I'm looking to upgrade my current CD player which is the Audio Aero Capitole Reference and have narrowed down my choices to the Meridian 808.2i (based in large part on RH's review) and the Ayon CD-5, each of which has the features I'm looking for: a preamp section to run the unit directly into my amp (a VAC Phi-200 100W tube amp), and a wealth of digital and analog inputs.
Unfortunately I do not have access to either unit where I live and have to buy sight unseen so am relying on the audio community's experience of each one to make my decision. The Meridian's MSRP is substantially higher than the Ayon's ($16,000 vs. $9,500) but since it's being replaced by the Meridian 808.3 shortly I am getting a good deal on one of the last remaining pieces so the price differential is not really an issue. The main difference between the two appears to be that Meridian's appoach to avoiding digital glare is to use an apodising filter while Ayon's approach is to use tubes and a massive power supply.
Anyway, the community's insights into these units, especially from folks who've heard both would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!