Meridian Audio, has launched its most ambitious DAC to date in the £15,000 Ultra, a 384kHz/24-bit dedicated digital to analogue capable of playing “virtually any recording format including DXD, DSD64 and DSD128 (DoP), and MQA”. 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.
The Ultra is the first DAC in the world to include MQA’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 Sooloos music-management platform. One pair of balanced and one pair of unbalanced analogue outputs are also provided. 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’s Chief Technical Officer 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 utilises Meridian’s renowned audio expertise to set a new standard in the analogue realm”.