Meridian Audio Goes Portable

Meridian Audio, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of digital-audio equipment—namely for its line of self-powered, digital-signal-processing loudspeakers and its Digital Media Systems digital music servers—has introduced a USB digital-to-analog converter, the Meridian Explorer ($299). Released in February, this amazing little device is about the size of an average candy bar—and, at less than 2 ounces, weighs about the same—but it provides an enormous boost in the quality of computer-based audio files. Rather than feeding music from a desktop or laptop to headphones or an external audio system via the computer’s headphone jack, the aluminum-shelled Explorer connects to a computer’s USB port via a detachable USB cable. The user then plugs a listening device into the Explorer’s standard headphone jack or connects the Explorer directly to an external audio system using the unit’s 2-volt fixed line-level output. (Mac computer users simply switch the audio-output settings in their computer’s system preferences; Windows users download the free driver software.)

The Explorer is the ideal tool for traveling audiophiles who listen to high-resolution music files from their laptops. It is able to deliver 24-bit/192-kHz music files, the highest-resolution files on the consumer market, which can be downloaded from such sites as HDtracks ( One listen to music files of any resolution delivered via the Explorer reveals just how much musical detail was missing before. (