A pocket-sized DAC with a big sonic punch
Meridian Explorer DAC connected to a laptop computer
No matter what music sources you listen to on your computer — iTunes®, Spotify®, YouTube®, or downloaded high-res audio files — the Meridian Explorer DAC can make them all sound their best. Simply plug it into an open USB port and the Explorer takes the place of the sound processor inside your PC, delivering your tunes with greater precision and accuracy. You'll hear rich, involving sound with taut, tuneful bass and smooth, silky highs. Use the Explorer's built-in headphone amp to drive your headphones to satisfying levels without distortion, or connect the DAC's line-level outputs to your hi-fi system to enjoy music through your best speakers.
Crafted with care for better sound
Renowned for their state-of-the-art audio and video components, Meridian builds each Explorer by hand in Britain to the same exacting standards as all of their high-end products. Its elegant, anodized aluminum case comes packed with the highest quality components, including audiophile-grade capacitors and resistors, to extract better sound from your computer music sources.
Hear the asynchronous USB difference
Standard USB outputs from most computers pose a serious limitation to sound quality. That's because while you're trying to listen to music, your PC is busy performing virus scans, data backup, and other background tasks that may take priority over your tunes, causing it to alter the data rate to suit its own needs. Unfortunately, this situation results in timing errors within the digital data stream — known as "jitter" — that adversely affect sound quality. Jitter can make your music sound harsh and edgy, and smear subtle details.
The Explorer solves this problem by reaching out to your computer through the USB interface, and instructing it to relinquish control of the data stream timing. In its place, this advanced DAC inserts its own separate, or asynchronous, clock to precisely control the timing of the data rate, reducing jitter to the vanishing point. You'll experience a major improvement in low-level ambient detail along with a wider, deeper soundstage.
"High-end sonics? Heck, yeah. Tonally the Explorer supplies smooth touches of analog-like warmth and fluidity. Just as impressive was the lack of soundstage constriction. ...the Explorer conveyed the wide expanse of the orchestra with a rewarding sense of depth and air between the instruments, and an impressive ambient bloom that opened up the ceiling of the venue rather than holding it down. The music was spacious, detailed, and transparent, inviting comparisons to the more expensive DAC's I've been listening to as of late. Highly recommended."
— From Neil Gader's review in The Absolute Sound, July/August, 2013
Enjoy high-resolution audio
Along with all the sonic benefits the Explorer provides for your compressed and CD-quality music files, it also has another trick up its sleeve — it decodes high-resolution data streams of up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution, so you can enjoy better-than-CD audio quality. (Free USB driver download required for Windows® PCs.) If you download high-res music files from HDtracks and other audiophile sources, this DAC ensures that you'll hear them in all their glory.
The Explorer offers line-level, mini optical digital, and headphone outputs.
Connections and controls
The Explorer's mini Type B USB input and included adapter cable are ready to take on your computer's USB music sources. A 3.5mm hybrid jack provides line-level output that can feed an analog audio signal to a pair of powered speakers or your home hi-fi system using an optional stereo mini-to-mini cable or mini-to-RCA adapter, as well as S/PDIF mini optical output for connecting another processor or digital recorder.
A second minijack output is connected to the Explorer's built-in headphone amp. Its variable output is controlled via your computer screen, allowing you to adjust the volume of your headphones. And even though you access it digitally, Meridian actually gave the Explorer a high-resolution analog volume control to avoid the reduction in resolution and sound quality that plagues many digital volume controls.