It appears that my experience with Meridian's 808.2 CD player is a little ahead of what others have experienced in listening thus far. And that's why it's been difficult for them to hear someone say that CD "sounds almost identical" with Hi-Rez. I understand.
So I'd like to summarize some thoughts on Red Book CD, then offer a little advice at the end.
First, Red Book was not a "compromise". Implying this, it means that they deliberately cut-off quality - for whatever reasons that had at the time. Choosing 16 bits, which captures far beyond what a symphony orchestra produces...and 44.1 sampling, which covers the upper limit of human hearing, makes this standard A-OK from the get-go. Remember, the Dutch wanted 14 bits - THAT would have been a compromise.
We have no reason to think that this standard, at the time of its creation, was sub-standard. Like I've stated before, engineers raised the capturing rates due to unforseen losses in production.
In his most recent TAS interview, Bob Stuart stated that we needed "20 bits" for sound. The problem is that he did not specify *where* we needed this. If it's in capturing - then yes, we did need more than 16 bits. (Mainly for large orchestra and grand piano, IMO - I don't know about lower dynamic range music like string quartets or jazz combos). But later in that same piece, Stuart asked if we can hear a difference between 24/88 and 16/44 (on playback) and his answer was NO.
Below is a list of "Super CD-only" playback systems (no "mixed" format) that I encourage folks to go out and hear - if they can. I have not heard all of these units. But it may help those in doubt understand what owners of the great 808.2 have been experiencing with CD.
Reference models from:
* Will accept higher-than-44.1 rates