Posted on Fri, 15 Dec, 2017
Posted by Bob

Meridian Prime Headphone amplifier offers high-quality headphone amplification as well as preamplifier and DAC functions with MQA support.

British Hi-Fi experts Meridian impress with a superbly featured headphone amplifier which incorporates a high-performance DAC with MQA support, as well as basic pre-amplifier functionality, in one superbly made and designed package.

High-end headphone amplifier? MQA capable DAC? Minimalist pre-amplifier? You may just find the Meridian Prime headphone amplifier is all of those…

Meridian Prime Headphone Amplifier

Meridian Prime headphone amplifier

If you’re serious about headphone listening, the importance of a dedicated headphone amplifier cannot be stated enough. Today’s generation of high-performance audiophile headphones requires amplifiers with plenty of “grunt”, capable of driving audiophile optimised designs such as Planar headphones and the like.

The Meridian Prime headphone amplifier provides a pair of 6.3mm stereo headphone outputs, as well as a 3.5mm stereo “mini-jack”. All the outputs can be used simultaneously, allowing for connection of various headphone types, as well as shared listening with a friend.

Meridian Prime Headphone Amplifier

It’s often said that headphone listening is one of the most intimate and “pure” ways of listening to audio; the detail retrieved from a quality pair of headphones can be breathtaking. However, it is not without its potential problems…

When listening to a stereo mix on loudspeakers, even a hard-panned sound coming solely from the left speaker will be heard by the listener’s right ear, and vice versa, thanks to acoustics and physics. When listening on headphones, however, each ear is isolated entirely and will hear only what is sent to each ear’s headphone transducer.

In order to counteract some of the problems with over-directional sound which can sometimes be a problem with headphone listening, Meridian have incorporated their proprietary Analogue Spatial Processing (ASP). Renowned experts in signal processing, ASP blends the left and right channels to help you forget that you’re wearing headphones. Clever!

High-Performance DAC with MQA support

The Meridian Prime headphone amplifier adds additional welcome functionality, by incorporating a high-performance DAC section, alongside the high-quality headphone amplifier circuitry. Being a product of Meridian, it also incorporates support for their excellent MQA audio Codec and some of the finest processing in the industry.

The DAC section of the Meridian Prime supports a range of sample rates from CD quality 44.1kHz up to truly Hi-Res 192kHz at 24bit resolution. The Meridian Prime headphone amplifier also includes Meridian’s unique Apodising filter; designed to fix errors in digital recordings, Meridian claims it makes “any music sound more alive”, regardless of its source.

MQA logo

The “headline” feature, of course, is support for Meridian’s breakthrough MQA technology, designed to offer the very highest level of playback quality from a streaming digital audio source (such as Tidal Masters etc.). Read more about this breakthrough technology in our recent feature blog.

Compact preamplifier functionality

The Meridian Prime headphone amplifier offers more than just the basic functions one would expect from a combined DAC/headphone amplifier. In fact, it could very well double up as your main preamplifier for your Hi-Fi system, especially if your input requirements are relatively modest.

Two pairs of analogue stereo inputs are provided for both RCA and 3.5mm mini-jack sources; ideal for connecting, say a CD player and a mobile device. With the added USB digital input for a computer streaming connection, the Meridian Prime headphone amplifier could provide all the inputs a modern user requires.

Meridian Prime Headphone Amplifier Rear

Outputs are provided on stereo analogue RCA outputs, which are controlled via the front panel volume knob. Connect the Meridian Prime headphone amplifier to a power amplifier, or a pair of powered speakers. Usefully, the Meridian Prime headphone amplifier allows the user to mute the analogue outputs to allow for silent headphone listening when speakers are connected.

Whether you’re looking for a high-quality headphone amplifier, an MQA compatible DAC or minimalist preamplifier with digital connectivity, the award-winning Meridian Prime headphone amplifier represents great value.

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