Disclaimer: We got the samples directly from Meier Audio in Germany and they will be returned immediately.
The Meier vs Headfonia (Hi)Story
A long time ago, somewhere in 2011, Mike reviewed the Meier Audio Concerto and Stagedac which could be considered as the predecessors to the Daccord and the Corda Classic from this review. At that time Mike wasn’t too fond of the Meier gear, but Meier Audio has advanced and so I am expecting these units to be more impressive, or at least more impressive to me. Over a year ago I contacted Jan and asked him for samples of his, I think, portable amplifiers. He honestly replied that because of that review he wasn’t inclined to send any samples. I replied I totally could understand his point of view and we left it at that.
Then last year when we went to the EU Canjam in Essen (Germany), Meier Audio was there as well but I didn’t find any time to visit their booth. A few weeks after Canjam I suddenly got an email from Mr. Meier and we ended up going for coffee a few weeks later. We talked for a couple of hours and in the end he proposed that I check out the Daccord and Corda Classic. I think he wanted to test me first. I took them home with me and, as our regular readers may have noticed, I have been using the gear on several occasions to review other units. Especially the Daccord DAC.
I should apologize to Mister Meier really, the review is finally online after all these months and I wish I could have published it sooner.
Corda Classic & Daccord: Parts & Looks
This is a double unit review so this part is going to be a bit longer than usual, especially because the technical features are the strong point of the Meier gear. So if you don’t care about this stuff skip to the next chapter for the sound comparisons and headphone matching.
Meier Audio is very occupied with the quality of the units. Yes they are made in Asia but they only use high quality big name components like Vishay and Nichicon FG and each unit is tested by Meier Audio in Germany before sending it out to the clients. The 28 x 17.5 x 6.7cm measuring units in sturdy anodized aluminum might look sober and not as sexy as some of other brands but that is because the insides matter more to the developer.
The 1.7kg Daccord is the DAC part of the combo. It has an integrated cross feed (more on that later) and two coaxial, one optical and a USB input. It also has a fixed level output and a variable output so you can use it with a pair of active speakers or a power amplifier. The USB receiver chip is the C-Media CM6631 (24/192kHz) and you will need to install a special driver for it to work correctly. The S/PDIF receiver is a Wolfson WM8804 that uses its own separate high-precision quartz-clock that reduces jitter more than the traditional receivers. The Daccord uses two Wolfson WM8741 D/A chips in dual mono mode for the conversion and AD797 opamps biased into “Class-A”.
All the technical details can be checked here. There is just too much to mention.
The 2.2 kg Corda Classic (CC) amplifier has the same style and dimensions as the Daccord and together they make a nice stack. The CC uses the concept of active balanced headphone ground (details and all the tech stuff here) which offers the most of the advantages of a true balanced headphone setup without the need of balanced connections. The volume control is very sophisticated and has over sixty .5dB steps. It is worth to read what Jan Meier wrote about it on his website, it’s quite interesting. The CC has an input selector (2 inputs), a gain switch (-2/+14dB) and of course the cross feed switches and a SE Neutrik headphone out on the front. Inside you will find AD797 opamps biased into “Class-A” and 7! Burr-Brown BUF634 buffer amps: 2 for the left, 2 for the right headphone output channel and 3 for the ground-channel.
Those interested in the hardcore tech stuff should really check out all the characteristics on Meier Audio’s website, I only covered the basics in this overview.
What’s all this Crossfeed talk?
The goal of the cross feed is to make your headphones sound or feel more natural and to “eliminate” the extreme left-right separation you can sometimes have in recordings.
The built-in crossfeed filter is a frequency-extended version of the natural crossfeed found in previous CORDA amplifiers and provides even better imaging. It also offers three intensity levels (Stereo, medium, high). To compensate for the psycho-acoustic bass-loss a separate switch allows you to slightly increase lower-frequencies.
Personally I can’t say I always used the crossfeed function and lower frequency boost, but with the right (or wrong?) music/recording it actually was a very nice something to have. The effect of the crossfeed isn’t huge; don’t expect a completely different sound from your headphones. It’s the subtle changes that make listening to your headphone more comfortable and “real”. The crossfeed effect also depends on the headphone used. I mean that the level of audibility is different from headphone to headphone. I found it to have the biggest effect on dynamic headphones and with the orthodynamic units the result was only minimal.
Sometimes when listening to my collection I couldn’t stand the crossfeed, and other times I didn’t have enough crossfeed. It’s a great thing you can tune it to your liking with the double switches for crossfeed and LF Boost. I have to say that when I wanted to use the crossfeed, the effect could have even been bigger for my personal taste. From what I understood from Dr. Meier this could be individually tuned a little bit to the preference of the buyer but in general his customers are happy with the available settings. You’ll find yourself playing with the switches with every new album you start listening to. The crossfeed is one of the unique selling points of the Meier gear.
4 pages of details on the Meier Crossfeed can be found here. These pages also contain examples of MP3 samples with and without crossfeed applied.
Go to the next page for the sound impressions