The Meridian Prime headphone amplifier is designed and built in the UK and delivers lifelike performance from any headphone and is designed to appeal to audio enthusiasts who seek the highest possible performance. The Prime is MQA-ready!
Recently, the headphone market has greatly increased in popularity, and for many it is the primary way to experience music. This choice is based not only on performance, but also feel, comfort, and style. It is with this in mind we introduce Meridian Prime Headphone Amplifier.
With a new chassis design instantly identifiable as Meridian DNA, Meridian Prime delivers lifelike performance from any headphone and is designed to appeal to audio enthusiasts who seek the highest possible performance from conventional analogue audio sources.
Meridian Prime provides three inputs, one dedicated and optimised to USB sources for computer audio, discrete pure analogue inputs on RCA for traditional sources, and a 3.5mm connection for portable devices such as a smart phone or tablet.
ASP, or Analogue Spatial Processing, is an option for "outside the head" listening through headphones.
- 6-layer PC board for maximum signal isolation and enhanced performance
- Analogue Spatial Processing offers dual-mode loudspeaker-like listening on headphones – with bypass
- Audio components mounted near rear- panel sockets for ultra-short signal path
- Analogue logic switching
- USB 2.0 asynchronous playback at up to 192kHz/24-bit with upsampling and resolution enhancement
- Externally-powered USB input: disconnecting deactivates all digital electronics
- Dual 1/4in stereo headphone sockets with separate-wire grounding (may be used with separately-wired headphones) plus 3.5mm stereo jack
- High-quality gold-plated sockets
- Headphone-only mode powers down preamp output
- Relay muting on power-up and power- down for thump-free operation.
- Meridian Prime will appeal to even to most demanding users with its range of input connectivity, performance, unique features, and build quality.
Three front-panel headphone sockets are provided, optimised for purpose. One is a 3.5mm stereo socket for the connection of earbuds and similar devices, which presents an output impedance of 2Ω to suit these devices. The other two sockets offer an exceptionally low impedance (around 3mΩ) and are standard 1/4in stereo (tip-ring-sleeve) types, carrying both channels. They can be used to connect two pairs of headphones, or to attach a single pair of headphones wired with separate cords for left and right drivers, thus offering the opportunity to reduce headphone crosstalk.
In addition to simply replaying stereo
audio at the highest possible quality via headphones, the outputs also include two "Analogue Spatial Processing" modes, i and ii, which replace the typical "in the head" experience of headphone listening with a smooth, natural feeling of spatiality that is much more like listening on a pair of loudspeakers in front of the listener.
The USB conversion system is powered from the interface, meaning that when it is disconnected, all digital circuitry in the unit is deactivated. The fully asynchronous USB 2.0 interface supports signals at up to 192kHz/24-bit sampling and includes Meridian resolution enhancement techniques such as oversampling and Meridian’s unique Apodising filter.
Meridian Apodising Filter
Filters are critical in digital audio. Commonly they introduce distortion and harshness because of "pre-ringing". Early digital recordings suffer from harshness too, due to primitive filters. After painstaking research, Meridian developed a special filter that avoids pre-ringing, so it can be steeper, cleaning up the effects of early filters. The result: a better, cleaner sound from recordings old and new.
Master Quality Authenticated (MQA)
Sourced from the original studio master recording as approved by the creative team, MQA combines an advanced new digital sampling technology that captures extremely high frequency timing and detail in an audio signal with an equally novel system to "encapsulate" that data into a form for delivery using any lossless file format or streaming. The listener's decoder reconstructs the entire original signal, bringing up an indicator confirming that what they are hearing is exactly the same as the original master. Without the decoder, the listener enjoys CD quality reproduction. Its most advanced form, "MQA Studio", uses the technology in the studio to generate an even higher quality master recording as the source.
Find out more on MQA (External Link)
- Despite its diminutive size, Meridian Prime echoes the design elements of any other Meridian product, including a double skinned, bead blasted metal chassis found on Meridian’s full size components. This ensures that noise is kept away from critical audio components for lifelike details that are critical for headphone listening.
- The Meridian Prime Headphone Amplifier can be powered by the wall- mounted supply provided, or by the similarly sized, and styled, Meridian Prime Power Supply for even higher audio quality. The use of an external power supply means that AC noise is kept well away from the pure analogue stages of the Headphone Amplifier.
- Virtually all the active audio components are at the rear of the unit, as close to
the connectors as possible to minimise
the audio path length, and are essentially remote-controlled from the front panel. This is even true of the volume potentiometer, a high-quality Alps-type mounted near the rear of the unit, which controls the level
of all outputs. A special flexible shaft coupling is employed to avoid microphony, resulting from operation of the volume knob.
- An analogue output is also provided so the product can be connected to an active loudspeaker, or conventional amplifier and loudspeaker system for a high-performance simple system.
- A 6-layer circuit board provides ground-planes and maximises signal isolation.
- The product is DC-coupled, for outstanding low frequency control and overall audio reproduction, and absolute phase is maintained throughout.
- 1x stereo line input (2x gold-plated RCA phonos)
- 1x stereo line input (3.5mm jack socket)
- 1x USB input (mini-B USB connector)
- 1x stereo line output (2x gold-plated RCA phonos)
- 2x 1/4in TRS A-type jack sockets (tip=left)
- 1x 3.5mm stereo jack socket (tip=left)
- Relay-controlled power up/down muting on all outputs
ANALOGUE SPACIAL PROCESSING
- 192kHz/24-bit sampling Meridian Resolution Enhancement technologies including upsampling and Apodising
- Interface-powered: disconnecting USB powers-down all digital subsystems
- Audio processing circuits provide "outside the head" headphone listening resembling listening on loudspeakers
- Two different modes plus bypass
- Analogue switching
- Short audio path
- Alps analogue volume potentiometer with flexible shaft coupling from the front panel controls all outputs
- Input selector button: push to select between line level, 3.5mm jack and USB
- Analogue Signal Processing selector: i, ii or Bypass
- 1x, 2x, 4x digital sample rate indicators
- A/B/Bypass Analogue Signal Processing indicators
- RCA/mini-jack/USB input selector indicators
- Power button illuminates blue in standby,
white with all outputs active, green when preamp output disabled (hold button down to toggle)
- Plug-in PSU provided; may also be powered by Prime Power Supply for superior performance
- Silver metal finish uniform with G Series
- Width: 160mm (6.3in); Depth: 150mm (5.9in) plus connectors; Height: 50mm (2.0in)
* Micro-USB Cable not included
Noisy Motel is an authorised Australian distributor for the Meridian Personal Audio Products. All Meridian Audio products include full Australian warranty.
MQA Firmware Update (External Link)