Meridian introduces £250 Explorer USB DAC & headphone amp

Now here's a first – a Meridian product for £250.

The Meridian Explorer is a pocket-sized USB DAC designed to improve the sound of the music from your Mac, Windows or Linux computer.

Given the popularity of similar devices such as the Award-winning Audioquest DragonFly, it's no surprise that Meridian wants a slice of this expanding market.

The Explorer replaces a computer's soundcard with a USB-powered DAC featuring Meridian's 'resolution enhancement technologies', which it claims will reproduce everything from MP3 to high-resolution audio files at their best.

It's a USB audio Class 2 digital-to-analogue converter with a six-layer PC board, all-metal enclosure and high-quality filter capacitors. Each unit is assembled at Meridian's Cambridge factory.

Key technical highlights are as follows:

* 24-bit/192kHz native conversion capability

* Separate low-jitter crystal oscillators for 44k- and 48k-based sample rates

* Asynchronous data transfer

* Six-layer PCB

* USB2 mini B socket – plug and play with MAC (Windows driver available)

* Direct-coupled outputs

* Variable line out – full analogue volume control for headphones or powered loudspeakers

* Headphone amp

* Fixed line out – 3.5mm connects directly to audio system

* Optical digital output – full resolution for receivers or DACS (up to 96kHz)

* Elegant metal casework

* Lights to indicate incoming sample rate

* Soft USB cable provided for ease of placement to protect computer mother board from mechanical stress

* Hand assembled at Meridian’s UK headquarters

The really good news is that we've already got our hands on a test sample, so look out for a full review on later this week.

And in the April issue of the magazine (on sale March 8th), the Meridian Explorer will be up against its rivals in our USB DACs Supertest.

Follow on Twitter

Join us on Facebook

Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.