Pros: Balanced and transparent. No added cost of tubes to upgrade.
Cons: Lacks the warmth of tube amps
After having the experience of using a less expensive tube amp, the Bellari HA540, I was interested in upgrading my desk amp. without going through multiple expensive tube trials. Tube upgrades add significant cost and time to the process of headphone listening.
I also had the positive experience of using the portable ALO Audio MKll amp. on all my current headphones. I found the solid state amping up to the task of amping my efficient 600 ohm Tesla T1's and my less efficient 600 ohm vintage AKG K240 sextet's.
I spent time on Head-Fi and multiple other web sites researching DAC/Amps at the cost point I was looking for; roughly $1000. The Meier Stack made the most logical sense. I haven't found many other quality audio manufacturers that are willing to discount their end game products in combination.
DAC: Meier Daccord
HP: HE-400, B&W P5, Senns 595, Tesla T1 and vintage AKG K240
Source: MacAir>Amarra 2.5.1
Cable: Meier stock
CD: Muse "Black Holes and Revelations," Jake Bugg "Jake Bugg," The Cars "Heartbeat City"
Lossless: The Beatles "Abbey Road," Yes "Fragile," Heart "Dreamboat Annie," Traffic "John Barleycorn Must Die"
I found that the Meier Amp was efficient at dramatizing the best and worst that the headphones offered. If you like the sub bass on the HE-400's this is a good thing. "Come Together" by The Beatles thumped in the low range as did "Supermassive Black Hole" by Muse. On the other hand the treble deficiency of the HE-400 are more revealed in Heart's "Dreamboat Annie" the title song.
The Senns 595 were well balanced, but not spectacular, still upgraded from any other amp I had previously used with them. The Beatles "Something" and "Oh Darling" were well suited with these HP's.
The T1 really shined with this amp, displaying both depth and imaging. The soundstage and separation of sound in particular on The Cars CD "Heartbeat City" were at a level I had really not experienced before. The balance and clarity of the Jake Bugg album and the jazz infused rock from Traffic were stunning. The transparent amp and transparent HP made me feel as though I was I was moving closer to the original recording sound. Music is revealed from recordings I've heard for years.
The B&W P5 were solid in the mids, less so at bass. I primarily use these as my go to HP's for portable listening. They are light and are easily amped with portable players. They add some level of isolation but are not at the same level of my desk HP's. The Meier amp punched up the mids improving the imaging of "Crazy On You" by Heart.
The vintage AKG K240 was the most suprising. This HP is really hard to drive. The HP meshed beautifully with this amp. Mids stood out more with improved separation and individuation of instruments. The bass is not great but easily made up for by the added fun that these HP's have to offer. Yes "Roundabout" really stood out for me, as did The Cars "Magic" which danced all around my ears.
I originally questioned the need for the cross feed, but after hours on the Amp/Dac combo the level of audio separation increases fatigue. Mixing the sound to create a more of a natural audio experience makes sense. You can mix the cross feed at multiple levels to match your own taste. I found the cross feed was more useful with the complex instrumentation of Yes and Traffic.
For the price a well built quality amp. This amp is not as gorgeous as some of the tube amps at the same price point. On the other hand I'm not going to spend hours researching and buying expensive tubes.
Service : Excellent customer support