But what does it sound like?
If you look at simply there are two kinds of amplifiers and DACs: those which color and change the sound and those which do not, aka the neutral ones. While we were talking about audio in general it became very clear that to Meier Audio, the only colorations (if needed) should be done by the headphone and not by the other elements of the audio chain. Either you agree or you don’t but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. The point is that as a result of this philosophy the Meier gear is very transparent. They have a neutral and clear sound, not influencing your music in any way.
As I mentioned before I used the Daccord a lot when I was testing other gear but also when I was just listening for pleasure in my couch. To me a good DAC is a natural sounding, accurate, not overly analytical and musical device like the Violectric V800 and this unit. I’m a fan of tube amps and I do use amplifiers and tubes to “color” the sound I’ll hear. The Daccord and Corda Classic clearly do not color the sound. The Corda Classic just amplifies the signal. Sure there’s the crossfeed possibility but it does not influence the sound signature of the amplifier. The sound will always be neutral and correct which is a great thing but it’s going to the more analytical side.
At the same time that also is what makes it extra hard to review this amplifier. Does it do anything wrong? Not at all. Does it “change” or emphasizes the low or high frequencies, etc? No, it doesn’t. Is it really good in one special thing? No, not really. But that exactly is what makes this combination so good (And, don’t forget there is the unique crossfeed function to add to all that). It excels in being neutral and correct while not going too much to the analytical side and staying musical. It shows you how well your music was recorded and how your headphones sound.
The sound of course is solid state like; it is dead quiet, fast, detailed, clear and uncolored. Bass impact is pretty good: not too big but definitely not small at all and it is always tight. I’ve mentioned the detail level of the units before and you won’t have anything to complain about. Of course there are amplifiers with an even wider sound stage, more extended treble and even more detail but from bass to mids to highs everything is correct, fluent, uninfluenced and it all fits together great. This combination (together with the HD650/Theorem setup) was excellent to complete Gold part of the Philips Golden Ears Training Program as well, like if it was made for it.
The A20 amplifier I reviewed not so long ago (and which I like a lot) is more musical sounding but has less detail and clarity in its sound. The Violectric V200 is more powerful and has a more dynamic sound signature with bigger body and bass and a more smooth and musical sound. The X-Amp has a lot more bass focus and less detail, etc. They are all great amps and I really use them all depending on the sound I want to hear. The CC is one of the most neutral solid state amps I have listened to in the last few years
The Hifiman HE-500 and Audeze LCD-2: while there is more than enough power to drive these headphones I wasn’t the biggest fan of this combo. They seem to be missing in the lower frequencies. I am missing the bass and mids body I am used to hearing with these headphones. It is not a bad combination per se but the LCD2 and HE500 to me sound better on some of my other amplifiers and so I switched to the dynamic headphones rather quickly (We’ve been spoiled with really good amplifiers lately for the Orthodynamics). The 250Ohm Beyerdynamic T90 was sounding really good on the German gear. Good bass, great detail level. I think the T90 and Corda Classic have something going there. I didn’t expect the Corda to perform well with the Philips L2 but it did. I loved the L2 on the Duet because of the bass and thicker mids but I also find it to be a good match with this combo. Bass is very good and the mids section is very clear but it is less seductive as with the Duet or a warmer sounding amp. The highs on some recordings tended to sound sharper but that’s not the first time with the L2. Seeing the Corda likes a high imdedance Beyer and a low impedance Philips, I just had to try it with the 32Ohm Anniversary Edition of the Beyerdynamic DT770. And what do you know, great match! One of the better sounding amps I have heard the AE on actually. Fast, good, tight and punchy bass, good mids and sparkling highs. I found this to be the best combination of all the headphones I tried.
If you’re looking for a setup with an incredible sound stage and a smooth musical and very dynamic sound this isn’t the setup for you. If you’re a fan of neutral sounding units however, where you don’t want your amp/dac to influence the sound and you really want to hear what your headphones sound like, you certainly need to have a listen to the Meier Gear. This is a combo for those who want a clear, neutral, detailed and original/correct presentation of their music. In this price range there is a lot of competition but you should definitely put these Meier units on your shortlist if you’re looking for the above mentioned characteristics.
I enjoyed it most with all the dynamic headphones I had available and that’s not something I can say of all the neutral amps that passed here. (Like the O2 amplifier). For reviewing, the Meier gear is great. For my private listening sessions I tend to choose a more musical, warmer sounding (tube) amp but that’s just my personal preference. I could however live long and happily ever after with the Daccord DAC.
The Daccord price is 555€/$765 outside of the EU. Inside the EU it costs 645€ because of the included VAT. The Corda Classic costs you 515€ or $705 outside of the EU and 595€ inside. I noticed that Meier at the moment is having a discount till the end of March where you can save 200€ when buying this combo. If you’re interested in reading more on these units or buying one, go to Meier Audio’s Website.
Thank you Jan for letting us keep the review units for such a long time, they will be with you again shortly.