Hi, I got mine Meridian Explorer today. Maybe it's not my lucky day today because I have bad feelings about it.
Tried the headphone out and it does sound a little off compared to my ODAC/O2. Balance is a little strange - I hear a lot of bass, which you would think is ok (though not as tight as I like it), but it is almost overkill on very bassy headphones. The bass overpowers everything imo. Mids seems more forward. There is treble but it is very slightly withdrawn. Overall balance seems kind of off (at least compared to my ODAC/O2).
Ok so I know of the somewhat high output impedance and wanted to try the line out feeding my O2 amp. This was the main reason I bought it. Now it seems more balanced but on occasion I hear distortion. I try to figure out why I hear this. Tried different USB cables from my Lenovo T61 but no change. Tried unplugging power cable to laptop (running on battery) but still something is a little off.
So I thought maybe this is so superdetailed that Spotify Premium (320 kbit OGG) isn't good enough of a source. Tried different kind of FLAC:s 24bit/16bit 44.1/96/192kHz, but still I sense that something is a little off. This testing was made with my Hifiman RE-ZERO and Hifiman RE-400 IEM. So I switched to my Mad Dog. Seems like it got better as time went by, maybe it needs to heat up or something, but still I sense that the bass is really loud that it distorts on very bassy songs like Massive Attack - Protection.
Maybe the O2 isn't a good match coupled with the ME? I don't know but I haven't had any problems previously with my Dacport LX, Dragonfly running of the same USB-port coupled with O2.
Also I don't like the USB-input on the ME - why is it upside down (well at least comparing to my other portable DAC/AMPs)
I hope that it gets better with time, burn in or something. Otherwise I like it - it is very detailed (but still prefer ODAC/O2 a little more imo)
I hoped the distortion would dissapear but it didn't. Somehow it is only present for me when I use line out on the ME. When using the headphone output I didn't hear the distortion at all. I can only hear distortion when playing music with lots of bass that's why I was only hearing it on some occansions earlier. I have followed installation procedure for a PC (ME website). I use Windows 7 x64. Checked the installation folder (Program Files\Meridian Audio Ltd\USB2_audio_driver_v2-1) and I can see several filenames containing 'x64' so it should be the correct drivers that has been installed.
I don't have many external amps at hand. Tried my old Fiio E11 and somehow there was no distortion so I guess line out on the ME must be functioning ok after all. Maybe there is something faulty with my input on my O2 amp? Tried coupling it with my Dragonfly and heard no distortion at all, working ok. So I have some issue with the ME line out connected to O2 amp input. Can't figure out what the problem is. Tried different USB-ports no change. I use EHP-O2D, will be getting a standalone O2 amp (EHP-O2) soon. Hope there is some difference.
Note. Something I noticed that you should be aware of when switching between headphone output and line out. They both should output at the same volume level all the time so if I use line out I have to set it to 100% volume, but when switching to headphone output it is still at 100%. If not turned down before using headphones well you can probably figure out what will happen.
Edited by Deni5 - 2/28/13 at 4:41pm