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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. katulu
    Well, maybe I have a good sound card, but I got a ME and did not like it at ALL, I returned it. Output from my laptop was better (Toshiba Qosmio X775).
  2. Allucid
    That's because the explorer is terrible.
    It's like a person buying SE215s when they've only tried mid-range headphones. They'll be wowed. It's the same reason Beats sell so well - people who buy Beats come from Apple earpods, which sound terrible. It's a placebo effect into tricking you to thinking you're buying the best product, when you're buying something really mid-low end. The soundcard from a 2013 MacBook is better than most sub $200 DACs, I'm not even sure if above $200 is worth it. I've tried to amp my quad armature AF180s and it muddles them up, I used a FiiO amp. The meridian is cheap junk. No manufacturer would half the price of their DAC if it was selling well.
    crooner likes this.
  3. katulu
    Well, I just went with my ears, and I liked the sound better from my card than the ME. Also made me realize, I'm getting "there" as far as satisfaction goes, I like my music the way it comes out of my setups, so maybe I'll give it a rest for a couple of years as far as gear goes (not that I have tons of stuff anyway). :)
  4. Allucid
    That's the best decision :p I have 3 pairs of IEMs, 2 pairs of headphones and honestly I don't get time to listen to all of them, and my AF180 gets the most head time, which is good since it's $550. The best type of audiophile is a content one.
    Have a good day man.
  5. crooner
    After using the Explorer for one year or so, I have to say I was underwhelmed by it. Sound quality was ok, but nothing spectacular given Meridian's reputation and the initial glowing reviews. Certainly no better than the Audioquest Dragonfly it replaced. Ultimately, the unit failed catastrophically producing a loud hum on both channels when using the fixed line out. Meridian replaced it with a new one free of charge. But at this point I was through with the Explorer and moved on to a better DAC.
    I am now using a Resonessence Labs Concero HD and the difference in sound quality is shocking. The Concero HD rocks and does DSD to boot!
    The fact that the Explorer is now half price says a lot.  Meridian's first portable DAC effort was as dog unfortunately...
  6. Gilly87
    The new earpods actually sound way better than Beats in-ears.
    Also the SE215 are solid earphones, don't hate...
  7. Allucid
    I know, I had the SE215ltd. I'm not hating, just that I took the step up to quad armatures and it makes the SE215s sound so bad.
  8. Gilly87
    Maybe the LTD is too bassy; the standard is borderline between something like the GR07 and crazy overblown bass like Beats or Sony XB IEMs. I'll grant that it is probably too lush for some tastes, but they're hard to beat in that price range on sound alone, nevermind that their durability and ergonomics outstrip most $300+ universals by a fair margin. I'd say they are overall a bigger upgrade to stock buds/ibeats/earpods than those in the aforementioned price bracket are to the SE215 in terms of detail and overall realism, so your comparison makes me leery. I've had JH13, SM3, FA-4E, TF10, UM3X, W3, SM2, and others, and the 215 (standard version) is still my every day IEM.
    I suppose what I'm getting at is that you generally have to spend more to upgrade your source quality noticeably than you do with phones, so it just seems like an iffy analogy.
  9. nippon
    i bought the M. Explorer for 150$ and made a A/B comparison with the HRT Music Streamer II i own. The Line-out sound is very close to the Music Streamer. In my opinion the Music Streamer is a little bit more forgiving and brings less details to the ears. That is as a matter of facts sometimes better, for example with bad or old recordings. State of the art albums of today sound terrific when played by the Explorer.
    But after nearly one week of A/B testing, i would underline my statement, that both are on an equal level of very nice <200$ DACs
    PS: I just noticed an interesting issue: @katulu : Have you used your USB 3.0 port? A few minutes ago i plugged the Meridian Explorer to my Home Cinema PC because i had not tested them together. The sound was lean, disgusting and weak. I used 3x different headphones (including my bassy DT-770) and with all -> nearly now low frequencies. Then i simply changed to a front USB 2.0 port: BOOM again a nice and warm sound, like the one i was hearing the last 6 days with my laptop (that has only USB 2.0 ports).
    Is there a issue with USB 2.0 audio drivers when used with a 3.0 port? Would be interessting to make measurements with both modes. That also would explain some negative voices in the thread.

  10. Allucid
    Best source I've used is the AK240. Had the chance to get an extended listen to AK100. Currently using the fiio X1 tour model, planning to buy an AK soon.
    I agree that the bass is good on the 215 blue, as well as guitars. It's an IEM I could happily keep and use, but I prefer clarity over anything else.
  11. Gilly87
    See that's what I mean! For DAPs you got from $100 to $1000 in a single upgrade, and if you're looking at home audio, you can get into the tens of thousands easily. So insane. At least there is real mid-fi with phones o.O
  12. Allucid
    I agree that I could've happily stayed at the 215ltd, but I wanted more clarity. I don't see the point on spending $600 on an A&K, because after a month the hype will wear off and it'll be the normal sound to listen to, just like it did with my AF180s. Problem with headphones is you need more than one setup to appreciate them, going to use these setups -

    iPhone -> AF180

    FiiO X1 -> FiiO E17 -> AF180

    FiiO X5 -> E12 -> V-MODA XS / M-100

    I think this way I'll get more out of my headphones instead of listening to the same thing all the time. That's why I like dynamic drivers; the sound changes slightly from song to song, and some songs sing like nothing else.
  13. Gilly87
    I also find DDs to be adaptive; the GR07 can sound awesome with literally anything, but even though my FA-4E XB and SM3 are more detailed and do a lot of things better than GR07, sometimes they just sound wrong.
  14. JiggaD369

    Did you try the ME with the XBA40? I'm in search for a good DAC/amp combo for them but their low sensitivity is making it impossible.
  15. lamode
    Well said!
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