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Meridian Explorer² Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by click, Dec 22, 2014.
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  1. dabotsonline
    150€ is an incredible price for the Explorer2 - where is this from? Thanks.
  2. dabotsonline
    Who owns a Meridian Explorer2 running firmware v1717, normal MQA a.k.a. MQA Authentic (green light) and MQA Studio (blue light) files ( http://docs.7digital.com ) and a Lightning-based Apple device (rather than an HTC or other Android phone) and can test compatibility with no power bank, power bank with 5W (5V @ 1A) input and/or output and/or pass-through / simultaneous charge and discharge support, power bank with 10W (5V @ 2A) input and/or output and/or pass-through / simultaneous charge and discharge support?
    This would be a slightly more elegant solution than the $2.99 USD Goodtrade8 B01CTZDSTI / GOTD Micro USB Host OTG Cable with Micro USB Power.

    According to @RicardoD , it seems that, even though 'Compatibility' is only listed for iPads, the new 'Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter' (MK0W2AM/A in US, MK0W2ZM/A in UK and Europe... ) will work on portable iOS devices as well:
    "The Apple USB3 Camera adapter does work with iPhone and iPod.  First, update your device to iOS 9.3.   I  have this working with my Modi 2 and Magni 2 setup and an iPod touch."
    "You plug your Lightning charger into one port and then use a USB cable in the other to feed your DAC."
    "It's the latest generation iPod Touch w/128MB of memory.  Also works with my iPhone 6s."
    "I have a 10W iPad charger plugged into the Apple USB3 camera adapter and my iPod/iPhone is charging when docked."
    "Here is the photo of my setup that is working.  Keeps my iPod Touch charging while outputting USB audio to the DAC."
    (via http://www.head-fi.org/content/type/61/id/1595548/ )
    (via http://www.head-fi.org/content/type/61/id/1595549/ )
    @hearo is also using it with input power, although he/she has an iPad:
    "Yes, I am using power with my iPad USB power adapter plugged into the new CCK via the Apple USB to lightning cable."
    "I got my Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter today. I tried it with my Light Harmonic GeekOut V2. it seems to be problematic if I remove or try to change headphones from the V2 directly. i.e. it only works this way if I plug in the V2 to the new Camera Connector Kit with headphones already plugged into the V2 (a no-no according to the V2 manual). Seems like the new CCK prefers a consistent amount of electrical resistance.
    Currently using it like so...
    [Tidal app on iPad] --> [USB3 CCK] --> [GO V2 USB DAC] --> [O2 amp] --> [various headphones]
    Btw... No interruptions using either the low or high gain settings on the V2."
  3. Buellerich
    Good evening,
    I have the Explorer2 also. In my setup it is momentarily used as DAC and amp, firing a pair of Sennheiser 575. The cans are definitely not high end gear but have a fairly balanced and neutral sound. They are rated with 120 Ohms. From the power side the Explorer2 is fed by an Aqvox External Power Unit.
    All in all, I can say that the achievable sound is great as far as mid range and treble is concerned. In terms of bass rendering however the Explorer2 appears to be somewhat lean. I have made comparisons by feeding the same pair of cans with the headphone amp of a vintage Denon DCD 1400 CD player. Additionally I used a cheap Phillips CD/DVD player, being connected to a Sony intergrated amp, using Direct Sound and it's headphone socket. In both cases bass was more pronounced than with the Explorer2.
    Due to its low source impedence I do not expect a distorted frequency response behaviour of the heaphones. Additionally, the SPL, which I can reach with the Explorer2 is more than sufficient.
    So, my question is: Is the lack of bass part of the Explorer's sound signature? Or is there a chance of problems fading when using a sensitive pair of cans with low impedence?
    I know that some users here have reported about very good results when pairing the Explorer2 with a Grados.
    User Sheldaze for example has reported about very good results.
    My question is if these results (with the fitting Grados) could even be bettered by employing an external headphone amp for the Explorer2.
    An other question is referring to a comparison between Explorer2 and Director as DAC. Sheldaze has stated that the Director was the better DAC. Maybe there is achance to specify that? In which respect was the Director better ?
    best regards
  4. sheldaze
    Welcome to Head-Fi @Buellerich!
    If you need more background on Explorer 2, you can also look at the older Explorer version 1 threads. I think there is some common feedback to both products, being mainly - the DAC portion is fantastic - the amplifier portion is not that strong. So as you suggest, using the Explorer 2 only for its DAC is quite a good plan, and finding a headphone amplifier more suitable for your current and any future planned headphones will definitely give you more bass quantity and quality.
    Comparing the Explorer 2 and the Director is more subtle. I found the differences obvious only when listening to stereo speakers. Simply stated, there was not a lot of detail from the Explorer, which made depth and other stereo artifacts less present. It really sounded cheap and not that HiFi on my speaker system - not an issue when listening to headphones, where I found the differences between the Explorer 2 and Director less obvious. On headphones, it was simply more detail, and perhaps a little more dynamics too, on the Director.
  5. Buellerich
    Hi Sheldaze,
    thanks a lot for your reply.
    According to what I have been reading here my theory was that with an appropriate pair of cans the flaws of the Explorer's amp could be somehow outweighed. 
    I am kind of "shocked" about your report regarding Explorer2 and speakers. Have you connected Explorer and Director with a pair of active speakers or did you walk the way via an integrated amp ?
    Do you really think that two units with almost identical headphone sound can differ on speakers so much?
    However the fact that you heard more detail from the Director could be due to a better analogue output stage.
    Maybe there is a chance to order a Director and to accomplish A/B comparisons with two PC's and the DAC's connected to the same headphone amp...
    best regards
  6. sheldaze
    Speakers were setup: pre-amp, amplifier, speakers
    No active speakers - pre-amp and amplifier combined cost (no longer using) were over $5K. It is a system I rather liked and have been trying to tweak for a number of years. I was very happy to hear technology changes in recent years and recent DACs, at reasonable prices. I truly was happy with the Director at the helm of this system. I had both the Explorer and Explorer 2 and tried them at the helm - I just did not like these. Doesn't bother me either that a $150 - $300 DAC/AMP did not sound that great when put in front of relatively high cost speaker equipment.
    I hope this makes more sense, in that I wasn't using a smaller, simpler audio system [​IMG]
    I'm actually going to a meet this weekend where someone is likely bringing a Director. However the issue there is how to feed both the same sound. I forget what headphone amplifier I was using when I compared the Director to the Explorer/Explorer 2. At least then I was at home, under controlled conditions, and had a PC to drive both. I would be interested to hear it again with a newer better headphone and amplifier setup. I could certainly feed the Director with digital (Toslink/COAX) but have no way to also drive Explorer 2. I think I'll just have to let it be for now...
    I do agree with you, that as you suggest there are many easy to drive, low impedance headphones that would sound good directly from the Explorer 2. I would guess though, not having tried these, most portable headphones should do. But you'll have to try for yourself or ask other people who have tried portable headphones. My only portables, Audeze EL-8C, are not quite as easy to drive as one might think. They sound better from a Ragnarok than they do from "portable" gear.
    Best of luck!
  7. Buellerich
    Hi Sheldaze,
    for me it really matters what you have written about connecting the Explorer to a competent Audio Chain ending up in speakers. I primarily listen to headphones but on the other hand I certainly do expect, that a good DAC is working properly in a conventional setup (with speakers) also.!! In so far your statements regarding that point are of primary importance for me. Even from a theoretical standpoint it is very interesting if a source, which sounds good when monitored via headphones can "completely fail" when heard via speakers. Is the fact that a source sounds good via headphones a sufficient criteria that it will hold up it's quality when paired with speakers or vice versa?
    I started off with Computer Audio about one year ago. The Explorer 1 was replaced by the Explorer 2 , which also to my ears brought real, audible improvements. Until now I have exclusively used the Explorer as both, DAC and Amp whereby I had obviously overestimated the necessity to have a mobile solution, since until now, I have exclusively used it at home. So, the plan is to integrate it sooner or later into a conventional hifi system (Receiver and speakers) as substitution for a CD Player. If it turns out to be a "pure headphone dac" however, I had better invest in a Director, maybe, or remain with a conventional CD Player.... 
    So, by bringing speakers into the game, things are getting more universal and complicated at the same time.
    The A/B comparison you mentioned will have to be evaluated with caution. When feeding the Director's SPDIF, the unit is powered by External Power, which might bring about an advantage over the Explorer at least as long it is purely USB powered. On the other hand the SPDIF signal into the Director is not reclocked by the Director, which - by the way - might be it's weak point.
    In my opinion, a real A/B can only be done, by connecting the two units individually to their respective PC's, using the same software and playing the same track simultaneously, whilst having both units connected to the same headphone amp and being able to switch between sources.......a quite complicated procedure.
    Good night and best regards

  8. oceandream1
    hello all, i am torn between e2 and iFi Audio Nano iDSD USB DAC. have anyone used both, offer a comparison. i have phillips x2 and will be playing through my laptop mainly. thanks
  9. masterpfa
    I have not used either but have you considered the Chord Mojo to add to this list?
  10. oceandream1
    hi its out of my budget
  11. masterpfa
    There is always that
    Hopefully someone here can answer your question sometime soon.
  12. oceandream1
    so guys, i just got this today and been listening to it for about an hour or so. my background is i have been listening to music for about 15 years but i would not call myself an audiophile and do not own any fancy gear. this is my first dac/amp purchase. 
    my personal experience is as follows:
    the biggest plus is music did sound a bit clearer too me? like i can hear all the little things that are going on in the music. other then that i have nothing else to report. for the asking price of 200 pounds (more expensive then my x2 phillips headphones) i was expecting to be blown away. however, in all honesty, i was quite under whelmed. 
    is it slight improvement on the onboard laptop sound. yes a little. but is it 200 pound worth of improvement. not at all. i am not a technical person but i am quite certain products in half the price will do the same job as this one. so thats my subjective opinion. again i am not a technical person so just my thoughts. 
    i would say look elsewhere if you are considering this i think it is highly likely you can get better bang for your buck. i am pretty sure i would be sending this back. 
  13. GreenBow
    I was not convinced by the ME 1 when I bought it. However after a good running-in it was much better.
  14. mordicai

    I thought the MEv 2 was a fabulous DAC. A upgrade from my Emotive DAC 1. And then of course it has MQA, which just blew me away. I didn't keep it because a didn't care for the treble extension that much. The reviewer states that he doesn't have any fancy equipment, and there in, is the rub.  Nothing is going to sound that great if other parts of your system are not up to snuff.
  15. oceandream1
    hi as i understand the purpose of this particular item is to offer an upgrade to the sound on onboard pc when you use it with a variety of heaphones. my headphones are not ridcilousy expensive but they are not cheap and well respected in this price range. 
    so owning fancy gear is not a prerequisite here. my point is the effect achieved by this item could be achieved by products at half the price with same degree of efficiency. this is my 2 cents and intuition but could be completely wrong as i am not an expert in this field. 
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