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Meridian Explorer DAC/Amp Stream of Consciousness Review (WARNING: Not Good)

Discussion in 'Portable Headphone Amps' started by purrin, Feb 25, 2013.
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  1. feverfive

    Ohhh right!!  :smacks self on head:  I had convinced myself there was an optical-only out in addition to the HP out..  I know, that makes no sense; have no idea why I had myself convinced of that.  Still, I really didn't wanna have to use an amp for using this w/ IEMs.  My bad.  I did a poor job of understanding this product.  Not all of us want portable gear for use w/ full-size HPs.  It seems that so much portable stuff is geared towards full-size cans.  I need to be more discriminating; been out of the game too long.
  2. arnaud Contributor
    This 50Ohms Zout feels like a cold shower... I did not want to believe Purrin (I felt it was a bit of an agressive anti-hype campaign, maybe giving one's chance to be in the spotlight :wink: ), but with Tyll confirming it, the chances that you both received a dud are rather slim.
    We're definitely exploring new territories on this one :wink:.
  3. warrenpchi Administrator
    I wanted to jump in here and second this.
    Purrin said he doesn't like it, and he even explained why he doesn't like it.  I don't see what's wrong with that.  Even if he had no data to back up his statements, it would still be a perfectly valid opinion, and I just don't understand why his review should be considered any kind of anti-hype based on negativity alone.  And so what if he was just hatin', why can't he?  If he hates it, he hates it.  Since when is that a crime?
    Must impressions be positive in order to be valid?
    For the record, I disagree with purrin's opinion to a limited extent.  I had a chance to audition the Explorer at the SF meet (a.k.a. CHANG-fest) a little over a week ago.  From lossless files via a Macbook Air > Meridian Explorer > Mad Dog w/Alpha Pads, I enjoyed that listen immensely.  Does his review invalidate my experience?  No.  Does my experience discredit his opinion?  Of course not.  In fact, taking into account that everything else in the signal path was different, I don't even see how his experience and my experience can be reasonably compared.
    Sorry, I'm rambling a bit here.
    My point is that there's no reason why this ever needs to get personal.  Disagree with purrin?  Fine.  Feel like saying so?  Fine.  Saying that he (as a person) should "get out and see the world! Or just stick to reviewing fridges and micro waves" because he really doesn't like a particular piece of gear?  C'mon, really?  I mean, really?
  4. Aerocraft67
    Obviously that dude never tried to write a good household appliance review. Takes more talent than you think.
    It's a stretch, but most enthusiasts would never seriously consider Explorer or any other portable job as their primary amp, and as a secondary/portable amp, even with the output Z, it is quite serviceable, beyond the most conflicting headphones, and even those render a "polite" sound. And it may reign champ of its class as a DAC. Even Connaker makes clear that Dragonfly is the better dedicated portable DAC/amp in his otherwise glowing Explorer review.
  5. Currawong Contributor
    I think it is because they didn't consult Head-Fi (that is, the community). Compare that to, say, Woo Audio, which is heavily involved here. The WA7 on my desk drives pretty much everything competently with a dead silent background and Centrance which is heavily involved in getting feedback from members for the M8 (though that tends to result in gear with everything and the kitchen sink included).  Maybe Meridian's market is more people who will use it as a DAC most of the time. 
    Nope. Even if they were a sponsor, it wouldn't be a problem (though obviously they wouldn't like it). 
  6. LCfiner
    I got one of these coming my way from the FS forum. I plan on using it as a DAC (assuming it comes close to the W4S DAC1. doesn't need mathc it but it needs to be close.) and not a headphone amp
    I'm hoping I can use line out to my headphone amp and control volume from the amp for my headphones. But then use the headphone out from the Explorer and hook it up to my active desktop speakers (high input impedence). then I can use my computer's system volume controls for quick access to volume changes and independent mute control for the speakers.
  7. dBel84
    I don't often post but thought this should be clarified as people might judge perfectly good products out there based on load resistor values. BJT output devices frequently do need some sort of load resistor to prevent thermal runaway / oscillation ( MOSFET devices are much less prone ). It is important to realise that this load resistor does not determine output impedance of the amp , there are many more factors in the amp design that determine this and there is thus no direct way to measure the impedance , it generally has to be calculated from a potential across an applied load - read Tyll's affirmation of the output impedance and his comment will make sense with this in mind. I would agree that most amps would be perfectly fine with a resistor below 10 ohms and my personal preferences with playing with these designs is the lower the better but that has more to do with suppressing harmonics than load impedance. 
    It is good to see people with the conviction of their impressions go against the grain and challenge group thought for the greater good of the community. 
    Currawong and shadow419 like this.
  8. crooner
    I read all the glowing reviews and have been seriously considering getting this. I already own a Dragonfly. I use these devices  not only to drive headphones but as regular DACs going into my conventional hi-fi system.
    Now, I am getting second thoughts....

    Listened to my system fed by the Dragonfly today and quite frankly could not find any serious flaws with the sound. It actually sounded very nice.
    Perhaps I should spend my $$$ somewhere else.
    I must admit the Meridian looks great and appears to be made well....
  9. kramer5150
    So how is it as a DAC?... (Hows the line out feeding a dedicated amp?)
  10. lithium1085
    This thread has been very interesting indeed.....It appears meridian's engineers did not think out their headphone amp well enough
  11. azureaura
    I might ask for this for my 33rd bday. Can I use the lineout socket to drive a headphone amp for desktop use? Would it need a 3.5mm to single ended adaptor? What brand does one of suitable quality? The rationale behind this is to bypass the headphone output, and purchase an amp with a 6.3mm socket to plug full size headphones straight in.
    Finally, can someone specify the limitation of using this though Sound Recorder Pro with a USB OTG?
    The dac has received a bollocking, though it does look superior to the dragonfly by the response.
  12. vikingboy
    Yes, you can use the lineout of the ME to drive a dedicated headphone amplifier. I actually just tried that exact thing this afternoon with my Headamp Pico amp using a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable.
    I preferred the sound headphone output of the Explorer, even with its technically inferior output stage vs the lineout into the Pico amp.
  13. LCfiner
    So I got one of these form another member here in the forums. 
    I think, as a DAC, it's really good. It compared pretty well to my W4S DAC1.
    But I tried my Heir 4.ai thru both my Amphora (being fed by the explorer dac) and the explorer headphone out and, yeah, the sound from the explorer was a little congested and seemed to have a darker sound while also having less bass kick. Not impressive.
    Now, I bought it to use solely as a DAC and not a headphone amplifier so I'm not regretting the purchase at all. But if someone is looking for a double duty, portable DAC/amp, I think they'd be better off with a DACport or Dragonfly.
  14. purrin
    Mods, please lock this thread. Bah, too many questions still.
    Looks like Meridian fixed the output Z issue: http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/meridian-explorer-case-study-effects-output-impedance
  15. lithium1085
    Great to hear this.....we would expect nothing less from a company like meridian and I believe they have you to thank for promptly highlighting it. Do you believe an output impedance of 5 is good enough for IEMs?
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