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Headphone Amplifier


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Stereophile - 2018 500 Recommended Components Stereophile - 2017 500 Recommended Components

The Prime Headphone Amplifier combines Meridian’s digital expertise in the form of a USB DAC with the full suite of Meridian Resolution Enhancement technologies such as the Apodising upsampling filter (which can actually improve the quality of digital recordings played through it), with an exceptionally high quality analogue signal path for the reproduction of analogue inputs either from conventional hi-fi components (via the phono inputs) or from smartphones or personal players (via the 3.5mm jack socket). While the product is a Headphone Amplifier, with 1/4in and 3.5mm outputs, it also acts as a preamplifier, with outputs on a pair of phonos. A significant feature for headphone listeners is the inclusion of Analogue Spatial Processing (ASP), which transforms the headphone listening experience from one that tends to be “inside the head” to one that is rather more like listening to loudspeakers. The units feature an elegant new enclosure design by Allen Boothroyd which not only echoes the G Series but also earlier models going as far back as the 100 Series.

Product Features:

  • Analogue signal path throughout
  • 6-layer PC board for maximum signal isolation and enhanced performance
  • Analogue Spatial Processing offers dual-mode loudspeaker-like listening on headphones – with bypass
  • Audio components mounted near rear- panel sockets for ultra-short signal path
  • Analogue logic switching
  • USB 2.0 asynchronous playback at up to 192kHz/24-bit featuring Meridian resolution-enhancement technology including low-jitter clocking, upsampling and Apodising.
  • Externally-powered USB input: disconnecting deactivates all digital electronics
  • Dual 1/4in stereo headphone sockets with separate-wire grounding (may be used with separately-wired headphones) plus 3.5mm stereo jack
  • High-quality gold-plated sockets
  • Headphone-only mode powers down preamp output
  • Analogue volume control driven from front panel via flexible coupling to minimise microphony
  • Relay muting on power-up and power-down for thump-free operation.
  • Hand made in Meridian’s state-of-the-art headquarters near Cambridge, UK.
  • New, elegant and durable metal enclosure design by Allen Boothroyd, double-skinned for lower noise, offers the distinctive Meridian look with no visible mounting screws


  • 1x pair Phono (stereo) (A1) Gain 3dB; 1.4Vrms in for 2Vrms out
  • 1x 3.5mm analogue stereo (A2) Gain 12dB; 500mVrms in for 2Vrms out Analogue inputs overload capability >40dB
  • 1x USB Asynchronous USB 2.0 interface, 44.1– 192kHz ≤24-bit. Jitter <90ps p-p. Apodising filter and upsampling of 44.1/48kHz inputs to 88.2/96kHz


  • 1x pair phono (stereo) preamp out Maximum output 3.1Vrms @ 1kHz THD <0.001% @ 1kHz up to 3V rms Crosstalk <–70dB @ 1kHz Output can be disabled via power button
  • 2x 1/4in A-type stereo phone jacks Maximum output 3Vrms off load, THD <0.002% Output impedance <100mΩ Power output 250mW up to 42Ω Short-circuit protected
  • 1x 3.5mm stereo phone jack Max output 3Vrms off-load, THD <0.002% Output impedance 2.2Ω

Overall Audio performance

  • Output noise (input A1) < –100dBV CCIR or A weighted
  • Frequency response +0/–1dB DC–70kHz +0/–3dB DC–200kHz

Headphone compatibility

  • Suitable for impedances in the range 16–1kΩ or more. Suitable for open, closed, in-, on- or over-ear models. Recommended sensitivity >80dBspl/mW or >96dBspl/V


  • Volume with precise tracking, 70dB range
  • Input switch
  • Processing (off/i/ii)
  • Power including rear output mute


  • ‘Out-of-head’ Analogue Spatial Processing with dual settings plus bypass (headphone outputs only)


  • 12V DC
  • Consumption <0.5W standby
  • <1W in quiescent


  • Silver metal finish similar to G Series


  • Width: 160mm (6.3in); Depth: 150mm (5.9in) plus connectors; Height: 50mm (2.0in)


  • 0.9 kg ( 2.0 lbs)

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