructions per second). One of them up-samples the digital information from the 44.1 kHz, 16-bit signal of conventional CD to 24 bits, and to a sample rate of 176.4 kHz. This signal is fed to the latest DVD-Audio quality delta-sigma digital to analog converters to drive the analog outputs, while a digital signal at 88.2 kHz sampling is supplied to the digital outputs.

The 808 employs a triple buffering system to minimize jitter, and therefore maximize HF transparency and stereo image precision and stability. The buffers, and the digital electronics as a whole, are driven by a new design of high-stability clocking system, which further reduces jitter to below 90 picoseconds and ensures that the highest level of detail is recovered from a disk. All digital data is accurately re-clocked. Multiple power supplies ensure that digital and analog circuitry are kept apart, while multi-layer boards minimize system noise. In addition to its capabilities as a CD player, the 808 is optionally available with preamplifier capability, in the form of the 808i, which can act as the heart of stereo system, offering full built-in stereo preamplifier functionality including the ability to handle six stereo analog inputs, three digital coaxial S/PDIF inputs and two Toslink optical digital inputs. Both 808 variants provide balanced and unbalanced fixed/variable stereo analog outputs, main digital coax S/PDIF outputs with MHR (Meridian High Resolution) capability and an auxiliary digital coax output.

The 808 can thus drive Meridian DSP Loudspeakers directly or supply analog or digital signals to an external amplifier or processor. It is also ideally suited as the core of an analog stereo system, utilizing its balanced analog outputs to drive the power amplifier and speakers of the user's choice. Meridian comms sockets (2 x DIN) allow communication with other Meridian components, while an RS232 interface provides full remote control capability as well as the ability to reconfigure the unit with Meridian's Windows-based graphic configuration application - though the unit is supplied pre-configured. Three programmable trigger outputs are provided for direct control of external devices. The Meridian 808 Signature Reference CD Player is a special Limited Edition with an extended 5-year warranty.

The unit is supplied with the MSR+ learning/ programmable remote control, which operates not only all Meridian products but also includes an extensive database of third-party products and the capability to learn commands from existing remotes. The unit will ship in early September, with a US recommended retail price of $12,995 (808 player version) or $14,850 for the 808i preamplifier version.