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Corda Headamp-2 – the review - Page 3

post #31 of 51
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by dhwilkin
So how many hours does your Corda-2 have on it now, JaZZ?
About 120 hours.

It'll be interesting to see when the changes stop happening...
I absolutely agree... It wouldn't bother me if it was the case now; I don't feel the need for any further improvement, the sound is great now. And I'd like to lay back and just enjoy.
post #32 of 51
How's it going by now JaZZ? How many hours? How's the sound?

What kind of power cord are you using with it? And do you have the amp connected to any AC conditioning and do you have an audiophile grade AC receptacle by chance? All of these things can make a profound effect on the sound so I would be curious to know what you might be using in this area.
post #33 of 51
Thread Starter 
Hi Sean!

I'm an absolute nut when it comes to power cords and -condtioners... I'm just using the cord that Jan sent me with the device. I once borrowed an MFE power conditioner and perceived no effect. So I gave it up, at least for a certain time. Then I had the idea to build one myself, I already had all components, but finally I lost interest in the subject... Nevertheless I'm interested again after reading so many comments on the importance of power cords; I would like to build one myself, if I knew which criteria are important to the sound. It's just hard to understand where the improvement comes from, while the current has run through hundreds of miles of «crappy», non-audiophile cables and the only route you can influence are the last two or four meters.

The HA-2 has run during ~150 hours now. It seems to have completely settled down. Its sound is ultra-detailed, very clear, transparent and completely uncolored and neutral if I renounce the comparison to the direct path. It's even «better» than the latter's, pays more attention to details without being analytical in a negative sense and adds a certain amount of warmth, which isn't really noticed without this comparison. It has lost a bit of its «hypnotic» character he had during burn-in, just because it's become more neutral and extended (especially now that the treble has fully developed), and the highly resolving midrange isn't that exposed anymore, instead with the freshened highs now the sonic colors are much more realistic. It's solid, fast, clear, dynamic and delicate at the same time, with a very deep bass – there's nothing left to desire.

I'm very happy with the sound. It's exactly what I hoped for: an equivalent solid-state alternative to my EMP. I like both the same. And it's hard for me to imagine a better sounding solid-state amp.

I hope this answers all your questions.

post #34 of 51
".............And it's hard for me to imagine a better sounding solid-state amp............."
A quick question, by any chance do you ever tried the Gilmore , how can you compare it to the Gilmore if you do, the Gilmore is considered one of the finest SS amps, is that we are going to have a new winner for the SS's??? I'm interested in one SS to drive my CD3000, I was thinking in the Gilmore, but now reading the last input of your last review I begin to worry about......
post #35 of 51
Geez, and I thought I was done with amps. Thanks, jaZZ.
post #36 of 51
Originally posted by joelongwood
Geez, and I thought I was done with amps. Thanks, jaZZ.
Be prepare to have a good excuse for your wife, when she notice the new toy.......she is gonna kill you!!!

R.I.P. Joe
post #37 of 51
Hi Jazz...

Run some searches of the Cable Asylum over at Audio Asylum, Jon Risch and many others have explained numerous times why power cords make such a difference and how that even seems possible. I've owned many types and have built my own too. There's some really good, really easy recipes to make that are excellent. Line conditioners is one area I have some experience, I use a Monster HTS-2000 right now and found it makes a very nice impact. I've home auditioned a PS Audio Ultimate Outlet and found it to be very good as well. If anything, get yourself an ACME Audio silver plated AC receptacle (~$40)! Absolutely stunning the improvement just that receptacle alone made to my 2 channel system, unbelievable.

What's most reassuring to me about the HA-2 is when you talk about it's musical qualities and this slight warmth. It's great that it is so detailed, fast, dyamic and clear, as you need those qualities to really get into the music, but being solid state it's good to hear it does not sound hard or thin. To say it has an equal level of musicality to the EMP is good to hear too. However, I'd be interested to hear more of your impressions on how these two compare. I'm guessing the HA-2 is faster, more clear, more detailed, etc, but what about midrange? Is the HA-2 noticeably more dry here? Is it overall a lot more dry sounding? Could you in any way say the HA-2 has in some way a tad bit of those alluring qualities tubes have, somewhat of a slight euphonic effect? Again, I'm just leery of the typical solid state sound. I'm kind of coming from 2 channel audio here and I'm trying to figure out what the HA-2 would be similar to as in two channel audio amps- like YBA, Plinius, Audio Analogue and amps like that which sound more refined (perhaps warmer too), or if it sounds maybe more like Bryston, Parasound or Krell? Any idea? Sorry, that probably seems a little vague.

I'm still trying to find out what the next Gilmore amp is going to be. Im also interested in the SA Reality as well. Something that will be easy to take to work and back. Will pair with Senn HD600/Cardas and occasionally SR60's.
post #38 of 51
Thread Starter 

...I don't know the Gilmore any better than you. But I have read kelly's comparison with the PreHead. According to this, it sounds very similar to the latter, which in turn according to Jan Meier sounds nearly identical to the HA-2. So the conclusion is: the HA-2 and the Gilmore are very similar in sound (without engagement).


So much cable-related postings on Cable Asylum... the needle in the haystack... I'll try it further, but maybe you could give me some personal insights and approved recipes as well as some theoretical background via PM or e-mail?

I think I'll sell all my amps except for my best two: HA-2 and EMP. They're very different in sound, but they differ in the same degree from the sonic «truth» (if I'm allowed to call the direct path that way), in opposite directions. And their interpretation of it is equally pleasing – and musical!

The EMP just is so natural! You can listen to the music and forget the whole technical equipment. And it's by far not just a euphonic sound. It does sound beautiful. But there is no information lost, you hear the tiniest details, they just don't stand in the fore. Well, they're a bit transfigured by its tubey (overly) liquidity, noticeable with breath noises which appear just a trace too wet. Nevertheless: this likeable flaw is not really an issue; it's part of its flowing, musical sound and barely noticed once you're in the music. Where that deep bass, that breathing midrange and those absolutely delicate, airy highs do their excellent job – just lifelike...

The HA-2 is a different beast. It's slightly darker than the EMP with my current tubes (depending on the actual frequency allocation in the music). It has a darker background than the EMP. I like it! (I like this «darker background» thing, though I'm not sure if I'm talking of the same as is often mentioned at Head-Fi. More dynamic contrast?) And it's more solid from the bass to the treble. More energetic and faster. Until I got the HA-2 – or more precisely: until its full development – I didn't notice much of the EMP's «slowness» (highly overstated...) with drum beats. The HA-2 is fast. It almost seems to be hard in comparison, but that's just a matter of contrast. In fact its transient response is tremendous. It goes hand in hand with its enormous resolution ability. The greatest thing is: it's paired with a fantastic smoothness up to the highest frequencies. Such delicate highs which that much energy! I love its crystal clear treble which never is hard or sharp (...anymore). As I said: I just can't imagine a better solid-state amp.

Both amps are very versatile and not bound to a special music category. But the Earmax (mostly) shines more with symphonies than with rock, while the Corda has absolutely no preferences. The EMP is slightly more realistic with orchestral music, but not clearly better anyway. And with contemporary jazz and rock... there are just more occasions where I prefer the HA-2. I confess: if I had to decide which one to keep, it's the Corda. Its sonic fascination simply is even a bit greater than with the EMP. No, it doesn't really sound like a tube amp, despite its liquid and smooth midrange – and that's the answer to your other question: it's not dry at all! Well, the EMP is even more liquid...

Pity I don't know much of today's amplifier generation to compare my headamps' sound with. It's long ago that I bought my last speaker amp – my highly appreciated Gassmann-modified Metaxas Solitaire, which indeed has some similarities with the HA-2. But you'll barely know it. There was a time during burn-in when the HA-2's midrange reminded me of an old NAD power amp. But this similarity doesn't exist anymore.

post #39 of 51
Thanks JaZZ! Thanks for taking the time for that detailed reply. It definitely helps. Seems like you suffer from the same thing I do: you like both world's! I'll likely end up with two amps in the end. Your comparisons are about exactly what I had expected. Have to say, again, I find myself attracted to both these amps (both types of sound for that matter). How about soundstage? Which seems larger, which has more air and space? How about when x-feed is engaged? Do images through the EMP seem more dimensional and have more body? Does the HA-2 seem more flat?
post #40 of 51
Thread Starter 
Oh well, I just forgot the soundstage which I originally wanted to mention. The EMP's is slightly wider, while the HA-2's is much deeper, has more air and is more focussed. The sense of space is a great strength of the Corda. Even better than with the EMP, which is also great in this regard.

I didn't care much for crossfeed so far, but it's quite useful with some recordings and then has no negative impact, in contrast to the HA-1 which hadn't the HA-2's bass. I mean: there's enough bass now to sacrifice a little bit for crossfeed.
post #41 of 51
I received my shipment of HA2 and HD600 a few days ago and have since put them through the burn-in process. I have the HA2 connected to my Sony SCDC555ES.

I do not have the knowledge of Jazz so I simply left it on and came back to it a few hours at a time. I just want to say what a wonderful review this is. I don't know enough to determine whether all of Jazz's comments are right on but I do agree with Jazz on a lot of points. In the beginning everything was more bright and shrilly/a bit unnatural. I'm at the 50h point and everything has indeed opened up. Strings are awesome. Super lush. Lots of detail. I'm gonna put in more hours before I start listening to it closely. But right now I'm already enjoying the sound.
post #42 of 51
Whew, it took a while to read through this thread!

Kudos for the excellent review. BTW, I wouldn't (as you haven't ) worry about the linguistic nitpickings. Describing sound is by its very nature extremely difficult, seeming contradictions at this level of descriptive detail virtually unavoidable. You've done admirably. Carry on with the "analyticity"!

I for one think this should definitely be among the sticky reviews. There will be no shortage of seconders.

[Edit: Concurring with below, a revised/emended/etc version of the original review, with a link at the bottom to the original, *unplugged* version.]
post #43 of 51
I think a concatination of the original review plus all his revisions as the break-in progressed would be a great addition to the full featured amp review section - consider that motioned seconded

post #44 of 51
Great review, jazz. Since kelly found the Gilmore and Prehead to be very similar and you give the HA2 such a glowing review, I can hardly wait until I receive my Gilmore V2!
post #45 of 51

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your reviews and thougts on this amp as it broke in. Great reading, and your English is nearly perfect. It really speaks highly of Jan Meier's design and implementation to have managed such a wonderful sounding amp. Congrats on writing one of the only reviews on this amp. It would be interesting to hear how this amp compares to a Gilmore v2 that's due out soon.

Any changes in the sound of that HA-2 since your last post almost a month ago? Any changes since your last report at 150 hours? I'm curious since it had changed so much to that point, has it had any more changes to its sound.
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