The VE Monks are sublime earbuds (featured on HFN soon) and they already have good body in bass and mids. The Monks can sound quite warm and the Corda Quickstep levels it out more. The result is a sublime sounding $5USD earbud with good bass, incredible mids and smooth musical treble. (11 on the dial). Gosh the Monks are good, I could listen to them for days. Don’t forget to order them right after you finish reading this review.
The Unique Melody Maestro is extremely sensitive but the Quickstep is perfectly silent at all times, back ground noise, no hiss, no noise turning the volume dial. Very impressive stuff. The 12-driver Maestro is an incredibly balanced and detailed monitor with a large and deep sound stage with superb layering. The Corda Quickstep simply makes it sing: bass pops up and goes deep when needed, mids are layered and detailed and treble is exciting and lively. A superb combo! Direct out of the Mojo the Maestro doesn’t sound as alive and seduces less. I always listen to music at very low levels and the downside with the Maestro is that the volume, even at the lowest possible level, is just a bit loud for me. The Maestro is so easy to drive that when using the Cayin N5’s balanced output, I even listen at volume 0.
The Sennheiser HD800 is special. A few years ago I really didn’t like it but each time I listened to it at a show it grew on me. Last Canjam at Meier’s table Jan was showcasing his new FF technology in combination with the HD800 and it blew me away. The day after I arrived home from Germany I immediately called the guys at Audiogarden.fr and ordered one. I’ve loved it ever since and I will probably order the new HD800S very soon. My expectations with the Quickstep weren’t too high but I was wrong, very wrong. The combination is precise and clean with a huge and deep sound stage. Detail is everywhere and while I’ve read some comments of people finding the combination too analytic and hot in the treble, I can’t really say I feel the same. Bass body is excellent and the Corda Quickstep has become my “easy couch” HD800 amplifier.
Pretty much the only other amplifier in my collection in this price range is the PlusSound Audio Cloud Nine which costs $349. Just like the Quickstep, the CN also is an amplifier that has a lot of power and it also runs on (two) 9V batteries. With IEMs, the Quickstep is more comfortable though. Sound signature wise the Corda Quickstep is the most neutral of both while the Cloud nice has more body in bass and mids at all time. I do find the Quickstep to have the better separation and spaciousness. The Cloud Nine does the really hard to drive headphones a whole lot better of course. Both are great amps. Another IEM amp which I love (and that does full sized headphones pretty good) is the $399 CypherLabs Picollo. The Quickstep has a lighter and more spacious sound with a deeper sound stage while the Picollo has a more concentrated sound. It’s great with the LCD-2 though and it does look sexier. Another of my fav amps is the Duet, also from CypherLabs, but it does cost double the Quickstep. The Duet sounds great and is even better when being used in full balanced mode. The output quality is higher than the Quickstep but it isn’t that far behind. The Duet does driver the orthodynamics in a better way. The Fiio E12A ($159) is a nice amp and especially its mids are very good but compared to the Corda Quickstep it sound/quality wise comes in second. It’s also a lot bigger and less portable but has great battery life.
Tastes evolve. I love every single bit of the Corda Quickstep and it makes me wonder what I would think of the Corda Classic and the Daccord right now, 2 years after I reviewed them. I do know already I like Mr. Meier’s new FF versions so maybe I should get both the non- and FF version for the review.
The Corda Quickstep is small but the sound is huge. I wasn’t expecting the Corda Quickstep to sound this good but Jan has made one heck of an amplifier. The amp might seem a bit expensive in the beginning but once you know what’s inside and have listened to the amp, you’ll get out your wallet right away. Its 300-ish price is somewhere in between where most other amps are situated (under 150 and above 500). I have a feeling Nathan would absolutely love this amp and I’m pretty sure it would measure great too.
The Corda Quickstep is available directly from Meier’s website or on amazon.com and I can and will fully recommend it to anyone who’s still looking for a portable amp from now on.