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REVIEW: Meier Audio Concerto headphone amp - Page 15

post #211 of 832
Quote:
Originally Posted by chi2 View Post
Regarding the JH13 on the Concerto: There is virtually no hiss (or hum) with the gain set to low, even when the volume is set to 100% .
oh wow, thanks for the info chi2
post #212 of 832
I've used the Concerto for a good week now and I'd like to post some short impressions.

First, the build quality and the look and feel of the controls is excellent. The form factor is, as has been said, suprisingly compact. While the preseries model had a cover made of steel it is now made of aluminum. The reason for this change of materials obviously was an issue with mechanical hum caused by vibrations which were induced by the transformer. The anti-magnetic aluminum is supposed to avoid this problem. (I'll come back to that).

While aluminum is a high quality material with its own merits it can be bitchy when it is supposed to being painted. The laquer on the Concerto's cover looks quite ok but if you remove and reinsert and tighten the screws, some small chips of paint come off. It looks like the cover has been sprayed rather than being powder painted (with burning in), which I certainly would have preferred. The quality of the front, however, is top notch and the mechanical stability of the whole amp is very high.

Regarding the hum issue: My Concerto had it despite the aluminum cover. The noise was clearly perceivable from a distance of as far as 2.5 to 3 metres. I was not amused... I've bought am amp with a signal to noise ratio of better than -110 dB and then the unit hums like crazy! Soon I discovered that the cover was the culprit and that damping it by pressing a hand on it removed the hum almost completely. Thus I contacted Jan by email and asked if it was ok to open the amp up and to insert some damping material between the transfomer and the cover. He said that this was no problem and would neither cause thermal problems nor affect the warranty. So I inserted a 1cm thick layer of foam which was pressed to maybe 2 mm (between the transformer and the cover) and in fact brought almost perfect silence. There is only a very faint hum left. I can perceive it only from a distance of a maximum of 0.5 m. Just to make things clear: The phenomenon I'm talking of is external mechanical hum, not electrical hum in the signal path. The amp has a complete black background with any of my full size headphones. With highly sensitive IEMs like the JH13 there is a faint hiss and hum but only in the high gain position and even that only when turning the volume up to a level where any electrical signal from a source would turn the BA drivers into micro size bullets...

Let me state one more complaint before I come to the unambiguous positive points. The discrete volume control is a marvelous thing. Its balance is perfect and it works great. I have no problem with the small clicking noises of the relays which can be heard from the innards of the amp and in the form of soft but clearly perceivable clicks over the headphones. However, what I clearly find suboptimal is the lack of a deferred activation of the amp when it is switched on. If the Concerto is switched on with a headphone plugged in, that headphone receives a pretty loud clicking noise when the amp is powered on using the the power switch. With highly sensitive headphones this noise is just too loud for my gusto. It won't destroy the phones or my ears but it is still an example of less than perfect engineering. I just think that an amp in this category should have a circuit that removes any such noises.

OK, that was it regarding critique. Despite these issues I don't regret at all that I've bought the Concerto. The reason is: It is just a great sounding, powerful amp! It is very neutral but at the same time not boring at all. Take the K701. The Concerto has enough authority to drive them in a way that I don't miss any bass. And the highs of the AKG aren't harsh at all but very precise, extended and airy. Another example of the Concertos driving capabilities is the Sony F1. In stock shape it tends to sound a bit too soft in the high frequencies and it is a bit lacking in deep bass. Not so with the Concerto. While it doesn't turn them into GS1000 it enables them to sound more dynamic, fresh and detailed than with my portable amps. This is not reached by a bright signature. The RS-1 sounds very cultivated and not overly bright on it. With string instruments it has the full magic shimmering without sounding (too) aggressive, hard or thin.

Despite said shortcomings (that I've learned to live with) I like the Concerto quite a lot and love to listen to it over extended periods of time.
post #213 of 832
Quote:
Originally Posted by chi2 View Post
Regarding the JH13 on the Concerto: There is virtually no hiss (or hum) with the gain set to low, even when the volume is set to 100% .
How's the synergy?
post #214 of 832
Sigh, turns out that slip I got last week was for something else. I was so disappointed!

I am glad others are thoroughly enjoying their Concertos!

Hopefully mine will get here soon... and is not still in the hands of the incredibly slow Canadian Customs...
post #215 of 832
Quote:
Originally Posted by pekingduck View Post
How's the synergy?
Isn't synergy a concept that is only relevant if components have deficiencies? Well, neither the JH13 nor the Concerto, to my perception, are sonically lacking in any department. They both don't need synergy. Insofar their synergy is perfect .
post #216 of 832
Quote:
Originally Posted by chi2 View Post
Isn't synergy a concept that is only relevant if components have deficiencies? Well, neither the JH13 nor the Concerto, to my perception, are sonically lacking in any department. They both don't need synergy. Insofar their synergy is perfect .
It seems to me that the whole "well, my headphone is slightly bright so I'll get some slight dark amp" matching thing gets a bit ridiculous at times. I'm not against flavors or colors but it seems to make a better choice to get equipment that are just better all rounders, or accept their quirks and move on.
post #217 of 832
Or perhaps depending on the source a slight EQ ajdustment might be all that is needed, at least with headphones.
Just a thought.
post #218 of 832

REVIEW: Meier Audio Concerto headphone amp

WoW, Congrats guys on receiving you amps and describing your impressions.
post #219 of 832
Sorry for OT
@chi2 how would you describe your stax combo against meier with yours dynamic headphones (especially K701)? I can see that source is the same in both.

Is it night and day difference? Why did you buy concerto having top stax setup?
post #220 of 832
Chi2, thanks for the useful review. Nice to know that the Concerto will do a good job with IEMs. Overall this sounds like a really nice amp. Personally I am going to try creating a home IEM rig with my Micro DAC and STEPDANCE (once the latter arrives) but the Concerto does tempt for my DT880/600s.
post #221 of 832
Quote:
Originally Posted by mirh View Post
Sorry for OT
@chi2 how would you describe your stax combo against meier with yours dynamic headphones (especially K701)? I can see that source is the same in both.

Is it night and day difference? Why did you buy concerto having top stax setup?
The reason for getting the Concerto was that I wanted a better amp for the R10 to assess its potential. The Darkvoice 332 that I've already had works great with high impedance phones like HD600/650 and DT880 but not so well with the RS1 and the R10.

Regarding the K701 driven by the Concerto: I really enjoy it with the right musical genres. When you're looking for guts shaking subsonics it's not the right cast. OTOH K701 bashing is quite a hobby of some folks here. I don't chime in. I think it is one of the phones with the highest performance for the money. Speed, resolution and airiness of any of my Lambdas, the O2s and the 4070 is clearly better but the difference to the K701 is not that large that I couldn't enjoy the latter - and not only for a short change. Sooner or later I always return to the Staxes and they are without doubt better than the K701, especially regarding top and bottom end extension. But the difference is only strikingly obvious when directly switching.
post #222 of 832
Chi2 - is Concerto a good match with R10 in Your opinion?
post #223 of 832
It is the better match than with the Darkvoice THA332 and the best I have ever heard my R10. However, my experience with high quality dynamic amps is clearly limited as I'm mainly an e-stat guy. And I own the R10 only for about a month or so.

In my experience sonic differences between good ss amps (even portable ones) are pretty small. (Ok, portables not fed with enough power tend to be lacking in dynamics). Even the DV - with high quality tubes - doesn't sound all too different from my ss amps with high impedance phones. Then again, the DV may not be the typical tube amp as it doesn't have an euphonic tubey sound signature. Being a standard OTL tube amp it doesn't like low impedance phones, though. With such an impedance mismatch the sonic differences to the Concerto are more pronounced.
post #224 of 832
Thanks, chi2 !
For sure I have to try stax :-)
post #225 of 832
You guys are a lot more knowlegeble.I'm fairly new to the world of head-fi.
That being said here I pose a question.
My brother has a Maple Tree ear+. The technolegy is completely different than the concerto. Not only is it a tube amp but is all point to point wiring. Sound wise there are more similareties than there are differences.

How can this be?
Can anyone explain this to me?
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