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NEWS: Meridian Releases The Explorer Pocket-Sized USB DAC

post #1 of 1026
Thread Starter 

One of my top choices for 2012's product of the year was AudioQuest's Dragonfly, a tiny 24/96-capable USB DAC that is about the size of a USB thumb drive. Today, Meridian is releasing what will no doubt be viewed as a Dragonfly competitor with their new Meridian Explorer pocket-sized DAC.

 

 

I haven't used the Explorer yet, but at 4.0" x 1.25" x 0.7" it is larger than the Dragonfly--but the Explorer is 24/192-capable, and has two separate outputs (a dedicated 3.5mm combination analog/digital output with 24/96 mini Toslink digital optical output, and a 3.5mm headphone output). (The S/PDIF output downsamples 192 and 176.4 to 96 and 88.2, respectively. Input is via USB (mini type B), and uses an asynchronous USB implementation. The Meridian Explorer is also firmware-upgradeable via USB. It weighs 50 grams (1.76 ounces).

 

The Meridian Explorer will be priced at $299.00.

 

A Meridian Explorer will be arriving here soon, and I'll post more about it after I've had a chance to use it.

 

(Click on the image at right to see the Meridian Explorer in much greater detail.)

 

Meridian Explorer Specifications:
  • Inputs: USB mini type B
  • Outputs: 3.5mm combination analog/digital jack with mini Toslink digital optical <96 kHz output and 2-ch analog line out, fixed 2V RMS; 3.5mm jack with variable-level headphone output, 130mW into 16Ω.
  • Construction: Extruded Aluminium shell with moulded plastic endcaps and rubber foot.
  • Power: USB, nominal 5V at <500mA.
  • Indicators: Three white LEDs show connected state and audio stream rate.
  • Implementation:
    • USB audio class compliant 2.0 HS 480Mb/s bandwidth.
    • Asynchronous: device is the clock source for high quality.
    • Firmware upgrade via USB.
    • Windows drivers provided, no drivers required for Macintosh OS X or Linux.
    • Analogue volume control for headphone output, controlled from PC, control law modified to match connected OS.
    • S/PDIF output downsamples 4x (192/176.4kHz) to 2x (96/88.2kHz).
  • OS Requirements
    • Macintosh OS X 10.6.4 (Snow Leopard) or later
    • Windows XP SP3, Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8
    • Linux kernel 2.6.37 or later and ALSA version 1.0.32 or greater

 

TTVJ (a Head-Fi sponsor) will be offering the Meridian Explorer right away, so contact Todd (at TTVJ) now, and you may be able to get your Explorer before I do. (And let us know what you think when you do.) Click here to go directly to the Meridian Explorer on TTVJ's site.

 

To see Meridian--one of the most respected names in digital audio--releasing a product like the Explorer is still another exciting sign that personal audio and headphone audio are growing, with more exciting things to come.

post #2 of 1026

Hopefully it supports Android USB audio !

post #3 of 1026
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swimsonny View Post

Hopefully it supports Android USB audio !

+1. That'd be great. For the power consumption, looks like android phones can handle it.

post #4 of 1026

Interesting.  Design-wise it looks like a car mufflerbeyersmile.png

post #5 of 1026

Chris at CA has published a decently extensive review of the Explorer, even trying out some decent headphones with it.  I'm not sure how head-to-head it really goes with the Dragonfly - it's quite a bit bigger and doesn't connect directly to the computer (instead using a cable), so I see the two items as targeting a slightly different clientele.

 

Here's one of Chris's images for size comparison:

 

post #6 of 1026
Quote:
Originally Posted by Swimsonny View Post

Hopefully it supports Android USB audio !

:D

post #7 of 1026

More interested in the comparison to the dacport. Going to pick one up to see how it performs.

post #8 of 1026

I work with a Meridian dealer.  I heard the Explorer at CES and at our store last week...man, these are crazy good.  As an outboard DAC, it rivals several $1,000+ options we have in the store.  Looking forward to a long listen once mine comes in!  Will report on Android connectivity.

post #9 of 1026
Originally Posted by DKCon View Post

I work with a Meridian dealer.  I heard the Explorer at CES and at our store last week...man, these are crazy good.  As an outboard DAC, it rivals several $1,000+ options we have in the store.  Looking forward to a long listen once mine comes in!  Will report on Android connectivity.

 

Looking forward to your impressions.  Would be great if you had an ODAC or something of the sort on hand, too.  Thanks for finding out about Android connectivity, too.

post #10 of 1026
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlySweep View Post

Looking forward to your impressions.  Would be great if you had an ODAC or something of the sort on hand, too.  Thanks for finding out about Android connectivity, too.

 

I just ordered one and have an Audioengine D1, Audiengine D2, ODAC and a TEAC UD-501. I'll try to post comparisons once I have it in hand.

post #11 of 1026

Looks very cool. 

I'm in the market for this type product. 

This is clearly the beginning of the micro dac revolution. 

Audioquest blew the doors open and now we're going to see a slew of similar products.

Personally, I wish they didn't include tiny headphone amps, I would probably prefer a dedicated headphone amp and a simpler dac without a headphone jack and amp. 

post #12 of 1026
Originally Posted by attilahun View Post

Looks very cool. 

I'm in the market for this type product. 

This is clearly the beginning of the micro dac revolution. 

Audioquest blew the doors open and now we're going to see a slew of similar products.

Personally, I wish they didn't include tiny headphone amps, I would probably prefer a dedicated headphone amp and a simpler dac without a headphone jack and amp. 

For my own application, I'd want the headphone amp included. But the two types aren't mutually exclusive. CEntrance, for example, makes DACPort models with and without headphone amp.

post #13 of 1026

Interesting. Reminds me a lot of the Dr. Dac Nano (aka JAVS Nano S or V).

post #14 of 1026
post #15 of 1026

And another review; there seem to be a lot of world's firsts on this one...

 

http://www.tonepublications.com/macro/meridian-audios-explorer/

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