Meridian Explorer 2 DAC Review & Comments

PiperCub

Banned
If I'm honest I found this review quite confusing as to how everything was connected up exactly, and how much better mqa into the device is than hi res into a 'normal' 24/192 dac.
 

Scratch

Member
Can anyone confirm that the Explorer 2 works with Windows 10?

I was going to get one from Amazon but a 'customer' said there was a problem with Windows 10 and after searching the web I can't seem to get a definitive answer?

Thanks.
 

larkone

Member
If I'm honest I found this review quite confusing as to how everything was connected up exactly, and how much better mqa into the device is than hi res into a 'normal' 24/192 dac.
Whats so confusing about one USB input and one variable output for headphones and one fixed line output?
 

PiperCub

Banned
Whats so confusing about one USB input and one variable output for headphones and one fixed line output?
I've never owned one of these devices but a bit confused how, if a normal dac, it can output an amplified signal to a pair of headphones. Hence why I was confused about connections. I'm not really a headphone person but was interested in its use with hi fi.

Also on sound quality benefits because Ed referred to expectation bias but then said it would be difficult to argue the differences between this devices and the comparisons(mojo and dragonfly), was anything other than the mqa unpacked format that was yielding the improvement. So it was to me that he wasn't that sure and these statements, being a bit contradictory, left me wondering if this device could yield benefits for mqa or not. He also said before that mqa into the chord mojo still sounds good too.

If it was maybe really close it could have been useful to get others opinions. He also didn't say for instance if the 3 headphones used were better with the mojo or dragonfly, to the extent that using one of these dac or headphone combinations, maybe being cheaper or slightly more expensive, could possibly surpass the benefits you get from unpacked mqa anyway using the explorer. Also how it could have worked with a hi fi and into a hi fi device, to try and yield benefits for mqa, wasn't touched on.
 

Rayman61

Standard Member
Can anyone confirm that the Explorer 2 works with Windows 10?

I was going to get one from Amazon but a 'customer' said there was a problem with Windows 10 and after searching the web I can't seem to get a definitive answer?

Thanks.
Yes, I can confirm it works fine with Windows 10.

Rayman61
 

mswlogo

Novice Member
I find it a little odd that you give the Dragon Fly, Explorer 2, Mojo and Hugo all the same Audio Quality.

To my ears there is no comparison.

You could certainly argue for different values. But to give the Hugo and the Dragon Fly the same audio rating is kind of ridiculous.

Also the range of headphones that the Chord and Hugo can drive that the Explorer 2 can't is fairly large. The Chord is approx. 2.5x more powerful.

You also don't mention portability. The Chord's are designed to be portable. But the Explorer 2 technically is not and will complain if you plug it into an iPhone as drawing too much power. Meridian doesn't claim it to be compatible with mobile phones. Some folks have managed to get it work on Android though, but it may vary by device.

You also mention you can't give the Mojo Reference status because of great products like the Hugo and don't give it reference status either. Yes, I'm a Chord fan, only because I find their products have amazing sound quality and capability.

Personally I found the Explorer 2 a bit disappointing. Like you say not bad for the money but it in no way competes audio quality wise with Mojo or Hugo. Mojo sounds better without MQA than Explorer 2 does with.

Now perhaps your rating the Audio Quality / Dollar and that may be correct. But now you're doubling up on Audio Quality "Points" and "Value" Points and nobody can tell if it's really worth paying more. The Audio Quality should be an absolute scale.

Perhaps your scale has changed since reviewing the Mojo.

Value wise and price performance might be correct. But why would I spend 3x the money for the same audio quality as you have rated them. And you said they are both good value.

Understandably there are a lot of good sounding products out there. But geesh.
 

Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
The scoring for products- both audio and video- is relative to their price and not an absolute. This has been the case since day one. With the noble exception of a single German audio magazine, absolute scoring falls down the moment that a good £300 product scores 4/10 because it's being judged against a £5,000 one. Please feel free to try and buck the trend.

I have (amongst others) the Explorer 2, Dragonfly and Mojo here at the moment. Judged purely for the business of listening to the Tidal Masters, the Explorer is the best provided you're using fairly sensitive partnering phones/cans. I call it as I find it- and like Chord equipment too. For what very little it is worth, the Explorer also works happily via OTG on the devices here.
 

mswlogo

Novice Member
The scoring for products- both audio and video- is relative to their price and not an absolute. This has been the case since day one. With the noble exception of a single German audio magazine, absolute scoring falls down the moment that a good £300 product scores 4/10 because it's being judged against a £5,000 one. Please feel free to try and buck the trend.

I have (amongst others) the Explorer 2, Dragonfly and Mojo here at the moment. Judged purely for the business of listening to the Tidal Masters, the Explorer is the best provided you're using fairly sensitive partnering phones/cans. I call it as I find it- and like Chord equipment too. For what very little it is worth, the Explorer also works happily via OTG on the devices here.
Ok, Just trying to understand scoring process.

So with Mojo at 9 for Audio Quality and price of $599.00
And Explorer 2 at 9 for Audio Quality and price of $199.00

Then I can conclude that Chord sounds MUCH better than an Explorer 2.
3 times better?

And the Hugo also at 9, sounds 3x better than a Mojo at $2000.00 -ish

Which would put the Hugo 10x time better than an Explorer 2.

Ok, Twice the price of course doesn't between twice as good.

10 times the price with the same Audio Quality rating must be pretty huge.

I personally think it should be an absolute scale on audio quality. And your Value metric covers the price performance already. Or some how share what you expect in performance for the increased cost. Otherwise all the numbers are kind of meaningless and can be in no way compared.
 

Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
As noted- absolute scale has some advantages if you are prepared to invest in the entire product category. For a person looking for a take on a solo product though, they simply don't work as they don't want to know the performance relative to an item they have no interest in buying, they want to know the performance relative to the price point. This is why a car magazine doesn't generally look at a hot hatch and then state its acceleration is a bit weedy compared to a Ferrari 488.
 

cosmicma

Member
@mswlogo

i suppose the easiest way of looking at it is performance verses cost
the audio quality at the price of the meridian explorer 2 is worthy of a 9/10 but if the meridian explorer 2 happen to cost £2,000 it would probably only score 4/10 when the price is taken into consideration and other products costing £2.000
 

-seagull-

Standard Member
Am I correct in that Tidal MQA is only available using the Windows or iOS App?
Or using expensive streamers from MQA playback partners?
Or are solutions available using RPi HATs such as HifiBerry and the like?
 

gizlaroc

Distinguished Member
MQA from Tidal is from the desktop app currently. Mac or PC.

You can software decode to 24/96 if you go analogue out, this is sort of part MQA.

If you software decode and go out via usb/network/digital you will need to have a device on the end that is MQA certified, it will then unfold up to 384/24, this is full MQA.

The point of MQA is it knows all the digital conversions in the chain from analogue master, and corrects their digital smearing, it is an analogue to analogue format. That is why the dac at the end needs to be known and certified.
 

gizlaroc

Distinguished Member
Ed, try Sean Rowe's album "The Salesman And The Shark" with MQA and see what you think.
 

gizlaroc

Distinguished Member
Can anyone confirm that the Explorer 2 works with Windows 10?

I was going to get one from Amazon but a 'customer' said there was a problem with Windows 10 and after searching the web I can't seem to get a definitive answer?

Thanks.

I think a few miss the fact you 'must' install the driver first, other wise it loads a standard usb dac driver and nothing works properly.
 

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