Meridian Explorer² Impressions Thread
Mar 23, 2015 at 4:13 AM Post #198 of 1,003
  Hi there could you please let me know what Y cable and battery you are using in this setup?

What are you referring to and trying to do with this Y cable?
Mar 24, 2015 at 6:11 PM Post #202 of 1,003
Thanks for the responses. No need to get a heatsink then lol.
I found this adapter on Amazon and based on reviews it looks like it works just like a Y cable. Micro USB OTG (male, host) -  USB (female) - Micro USB (male, can power the side female USB but not the host). My E2 will arrive by Friday and I am about to buy this adapter. On the go I'll have the E2 attached and powered by Note 4. Otherwise I can hook in a charger or external battery to power the E2. I need some clarifications though just to be sure.
1) Will the USB amp/dac drain power from both the phone and external batter and is this safe? I've read some posts saying something about putting a tape on the power pin.
2) As long as the power source is 5V, the amperage won't matter since the E2 will just take what it needs?
EDIT: I just checked my adapter and it says 9V or 5V output. I probably shouldn't use it since the 9V will kill the E2. 
Mar 27, 2015 at 3:09 AM Post #203 of 1,003
My Meridian Explorer 2 arrived today. The double sealed packaging was very reassuring that I'm getting a brand new item. I will be using it with Denon D600.
I was initially choosing between Audioquest Dragonfly, Explorer 1, Explorer 2, and Oppo HA-2. I had the chance to try the HA-2 and nearly bought it, but I found an E2 for $100 cheaper through eBay (both are $300 MSRP). I intend to use it 85% at home, 10% on a laptop, and 5% with my phone so I the E2 seems to be a better fit. However, I will instead go with the HA-2 if I had to pay the same price or would listen on my phone more often.
After installing the drivers, I compared the E2's sound quality to my old Astro Mixamp that I use for gaming. I was at first very disappointed because there was not much difference. Then I realized I had the wrong settings and was using 16 bit 44.1k Hz for files that were higher than that. The sound difference became more obvious as the files got better. Furthermore, someone pointed me out about using Foobar and WASAPI settings to get the most out of the E2. 
I generally don't like listening to loud music, but with the E2 I'm able to do that without getting a headache or some sort of listening fatigue. The overall sound felt smoother to my ears. Replaying the same songs I've known for years made me wow. The bass kicks deeper and fuller. The guitar strings... I can't quite explain it, but they sound a bit different in a good way. The cymbals and even the drum sticks sounded more real. I switched genre away from alternative rock to hear other instruments. I listened to Yiruma and the piano sounded so wonderful! 
As for gaming, I now have retired my Astro Mixamp. My in-game sounds also get an upgrade from the E2. Changing to high audio settings with my Mixamp caused some sounds to disappear and become a bit distorted, but the E2 is able to process them properly. I didn't notice any change on directionality as I can still hear where the sounds are coming from -- especially important for first-person shooters.

UPDATE: My mobile review has been added on a separate post below.

EDIT: Updated review. Impressions after at least 50+ hours listening to it.

Mar 27, 2015 at 5:58 AM Post #204 of 1,003
I'm glad you like it. I do too...
But if you have some time, I would still suggest doing a little listening at the 44.1/48kHz sample rate. By inputting the higher rate data into the Meridian, you're bypassing the Meridian processing. For some RedBook CD material, I have enjoyed the 44.1kHz rate for sound that wasn't particularly well recorded. And I definitely like 48kHz for streaming videos such as YouTube. The Meridian processing really takes things that aren't that listenable into a new category of sound that I find to be quite alright.
But for the best recorded music, definitely rock out, as you're doing, at the full 24-bit resolution and high sample rates. Enjoy!
Mar 28, 2015 at 2:38 PM Post #207 of 1,003
Just got the Meridian Explorer2.  Great pairing with the Oppo PM-3 (sonically and visually).  The Explorer2 is definitely an improvement over the first version, even without burn-in.  The bass is deeper, tighter, and faster, and the whole presentation has more air.  Definitely more than sufficient power to drive the PM-3.
Mar 28, 2015 at 4:43 PM Post #208 of 1,003
  Just got the Meridian Explorer2.  Great pairing with the Oppo PM-3 (sonically and visually).  The Explorer2 is definitely an improvement over the first version, even without burn-in.  The bass is deeper, tighter, and faster, and the whole presentation has more air.  Definitely more than sufficient power to drive the PM-3.

Have you tried using it on your phone? How's the volume level on yours? I'm testing me E2 right now with my Denon D600 and the max volume on my Note 4 is just enough, but would be great if I can take it up a level or two more. 
Mar 28, 2015 at 5:39 PM Post #209 of 1,003
I don't either the PM-3 or Explorer2 with a phone.  The E2 wasn't designed for use with a phone, even if you can kludge together something that works.  Obviously, some people have.  The Oppo HA-2 would be a far more flexible option for use with a phone or a portable player, which is what it was designed for.
Mar 28, 2015 at 7:45 PM Post #210 of 1,003
Part 2 of my review. Using Explorer 2 on a phone.
I am using a Galaxy Note 4 (5.0.1) with Denon D600 (25 ohm + short cable) and Klipsch X10. This Y adapter from Amazon allows me to connect an external USB battery to power the E2. My phone can also power the E2 fine by itself. 
Both my headphones and earphones are very easy to drive. My max listening volume using the phone alone would be around 9 to 11 out of 15. With the E2 attached, however, I find myself using the max 15/15 volume and still wanting a bit more. The volume is perfect at a quiet place, but it's simply not enough while on a moving train or car.
Tidal / Spotify / Music Player 
3 lights on. Noticeable improvement using the E2 vs stock audio output. Listening to Tidal HiFi on my desktop sounds better with 44.1khz and 16 bit setting (1 light) than on my phone. All the settings are the same. 

USB Audio Player Pro (free trial)
1 light on. Best quality using lossless files. The Audio Player Pro is like the Foobar for Android -- it allows the E2 to do all the processing. 
With vs without an external battery
Biggest surprise of the day. I was mostly testing without the external battery because I can't imagine fitting in my phone + E2 + external battery in any of my pockets. After my testing, I set up my gear back to my desktop. I outright preferred the sound on it than on my phone despite using Foobar on desktop and APP on phone. Only the E2 should be processing the music in either set-up and shouldn't sound different. I went back to my phone and plugged it with an external battery, but from the 1A port instead of the 0.5A. The sound difference is not as obvious say from mp3 to a lossless file, but I feel that it's there notably on the bass. 
Oppo HA-2 vs Meridian Explorer 2
The HA-2 is an amazing product with solid build quality, powerful amp, built-in batteries, bass boost, volume control, and low/high impedance option. The E2 is a smaller and lighter, but lacks those features. The E2 is portable in a sense that it's easy to carry. However, when it comes to pairing it with the phone, I would vote the HA-2 over the E2. The lack of volume plus the need of an external battery to make the most out of it is the E2's biggest downside. The HA-2 has no problem driving high impedance headphones including the HD650. Of course the E2 was never meant to be a phone amp/dac. Luckily I knew well that I will be using it with a computer, so it's not that great of a deal breaker for me. However, people looking to pair something with their phone should get the HA-2 instead.
UPDATE 4/20: 
Included review using Tidal. 
Volume level against loud background noise (train and car).
Short burst of static sound.
I compared the different set-ups by listening to parts of different music. Now that I've used the E2 for the whole duration of the tracks, this very short static-y sound occurs once in a while (~.25 sec bzzt). I turned on airplane mode, switched wi-fi off, tried different music players and volume levels, plugged the external battery in/out... It still happens randomly. I'll try a different phone and see how it goes. 
UPDATE 4/28:
I used the E2 on a different Android phone and no problem. 

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