Judes Corda Headfive review:
Originally Posted by granodemostasa
it was in the national meet impressions thread, can't find it now... he reviewed the GS1000 in the same post.
From the meet:
Meier Audio CORDA HEADFIVE
When Jan Meier contacted me to discuss a Head-Fi commemorative amp to support Head-Fi and celebrate its fifth anniversary (which will be June 20, 2006), I was thrilled with the idea. I have two Meier Audio amps right now (a Porta CORDA MkII and a PreHead Mk1)--and a third amp (CORDA HA-2 MkII pre-production unit) that Meier sent to auction off in support of Head-Fi--and they are all top-calibre amps in their price ranges. However, in an attempt to provide an even higher value headphone amplifier, Jan Meier started with his successful CORDA HA-1 MkII as a baseline, re-working the design to raise its performance bar, and then, as he did with the CORDA Aria, contracted to have the amp manufactured to his extremely high standards in Asia, to keep the costs low and the amp affordable. And, yes, at $250.00, the low price belies the CORDA HEADFIVE's level of performance, which impressed all who heard it at the National Meet.
The HEADFIVE's casework quality is impeccable, with thick, polished aluminum slabs serving as front and back plates, and a matching thick aluminum main body. The fit and finish is awesome, and had at least one gear manufacturer, who examined the HeadFive closely, seriously thinking of having some sample casework done overseas as a study in potential cost savings.
But, obviously, the most important part of any amp for a Head-Fi'er is how it sounds, and here, as with its casework, the result is something that catches you quite off guard, given the amp's price. In traditional Meier fashion, the CORDA HeadFive is a resolving amplifier, but with a little surprise: it's a little more forgiving than the likes of the HA-2 Mk2 and PreHead, with a slightly rounder tonal presentation that I haven't heard from Meier since before I exchanged my AD8161 PreHead for another Head-Fi'ers standard LM6171 PreHead. While it won't quite do the sonic scanning electron microscopy that the HA-2 Mk2 and PreHead are capable of, the HeadFive is still unquestionably articulate and detailed -- highly resolving -- and easily surpasses the performance of any $250.00 amp I've heard before it. (If you're lucky enough to have a Grado HF-1, it teams nicely with the HEADFIVE, and I can't think of 450 audio dollars more effectively spent for a desktop headphone/amp combo. Of course, if you don't already have a Grado HF-1, good luck getting one for only $200.00.)
The HEADFIVE has the brawn to take on the new Grado GS-1000 or the Sennheiser HD600/650, driving either to ear-splitting amplitude, with grace all the way there, your ears giving out long before the amp does (in fact, the HeadFive hasn't yet shown me a hint of strain). Just as impressively, it's a quiet amp, and none of my in-ear monitors could shake any hiss or noise from it at listening levels.
Head-Fi's name is part of the CORDA HEADFIVE's name. And 10% of the purchase price of every unit goes to Head-Fi. And, like the Grado HF-1 headphone (the first Head-Fi commemorative product), its performance hits a major sweet spot, and is a product I'm proud to have the site directly associated with. (Click here for information about ordering the limited edition Meier Audio CORDA HEADFIVE.)
Thanks to Jan Meier for developing the HEADFIVE, unsolicited, as just another of countless measures of what he's done so much of in the past, which is to come up with ways to support and serve the site and community. Meier Audio is one of Head-Fi's two Founding Sponsors (HeadRoom being the other), and, for his support since the very beginning, Jan Meier can't be thanked enough.