As you put it in gear straight out the gate this small device smacks your eardrums with high quality crisp sound as if the symphony, mixing board, band or DJ was set up in your living room. The Meridian Explorer USB DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter) accompanies its great sound with an attractive sleek silver device with 3 white LED lights. I must admit I was surprised about what clean sound came out of this small USB device. First and foremost it wasn’t the smoothest transition for me to set this up because I was just looking at the DAC like what can this possibly do lol. So I plugged it into my MacBook Pro via USB cord and plugged in the Sennheiser Momentum headphones into the headphone port on the Explorer. And “Vwah-la!” an eargasmic flow of sound travels through the headphones allowing me to hear every instrument as if I had front seat at Carnegie hall.

This device enhances the quality of any sound system from a PC, laptop or anything USB compatible with high-resolution sounds of any genre of music. Whether you want to listen to your music via iTunes, Spotify®, YouTube® or a High Resolution downloaded file the Meridian Explorer DAC gives you the feel listening to a great sound to an extraordinary sound tripled over. The Explorer’s operating system drives the analogue volume control which helps incorporate the full digital resolution. meridian-04The USB cable that is accompanied with the device is short and not long like an old school telephone cord. Because it connects to your computer using the USB cable and not directly into your laptop there’s no danger of damaging the computer motherboard in case you accidentally walk off with your headphones on in which I’ve done many times. Don’t front like I’m the only one lol. Once you hear music through the Explorer you’re not going to want to listen to music in your headphones at home ever again. That is how great the sound is and puts in a place where it’s just you and the music. If you like listening to great sounding music as an escape from the everyday hustle and bustle, you need to cop the Meridian Explorer.

USB mini type B.

3.5mm combination analogue/digital jack with mini Toslink digital optical 3.5mm jack with variable-level headphone output, 130mW into 16 Ohm.

Extruded Aluminium shell with moulded plastic endcaps and rubber foot.

USB, nominal 5V at <500mA.

Three white LEDs show connected state and audio stream rate.


  • USB audio class compliant 2.0 HS 480Mb/s bandwidth.
  • Asynchronous: device is the clock source for high quality.
  • Firmware upgrade via USB.
  • Windows drivers provided, no drivers required for Macintosh OS X or Linux.
  • Analogue volume control for headphone output, controlled from PC, control law modified to match connected OS.
  • S/PDIF output downsamples 4x (192/176.4kHz) to 2x (96/88.2kHz).

What is a DAC?

For those of you unfamiliar with DAC’s or Digital to Analogue Converter they are usually found in CD players, digital music players, and PC sound cards. But specialist standalone DAC’s such as the Meridian Explorer take the digital output of a compatible CD player or dedicated transport (which is basically a CD player with no internal DAC) and convert the signal into an analog line-level output that can then be fed into an amplifier to drive speakers. Meridian Replaces your computer’s sound card so you’ll you’ll experience significantly higher sound quality.

Final Thoughts

Using the Explorer will definitely change how you listen to music. It’s convenient and portable being the size of a USB stick and also using a short USB cable instead of plugging straight into the computer like a dongle so there’s no danger of damaging the computer motherboard if you accidentally walk off with your headphones on. Instead of a plastic box, Explorer has a sturdy aluminium enclosure, reducing noise and interference as well as allowing it to withstand life on the move.

Where most DACs simply alter the digital signal going into them, so the quieter you listen, the lower the quality. Explorer uses an analogue volume control, driven from the operating system, so you always enjoy the full digital resolution. Once you experience the superb sound quality of the Explorer you will never want to listen to music without it again.

You can place an order for one today on the Meridian Audio site list price is $299. A very worthwhile investment for any level of audiophile.

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