Meridian Audio Meridian DAC Audio USB Explorer 2 : great sound but limited connectivity

Sound quality of mqa files is very good. Dac works well with 1 plus 3 phone plus with laptop.

I guess it depends what your computer sound card is like as to whether you think these are brilliant or not. Plugged into a newish macbook pro, which has a pretty decent dac on board, the audible difference is so small as to not warrant the £99 price tag, for me anyway. I can see on a pc, with a low end sound card, the difference would be more spectacular though.

Meridian DAC Audio USB Explorer 2

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  • True Meridian quality from a pocket Digital to Analogue Converter
  • Includes USB DAC, Preamp and Headphone Amplifier
  • Features a 24 bit/192kHz DAC that enables these highest resolution files to be played at their native resolutions
  • USB-powered; plugs into any computer with a USB port
  • Revolutionary MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) technology

Meridian explorer 2 1st impressions. . It replaces an hrt microstreamer which is an excellent bit of kit. The explorer 2 is also a headphone amp and adds some oomph to the music. It is still burning in at the moment and the sound is a little bright but should improve. I am very impressed with the sound quality so far. The only problems i have found were in installing it which is a bit more complex than the hrt microstreamer process. And getting it to work with itunes also proved a challenge. It works now but don’t ask me what i did to achieve that :-)all in all a very accomplished little gadget which improves upon the excellent music quality provided by the dac it replaces. I doubt i will need to add anything more to my set up now.

Was quite surprised to learn they were doing a relatiely low-cost dac like the explorer. To me, meridian has always been some unattainable, rarefied hifi boutique. I remember the reverence and starry eyed way which various dsitributors refer to the meridian setup at the bristol hifi show. Was quite surprised to learn they were doing a relatiely low-cost dac like the explorer. From specs alone, it looks like there is a lot of trickle down technology. I was looking for an affordable dac for a friend who runs his music off a mac mini via headphone out to a yamaha as500 and b&w 685 speakers. The weak link being obviously the source. Amongst the dacs in contention were the audioquest dragonfly 2 and the arcam rpac. A bit more digging and i came to learn of the meridian and the newly launched explorer 2 with mqa technology. Now this is the first time i’ve heard of mqa, but i read about meridian’s recent presentation at an international conference regarding the differences between hi-res and normal red book music.

This little thing is an absolute jewel, either through cans or an amp, particularly if you connect it to a computer streaming an mqa source, such as the many albums now available on tidal hifi. These are the best quality reproductions i have heard. The improvement is not even subtle, but startling discernible, even against other hd sources. Needless to say, it poohs on amazon and apple compressed music from a very great height.

Meridian DAC Audio USB Explorer 2 : Loved the original explorer, this is even better. I travel a lot in my job and work away from home a lot. So i rip most of my cds to a portable hard disk and listen to music via my laptop and either headphones or portable speakers – but mostly head phones (bose quiet comfort). I have been using the original explorer for about 15 months, and i really like it, the improvement in sound over simply using the standard sound output from the laptop is amazing. When i saw that there was a newer version available, i decided to go for it, and i am definitely not disappointed. Trying to analyse the sound is quite subjective, and definitely depends on the type of music one prefers listening to in the main. I listen to mostly rock, blues, but i also like techno, chill-out, acoustic /vocal. Even during the initial burn-in, i can hear that the explorer2 adds something to the original explorer. Whether it is £200 better is certainly debateable, but i can hear an improved clarity. Just like the original, the explorer2 comes with a short usb – miniusb cable to connect to your laptop, and the output is a 3.

Excellent dac sounds better than a dacmagic. Excellent usb dac worked great with a macbook air. Have a dacmagic and this dac sounds better.

Never realized how good this unit would make my pc sound. Never realized how good this unit would make my pc sound. Compared to the sound quality from the ear phone outlet on the pc this is really a rolls royce piece of kit.

This little pocket dac is a fast and convenient way to connect a set of decent quality headphones to a pc or mac. Simply download the drivers from meridians website, plug in and off you go. I use a set of sennheiser hd650s. They don’t require a massive amount of output to drive them compared to other pro headphones, but the average headphone output from a computer soundcard will struggle not to mention carry a lot of rf from the motherboard, so a little device like this is very welcome. The explorer is the size of a very large usb stick, or about 5 apple tv remotes stacked on top of each other. The fittings are secure and very well made and it is most refreshing not to have 40 foot of useless usb cable included with the device, instead a short little cable is provided which is perfectly sized. In addition, a well made pouch is included, making the whole thing pocketable and well protected. I own the original meridian explorer which i was impressed with from the get go. Sound output is warm, clean and nicely spacialised such that you can pick out each instrument with no difficulty.

Greater clarity of sounds compared to my mbp dac. Plus the advantages of meridian mqa & apodising filter.

Good but too expensive for what it delivers. . This amplifier works fine but not better than many others cheaper models. Sleek design but not so smooth to the touch. I returned it and bought thefiio e10k, less than half the price, and am very happy with my choice.

This dac is so good i am selling my stream magic 6. I am so glad that meridian are now producing products that are shall we say more affordable. In the early 1980s i bought the original mcd cd player and always hoped to return to meridian one day.Setup is easy and instructions are excellent.

Good piece of audio gear, mqa masters on tidal are floating my boat nicely.

Orgreceived my explorer2 in the post from meridian through amazon uk yesterday. Wasn’t expecting it to arrive until after christmas so was well impressed with amazon’s serviceanyway – only had one evening with it but i can tell i’m already sold and this one won’t be going anywhere soonmy set up issource:- dell inspriron i5 pc running tidal/ spotify (premium)/ also with a number of hd tracks download from a short time with qobuzdac: previously music fidelity v90-hpa. Now obviously the meridian explorer2headphones: b&o h6the change of dac has made a huge difference to the detail and smoothness of almost anything i listen to. The highs are detailed but smooth and the bass has completely tightened up and really shows the h6s to have great bass extension (not something that most people would expect, but i think it just goes to show they need the right set up to make them shine)the only downside is that it’s sort of killed spotify for me, still great for mobile on the go use but not for serious listening. I couldn’t believe how much better the tidal lossless streams now sound versus the 320kb spotify equivalents. I have only been trialling tidal for the past few months but looks like it might finally be time to move on from spotify. One thing i need to do some research on is hooking the explorer2 up to my ipad air. The tidal app on ios looks great but i’m not sure if the dac will play nice and already know from previous posts it will need a usb power splitter and battery to even stand a chance.

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1 Comment

  1. Great sound but limited connectivity. Excellent but a little limited in connection options. However can be used with a y splitter to power it with a usb ower supply and then used with android or ios phones/media playerd.
  2. This review is from : Meridian DAC Audio USB Explorer 2

    Great sound but limited connectivity. Excellent but a little limited in connection options. However can be used with a y splitter to power it with a usb ower supply and then used with android or ios phones/media playerd.
  3. This review is from : Meridian DAC Audio USB Explorer 2

    Works perfect with tidal hifi (mqa). Works perfect with tidal hifi (mqa).
  4. This review is from : Meridian DAC Audio USB Explorer 2

    Excellent quality audio device. Plug into raspberry pi no drivers required. Windows drivers available on meridian website.
  5. This review is from : Meridian DAC Audio USB Explorer 2

    Excellent quality audio device. Plug into raspberry pi no drivers required. Windows drivers available on meridian website.
  6. This review is from : Meridian DAC Audio USB Explorer 2

    I’ve coupled this with a portable bose speaker and the result is a rich sound, free of distortion at pretty well any volume. The detail in the mid-range is excellent, whilst bass is punchy, it is still well-controlled, so a very worthwhile upgrade for any laptop or netbook. It’s a compact unit, easily dropped into the pocket of any laptop bag (this also means fairly easily lost, unfortunately), with a short usb2 cable, both stored in a flocked bag when not in use.
    1. I’ve coupled this with a portable bose speaker and the result is a rich sound, free of distortion at pretty well any volume. The detail in the mid-range is excellent, whilst bass is punchy, it is still well-controlled, so a very worthwhile upgrade for any laptop or netbook. It’s a compact unit, easily dropped into the pocket of any laptop bag (this also means fairly easily lost, unfortunately), with a short usb2 cable, both stored in a flocked bag when not in use.
      1. Great device for pc use in my case. . Great product when used with my pc for music and games attached to a pair of beyer dynamic t90 headphones. I use a naim dac for my main listening and frankly the sound quality is not that different, though the features and inputs (of course) are massively limited in comparison. Great product provided by a great supplier i would totally recommend.
  7. Great device for pc use in my case. . Great product when used with my pc for music and games attached to a pair of beyer dynamic t90 headphones. I use a naim dac for my main listening and frankly the sound quality is not that different, though the features and inputs (of course) are massively limited in comparison. Great product provided by a great supplier i would totally recommend.
  8. This review is from : Meridian DAC Audio USB Explorer 2

    To be honest, not sure if it makes any difference. Atleast i cant hear difference with/without.
  9. This review is from : Meridian DAC Audio USB Explorer 2

    To be honest, not sure if it makes any difference. Atleast i cant hear difference with/without.