If you are looking for a portable USB DAC that can give you the best sound quality, continue reading below. In this article, we will discuss the comparisons between two of the most popular USB DAC sticks in the market right now, which are Meridian Explorer 2 vs Dragonfly Red. They are available in a similar price range.
Below, you can find the information about:
– The distinctive features and benefits of each model,
– The sound quality comparisons between the two DAC sticks, and
– Which DAC stick that is more recommended for the money.
Size and Design
The first thing that you may need to consider is that the two models have different sizes. Although Meridian Explorer 2 is quite portable, it is much larger than Dragonfly Red. Meridian Explorer 2 is almost the size of a TV remote. The shape may remind you of exactly that. Nevertheless, the edges are rounded, allowing you to grip it comfortably. See also: Chord Mojo vs Dragonfly Red.
The USB port is on one end, and the output connectors are on the other end. On the top, there are three indicator lights to show the unit’s state and stream rate. The color is metallic silver.
On the other hand, Dragonfly Red is much more compact and portable. The shape is very similar to that of a USB flash drive. You can easily carry it in your pocket; hence, it is very practical. The USB connector is on one end, and the output connector is on the other end. Just like what the name says, the color is red.
The next difference between the two models is their built-in connectors. Meridian Explorer 2 has a USB port – note that you need a USB cable to connect this DAC to your laptop or computer. It comes with two output ports that are not identical; one is a 3.5mm analogue line out with fixed 2V RMS, and the other one is a 3.5mm headphone out with variable-level output and 0.47-ohm impedance.
Dragonfly Red is much simpler. It has a USB connector that can be plugged directly into the port on your laptop or computer. It only has a single 3.5mm headphone out. So, this model can only connect to a one pair of headphones or one speaker at a time.
Sound Quality and Power
So, between the two DACs, which is the one that has the best sound quality? The answer to this question is not straightforward. You need to know that Meridian Explorer 2 fully supports MQA decoding. Because of this, the sound quality when playing MQA audio files is superior. It sounds very musical and pleasant. However, when playing other formats, Meridian Explorer 2 is not as impressive as Dragonfly Red, as it lacks some detail and accuracy.
On the other hand, according to the manufacturer, AudioQuest, Dragonfly Red’s firmware has been updated to support MQA decoding. It actually uses both hardware and software methods to decode the format. The sound quality on MQA is very good, though not as great as Meridian Explorer 2. However, when playing other formats, Dragonfly Red shines. It is significantly more detailed and accurate.
Dragonfly Red is also a lot more efficient and powerful. It can be powered solely by the USB connection without draining too much battery from the audio source. Also, it is powerful enough to drive hard headphones such as Sennheiser HD600 and HD700.
Meridian Explorer 2 Vs Dragonfly Red
|Meridian Explorer 2||Dragonfly Red|
|Key features||- Extended-range 0-100dB volume control that allows for finer adjustments
- Increased DSP power
- Trademark apodizing filter
- Combination USB DAC, preamplifier, and headphone amplifier with exceptional 24-bit/192kHz resolution||- 32-Bit SABRE DAC
- 2.1v Output Drives Almost Any Headphones
- Works With Apple and Android devices when paired with a simple adapter
- Plays everything from MP3s to 24-bit/96kHz high-resolution files|
|Customer ratings*||4.1 out of 5.0 stars||4.5 out of 5.0 stars|
|Best deal*||Save Money Please click here||Save Money Please click here|
NOTE : Product prices, availability, ratings and save money information are accurate as of the date/time indicated on post time (as seen right bellow the tittle) and are subject to change. Any price, ratings, availability and save money information displayed on Amazon Site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Between Meridian Explorer 2 vs Dragonfly Red, we recommend you to choose Dragonfly Red. This model is much more compact and portable, and it offers impressive sound quality across a wide range of audio formats. It is also more powerful, suitable for driving hard headphones.