IT’S a clear sign of the times and an indication of trends when a company like Meridian launches a product like the Prime headphone amplifier. The Brit outfit has been an early adopter and adapter of digital technologies, its array of streaming products and active speakers a testimony to this. The Prime is acknowledgement that an increasing percentage of music fans like to enjoy their favorites tunes within the confines of a pair of headphones.
Three inputs are provided – USB (optimised for computer audio), RCA and a 3.5mm connection for portable devices like tablets and phones. There’s an onboard feature called ASP – analogue spatial processing – that provides for an “outside the head” listening experience while using headphones.
As for the USB input, Meridian says the 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.”
According to Meridian, “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.”
For a more physical “outside the head” experience, the Prime has an analogue output that can be connected to an active speaker or more traditional amp/speaker system, the results guaranteed to be “high-performance”.
The wall-wart powered Meridian Prime (no, we didn’t miss out on the inference to the Transformers) will retail at £1,200; also coming in December is the Prime Power Supply, which guarantees clean and noise-free power to the Prime, and other 12V and USB audio products, for, er, optimum performance. Both are available only in silver finish.