Review: Meier Audio Corda Quickstep – Impressive

The Quickstep uses a 9V battery but you can also connect a power supply to it, both are located on the back of the amplifier. The 9V battery is very easy to remove and you don’t need any tools to do so. One of the advantages of the 9V battery is that the Corda Quickstep sounds extremely clean, I myself have been using it with rechargeable 9V batteries only, not with a power supply which is also supposed to boost the output volume. These 9V batteries don’t last quite as long but a 9V battery charges pretty quick. To be honest, one recharged battery doesn’t get me through a full  working day so when you are planning on using the Quickstep for longer periods, I suggest getting a power supply for it. The Quickstep comes with two gain settings (-3dB / 14dB) and I can assure you it can play really loud. The volume pot is discrete and has 32 1.5dB steps. It’s so smooth to turn and it lets you set the volume just how you want it, even with sensitive and very easy to drive monitors.

Corda quickstep 3

Mr. Meier continuous: “The Corda Quickstep is a technically very sophisticated portable amplifier. This amp was designed to provide the best possible portable sound with a minimum of compromises towards size and current consumption. The amp not only uses the concept of active balanced ground but also has a discrete volume control. This volume control isn’t a standard industrial solution but uses a concept in which the position of an analog potentiometer is measured using a low-power ADC and in which the output of this ADC is used to control electronic switches that set the volume level. The 3.5 mm sockets, mechanically often the weakest point of a portable amplifier, are heavy duty. Also much care is taken that the amp does not react to RF-signals at the input, thus making it immune to RF-pollution caused by mobile headphones.

For its amplification the Quickstep uses five single OPA209 opamps for maximal sonic performance. (No dual or quad opamps!) If you’re talking about Meier gear, you have to know that each and every unit is engineered in the best possible way. I have to admit it isn’t always easy to follow Mr. Meier’s explanations but he’s an incredibly gifted designer and his knowledge is recognized and appreciated by a whole lot of other engineers. The Quickstep comes with 2 mini-mini interconnects (gold plated) and a tool to open the amp. Its price outside of Europe is €295,- / USD 325,- and for the EU residents it costs €345. The Corda Quickstep isn’t a cheap amplifier but don’t forget you’re getting a superbly designed amplifier with top quality components in a very small and powerful package. It also is an amplifier that manages to drive full sized headphones without any problem but more on that in “Sound”. Here are the rest of the Quickstep specs:

  • Supply voltage: 6 .. (9) .. 15 Volts DC
  • Mean current uptake: 35 mA / 20mA (high/low-current-consumption-mode)
  • Active balanced headphone ground.
  • Star-grounding and ultra-short signal paths.
  • Input impedance: 120 / 17 kOhm
  • Output impedance: < 1 Ohm
  • The unit runs from a single 9V battery and internally the supply voltage is used to create a pair of +4.5 and -4.5V powerlines (low current consumption mode) or a pair of +9 and -9V powerlines (high current consumption mode).
  • External power supplies can be connected with voltages between 6V and 15V DC. This supply voltage is internally doubled to create a pair of +6..+15V and -6..-15V powerlines.
  • Noise is removed by extensive LC-filtering of the supply voltage.
  • RF-noise (iPhone!!) is removed by extensive filtering of the input signal.
  • The total buffer capacity is 4700 uF to lower the effective battery impedance.
  • The heavy-duty (!!) 3.5 mm sockets are gold-plated.
  • Inside the signal path only metal-resistors and high-quality film-capacitors are used (polypropylene).

Sound

According to Mr. Meier, his design results in a very clean and detailed sound without any channel imbalances and right he is. The lovely volume pot lets you set the volume exactly how you want to set it. There are no noises, no distortion, no cracks. You get a perfectly silent amp with a full black background. Everything is detailed, clean and clear with great dynamics. The sounds stage width is good and its depth is too. Separation and balance are well done.

Bass is present when needed but doesn’t always have the biggest body, this isn’t an amp for the bass heads out there. While the bass detail and layering certainly is there, it isn’t always of the tightest kind. That however should improve when using an external power supply instead of the 9V battery (but I can’t confirm it). The mids are gorgeous and have the perfect mix between detail and musicality. Separation, spaciousness and depth are good and the Corda Quickstep delivers a very natural engaging sound. The overall sound signature of the Quickstep is neutral but the good kind of neutral where musicality is most important. The Corda Quickstep simply is transparent and doesn’t anything to the sound itself. Treble is clear and detailed but always easy to listen to. It never is too hot or sibilant.

Corda Quickstep 2

The Quickstep makes the Sennheiser HD650 sound very dynamic and clear. Low gain works just fine with only 11 o’ clock on the volume dial. I still prefer the Sennheisers on tubes but the Quickstep makes the HD650 sound alive, layered, fast, clear and precise. I would have liked a little more bass impact but most of you who sometimes find the HD650 to sound too dark will love it on the Quickstep. Most of the time I used the Senn in combination with the Chord Mojo as its source. I actually prefer the HD650 directly out of the Quickstep over the headphone out of the Mojo. Layering is better and there’s more weight in bass and mids. The Mojo sounds more forward and forced then the Quickstep.

Sound continues after the CLICK

Review: Meier Audio Corda Quickstep – Impressive
4.3 (86.67%) 18 vote[s]

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

41 Comments

  • Reply March 8, 2016

    Barun C

    Hey Lieven, nice article. Had a couple of questions
    1. Did you get a chance to try it with sensitive balanced armature/hybrid IEMs and if so how was
    the synergy and noise floor?
    2. By stating that the amp does not run even a full working day, do you mean less than 8 hours,
    just wanted to know what is the range of battery life?

    Thanks

    • Reply March 8, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      1. I have used my Maestro 12 BA driver and the Warbler Prototype: No noise whatsoever
      2. On my rechargeable batteries it doesn’t last 8 hours, no. For longer use you should hook it up to a power supply

      • Reply March 8, 2016

        Kristian Lindecrantz

        Makes me skitish, how you avoid give an estimate on battery life… Great review though, as usual!

        • Reply March 9, 2016

          Headfonia_L.

          It depends on the power of your rechargeable battery, the ones I have are only 200 and they last for about 6 hours

  • Reply March 9, 2016

    Ken

    Wow, I bought the Chord Mojo 2 weeks ago and has been so happy that I decided too sell my home setup (Audio-gd 10.32) and previous “on-the-go” equipment (Corda Quickstep). Last year I got an almost new Quickstep for less than 200 euro, but I have not used it very much. It doesn’t give my iPhone 6 enough of an upgrade powering Beoplay H6 headphones or q-Jays in-ears.

    I was going to put the Quickstep up for sale tomorrow, but this review has made me reconsider. Tonight I have been listening to the Mojo/Quickstep combo, and I must admit that it is very good. The Mojo is perfect on-the-go, but Mojo/Quickstep might be a very fine and small home setup. Last week I sold Denon D7000 for lack use, so I am in the market for another fullsize headphone. Your thoughts on the Quickstep and HD650 will probably make me buy a second-hand HD650 for the third time if the price is right:-)

    • Reply March 9, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      The HD650 should be in each self respecting music lover’s inventory/setup 🙂

      • Reply March 9, 2016

        Ken

        You are right:-) What is the small cable you have used to connect Quickstep and Mojo?

      • Reply March 24, 2016

        canchang

        intriguing and helpful review! how loud (what colour) did you set the mojo to output into quickstep? thx

        • Reply March 24, 2016

          Headfonia_L.

          The standard LO setting of the Mojo (start up with volume buttons pressed)

          • Reply March 24, 2016

            canchang

            merci!

  • Reply March 9, 2016

    Skyfall

    Lieven,
    Lovely reviews. Between Quickstep and Duet, which one according to you have better synergy with HD700 and LCD X. I am a sucker for tonality that is thicker, textured and slightly bassier sound but great transparency and details. I found Mk3B+ delivers what i’m looking for I wonder if it could be better since you can put more oomph with Quick Step using better Battery, more voltage.
    Your help will be much appreciated.

    • Reply March 9, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      I’d give that to the Duet, especially in balanced config

  • Reply March 9, 2016

    Carl

    Another cool review L!
    When you say that with the HD800 it has become your “easy couch” set-up, what DAC is that with? Or is it with more than one!
    I’m finally at the point of getting an HD800 (or the the 800s, which would be several hundred pounds more) and I’m a little lost with knowing what direction to go in concerning amps & days at the more budget end of the spectrum.
    You are one of the rare ‘recent owners of the HD800 that don’t spend ages outlining its flaws, so any advice you could give would be appreciated.
    Really stuck between the 800 and the ‘improved’ 800s ….
    Be well.

    • Reply March 9, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      Thanks Carl! Couch setup: Any DAP (X7, AK120II, AK240, L5pro, N5, …)
      Most headphones have “flaws” somehow but I think the criticism on the HD800 is also often exaggerated.

      • Reply March 9, 2016

        Carl

        Two follow-on quick questions L:
        Is double-amping still an issue at all? I ask in probable ignorance I realise, but connecting the Quickstep to a DAP with one of the supplied 3.5 to 3.5 connectors, isn’t the quickstep then also amping the DAP’s amp, or does it not matter?
        Secondly, what are your two personal favourite amps when you listen to your HD800?
        Thanks!

        • Reply March 9, 2016

          Headfonia_L.

          You have to use the Line Out of the DAP, not the headphone out.
          My custom made 300B amp and the Violectric V281

          • Reply March 9, 2016

            Carl

            Thank you for your time.
            Be well.

    • Reply March 9, 2016

      dalethorn

      Ignoring price, the HD800 has a phenomenal resolution, and needs really great amplification to bring out its best. A guy I know was running some tests at a dealer who had such amplification, and what he described was akin to hearing the angels of heaven etc. I got a small sense of it with headphone amps under $1000 USD, but I can imagine what I was missing.

      • Reply March 9, 2016

        Headfonia_L.

        Luckily for me I have those amps too 🙂
        But seriously, the Quickstep really surprised me with the HD800. Maybe that’s no coincidence as Jan is a big fan himself

  • Reply March 9, 2016

    Trychtyr

    Hello Lieven, thank you for nice review and
    introduction of the brand which was completely unknown for me. At the moment I
    am considering purchase of the portable amp for aluminium Kaiser universal. I
    use it with original Fiio X5 and I have feeling that build-in amplification is
    not adequate to these IEM. I plan to buy new DAP soon but I am not sure yet
    which one (most probably X7 or L5pro). They are also some newcomers announced so I give it time. Do you think portable amp would be sound quality improvement to
    current setup and also in future when used with new DAP? I am thinking about RX,
    Picollo, Pure II+ and now also Quickstep. I also listen to music at very low
    levels. Are all mentioned amps suitable for such usage with sensitive IEM? Do I
    have sufficient possibility to fine-tune volume at low level or low level with
    these amps means also channel imbalance area of volume pot? On X5 I am usually
    somewhere between 15 and 20 of 120. Thanks in advance for hint.

    • Reply March 9, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      Great selection of amps, any of these will be just fine 🙂

  • Reply March 11, 2016

    Peter Pan

    Hi Lieven how do you compare this amp with G109? I am thinking about meier Jazz ff or G109A for my HD650. Any thoughts?

    • Reply March 11, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      You shouldn’t compare a mini portable amp to a desktop amp. The G109 and V100 are good amplifiers, haven’t heard the Jazz ff yet

  • Reply March 11, 2016

    Peter Pan

    Yes i know just wondering about sound signatures because from what i am reading i understand that you liked both quickstep and G109 with the HD650.

    • Reply March 11, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      if you need it to be portable: Quickstep, if not: Lakepeople/violectric

  • Reply March 11, 2016

    Peter Pan

    No need to be portable so i have to decide between G109 and Jazz ff but no chances for me to listen to them so it’s a blind date! (and the price is the same so very difficult to decide.)

    • Reply March 11, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      Analytic, neutral : Jazz (based on Meiers sound sig)
      Warmer, good bass and body: G109

      • Reply March 11, 2016

        Dave Ulrich

        The G109 is still pretty neutral

  • Reply March 11, 2016

    Peter Pan

    Ok thank you guys for the info well from what you say i am inclined towards G109…

  • Reply March 11, 2016

    Nickjan Glas

    Great review, I got this one some time ago when it was on sale. but its definitely worth retail price. it replaced my fiio e12, which I havent used since.
    For power I added a second rechargeable 9v battery (both 250mA). That usually lasts for 12 to 15 hours total.

    I also upgraded the corda classic to the ff version after listening to the HE560 on it at Canjam and I am sure you ll love it once you get to review it. Seems to me to be more lively and open/dynamic than the regular version; a nuance difference, but with great positive consequence.

    • Reply March 12, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      The difference between regular and FF is quite noticeable. Surprised to see you getting 12 to 15h on the 250mA though 🙂

      • Reply March 12, 2016

        Nickjan Glas

        The 12-15 hours is on 2 batteries; I carry a spare. I am now saving for the hE560 to get more out of the classic ff.

  • Reply March 14, 2016

    Ritwik

    I am glad that you wrote a review about the amp, finally. I still use my ‘Stepdance’ and like it over any other SS amp I have ever heard. When I bought the amp there were very few who talked about this great little amp but I took the leap of faith and never regretted my decision.

  • Reply April 29, 2016

    Krzysztof Nowaczyk

    Nice review but could you briefly compare it to Aune B1? Just soundwise…
    Mainly to be used with IEMs – Flare R2A/R2pro and Lear BD4.2 – sources – Mojo, iPhone 4s and TEAC HA-P90SD. After owning hundreds of portable equipment those quys seems to be my end game (more or less:) ) – but I’d like to try new amp…

    I can buy Corda for 110$ and B1 for 220$ … Just for a price – performance point of reference

    • Reply April 29, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      I’m afraid I can’t. Don’t have the Aune B1, Flare or Lear or Teac 😀

      • Reply April 29, 2016

        Krzysztof Nowaczyk

        Too bad:( I was hoping for some insight.
        I’ll go with Corda then… I think it may go well with iPhone 4s (which I’m using as streaming-enabled DAP only).

        • Reply April 29, 2016

          Headfonia_L.

          Nathan always says the 4S was/is one of the best iphones for sound, so adding the Quickstep probably is a really good idea

          • Reply April 29, 2016

            Krzysztof Nowaczyk

            My thoughts exactly:)
            I’ll post a comment how it stacks together…

  • Reply August 31, 2016

    Julio

    How compared with Cloud Nine in terms on detail, layered and dynamic’s?

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