Originally Posted by sovereignty68
has anyone got a chance to compare ME to HiFace DAC? HiFace DAC (orange) is selling at same cost as ME.
ProgJazz Andrew on Amazon says:
"By now I have three competing compact USB DACs: AQ Dragonfly ($250), Meridian Explorer ($300), and M2Tech hiFace DAC ($300). Each is a fine product for what it is claimed to do (except for the deceiving appearance of M2Tech - see below). Sonically, Dragonfly is falling behind the rest. Of the other two, when used as a line level DAC driving a regular stereo system, the difference was like splitting hair. The following key words may give you an idea about what the differences are:
Meridian Explorer: smooth, rich, bigger sound stage, deeper bass
M2Tech hiFace: clarity, better definition, neutral, transparent
Again, these words are just relative terms between the two. It doesn't mean that the M2Tech is harsh, or the Meridian blurry. I could choose either one for the line level performance alone.
However, there is one big caveat for the M2Tech. If you're like me, by the look of the product thinking that this was made for your earphones, think again! Unlike the Dragonfly, the M2Tech does not have a built-in headphone amp, so it cannot drive usual earphones/headphones to a sufficiently loud level. It was not sufficient for my B&W C5, P3, and Sennheiser PMX-685, none of which can be considered a difficult load. After communicating with M2Tech, I learned about this and also found out that it is indeed stated in the manual. But when you buy the product, the box contains the bare unit only without any documentation! M2Tech should make this point very clear on the product front page. If the product was designed to be used as a line stage DAC for the stereo system, why does it have to be packaged in such a tiny dongle? IMO the packaging is clearly misleading and should be regarded as an ill-conceived design.
In summary, sonically it is a fine product for a line level DAC in its price range. If your main use is to drive a line level pre/integrated amp, by all means give it a try. If you intend to use it as a line level as well as for headphone listening, Meridian Explorer for the same price will give you the same level of quality (yet slightly different) sound, and it also has a separate headphone amp to drive your earphones loud. If the Meridian is still too bulky and cumbersome and you just need a cool tiny solution (with fancy color changes), the Dragonfly will drive your headphones to the maximum loudness with rich and full sound (still high quality if not as refined compared to the other two).
All things considered, the hiFace DAC serves as an example of bad engineering design, as there is no real merit for such a compact packaging unless it is capable of portable headphone listening. To be used as a line level DAC exclusively, the hiFace DAC is a competent, but not much superior, performer among its peers, at least not to the level to justify its price compared to so many other full function DACs with a dedicated power supply with more inputs, and even with a volume control (iFi, Micromega, Schiit, Musical Fidelity, etc. - this is a competitive market!)."