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Meridian Debuts Ultra DAC for Audiophiles: Finest Ever?

Meridian Ultra DAC - front

Meridian Audio today announced their ultimate, hand built Ultra DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter) that is capable of playing virtually any recording format including DXD, DSD64 and DSD128 (DoP), or MQA at up to 384kHz/24-bit. It is the first product in the world to include MQA Limited’s Hierarchical Converter Technology, which employs multiple converters to increase temporal resolution while reducing noise and quantization errors.

Connectivity options include USB 2.0, S/PDIF, TosLink, 75 ohm BNC, and AES3 on XLR, as well as Meridian’s Speakerlink and the award-winning Sooloos music-management platform, for the very best user-friendly experience.  One pair of balanced and one pair of unbalanced analogue outputs are also provided.

Meridian Ultra DAC - rear

Significant user features are provided, including LipSync, PC setup, and RS232, enabling integration with third-party systems such as Control4 or Crestron. The Ultra DAC is the first Meridian product to give users the option to select one of three upsampling filters when reproducing sources with a sample rate of 44kHz or 48kHz, such as CD or DAT. In addition, a dedicated clock card is included for the lowest possible jitter.

Another first for a Meridian product is the construction of the Ultra’s Dual Mono DAC card, which incorporates multiple regulated power supplies and eight-layer circuit boards with low-impedance ground-planes, for peerless isolation and the low-noise grounding that is critical to digital-audio accuracy. A fully linear power supply provides isolation from the AC supply, and DC-coupled output prevents degradation from AC coupling capacitors. Even the Ultra DAC’s front panel was designed for quiet operation, with non-ferrous construction, and a static LCD display chosen for its low electrical noise and ease of readability.

Meridian Ultra DAC - front

Chief Technical Officer at Meridian, Richard Hollinshead comments, “The Meridian Ultra Digital to Analogue Converter is the culmination of nearly two decades of research and engineering. With considerable connectivity options, user features, and format support, the Meridian Ultra DAC incorporates an extensive list of performance-enhancing technologies, including Dual Mono DAC cards, DSP filter options, upsampling, and apodizing. This dedicated DAC utilizes Meridian’s renowned audio expertise to set a new standard in the analogue realm.”

Price and Availability

The Meridian Ultra DAC is built by hand in the UK and is available in beautiful high gloss black as standard for $23,000. Other colour options are available using Meridian’s Select bespoke color service (+$1,000).

The world’s first public showing of the Meridian Ultra DAC will take place at the 2016 T.H.E. Newport Show, June 3-5, in the Sunny Components Room 1203.

User Guide (pdf)


• 2-channel balanced audio output
• 2-channel unbalanced audio output
• Outputs driven by four 192 kHz digital to analogue converters
• The output stage incorporates Hierarchical Converter technology [by MQA]

• One USB 2.0 input for connection to a computer. Up to 384 kHz sampling and up to 24-bit precision
• Two 2-channel balanced AES3 XLR inputs. 44.1kHz to 192kHz sampling and up to 24-bit precision
• Two 2-channel 750 Ohm BNC coaxial inputs. 44.1kHz to 192kHz sampling and up to 24-bit precision
• Two 2-channel digital coaxial S/PDIF inputs. 44.1kHz to 192kHz sampling and up to 24-bit precision
• One 2-channel Meridian Speakerlink input. 44.1kHz to 192kHz sampling and up to 24-bit precision
• Two 2-channel digital optical TOSLINK inputs. 44.1kHz to 96kHz sampling and up to 24-bit precision
• One network input (Ethernet) for connection to a Meridian Sooloos System
• All inputs provide re-nameable legends

• Two Meridian Comms 5-pin 240° DIN sockets
• RS232 interface for maintenance
• Three 12VDC/100mA trigger outputs con gurable by source

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• FRONT-PANEL: Source, DSP, Display, Mute, Off, Volume +/-, Setup, and Menu keys
• REMOTE CONTROL: Via MSR+ (Supplied) and RS232

• 20-character dot-matrix display with adjustable brightness and contrast
• Indicators for Emphasis and Phase

• Advanced linear power supply: 100V ac 50/60 Hz | 110-120V ac 50/60Hz | 220-240V ac 50/60Hz
• Max power consumption: 40 Watts

• HEIGHT: 175mm [6.9in]
• WIDTH: 480mm [18.9in]
• DEPTH: 411mm [16.2in]
• WEIGHT: 16kg [35.2lbs]

• A DC coupled output – no degradation from AC coupling capacitors.
• New linear supply – for isolation from AC supply and increased reliability.
• Non-ferrous chassis and panels (aluminium construction) – linear hysteresis free magnetics.
• Quiet display – static LCD for low electrical noise.
• Black finish in metal and glass
• Custom Meridian Select colours also available

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