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Meridian G68ADV: were AV Processor Ever Good?

amirm

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#1
Any avid reader of Audio Science Review knows that we are disappointed with the objective measurements of today's home theater receivers and surround processors. They generally rank in the third performance tier and often below a $9 phone dongle in distortion and noise. Today's players are almost all mass market companies as the advent of HDMI AV standard killed all the high-end audio companies that were producing AV processors. Reason is that their volume was too small for the HDMI transceiver IC companies to support them so they had no choice but to exist the market. But did they ever produce good products? A member loaned me the Meridian G68 processor to answer that question.

The G68ADV feels quite elegant compared to the generic look we have in AV products:

Meridian G68 Surround Processor Audio Review.jpg

The interface is very easy to navigate with a number of hard buttons to select input (and "more" button which shows another row).

I see the G68ADV costing about $1000 in the used market. When announced back in 2005, it had a retail price of US $8,999 so definitely "high-end."

Processor DAC Audio Measurements
Let's get right into it and see how its DAC performs using S/PDIF input and main left and right analog outputs:

Meridian G68 Surround Processor Audio Measurements.png


SINAD is dominated by the second harmonic at 93 dB (dashboard FFT is NOT at 0 dB). This is "bad" as many home theater products today:

Best Home Theater Processor Review 2020.png


Signal to noise ratio beats the CD format but is generally inline with what we see today:

Meridian G68 Surround Processor Dynamic Range Audio Measurements.png


Jitter performance is very good although noise level is higher than I like to see:

Meridian G68 Surround Processor Jitter Audio Measurements.png


Intermodulation distortion matches expectations set so far:

Meridian G68 Surround Processor IMD Audio Measurements.png


Linearity was rather disappointing:

Meridian G68 Surround Processor Linearity Audio Measurements.png


Conclusions
By today's standard of what we can achieve in DACs, the Meridian G68ADV would get a failing grade. Considering the product is more than 15 years old, I guess we can cut some slack for it. Surely Meridian today would be able to do better than it did then with advent of much better DAC ICs. How much better, we will never know.

For now, I don't find anything strange or broken in the implementation. Just not performant enough to be competitive today.

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YSC

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#2
One question for the linearity, was it due to truncation as in some other dac reviews so passing 16bit it gots all wildly off?
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #4
One question for the linearity, was it due to truncation as in some other dac reviews so passing 16bit it gots all wildly off?
No. I watched it on FFT and level jumps up and down and hence my note that it is noise limited.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #5
Let me take some of that back: the swing to negative and then positive could also indicate reduction in resolution. But of all companies, I expect Meridian to know how to dither and not truncate.
 

March Audio

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#6
My TAG McLaren AV32RDP from a similar era performed about the same as the Meridian here. No plots Im afraid. Its reasonable/good for the era but not competitive nowadays compared to the best audio only dacs.

Analog Output Signal To Noise Ratio>104dB (A-wtd)
Analog Output THD and Noise (0dB full-scale)<0.002%

1586069526566.png


1586069829747.png
 
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Frank Dernie

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#7
I stopped using my Meridian player/processor because of no HDMI connections.
The performance was to all intents and purposes perfect for all the recordings I used it for, both CDs amd films.
 

March Audio

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#8
I stopped using my Meridian player/processor because of no HDMI connections.
The performance was to all intents and purposes perfect for all the recordings I used it for, both CDs amd films.
Ditto for my Tag
 

Doodski

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#9
My TAG McLaren AV32RDP from a similar era performed about the same as the Meridian here. No plots Im afraid. Its reasonable of the era but not competitive nowadays.

Analog Output Signal To Noise Ratio>104dB (A-wtd)
Analog Output THD and Noise (0dB full-scale)<0.002%

View attachment 57277

View attachment 57278
Whoa! That's a very comprehensive SMD PCB. Very difficult to make and make well. Don't usually see them that large in consumer audio gear.
 

March Audio

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#10
Whoa! That's a very comprehensive SMD PCB. Very difficult to make and make well. Don't usually see them that large in consumer audio gear.
The DP version which I had featured an additional dual sharc DSP daughter board not shown there.

@JohnPM (REW fame) may be able to tell you more about it. He was technical director at Tag.
 

JohnPM

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#11
Whoa! That's a very comprehensive SMD PCB. Very difficult to make and make well. Don't usually see them that large in consumer audio gear.
We did the surface mount in our motorsport electronics facility, through hole and final assembly were done in the factory we built in Huntingdon. That factory was sold to Meridian after TMA's IP was sold to IAG.
 

Koeitje

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#12
For the time this is a pretty good performance I guess. Products released 10 years later get worse results than this while DAC technology improved leaps and bounds. You'd think a $1000-1500 AVR would match DAC performance from 10+ years ago?
 

DSJR

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#13
My memories of Meridian's stereo gear of old was of constant tweaking in production. Demo kit had to be turned round at least twice a year because of incremental changes, some of them back then quite audible!
 

LTig

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#14
We did the surface mount in our motorsport electronics facility, through hole and final assembly were done in the factory we built in Huntingdon.
Do you remember how many layers the pcb had?
 

LTig

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#15
For the time this is a pretty good performance I guess. Products released 10 years later get worse results than this while DAC technology improved leaps and bounds. You'd think a $1000-1500 AVR would match DAC performance from 10+ years ago?
I think it's not the DAC but the analog electronic behind the DAC which limits performance of AVRs.
 

Jimbob54

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#17
Can someone elaborate on @amirm explanation of how HDMI caused the high end /small volume brands to exit the AV market please. I don't doubt it, just dont understand how a new connection standard pushes smaller players out.
 
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Matias

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#18
Can someone elaborate on @amirm explanation of how HDMI caused the high end /small volume brands to exit the AV market please. I don't doubt it, just dont understand how a new connection standard pushes smaller players.
Simple: licensing costs. Not only to HDMI spec compliance, but also to the lots of acronyms that AVRs "must have" in order to compete in this market: Dolby, DTS, Atmos, etc.
 

Jimbob54

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#19
Simple: licensing costs. Not only to HDMI spec compliance, but also to the lots of acronyms that AVRs "must have" in order to compete in this market: Dolby, DTS, Atmos, etc.
Ah, yes, makes sense. Thanks

Suspect one of the reasons folks don't want MQA being a "must have" in 2 channel is similar. (Not trying to open up that worm can again as to its efficacy)
 

sergeauckland

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#20
Simple: licensing costs. Not only to HDMI spec compliance, but also to the lots of acronyms that AVRs "must have" in order to compete in this market: Dolby, DTS, Atmos, etc.
Just to add, that many licenses are based on an up-front fee, plus a small unit cost for each item made/sold. The up-front fee can be many tens of thousands, which isn't a problem for a Sony who may make tens of thousands of units, but for a small manufacturer who may make a few hundred, maybe few thousands, the cost that has to be added to each unit then becomes prohibitive.

S.
 
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