There is no disappointment here, the Meridian DAC delivers a stunning performance in combination with my desktop sized solid state and tube amps. I love a clear, detailed and neutral DAC with a huge sound stage. Who wouldn’t? Well this is one of those DACs I could live happily ever after with. It ads nothing to the sound, in a good way that is, and using it as a pre amp boosts the performance of your amplifier. Using the Prime in combination with an external amplifier also allows you to adjust the sound to your liking. If you prefer more bass or warmth all you have to do is combine it with an amplifier or active speakers with these characteristics. My favorite combo was with my custom built 300B amp which resulted in a perfect mix of clarity and tube smoothness.
Personally I find the DAC to be very good and very enjoyable. Of course you might feel completely different, some people find the DAC to be inferior to the amp section in the Prime, but I can’t agree with that.
If you do agree however, you can even use the Prime as an “Amplifier only” but like I said, I can’t directly see why anyone would do that. I find the internal DAC really good and it shines as a combo, so the only other reason I can see is that you have an even better DAC lying around that you absolutely want to combine with the Prime AMP section. From what I read on the other hand there are quite a few audio lovers out there who actually use the Prime in this way. That being said, the amp section is very good indeed (especially with the orthodynamics).
Wow that makes me happy!
In general I’m not a fan of most DAC/Amp combos as I often find the amp sections below level. Most of the time the DAC sections are quite good to very good but the amp section doesn’t always manage to live up to the same expectation and that’s a shame. That’s where it is different with the Meridian, it has a very well executed AMP section and all that in a tiny frame. Sure it isn’t cheap but you really get great quality and beautiful sound in return.
The Meridian Prime is a very versatile unit that can be used as a DAC/Pre AMP, a DAC/AMP or just as an AMP. It works incredibly good for the Planar Magnetic headphones and IEMs and if those are your main headphones you really owe it to yourself to try out the Meridian Prime.
Of course I also tested the Prime without the optional PSU and to my ears it does not make a lot of difference, I would be just as happy with “only” the Prime and its stock wall power-supply.