Pros: Reasonable price, Immersive sound-stage , Liquid sound
Cons: Non really....
Lets start with a story of a young man on a desperate mission to rediscover the beauty of music. Long long ago there was a man a man named Dan he had a plan to try a DAC but many seemed to lack true emotion and heart.
OK skip a few chapters the introduction would be far too long and I'm not that eloquent fortunately, this wonderful piece of equipment is. I was out in Birmingham on a day trip when I stumbled onto the uncovering of a Super fi, the sales staff were very helpful leading me to the back room showing me various DACs, headphones and earphones. Feeling rather disappointed by the turn out the gentleman next to me turns and asks for my opinion on the headphones he is looking to purchase. Of course being an audio addict I jump to idea of throwing in my two cents. As I place the headphones onto my rather accommodating ears I notice this silver, shiny, glowing rod being the Meridian. Anyway after a few listens with various iems and headphones my decision is final I need me one of these and oh yes the gentleman did manage to make a decision in the end.
So my apologies for the lengthy start but now we have been introduced I feel I can share the journey of exploration this fabulous machine has had me on.
The DAC is fairly easy to set up even on a windows computer. It's fairly self explanatory just download the drivers from Meridian and follow the step by step.
The first thing I noticed when plugging my earphones or headphones into the Explorer is depth and musicality. Just stuns me upon every listen. Don't get me wrong its not entirely accurate but it gives such an immerse feel to the music like being center stage as the music surrounds and notes cascade and dance around you.
There is a beautiful lush, liquid sense to the mid range which helps vocals just melt into you ear and slip into your heart..... Humm true love. I am a self confessed ex bass head now I really struggle writing anything bad about my love but to write honestly has to be imperative. The bass is beautiful, plump and bouncy however, this is an area I really feel could do with tightening a touch not loads so as to lose the true nature of what she is but just enough to add refinement.
Timber and treble detail are quite fantastic subtle and slightly shadowed but fairly extended if not a touch rolled off. This is though a soft footed princess who loves shimmers and sparkles but never at the expensive of losing her delicate character. I won't be comparing the Explorer with my CLAS solo-db but I will say they are two different takes on musicality, one being a hot chocolate by the fire another being a walk on a stunningly clean beach just before the morning sun comes to warm the refreshing grains of sand between your feet.
There is so many good things about this DAC to summarize its one of the few pieces of equipment I can truly say I don't have buyers remorse after purchasing !
Can it get any better ? Well I have a few amps to my disposal plugged into the line out of the Explorer the sound can be tweaked to your preference. I personally love the Vorzuge Pure amp ii when partnered with any iem as I feel both sounds just complement each other so well. I highly encourage you to try any of your favorite amps, I was more than satisfied with the sound of the Explorer directly. Nevertheless in this hobby we are always looking to squeeze that extra 2% out if we can, so experiments began and well I am satisfied for now. In the mean time I wait expectantly for the new arrival of the Explorer2 which I hope improves on an already impressive DAC.
Bottom line if you can afford one and can get it cheap do so, worth every penny.