Meridian Audio Ultra DAC D/A processor Associated Equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment

Digital Sources: Aurender N10 music server; Ayre Acoustics C-5xeMP universal player; PS Audio PerfectWave DirectStream D/A converter with Bridge II network adapter; AudioQuest JitterBug, UpTone Audio ReGen USB cleaner-uppers; Mac mini running Pure Music 3, Audirvana 1.5, Tidal apps; Ayre Acoustics QA-9 USB A/D converter.
Power Amplifiers: MBL Corona C15, Pass Labs XA60.5 (both monoblocks).
Loudspeakers: Aerial Acoustics 5T, Bowers & Wilkins 805 D3, Dynaudio Contour 20, Magico S5 Mk.II.
Cables: Digital: AudioQuest Coffee. USB: Canare AES/EBU. Interconnect (balanced): AudioQuest Wild Blue, Cardas Clear. Speaker: Kubala-Sosna Elation!. AC: Kubala-Sosna Elation!, manufacturers' own.
Accessories: Target TT-5 equipment racks; Ayre Acoustics Myrtle Blocks; ASC Tube Traps, RPG Abffusor panels; Shunyata Research Dark Field cable elevators; Audio Power Industries 116 Mk.II & PE-1 AC line conditioners (hard drive, computers). AC power comes from two dedicated 20A circuits, each just 6' from breaker box.—John Atkinson

Meridian Audio Ltd.
US distributor: MAI
351 Thornton Road #108
Lithia Springs, GA 30122
(404) 344-7111

tonykaz's picture

Geez, I've loved Meridian since the early 1980's. I've Imported Meridian, Retailed Meridian and Owned Meridian. Unfortunately, I had miserable marketplace success with Meridian, phew, why?, I sort-of blamed the "Audiophile-nervosa" syndrome that permeated the USA ( and still does ).

Now, the early part of the 21st Century, Bob Stuart is becoming the very KING of Digital Audio.

I still have my love for Meridian.

Congratulations Mr.Stuart, it was a looooooong time coming but certainly earned.

I wish this lovely device had a price like the Mytek ( which should've been on the Front Cover instead of that ML "to die for" piece )

Tony in Michigan

keithsonic's picture

The review notes an ethernet port for use with Sooloos. It is not clear in the review if this can be used to connect a NAS. Would appreciate if this could be confirmed.

John Atkinson's picture
keithsonic wrote:
The review notes an ethernet port for use with Sooloos. It is not clear in the review if this can be used to connect a NAS. Would appreciate if this could be confirmed.

Although my network recognizes the Meridian - confirmed by using the Fing app on my iPad - the Ultra DAC's Ethernet interface seems to be dedicated to the proprietary Sooloos system. With Twonky Server running on my MacBook Pro and pointing to my NAS, the UPnP apps on the iPad can't find the Meridian to use as the Renderer. They do work with my PS Audio Directream DAC, which is fitted with the network bridge option.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

keithsonic's picture

Thanks John for checking this out. Trust Meridian though to go down a non-standard route. I remember upgrading my Meridian 500 transport to a universal player and asking Meridian if they planned to support SACD. The answer was something like 'over our dead bodies, it is vastly inferior to PCM'. I bought Ayre and looks like I wont be buying Meridian this time either.

John Atkinson's picture
keithsonic wrote:
Thanks John for checking this out.

And now I am embarrassed to say that after all this time, I tried the UltraDAC with Roon 1.3 and the Ethernet connection and it worked perfectly.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

keithsonic's picture

Thanks John for belated confirmation. Other reviewers have also noted bespoke Sooloos input so odd that meridian has not corrected. I have pretty much opted for Chord Dave/dCS network bridge combination but will check with my dealer here in London as they do both options. From memory you were undecided between Dave and Ultra. Would the addition of the dCS cha ge your mind. Best Regards

gevorg's picture

~19 bits of resolution is a pretty bad start for a $23K DAC.

hb72's picture

T+A dac 8 manages to reach 20bit as does dCS Rossini (though only nearly), while AQ's DF does ca 17bit. Mind this is some kind of a digital interpretation of combined digital and analog resolution, measured at v. low volume signal. Not sure how representative this is at all when compared to dynamic limitations of the ear. Not not to mention masking etc.

Whats important to the percieved sound quality of a 23k USD dac?

SNI's picture

I wonder when somebody raises his hand, at states, that digital filters do not have intrinsic ringing.
You can put your digital signal through several filters, and no change will be seen.
The so called ringing is just the shape of a bandwith limited signal.
As long as you do not violate Nyquist, there will not be any ringing at all.
The ringting will only be there, when you try to put through frequencies above Nyquist.
In the passband, where the audio signal is situated, the are absolutely no ringing at all.
I think TI´s PCM1792/1794 chips are the ones with the steepest and deepest filters available (stapband attenuation -130 dB), and they state the passband ripple @ ±0.00001 dB.
Which is practically nothing.
So what you do with theese slow roll off non phase linear filters, is actually hunting down ghoests at the cost of introducing phase problems outside the audio band.

Way too many audio enthusiasts believe, that the "ringing" is a part of the audio signal, as a result of the misunderstandings of this measurement in the HIFI press.
You can only use the impulse measurements to see, if the filter is phase linear or not, and to see the depth of the filter.
Regarding phase linearity, then theese minimum phase filters are the first and only attemps I know, that tries to make you like phase errors.
Regarding the depth of the filter, this points solely to the signal delay through the filter, which is of vast interest for "On Stage" purposes, as it is very hard to sing or play properly, if your monitors are delayed.