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Meridian Explorer DAC


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Meridian has released a portable DAC/Headphone Amp product called Meridian Explorer. Looks really interesting, especially since it can do 24/192 natively for OSX users. And it also has an optical out, which is interesting. RRP in the US will be $299, so a nicely priced product it seems.

 

Does anyone know which retailer in Australia stock Meridian products?

 

I'm interested to see how it compares to other portable DAC/Headphone Amps.

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Yes.    

"At the other end of the Explorer, you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone output that we imagine will be the most popular option when the unit is used as a portable headphone/laptop solution. This second output doubles up as both an analogue and a digital optical output.
The analogue option allows you to take a line level out to a stereo amplifier, while you can use the digital optical output (limited to 96kHz) for additional signal processing or for recording with minimal jitter."

 

     Was seriously looking at one of these but the uncertainty on price and availability (fair enough i guess given how new the Meridian Explorer is) made me reconsider and i've ordered an HRT Microstreamer instead.

 

AU$199 delivered. fixed-level, low-impedance 2.25V line output - 3.5mm plug to RCA to connect to preamp etc. No USB drivers to install like the Meridian and firmware can be updated from the desktop. Similar short mini USB cable as employed by the Meridian. Very favorable comparative reviews.

    On the downside the HRT doesn't use USB audio class 2.0 like the Meridian and so is limited to 24/96k. 

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Burningpanda, I'd be interested in how you find the performance of the HRT Microstreamer. I've seen some favorable review on it as well.

I've emailed Meridian a few data ago on where to get the Explorer in Oz, but no reply.

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Burningpanda, I'd be interested in how you find the performance of the HRT Microstreamer. I've seen some favorable review on it as well.

I've emailed Meridian a few data ago on where to get the Explorer in Oz, but no reply.

 

First thing I'll be doing is putting it up against the NAD M51 :love . If it sounds remotely as good as that piece of kit I'll be very pleased. Will post a review.

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Hi Guys

 

Called Len Wallis yesterday (hey they sold me my original Meridian CD player, recently replaced with a new Rega) and they advised they will not be carrying this and due to Meridian distribution in Oz were unsure if anyone would. So I have now ordered one from overseas. 

 

I already own a CEntrance DACport and I have also taken the decision some time back to standardise my download library on 24/96 rather than 24/192.  So my interest is not due to 24/192 but to see how much change has happened in two years more than anything else. Apart from this the one feature which appeals to me is it is a portable USB DAC / headphone amp which can also easily feed an amp and not just headphones, so an even better travel item. 

 

I am not expecting it to best far more expensive desk dacs but at some point as DACs keep improving, the diminishing returns must set in ! 

 

It could be a while arriving depending on back orders but I will let you know how it goes using AKG 702's and Audeze LCD2's. This will be my fourth DAC so am running out of excuses to buy more after this one !

 

 

cheers Vincent

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Yes.    

"At the other end of the Explorer, you’ll find a 3.5mm headphone output that we imagine will be the most popular option when the unit is used as a portable headphone/laptop solution. This second output doubles up as both an analogue and a digital optical output.

The analogue option allows you to take a line level out to a stereo amplifier, while you can use the digital optical output (limited to 96kHz) for additional signal processing or for recording with minimal jitter."

 

     Was seriously looking at one of these but the uncertainty on price and availability (fair enough i guess given how new the Meridian Explorer is) made me reconsider and i've ordered an HRT Microstreamer instead.

 

AU$199 delivered. fixed-level, low-impedance 2.25V line output - 3.5mm plug to RCA to connect to preamp etc. No USB drivers to install like the Meridian and firmware can be updated from the desktop. Similar short mini USB cable as employed by the Meridian. Very favorable comparative reviews.

    On the downside the HRT doesn't use USB audio class 2.0 like the Meridian and so is limited to 24/96k. 

 

I have just today taken delivery of the HRT microStreamer. First impressions are very, very good. I will post more thoughts in a week or so.

 

In relation to the Meridian, the main thing that put me off is that you need to install drivers on your pc, whereas the microStreamer doesn't. Not an issue for a lot of people, but when I am playing files through a work laptop I am not permitted to install drivers, which crossed the Meridian off the list for me. Also, the $100 to $150 cost saving for the HRT helped!

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There is some discussions on Head-Fi that the output impedance of the Meridian Explorer headphone output is over 40ohms. This was further confirmed by Tyll Herstens with a post in Head-Fi.

So the headphones out may not be the most suitable to IEMs, which are what I used mainly for portable DAC/Amps. However, it has been getting a fair number of rave reviews. Maybe most of these reviews are only using the Explorer as a DAC via the line out, or using high impedance cans.

May just stick to my trusty DragonFly for the moment (which as a very low output imepedance measured at less then 1). However, I still would love to have a listen to the Explorer. These seem like exciting times for budget DACs though.

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Am also interested in the Meridian, however I'm feeling very little need to upgrade from the Centrance Dacport I recently acquired. Although it uses adaptive USB (rather than asynchronous) the jitter measurements are supposed to be quite amazing, and indeed this was a HUGE upgrade from the NuForce uDac I had prior. The amp on the Dacport has enough grunt for my Sennheiser HD600's, and as a DAC it's giving more instrument separation, detail, space, and bass control than any other sub-$600 USB DAC I've had.

 

These newer devices from HRT, Meridian and Audioquest may have leapfrogged the Dacport now, but it's a still fine device.

 

There's one on Gumtree (not mine) right now for $200 - http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/brighton-east/audio/cetrance-dacport-dac-amp-/1013734785 - bargain.

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My Meridian Explorer has literally just arrived - 221 quid including delivery for anyone who was wondering, just under ten days all up.

 

JD if you would be interested I can drop it around to your place along with a CEntrance DACPort to leave with you for a week or two - pm me if interested (I was unable to pm you).

 

cheers Vincent
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My Meridian Explorer has literally just arrived - 221 quid including delivery for anyone who was wondering, just under ten days all up.
 
JD if you would be interested I can drop it around to your place along with a CEntrance DACPort to leave with you for a week or two - pm me if interested (I was unable to pm you).
 
cheers Vincent

Whats initial thoughts vs dacport??

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I demoed the Meridian Explorer from a store in The Adelphi, in Singapore this week, using headphones out only, as this would be what I would use it for.

 

My brief comparison to the DragonFly is that the ME soundstage is slightly wider, and overall sound is leaner then the DF. The ME seemed slightly more laid back, then the DF. During the brief listen, there are certainly some differences between the ME and DF, but I hard to say which is "better". It wasn't night and day by any means during my demo.

 

In the end, I decided not to buy one. Since traveling with the DF on airplanes, I prefer the DF being able to connect directly to the laptop (I use a 90 degree adapter to keep the DF flush with the laptop body). This eliminates dangling bits falling off the seat tray when needing to move the laptop to let people in and out of the row, when food comes, etc.

 

Portable DAC/Amps technology are seemingly moving at such speed, and each new release gets higher and higher praise, that I think I'll wait for the next installments of these products.

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OK...got some listening time in..selected tracks from maybe 20 albums. 

 

As an initial impression, if this unit was all you had then you would be hard pressed to complain !  

 

No time allocated for a:b comparisons yet as I just wanted to listen with this unit for a while to get its "feel" so any a:b may have to wait for a week or three when I find time. 

 

Two lateral observations - as I was switching between albums a lot I really missed the volume control on the DACport.  I was equally surprised how cool the Meridian was compared to the DACport which gets very warm/hot. 

 

I think the Meridian will benefit from some burn in as on some mixes it just sounded that way and to this extent any comparison with the DACport would be premature as my DACport would have had at least 100 hours on it.  In case someone is wondering, I know that some forums are saying the unit is not optimised for iem's but that is not relevant for me as I an only using full size headphones  with it.

 

cheers Vincent

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  • 3 weeks later...

OK...

 

....so I splashed out a bit and got Michael from Elijah audio to make me up a special order of one of his cables  - in this case a normal usb end for the notebook and the mini-usb I need for the portable head amps.  After a few emails we settled on a short 15 cm length cable utilising his quad braid cotton sleeves over silver wire.  The short length and treatment are not about jitter reduction or transmitting data, but reducing electrical noise from the power feed on the cable. A very good complement for these units - well worth considering.  

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi,

 

For those interested, I just got an email from Len Wallis via Meridian saying they have a shipment of Meridian Explorers in customs that should be released in the next week and will be going for $385 (inc GST).

 

Regards.

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