"Very Highly Recommended" - Stereophile
"Five Stars" - What Hi-fi? Magazine
"Excellent Value" Asynchronous USB DAC
Digital media form an increasingly popular source of entertainment with superb ease of access. Now there’s no need to compromise quality to achieve that convenience. Explorer is the size of a USB stick, yet embodies the same style and performance as any other Meridian product.
The Meridian Explorer replaces your computer’s sound card with a USB-powered DAC, featuring Meridian’s high quality audio circuitry and a design derived from Meridian’s award-winning Reference Series components. It also has a powerful headphone amplifier with on-board analog volume control. Whatever your choice of content, including iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, or a high resolution downloaded file, the Meridian Explorer makes it sound its best.
Explorer's USB connection is asynchronous, ensuring you the highest quality, low jitter results from your digital files with a maximum resolution of 24-bit/192 kHz. Windows drivers are provided. No drivers are required for Macintosh OS X or Linux.
In his September 1, 2013 review for Stereophile, Art Dudley calls the Explorer "a remarkably good addition to a burgeoning field -- and an excellent value. Very highly recommended."
Listening to the classic bluegrass album Appalachian Swing!, by the Kentucky Colonels, Dudley notes, "The Meridian was instantly impressive, with a sense of scale that was pleasantly big but still appropriate to the ensemble and their setting."
"Five Stars" from What Hi-fi? Magazine
England's What Hi-fi? magazine gave the Meridian Explorer its top rating of Five Stars in the February 2013 issue. "We’d highly recommend giving the Explorer an audition – it’s absolutely worth it."
"This kind of even-handed presentation is usually reserved for more costly components in my experience and makes the Explorer a very reasonably priced over-achiever," notes a February 2013 review at AudioStream.com.
"A Shining Example of Design Elegance"
"The Explorer is a marvel of miniaturization and a shining example of design elegance, from its clean circuit-board layout to its machined-aluminum outer shell," reports the February issue of TONEAudio magazine.
"It’s the performance we have come to expect from Meridian at an astonishing price," raves Frank Berryman in his February 11, 2013 review for UltraHighEndReview.com. "Decidedly brilliant."
"Beautiful and Satisfying"
"Meridian has outdone itself… The hat trick of external elegance, internal sophistication, and superior sonics put this product head and shoulders above the competition," says The Computer Audiophile for February 10, 2013.
"Besides noticeably improving the sound of even compressed audio, the simple, portable design is beautiful and satisfying in a way that sometimes high-fidelity audio products aren't," notes Mario Aguilar in his February 2, 2013 Gizmodo.com review.
Inside the Explorer
Audiophile music-grade electrolytic capacitors decouple the analog audio stages, significantly improving the quality. Indeed, an enormous amount of careful design work has gone into the analog circuitry of the Explorer, of which those capacitors are just a part. A significant proportion of the six-layer circuit board is given over to analog, not digital, circuitry.
Attention to Detail
Instead of plugging straight into your computer like a dongle, Explorer comes with a short USB cable. So there’s no danger of damaging the computer motherboard if you accidentally walk off with your headphones on. And instead of a plastic box, Explorer has a sturdy aluminum enclosure, reducing noise and interference as well as allowing it to withstand life on the move.
Analog Volume Control
To regulate their output level, most DACs simply alter the digital signal going into them. As a result, the audio quality drops at low volume levels. But Explorer uses an analog volume control, driven from the operating system, so you always enjoy the full digital resolution.
In addition to its headphone output, Explorer includes analog and S/PDIF digital optical outputs. Connect Explorer to your home audio system and enjoy the ultimate in replay quality from your computer. And because Explorer provides a fixed-level output, you can use your system’s volume control for the very highest quality at any listening level.
A True 'Class 2 USB' Audio Device
Explorer has extended digital bandwidth, playing audio up to 192 kHz sampling. You can plug it anywhere in your system – into a USB hub for example – as well as directly into your computer. Explorer is powered entirely from the interface with no additional power supply required. Simply plug it in to any USB port.
Explorer includes dual high-quality oscillators based on those found in Meridian’s top-of-the-line Reference Series components, so it can handle any standard sample rate up to 192 kHz with minimal jitter for improved clarity and stereo imaging.
"Very Highly Recommended"- Stereophile
"A remarkably good addition to a burgeoning field -- and an excellent value. Very highly recommended."
"The first serious listening I did with the Explorer was to the classic bluegrass album Appalachian Swing!, by the Kentucky Colonels, featuring Clarence and Roland White on guitar and mandolin, respectively (AIFF ripped from CD, Rounder SS31). The Meridian was instantly impressive, with a sense of scale that was pleasantly big but still appropriate to the ensemble and their setting. The original recording is a bit light, but the Meridian Explorer retrieved from it almost as much timbral color as one might hope for. The same was true with the weight and color of Roger Bush's double bass -- the Explorer was clear and unambiguous in portraying the pitches of individual bass notes, down to being coldly candid about Bush's dodgy intonation."
- Art Dudley, Stereophile, September 1, 2013
"Five Stars" from What Hi-fi? Magazine
"We’d highly recommend giving the Explorer an audition – it’s absolutely worth it."
- What Hi-fi? Magazine, February 2013
"The Explorer is a marvel of miniaturization and a shining example of design elegance, from its clean circuit-board layout to its machined-aluminum outer shell."
- TONEAudio magazine, February 2013
"In the grand scheme of all things digital in our world, Meridian Audio has long been at the forefront."
- HiFi+ magazine, February 2013
"This kind of even-handed presentation is usually reserved for more costly components in my experience and makes the Explorer a very reasonably priced over-achiever."
- AudioStream.com, February 2013
"Terms like all-metal enclosure, analog and hand-made may conjure up thoughts of exorbitant price tags (most often you’d be right) but Meridian proves that occasionally pigs do fly."
- Eric Yang, GearPatrol.com, February 2013
"It’s the performance we have come to expect from Meridian at an astonishing price. A visit to your Meridian dealer is in order. Decidedly brilliant."
- Frank Berryman, UltraHighEndReview.com, February 11, 2013
"Listening to the Cobb Quartet FLAC track, I heard excellent delineation of instruments in space, and there was a sense of an actual body blowing into a trumpet. Plucked strings during the guitar solo also had a rich, appealing texture. To sum up, the Explorer’s rendering of this track was nothing short of gorgeous."
- Al Griffin, Sound+Vision magazine, April 5, 2013
"Meridian has outdone itself… Functionally the Explorer does it all. A pocket-sized DAC capable of high resolution playback up through 24 bit / 192 kHz, user switchable firmware for customized feature sets, and great sound quality. The hat trick of external elegance, internal sophistication, and superior sonics put this product head and shoulders above the competition and places it on the CASH List."
- The Computer Audiophile, February 10, 2013
"Besides noticeably improving the sound of even compressed audio, the simple, portable design is beautiful and satisfying in a way that sometimes high-fidelity audio products aren't."
- Mario Aguilar, Gizmodo.com, February 2, 2013