I couldn’t resist the chance to borrow maggielurva’s Meridian G08 for a couple of days to compare with my Copland CDA822. Who could? Both CD players are class leaders and have garnered many positive responses, putting them head-to-head should be an exciting prospect.

The G08 is a current model in Meridian’s stable, while the CDA822 has been superseded by the CDA823 in the house of Copland. Both the G08 and CDA822 are in the same general price range (RM10k-RM15k) with the G08 being slightly more expensive by 20%-25%.

Well, it turned out that both are capable communicators of music, allowing me to enjoy my usual music selections. Their soundscapes are cut from the same cloth, being the kind that is neutral and clean, and not the kind that is euphonic or cuddly.

Having said that, the G08 and CDA822 do still show up differences. Do take my following comments as about the two players relative to each other, and not standalone review of both.

My first impression is that the G08 has a denser sound image, while the CDA822’s is lither. Further listening revealed that the G08 produces slightly more bloom, while the CDA822’s imaging is slightly sharper at the edges, thus the impression.

The Meridian, surprisingly, seems to produce heftier bass than the Copland. The Copland’s bass, though, has better articulation. The Meridian’s bass is also slightly warmer, which will be great for a system that tends towards some leanness. In my system, I have to adjust the speaker positions a bit to optimize the G08’s bass so that it does not occasionally creep up and obscures details in the midrange, but I don’t blame the player for this since it is a speaker placement issue, whose current positions were derived for the Copland.

The more significant difference in the 2 players is their handling of rhythm and pace. The CDA822 latches on the momentum of the music and simply propels things forward. While the G08 is also quick on its feet, it lingers a bit to allow you to savour the full development of the musical notes, sort of like letting you ‘smell the roses’ on the way. I find this to be quite charming, as it gives me a new perspective on the music. You may get slightly less adrenalin rush but gain insights into the music. In this sense, the G08 comes across as composed and more mature, while the CDA822 is more excitable. And don’t construe my comments to mean that the G08 is laid back or leisurely, not at all, absolutely not through my system.

Where the G08 pulls ahead is in the ‘humanness’ of its sound. I find this hard to describe, may be it is in its timbre or its natural body, it just sounds slightly more ‘right’ to my ears.

All in all, this has been an interesting exercise. I would rate the G08 to be ahead of the CDA822, probably just by a neck. The 2 contenders are not day and night apart, their differences, while can be identified in an A-B comparison, will mostly fade after a couple of hours or so of listening and are no longer critical to my overall musical enjoyment.

14 comments:

ryan said...

I always thought that one of the key feature of Copland house sounnd is the bass that could take on the very best in the business.I am surprised the Meridian humbled it...

Jacob said...

I like the older Copland CDA 289 ,which still command premium price in UK.Now,with that particular player,Even the likes of Wadia;who has been known as bass champion,struggle to keep up.It would be an interesting shoot-out if you could pit the CDA 289 with your present Copland.You will realize than newer does not necessarily means better

kimerty said...

I always feel that whenever I audiotioned Meridian,a detect a fair amount of flavouring.

i think it is the software that they use to correct jitters,because most meridian players use cd rom as transport.

the best way to detect flavouring is to compare the recording to the lp

km ng said...

Which of the CD player is more "emotionally communicative?"

james said...

Hi Fi Kaki,

Excellent choice of review.

Those 2 share a diverse take in philosophy of digital design.

Meridian together with EMM Labs are 2 firms that believe that you do not really to awaste time on things like,dedicated Power Supply,strong demagnitized Chasis and good feet.They believe in the software part of digital reproductions.Certainly nobody does the D-A algorithm better than Meridian.

On the other hand,Copland and a lot of Scandinavian producers Like Bow,Gamut,Densen believe and built their CDP on Massive chasis,Superb transformers and transportsetc..The resul is clearly evident......


Different sound and different profit margin.Meridian is reputed to have the highest profit margin per product sold in Hi Fi

kim said...

More than the Intergrated amps ,I think As a nation ,Britain is the place where the legends of digital playback are made.

In the entry level cat,you have Cambridge Audio;whose CDPs are known to humbled ridiciliously priced Japanese brands..

In the Mid level ,you have Rega,Arcam,Naim Meridian,which would fit in nicely in system that cost 6-7 figures.


Right on top ,you have dcs;one of the absolute few companies that know how to make digital playback.

so hi fi kaki,i am not in the least surprised to find another cdp being made to sound 2nd best by one of britain's proudest son;Meridian

Ins said...

To be fair to the Copland, I think you should compare it to the G06 instead of the G08,which I think cost almost twice as much in US.The G06 is in the same price range as the Copland.

niazi said...

actually The sound of Copland is quite typical of a Player that has its root in The Scandinavia.

take the highly regarded Primare for example;or Gamut.You often wonder what the fuss is all about,and suddenly you find yourself listening for hours non stop.They all make music,and they all make CD s very pallatable,even on bad recordings.

Well Meridian ,is another story.I do not think any other non digital companies can take on Meridian.Their only rivals in Digital Reprodactions are really multi stack playback.Pound for pound,I always consider The G08 as th e best bargain in Digital playback.Anything else in the price region always lose out to it...

imert said...

To me ,there is only one company that can take on Meridian,pound for pound.
It is another one of Britain famous and proud son"s:NAIM...

Kim,now that you mention it ,it is kind of obvious .great Britain is where to find the best of digital

ivan said...

I must agree with Jacob,having ownned the COPLAND CDA 289,I can say that the subsequent Copland could not keep up with the beefy sound that the 289 accorded.It plays HDCD,has dual DACs that gives it the heft and body that has been clearly missing in subsequent Copland players.

I should have kept mine ,when I upgraded { to dcs seperates]even then I do miss the 289 a lot.

kurien said...

I am more than sure that The Copland CDA 289 would not only humbled the Meridian G )8,but it would also be better that The Reference 808[I haven't audiotioned the 808.2 ,so I can't comment.

the 289 actually has dual DAc per channel,Hence the heft associated with the sound .And the musicality.

I think what ha[ppened here is a case of marketing poeple winning over tyhe engineering people.

The 289 has 20 bit and the marketing people wants 24 bit player.You and me know that the last 4 bits of digital playback has no impertus to the sound at all .not even one iota.It is also known as trhe marketing bitz to sell to ignorant customers.

So what do COPLAND get out of it? supertior bits and Lousy sound...

Kwan MK said...

I just read the post in zerogain about The Copland Cda289 being heaftier and better than the Meridian 07 .

It seems too be different with the new Copland having less meaty sound than the meridian.

What is going on? Do you think that it was to expensive for COPLand to continue to construct their new CDP in the mold of CDA 289.If you could find out Hi fi kaki,Has it ever reach the shore of Malaysia? I have a few friends who are big fans of Copland ,none of them seems to know abt the 289 untill they read it here

elie said...

the so called house sound of copland is its musicality.

it is a shame that some of the later model of copland is losing the house sound....

with meridian it is different.with every change of models,you get a definite positive improvement.no wonder they are leaving everybody else to bite the dust,,,,,,

hifikaki said...

Ryan,
Copland’s bass performance, in the absolute sense, is still very good. I don’t think it has to feel ‘humbled’ in front of the G08. The CDA822’s more articulate bass is used to good effect to give the music an extra bounce and rhythm, which I prefer on jazz for example.
However, both of them lose out to the bass of Esoteric SA60 and Audionet Art G2 which I had the pleasure to listen to recently. So indeed there are better beasts out there for bass but they’ll also do bigger damage to your bank account.

Ins,
You have a point there, I checked, the Meridian G06’s GBP1,695 price is closer to the CDA822’s GBP1,600, instead of G08’s GBP2,250. Well, at least this shows that the pecking order in terms of pricing is maintained between these two. :-)

Km ng,
Which one is more ‘emotionally communicative’? Both are. But they go about it in a slightly different manner. If I exaggerate their differences in ‘emotional communication’, I would use the analogy of 2 kung-fu masters, Bruce Lee and Jet Li (sorry, can’t resist this, I just watched a Jet Li show :-) ). The Copland goes about emotion in music in a more overt manner, it wears its heart on its sleeve in a more obvious manner, just like Bruce Lee’s mannerism – posturing, glare etc.. While Meridian is more like Jet Li, outwardly more controlled (or calm), but you know there is power and energy underneath. And both prove to be equally lethal. I have to emphasize again that I am exaggerating their differences here, but you’d get the idea.

Jacob, ivan, kurien,Kwan MK,
Interesting observations on the CDA289. I’d be very interested to take a listen if there is one around. I am not even sure it ever reached Malaysia, I remember the first Copland I ever laid eyes on here was the later CDA266.

Kimerty, james, kim, niazi, imert, elie
Thanks for your feedback and viewpoints.