Our take on the Meridian Prime
Prime performance for your headphones
Headphones have become the gateway to high-end sound for many audiophiles. But along with high-performance, state-of-the-art headphones comes the need for reference-quality processing and amplification. In other words, if you love your headphones and want to hear them at their best, don't feed them junk. Instead, bring them roaring to life and savor all of their sonic goodness with the Meridian Prime. This powerful-but-compact combination headphone amplifier and digital-to-analog converter delivers accurate, focused sound, whether you're at work or doing some serious listening at home.
Top-quality performance from your USB and analog sources
The Prime handles both analog and digital music sources with the utmost care. Its low-jitter, asynchronous USB input feeds a high-quality digital-to-analog converter that decodes audio files up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution for clear, precise sound. (Free USB driver download required for Windows® PCs.) This allows the Prime to play both standard and high-resolution music sources without any loss of detail.
This amplifier also treats your analog sources right. It features both RCA and minijack inputs for connecting full-size audio components and portable music players, such as smartphones and tablets. All of the Prime's digital circuitry is powered by the USB connection and isolated from the analog stages, so when you want to enjoy your analog music sources with the utmost purity, simply disconnect the USB cable to deactivate all of the amp's digital electronics.
Three front-panel headphone output jacks give you a choice of connection options. The 3.5mm minijack output makes it easy to plug in a pair of in-ear or portable headphones. The two 1/4" full-size jacks can handle two pairs of headphones or a single pair of headphones wired with separate cables for the left and right channels. Switch on the Prime's "Analogue Spatial Processing" to enhance your headphone listening experience even further. This special feature blends and delays the right and left audio signals to help re-create a more spatial effect, much like listening to your music through a pair of speakers.
In addition to its outstanding performance with headphones, the Prime can also double as a preamp to create a simple, high-quality sound system. Just hook up your PC and another audio component or two to its USB and line-level inputs, then connect the Meridian's preamp outputs to your amplifier. A front-panel switch lets you choose between sources, while the volume control adjusts signal output to your preferred listening levels — perfect for those times when you need a break from your 'phones.
" In terms of the criteria that I listen for in any amp, transparency, noise, dynamics and the ability to get me out of my head and into the music, Prime is well, prime. All in all, a seemingly impressive effort that covers all the bases."
— From Neil Gader's review in The Absolute Sound, February, 2014
Crafted with care for better sound
Renowned for their state-of-the-art audio and video components, Meridian builds each Prime headphone amp in Britain to the same exacting standards as their all of their other high-end products. Meridian designed every aspect of this amplifier to enhance both its looks and its performance. The amp's elegant metal chassis is double-walled to shield against external interference and noise that can degrade sound quality. Virtually all of its active electronics are placed on a six-layer printed circuit board at the rear of the chassis, close to the input and output jacks, to keep audio signal paths as short as possible. The Prime also uses an external power supply to keep AC noise well away from the audio circuitry, further minimizing performance-robbing interference. The end result of all this care? Unforgettably smooth, expressive, and detailed sound that will elevate your headphone listening to a new level.
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- built-in digital-to-analog converter supports up to 24-bit resolution at 192kHz sampling rate for playback of high-res music files (free USB driver download available from Meridian Audio website)
- asynchronous USB technology for reduced timing jitter and better sound with computer audio sources
- separate crystal oscillators for 44.1kHz- and 48kHz-based sample rates offer minimal jitter and improved performance
- Meridian Resolution Enhancement technologies including upsampling and apodizing filter
- incoming LED sampling rate indicators helps verify source quality
- relay muting on power-up and power-down for thump-free operation
- premium ALPS potentiometer volume control for precise channel balance
- two-level Analogue Spatial Processing for loudspeaker-like listening on headphones (defeatable)
- sophisticated metal housing protects against signal interference
- headphone-only mode powers down preamp output for the purist possible sound
- externally powered USB input deactivates all digital electronics when disconnected for pure analog listening
- USB (mini Type B) input for connecting a computer
- 1 pair RCA line-level inputs
- 1 3.5mm stereo minijack audio input
- two full-sized (1/4") headphone outputs
- 1 stereo 3.5mm minijack headphone output
- 1 pair RCA preamp outputs for connection to an amp or powered speakers
- plug-and-play USB operation with Apple® Macintosh® computers
- Meridian USB audio driver required for Windows® computers (free download available from Meridian website)
- external AC power supply included (also compatible with Meridian's optional matching power supply)
- 6-5/16"W x 2-1/16"H x 7-1/8"D
- weight: 2 lbs.
- warranty: 2 years
- Our 60-day money-back guarantee