|Meridian G98 DVD/CD Transport|
|Home Theater Audio Sources CD Players|
|Written by Bryan Southard|
|Friday, 01 April 2005|
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A product like this has few downsides, although it is my duty to nitpick. As SACD playback is featured on other players at this price level, this lack in the G98 is something hardcore audiophiles may frown on. As a reviewer, I still need to have an SACD player of some sort in my system for reference purposes. Most consumers at this point can skip it or keep their older SACD players. I am pretty sure we have seen the end of the SACD movement, with major labels and indies moving towards DualDisc. Nevertheless, in comparison with other players, you get SACD playback in one chassis, which is both convenient and adds value to a player at this price.
Programming the G98 can be difficult for the non-technocrat and even a Meridian-savvy end user might need some support. With the price of a G98, it should be expected that your dealer will take care of you when setting up a G98. Make no mistake, this is no DVD player from Costco that you can plunk down and have rolling in three minutes. At the same time, you can craft the settings for the G98 in ways and to levels you can’t find on other high-end DVD players, which is a great advantage. What some do-it-yourselfers may consider a disadvantage is the fact that they aren’t as in control of their gear when they aren’t setting it up themselves. If this describes your sentiments, Meridian is more than willing to talk you through the steps on the phone. Their customer service and support from the Atlanta offices are topnotch.
Although connectivity is hugely improved over the 598, the back of the Meridian G98 is still very tight and awkward. Initial installation is not so bad, but getting back behind my rack for changes proved to be a tedious task. This brings us back to your retailer or custom installer doing your set-up. I think it should be their problem to make your system wire up perfectly. That is what you are paying them for, isn’t it?
For many, investing $6,000 in a DVD player seems absolutely absurd. I’m commonly asked whether the average person could even tell the difference. The best answer comes from actually sitting the questioner down and showing what the player can do for music and movie playback. In less than five minutes, doubters are sold on the value of having a good source component driving your home theater system.
The performance of this player is noteworthy from every aspect. The video that comes from this player is nothing short of remarkable. Meridian went to great lengths to perfect the video section and it is a complete success. As a CD music source, there are players out there that perform at a slightly higher level, but no other DVD/CD player that I have seen or heard other than the pricey Meridian 800 outperforms the G98. With the combination of the world’s best video scaler manufacturer and Meridian, a company that has mastered the digital domain for AV, you have a player that outperforms its class.
There is no comparably-priced player that I have seen that can touch the G98’s video prowess, combined with its stereo and multi-channel audio playback. Even at its price, this player must be considered a value and among a handful of best source components available today for home theater at any price. If you love music or want to see DVDs as close to the source as possible, the Meridian G98 is where you should splurge for your system, even if it is the only Meridian component you buy.