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NEWS: Meridian Releases The Explorer Pocket-Sized USB DAC - Page 14

post #196 of 1000
Again we keep moving off topic and by continuing in this manner I am enabling you to derail this thread. Opinions vary and I stated my opinion that the ME hits above its price, no cliche needed although thanks for your insight. If you would like to discuss this further please feel free to pm me.

Looking forward to comparisons with the ODAC and even the ifi as I enjoyed the sound from the dragonfly. Does anyone know which dac is in the ifi, is it the 9023 that is shared by the odac and dragonfly?
post #197 of 1000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Poimandres View Post

Again we keep moving off topic and by continuing in this manner I am enabling you to derail this thread. Opinions vary and I stated my opinion that the ME hits above its price, no cliche needed although thanks for your insight. If you would like to discuss this further please feel free to pm me.

Looking forward to comparisons with the ODAC and even the ifi as I enjoyed the sound from the dragonfly. Does anyone know which dac is in the ifi, is it the 9023 that is shared by the odac and dragonfly?

 

have you compared ME with dacport LX?

post #198 of 1000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Poimandres View Post

I am enabling you to derail this thread.

 

Now you're just yanking my chain. 

post #199 of 1000
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobeau View Post

Just out of curiosity, have you guys played with a variety of usb cables?

 

I was thinking about picking up a Moon Audio Blue Dragon.  I'm somewhat dubious to their effect and I'm not looking to start a war, just want to see if people have tried out upmarket cables and experienced a nice audible improvement.  An outboard PS is too much to lug for me.

 

In the spirit of getting the most out of what seems to be a wonderful new portable DAC from a company that has tremendous credibility, I want to answer bobeau's question...

 

I am so impressed with my Moon Audio Blue Dragon that I have, until now, avoided posting anything about it for fear of carrying on so wildly I would lose credibility.  I'm going to leave it at that, except to say that I've got four cheap USB cables, two that came with CEntrance products, and two run-of-the-mill USB cables, none of which come close to sounding as good as the Moon Audio Blue Dragon.  I honestly believe the USB cable was the last weak link in my audio chain, that once upgraded, released every other component  to its full potential.

 

WAV on SD cards (not HDD) > Windows 7 > CEntrance Universal Driver > Foobar > Moon Audio Blue Dragon > CEntrance DACmini CX > Audioquest Golden Gate interconnect > Burson Soloist > Toxic Cables' Silver Poison > LCD-2 rev.1 or Beyerdynamic T1   (with everything powered by a Tripp-Lite LC1200 Line Conditioner)

 

Lastly, I had held out on buying an expensive digital cable, really out of ignorance, because it didn't make sense that a cable could corrupt a stream of 1's and 0's, but  what I had missed was that a cable can corrupt the timing of a stream of 1's and 0's.

 

 

Here's an excerpt from a Galen Carol Audio page, on why USB cables can make a sonic difference (in the absence of error-correcting protocols):

 

Quote:
IT’S NOT JUST ONES AND ZEROS, IT’S THE TIMING! 

There is a fundamental difference between the transfer of computer data and digital audio signals. Computers are able to transfer digital data without loss, because the data moves in the robust form of blocks, which do not depend on specific timing between the sending and receiving devices. However, digital audio signals are continuous streams of data, which are quite fragile, since the digital processor must remain perfectly locked onto the timing of the signal to avoid data losses. 

The limitations of digital audio processors and cables create timing errors known as jitter, which remove portions of the audio signal and replace them with noise and distortion. Cables tend to round off the square waveforms of the signal, making them less clear to the processor, thus increasing jitter. This rounding effect varies greatly among cables and a truly superior digital audio cable can make great improvements in sound quality. 

Wireworld digital audio cables utilize unique designs specifically developed to minimize jitter by providing sharper, cleaner leading edges on the digital waveform. At each price level, they provide the lowest jitter available, producing distinct improvements in clarity, image focus, smoothness and dynamic range. 

 

Ironically, instead of buying the $99 1-meter Wireworld Starlight cable advertised at Galen Carol, I ordered the $100 1-meter Moon Audio Blue Dragon, in part because of this seemingly over-the-top review by Andy Schaub of Postive Feedback. (When you read stuff like this, you start wondering what part logic plays in selecting a cable): 

 

 

Quote:
...the Blue Dragon USB made the vibraphones ring like magic and there was not the slightest trace of harshness to the sound at all. I found it musically very involving and often found myself surprised by the strike of the mallet on the vibes as if they were sitting in my living room itself.
 
The more it played, the more it opened up and the piano took on a lovely sense of treble extension.

 

 

 

I'll let Andy Schaub stick his neck out with poetic commentary while I wrap this up by adding that I believe a good USB cable, just like a good headphone cable, can't really shine if there's something else in the component chain holding everything back.  My chain still has room for improvement, but it's certainly good enough for me to have been startled by the impact of  a Moon Audio Blue Dragon USB cable.   I really didn't want to go here, but rather than end this with no description of sonic improvements, I'll say this:  Everything is improved - clarity, dynamics, imaging, naturalness of timbre, bass pitch discrimination, everything - I cannot identify a trait that has not improved.  There, I've gone and done it.  I can only conclude that my other USB cables were causing a lot of signal-destroying jitter and I never had a clue what I was missing!

 

When I had previously upgraded a dual RCA interconnect that runs between the DAC and the amp to an Audioquest Golden Gate, not their most expensive, to be sure, I heard no improvement whatsoever - money down the drain. That's not the case with this USB cable upgrade.  No one could be more surprised than I was.  I was a huge skeptic going in, but my ears have won me over.

 

bluebragonusb.jpg

 

Mike

 

(Edit:  Updated the component chain to include the interconnect cable and add mention of the Tripp-Lite line conditioner.)


Edited by zilch0md - 2/16/13 at 8:52pm
post #200 of 1000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aerocraft67 View Post

Yeah, a $200 upgrade to computer audio is pretty modest in absolute terms, and you can look at it as a $500 DAC/amp package, which remains at the top end of the "budget" range, and probably remains a very good value. And you get two independently upgradable modules, which affords some flexibility. And you can use the iUSBPower with other devices. But a 67% increase in investment for a power tweak is harder to rationalize. 

 

When you consider that the DACport LX has five internal power supplies - all to manage the power coming from the USB port - and that I personally have never found any other USB-powered DAC to be nearly as invulnerable to power issues as the DACport LX (including the Stoner Acoustics UD100, the JDS Labs Objective DAC, and the Audioquest Dragonfly) -AND- when you consider all the hoops CEntrance jumps through to cleanup and manage the power coming in from an AC outlet to their DACmini CX, where they are essentially re-manufacturing the power, with galvanic isolation and all kinds of other tricks to produce clean audio...

 

I for one, can forgive Meridian and every other USB-powered DAC if they don't deal with the power issues as well as CEntrance does, in my experience.  I haven't heard the Meridian Explorer yet, but have no problem imagining that it has the potential of replacing my DACport LX.

 

Like every other USB-powered DAC, the Meridian Explorer will sound fine with the power provided by most laptop or PC USB ports, but expecting it to work with everything out there is asking too much.   I say, spend the $199 for clean power if you have to - so that you can enjoy what the DAC itself has to offer without suffering it with environmental problems.

 

Again, it may look as if I'm derailing the thread to talk about another product, in this case to suggest buying the iFi iUSBPower, but no component in a chain can function at its best without dependency on other components.

 

Mike

post #201 of 1000

I just had to hear one of these bad boys so picked one up today at my local audio store and had a question for everyone else out there...

 

I thought it came with a protective pouch like the Dragonfly? Mine did not. Anyone get one or did I dream that one was included? Could have sworn I saw an image with one somewhere!!

 

EDIT: I am a dumby...

 

 

I just went out to the car to check and lo and behold, the red insert with the pouch folded in was in the bag still on the seat. This is a folly of errors as well because when it was purchased yesterday, two units were opened by the shop as well and neither showed the pouch even after emptying out onto the counter.
 
Apologies

Edited by Chudalicious - 2/17/13 at 2:57pm
post #202 of 1000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chudalicious View Post

I just had to hear one of these bad boys so picked one up today at my local audio store and had a question for everyone else out there...

 

I thought it came with a protective pouch like the Dragonfly? Mine did not. Anyone get one or did I dream that one was included? Could have sworn I saw an image with one somewhere!!

 

It should be in a plastic wrap under the main packaging.

post #203 of 1000
Quote:
Originally Posted by dpippel View Post

I agree that it sounds good, but if the noise issue some people have been experiencing is design-related then the solution would be for Meridian to address it, not throw a couple more Franklins at the problem and hope for the best.

Hey!  I take that personally!  (My hame is Franklin...)  I fixed my problem simply by improving the quality of the interconnects, something which I should have done a long time ago (to get the best result out of using a separate DAC).  To give you some perspective, the cost of the interconnects on the rest of my system is somewhere around $2K, so spending $60 on (almost bottom rung) AudioQuest cables is nothing (although the rest of the system was purchased in better economic times, and $360 on DAC and cables is in line with my current budgetary constraints).  Anytime you introduce something new to a "permanent" system, be prepared to make some adjustments to get the best results!

post #204 of 1000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bones13 View Post

Using the Meridian with a Wireworld Ultraviolet 0.5m (~$50) cable from my MacBookPro - sounds great, No buzz.

 

I'm not sold on much differences with USB cables with the following distinctions :

 

1) A USB cable without the power wire (or disabled) (Of course that requires the DAC to have its own power input)

2) A USB cable that has separate digital and power cables (as mentioned above, with a separate power supply going to the USB plug)

3) A USB cable that separated the power and digital wires. (The flat cable that I use fits this category)

 

There are some issues with the digital signal bouncing and reflecting within the wire.  This seems to be affected by cable length, and wire shape + composition.  This is the part that the higher priced cables are hitting at.

 

I can tell a small difference with my flat cable vs the generic USB cabling.  I use the same cable for my music server > SPDIF converter.

By "flat cable" are you refering to a WireWorld product by any chance?

post #205 of 1000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Poimandres View Post

Maybe you should reread your last few posts.

I am curious if anyone has used any premium usb cables other than the ultraviolet with the Explorer. As mentioned earlier I know that there are at least 2 different schools of thought on the effect of sound quality however it appears that the build quality and ergonomics would be better.

AudioQuest Evergreen.  Definitely not premium from the standpoint of their product line, but much so in comparison with stock (junk) cables.

post #206 of 1000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chudalicious View Post

I just had to hear one of these bad boys so picked one up today at my local audio store and had a question for everyone else out there...

 

I thought it came with a protective pouch like the Dragonfly? Mine did not. Anyone get one or did I dream that one was included? Could have sworn I saw an image with one somewhere!!

The protective pouch is what an early video poster called a "polishing cloth".  It is a felt sleeve, just large enough to fit the ME and its short USB cable.


Edited by wfranklin - 2/17/13 at 5:06am
post #207 of 1000
Quote:
Originally Posted by wfranklin View Post

The protective pouch is what an early video poster called a "polishing cloth".  It is a felt sleeve, just large enough to fit the ME and its short USB cable.

Right!  Did anyone actually get one? 

post #208 of 1000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chudalicious View Post

Right!  Did anyone actually get one? 

 

Yes - as I mentioned I found mine under the main packaging and have been using it.  Did you pull apart the packaging?  There should also be a fold out user manual it may be under, can't recall.

post #209 of 1000

No manual - no pouch :( 

nothing else in the box.... Sounds great but WTF!?

 

Thanks for clarifying as I thought it felt like something was missing. Also, it was a sealed box straight from Meridian!!

post #210 of 1000
Quote:
Originally Posted by wfranklin View Post

Hey!  I take that personally!  (My hame is Franklin...)  I fixed my problem simply by improving the quality of the interconnects, something which I should have done a long time ago (to get the best result out of using a separate DAC).  To give you some perspective, the cost of the interconnects on the rest of my system is somewhere around $2K, so spending $60 on (almost bottom rung) AudioQuest cables is nothing (although the rest of the system was purchased in better economic times, and $360 on DAC and cables is in line with my current budgetary constraints).  Anytime you introduce something new to a "permanent" system, be prepared to make some adjustments to get the best results!

 

$2K worth of interconnects? Yikes! I'm not a cable believer, and this isn't the thread for discussing them. Besides, debating the merits of pricey interconnects (or the lack thereof) is like debating religion. There's really no point IMO. biggrin.gif I will say that I don't think I should have to shell out good money for an expensive USB cable to (possibly) make up for shortcomings in a devices design. I'm not saying that the Explorer necessarily has a design issue since I'm not qualified to make that kind of judgment. I will say that on my unit, if it IS a cable issue, the USB cable they ship with the DAC is noisy as hell. That's not good. And let me repeat that no other USB DAC I've had in my system over the past 6 months (ODAC, rDAC, Bifrost, Pan Am, M-Stage) has had noise issues. Not a single one. That tells me the problem is with the Explorer, not my cables or the cleanliness of my computer's USB power.

 

I also wanted to reiterate that the noise I'm hearing is only apparent on the Meridian's line out. It's built-in headphone amp is dead quiet.


Edited by swmtnbiker - 2/17/13 at 9:08am
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