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Meridian Ships Latest USB DAC

New York — A second-generation portable USB DAC unveiled by Meridian features more powerful DSP to improve the sound quality of music stored on laptops and played through headphones or home hi-fi systems.

Like its predecessor, the $299-suggested Explorer 2 streams USB audio up to 192kHz/24-bit quality, but the new device also up-samples all input signals to 176.4/192kHz (or 4x standard sample rates). Thanks to the enhanced DSP, the Explorer 2 also ensures that lossless audio files made from Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) studio masters, approved by the artist and producer, sound like the production team intended, Meridian said.

The device, which just became available, features a headphone output and an analog line output to a home hi-fi system. The device automatically deactivates its headphone amplifier when the line output is connected, thus reducing noise. The 3.5mm headphone socket delivers up to 130mW audio to drive low-efficiency headphones. The second 3.5mm socket provides a fixed-level analogue (2-volt RMS) output. Volume is controlled from the host computer.

Though USB audio is supported on some Android devices, the Explorer 2 might not work with Android phones and tablets. Explorer 2 “requires both audio and power from the connected USB source, so we cannot guarantee compatibility because we do not know if the Android device can or will provide the needed 5 volts required to power Explorer2 over USB,” a spokesman said.

Explorer2 can be plugged into any available USB port, including a USB hub.