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VISUALS and COST as well as reputation play a HUGE part in equipment choice, as well as 'which tribe' we want to belong to! (Coming from the 1980's Linn-Naim UK-centric tribes taught me a lot and fortunately, my weaning off the PA-style tones of said systems was pronounced and beneficial, even if it took a few years to fully complete and even more to fully understand looking back) Dacs today in a technical sense (from Topping D10s and Schiit Modi3+ at least - the two I 'know' best) are basically a commodity I think (unless one subscribes to the 'slightly different' tones of some of the wackier more 'enthusiastic' models. My level for dac choice is the bottom one and my final decision between my two favoured examples will not be about tech or even visuals, but more about the personalities of the companies themselves, both able to make well performing and reliable models now..
Based on your criteria I’m still a bit torn. Meridan, as a company that I hold association with through the music enjoyment that their older equipment has brought me over the years, gets a strong vote towards their DAC (tech and visuals being equal). However, I also hold loyalty to PS Audio because they are the manufacturer of the Power Plant 300 conditioner that has also ensured that my musical enjoyment is properly perpetuated with stable sin wave power. Plus keeping the PS Audio would increase the diversity of my system as a whole (otherwise Meridian would become the most abundant company representing three components with the only other same-manufacturer components are monoblocks and thus are arguably “one unit”) and maintaining maximum component diversity is an important in the overall ecosystem that I‘ve intentionally built into my system. So as much as I appreciate the alternative decision criteria this shifted perspective still does not provide a ”crystal clear” decision.
The financial factor is more of a driver for me, or rather a tiebreaker. If the resale of both DACs was equal then I’d be really without bearing, but in this case the resale value of the Meridian is near double what was paid whereas the PS Audio is not. As such, it makes more sense from a financial perspective to sell the one that I can earn enough profit to entirely cover the cost of the other, and this equation only holds true in one scenario (i.e., a difference perhaps meaningful enough to confidently tip the scale in one particular direction). However, I feel ethically unsure about basing the decision on this financial perspective as, in my mind, the overall goal of the entire stereo system investment (time and funds) is maximum daily enjoyment through complete contentment with perceived sound quality; therefore, it seems more ethically aligned to base the decision on which unit actually brings about greater perceived enjoyment. So how to effectively avoid this financial perspective from misleadingly biasing my perceived impression of the Meridian DAC? Mental clarity eludes me still…