Tuesday Deal on MERIDIAN MQA Capable DAC

Audio Advisor Tuesday sale for MQA capable Explorer2 DAC $99 off , now $199.99


I bought one, and it’s a nice small portable DAC.

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And, in UK, Audio Images are selling it (via Amazon) for £129 (normally £199):


Ok, so this DACs on sale and I’m in the market for an affordable headphone DAC/amp for where I’m working right now.

So how is it? I found some so-so feedback on head-fi, and I guess I’m just really surprised that it’s on sale right at the Tidal launch of MQA - if it was good you’d think already being the most affordable MQA DAC would generate lots of sales for those interested in MQA?

I’m not using high-end headphones. Senheisser momentum 2 and my trusty old Grado SR80s. I’m not a big headphone guy, but sometimes it’s a necessity.
I’m actually ok with using the headphone out on the Mac Pro, but the sockets a bit far for the senheissers, and I can hear CPU/Gpu associated noise.

I had the Dragonfly 2 and black previously - but were both too loud for my headphones - I had to have the volume on the bottom notch and didn’t give fine enough control. I returned them.

At £129 this could be a good replacement. Not bothered about MQA but if it was there I’d try it.

Any explorer 2 owners care to share thoughts?

Ive seen it here at 129. http://www.audioaffair.co.uk/meridian-explorer-2-usb-dac?gclid=CODi_MLCvdECFcsV0wod6Y8ITw

I bought one, at that price it seemed rude not to. It’s a great piece of Kit with headphone and line level out. Decodes MQA to 192 KHz. It also gives me an extra zone from my USB on QNAP TVS 471.

How does it sound? Have you tried with sensitive headphones?

Hi, I bought the Explorer from a local dealer and got the item within 48 hours. Used as a regular DAC it was quite interesting because it didn’t seem to need (and indeed wouldn’t work with) some of the USB treatments I normally use such as the W4S RUR. It was a little lighter in the bass than I am used to but otherwise very respectable. However when I then played a MQA encoded track from Madonna’s Like a Virgin. That was quite a revelation and made the potential virtues of MQA quite apparent. It isn’t that I have never heard that sort of potential in a system. It is the fact that a tiny device and MQA files achieved what USB treatments and DSD up sampling had previously done for me. I am impressed. I haven’t tried it with my 'phones yet but I would be very happy to use the line out into my analogue only headphone amp.


Thanks. Nearly ordered one but then realised it’s a two-year old device. Maybe it’s about to be superseded. Did it really take that long for MQA to get started? I bet there were some disappointed owners if they bought them in 2014!
Still might do it…

There has been a delay in the sort of access that streaming MQA allows but it have been prudent to have an accessible product for those who wanted to check out the samples or who actually purchased from labels like 2L. My problem is it feels right now like there is no smooth progression of MQA enabled DACs. £100-200 entry for renderers and the Explorer2, then £2000 for Mytek then £15K for the Premium Meridian DAC. I am actually thinking that in the sub 1k sector we will pretty much be relying on renderers that need software to do the full unfolding. I would be OK with that, how would others feel?

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Doesn’t bother me in the slightest right now since there’s so little to listen to. If this is two years since inception and the release rate stays constant, it’s not going to make a huge difference to me for a decade or so.

Also I didn’t find the software decoded Tidal samples life changing in any way. But it was just my macpros headphone out so maybe need a better DAC (my hifi isn’t connected to Tidal in any useful way).

If I buy this and it changes my mind, I’ll report back.

I think you will find MQA releases stacking up fairly quickly now. So much of the time consuming background work has already been done.
The Explorer 2 Is a great little device for those who want a taste of MQA and useful for computer audio even if you don’t.
If you have a decent system or phones, the difference is clear, even undecoded in many cases.

Nice add-on for this DAC, after registering with Meridian you get a 3 months of Tidal ( High Quality) voucher for free

For $200 it sounds pretty good. You might be right about a new release /model since it’s discounted many places. Figured I give this a try as an entry to MQA.

Yeah I ordered one too anyway. Since I have a need for something and this fits the bill, the fact that its on sale and has MQA to play with, is kind of a no brainer. Also, I wont be upset if a new model comes out as they’re usually more expensive. That said if a new model comes out next month and its a lot better and £129, then I’ll kick myself!

My guess is the new model is probably at the old price point…$300 or £199 thereabouts.

In the UK this has been promoted as a ‘Winter Deal’ MS200, Prime Headphone amp’ Prime PS are also in the deal if I remember correctly.

It arrived - that was quick!

Quite a cute little device, smaller than I was expecting (I’ve seen that written somewhere before, maybe they photograph it with oversize objects?).

I’m not a big headphone user so I did a quick comparison on Tidal with the first MQA album I could find that was something I liked but also on Tidal in non-MQA. Couldnt tell much difference but it has only been plugged in 15 minutes.

Couldn’t get a blue light through Tidal for love nor money. Exclusive mode makes music playback twice as fast and still not light up the blue. I had the same issue already with the built-in output so must be some bug on this OS/Mac type. Nearly blew my ears out again messing with settings (including max volume).

Roon to the rescue. Favourited it in Tidal, tagged it, named the version ‘MQA’, pressed play, blue light = on. Yay.

Then I tried to find more MQA music just to test, and thats where things came unstuck, such little obvious choice for me and I ain’t going near no excel files.

I think it will be fine as my work headphone DAC anyway., which is what it was for.
Volume control has plenty of fine control for my Grado’s which the dragonfly failed miserably at. Or was it the senheissers? Or both? Cant quite remember. Will try with the Sennhesiers tomorrow if I remember to take them.

Elsewhere on the web two dealers said they have no indication that this is a stock clearance and a new model coming up, it’d just be a promo as Meridian had done before with other devices and the price will go up again. Here in Germany it’s nowhere discounted, still the regular price. Not that I’d mind too much if a new model comes out soon.

Ordered one from the UK last weekend. I wanted a cheap one that will send music to my amp in higher quality than the headphone output of my old MBP until I’ve decided what “big” DAC I’ll be going for. After that, it’s supposed to serve as a headphone amp on my new laptop. I think the Explorer 2 will be fine for that, especially at the discounted price. Looking forward to judging MQA sound for myself.

Did you download the Drivers for your laptop?


I’m using a Mac Pro (desktop). I checked that the Explorer had the latest firmware (it did) then updated it anyway, but no difference.

I think its some Tidal bug.

Just put some MQA albums in Roon from Tidal and enjoy the MQA there.

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