I've been listening with the Explorer for much of today: Explorer (DAC) --> Objective 2 --> HE-400. The sound and synergy in this little rig is terrific. I'm excited to see what the (revised) Meridian Explorer's headphone out will bring as far as performance. I think someone mentioned the volume increase should be smoother in the revision (not confirmed by Meridian). I typically prefer to have my DACs as uncolored as possible.. but the ME's DAC is colored in quite an 'artful' manner.. and the sound isn't saturated so much as to fatigue or annoy during long term listening. Evaluating the Explorer as a (non-neutral) DAC (and USB-to-optical converter), this little device is a winner in my book.
I've tried a few DACs and DAC/amps that use the same all-in-one BB DA chip and that is a very good description of how they sound.