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Meier Corda Aria Review (DAC & Headphone Amp)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Meier Corda Aria DAC and headphone amplifier. It is on kind loan from a member. It is an older product, introduced around 2005 I think. Not sure how much it cost then.

The Aria gives the impression of a "high-end" product:
Meier Corda Aria Review  DAC Headphone Amplifier.jpg


As you see, it is a German design:
Meier Corda Aria Review back panel DAC Headphone Amplifier.jpg


Owner bought this used and sent it to the company to reverse some "head-fi mods" someone had done to it which the designer thought was ill advised.

Meier Corda Aria Measurements
Let's start with analog input:
Meier Corda Aria Measurements Headphone Amplifier.png


I was very impressed with the inaudible distortion products at -115 dB. Only in the last two years we have seen headphone amplifiers routinely match this level of performance. Interesting that it existed some 16 years ago! Noise level though while good, is not competitive with today's products:
Meier Corda Aria Measurements SNR Headphone Amplifier.png


Switching to digital input shows very disappointing performance:

Meier Corda Aria Measurements USB DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


So from here on, I decided to only test the analog input. Frequency response is very good:

Meier Corda Aria Measurements Frequency Response Headphone Amplifier.png


Power into 300 ohm and 32 ohm are respectable:

Meier Corda Aria Measurements THD 300 Headphone Amplifier.png


Meier Corda Aria Measurements THD 32 Headphone Amplifier.png


But as noted before, noise floor is not what you can get from modern budget headphone amplifiers today.

Company talks fair about about their cross-feed circuit. I tested crosstalk with and without that mode engaged:

Meier Corda Aria Measurements Crossfeed Headphone Amplifier.png


Seems to be doing what the company says (extended crossfeed to higher frequencies).

Finally, channel matching in the sample I received is very good:

Meier Corda Aria Measurements Channel Matching Headphone Amplifier.png


Conclusions
It is impressive to see a designer care about reducing distortion so much back then. I have tested many products like this that even ship today but with non-competitive performance. The DAC option is a "checklist" item unfortunately and shows its age as well. I suggested using an external DAC to see if it results in improved performance.

Doesn't make sense to give any kind of recommendation on this product so I won't. You know my feeling above.

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julian_hughes

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The amp looks to be excellent. Like you said, it's especially impressive for a product of 15 years ago. I remember *really* wanting a Meier headphone amp with his crossfeed but never being able to afford it. But technology advanced and his excellent crossfeed got emulated in software, and cheap headphone amps reached similar levels of performance. Of the different crossfeed presets available in software such as bs2b, foobar, Neutron and similar the Meier crossfeed still stands out as the most likely to emulate loudspeaker listening and the least likely to upset the tonality of the music.
 

GWolfman

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Impressive for the times! Curious what one had to pay for this level of performance back in the day.
 

GeekyBastard

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The amp part was near excellent in today's standard even though it's a 15 years old product, really shows what a caring and experienced engineer could do.
 

vkvedam

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I have always wanted to own a Meier amplifier when I started this journey way back in 2007 :)
 

Azathoth

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Brings me back to when I first started my audiophile journey, Meier Audio, Ray Samuels Audio, Alo Audio, these names were popular back then for me. Good to see those nice analog numbers.
 

sseppala

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Thank you Amir for the interesting review. Nice to see that Jan's old producs were so well engineered, I still have the much cheaper Corda Swing model. It would be very interesting to see how his newer producs perform in comparison, especially the amplifiers equipped with active ground and frequency-adaptive feedback technologies. These seem to be his newer selling points, besides the classic crossfeed. Altough, I have a hunch that they would not make any measurable benefits. Hopefully they wouldn't be worse than this 16 year old model.


 

peniku8

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And it is a really usefull feature for older recordings.
Sometimes you'd even wish for a mono switch like they had on older HiFi amps :)

 

Svperstar

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Blast from the past I remember Meier products being considered really cool in the mid 2000s. I joined headfi in 2004, so much stuff like Ray Samuels people used to talk about all the time that doesn't get mentioned much these days.
 

Vict0r

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Spray paint that whole thing black, so the "pillars" match the case, and it'll look fantastic! :D

Ahh, the Meier Corda series. Brings back those old Head-Fi memories...
 
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