Corda Headamp vs ASL MG-Head
Apr 25, 2002 at 8:57 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 18

Pierre Lambion

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Hi there,

I want to buy some HD600 along with an amp. I never owned or heard a headphone amp.

I turns out I can have the ASL MG-Head at exactly the same price as the Corda Headamp.

The bundle HD600 + Corda is 550 EUR at meier-audio. The HD600 only is at 240 EUR at meier-audio. The MG-Head is at 310 EUR in a shop in Paris.

Therefore the choice is really about sound quality, synergy and maintenance/upgradibility. I understand the tube amp will require a bit more maintenance (from recent thread) but it allows tube rolling which sounds fun and not too expensive.

The looks go rather for the mg-head. Much more "special"!
cool.gif


I mainly listen to acoustic guitar (nick drake, michael hedges), jazz (coltrane, miles), classic (piano or violin concerts mainly) and jambands (deads, phish), blues. No techno/rap/electronic at all.

Any advice is welcome!

Thx,
P.
 
Apr 25, 2002 at 9:22 AM Post #3 of 18

evilcthul

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Sounds like you listen to acoustic stuff... So I'd definitely go for the tubes. However, I've never tried the Corda...

The HD 600 and MG Head synergize very very well. The MG brings out the HD 600's signature laid back/musical midrange plus provides for a well-rounded bass experience. The MG with stock tubes also leans slightly on the bright side which isn't a bad thing with the HD 600 because its rather neutral and to me it has a bit of roll off in the treble. Admittedly the MG probably doesn't have the bass punch that the Corda has but since you don't listen to electronica/hip-hop/R&B you should be fine... MG's bass is pronounced, relatively deep but lacks impact.

Tube rolling is fun but can get quite costly plus on the MG you don't get crossfeed. Some people like crossfeed, some don't YMMV. Some people might argue that tube rolling can give greater benefits than crossfeed but I haven't had enough experience with crossfeed to give you a definite answer.

That's my two cents...
 
Apr 25, 2002 at 9:27 AM Post #4 of 18

Pierre Lambion

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Hi Nick,

I just looked at your tubes rolling page so your vote for mg-head is barely is a surprise!

How much do those tubes cost? If it's in the 10-50 USD range, then it's cheap fun and upgrade potential.
If it's in the $100, it will be a totally different story in my view!

Any security issue with tubes? I have a 5 year old boy. He is a good boy and won't do anything stupid but what if he touches the tubes when it's on? The pictures always show the tubes exposed. Are they so or ar they covered by a grillage or whatever?

P.
 
Apr 25, 2002 at 9:32 AM Post #5 of 18

Pierre Lambion

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evilcthul,

nice description of HD600/MG-GHead synergy. I guess a little tube rolling can be fun and expect a lot of it to be expensive! I suppose that I will be happy with 2 or 3 sets of tube to experiment and fine tune the sonic signature.

I don't think I need crossfeed. I spend most of my teens years with a walkman and I'm really ore used to headphones than speakers. Channels separation never annoyed me (except on the Beatles).

I'm partial already to the MG-Head!

Thx,
P.
 
Apr 25, 2002 at 10:06 AM Post #6 of 18

Nick Dangerous

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Tube rolling isn't expensive if you raid eBay. Most of my best tubes were $15... including the Sylvania. Even at $40, it would be easily worth it.

The tubes won't shock you, but the long EL84's do get pretty hot. If you touch them for longer than a second they would singe you. Fortunately, the MG Head OTL comes with a tube cage that surrounds the tubes, so I'd install it. It will keep your 5 year old's fingers away from harm.

It's a great amp when matched with the Senns... in fact the best for the money in the tube amp world.
 
Apr 25, 2002 at 10:35 AM Post #7 of 18

evilcthul

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Nick,

I guess you're right tube rolling relative to most users isn't too expensive but from my perspective AUD vs. USD exchange rates are appalling. $1 USD only gets me 50c USD.

Pierre,

The MG like most tube gear is one moist, lush and sweet tube amp. It's also more forgiving of poor quality/old recordings which is good for some certain vintage Jazz CDs and the like. I have similar listening tastes to you...

Bottom line: If you like detail, intricacy and pure transparency with no colloration go for the SS approach. If you prefer emphasis on musicality and balance with a full bodied tone go for the bottled approach.

Solid state to some ultimately becomes the "diet-coke" of amplification... Just one calorie. For some it does wonders for others they'd rather pass...
 
Apr 25, 2002 at 6:46 PM Post #8 of 18

kelly

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I end up posting answers to this question a lot.
smily_headphones1.gif
The MG Head OTL and the Corda HA-1 were my first two amps. I've since sold the MG Head.

Here's my impressions in a nutshell:

MG Head -
+smoother, sweeter, fuller, more lush midrange

Corda HA-1
-more transparent, better imaging and speration, faster, more detailed, better extension on both frequency extremes, flatter frequency response

MG Head and HD600 are a great combination if you listen to mostly rock or solo artists and don't mind the frequency rolloff.

Corda HA-1 and HD600 is a better combination for orchestra and complex work in which seperation is more important.

Incidentally, I feel that the HD600 is a problematic headphone for the lower end amps and have gotten a lot of flack from people who disagree with me, but I'd say it's at least arguable. For the Corda, I feel that it's more compatible with the Beyerdynamic DT931 since the upper midrange comes in more full, the bass is more controlled and the brightness of the 931 is fixed by the 120ohm jack. With the MG Head, I'm not sure which of the two phones would be preferable - the loose bass is still very prominent with the MG Head but the lush midrange is a nice consolation prize.

Just my opinions, here.
 
Apr 26, 2002 at 7:48 AM Post #9 of 18

Morse

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Pierre, re: your question about the cost of valves for the MG Head, please check out:

http://www.angela.com/ for NOS ("New Old Stock" - old valves that are unused) or

http://store.yahoo.com/triodeel/index.html and
http://www.partsexpress.com/ for new production valves.

One proviso about Angela.com is that the owner has a rather lengthy page of "things not to do" that you should DEFINITELY consult before phoning or emailing him. On the positive side, his service has always been speedy (in my experience anyway) and he has always packed my orders very well. Prompt service and properly packaged orders are also the norm (in my experience) at Triode and Parts Express. I don't know about international orders at any of these places.

Anyway, the MG Head uses a single 12AX7 (some substitutions are possible here - do a search for some of Joseph Lau's posts at this forum to find the details) and a pair of EL84's. The total cost of revalving an MG Head with a stock JJ Tesla ECC83 (European designation for the 12AX7) and a matched pair of SovTek EL84's is about $18 plus shipping and handling from Parts Express. Other new production EL84's would be the ElectroHarmonix, JJ Tesla, and Ei. Figure between $15 and $20 for a matched pair. These same manufacturers also make 12AX7's for between $7 and $12 each. Even if you don't get into "tube rolling", I do suggest that it's wise to stock a spare set of valves, as a precaution.

I have never heard the Corda, so I cannot comment on it's sound quality. However, my MG Head and Sennheiser 600's are keepers. Should I lose everything tomorrow, they would be the first parts of my hifi to be replaced, and if necessary the only parts (along with a signal source!). They really do sound like music (to my ears anyway), rather than hifi. Your mileage may vary, to each his own, et cetera.

Good luck on your decision and
Enjoy Your Music!
Morse
 
Apr 27, 2002 at 6:17 AM Post #11 of 18

tone

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Kelly,

your observations with the mg is spot on. the mg isn't that great with complex classical pieces (star wars soundtrack etc).

Now you've got me interested in the Corda! do you think the corda will sound good with a beyer dt831? does the corda have enough clean headroom to power the dt831s sufficiently? i like my music loud!
 
Apr 27, 2002 at 7:40 AM Post #12 of 18

Pierre Lambion

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Thanks for all the answers. Despite the numerous recommandations for the mg-head, I think I will stick with ss.

The last think I want it to put maitenance time instead of listening and I think ss will be more versatile for use with other phones.

I also tend towards the detailed and neutral side. Not very objective but it is just the way I feel.

Anyway, it seems that I will have somehow to get to audition the stuff before. I also have a slight hesitation between the hd600 and some AKGs.
I will actually order 240s from Jan Meier for a "mid-fi" system. It will hopefully give me more insight on what I'm looking for in a "hi-fi" system.

Thanks again for the opinions,
P.
 
Apr 27, 2002 at 1:33 PM Post #14 of 18

kelly

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Quote:

Originally posted by tone
Kelly,

your observations with the mg is spot on. the mg isn't that great with complex classical pieces (star wars soundtrack etc).

Now you've got me interested in the Corda! do you think the corda will sound good with a beyer dt831? does the corda have enough clean headroom to power the dt831s sufficiently? i like my music loud!


Wow, tone, thank you. It's really nice to know, sometimes, that I'm not just posting into a garbage disposal.

I owned the DT831 and sold it recently. I think the 831 is a good headphone if you require closed design and can afford a little better quality than the Sony V6 (and have an amp). For me, I found the missing bass of the DT831 ultimately displeasing. If you already have the 831, just use my opinion on it to guage my perspective. If not, for the Corda, consider the 931 instead (it's not a lot more expensive) if you can have semi-open and Etymotic if you want to spend even more and don't mind al of the caveats fo the Etymotic.

The 831 is less bright with the 120 ohm jack but is also less "open" sounding. Generally, I preferred the output of the 0ohm jack once the 831 was broken in. The Corda will yield a flat response and won't do anything to boost your bass response. Additionally, if you plan to engage the crossfeed, plan to notice a slight drop in bass response though this effect is somewhat exagerated on the forum, at least to my ears. There is actually no drop in bass, it's purely psychoaccoustic but I do tend to wish the design was a little better to compensate for it. Perhaps this isn't possible because we all hear the effect so differently. I wish the bass was somehow filtered from the crossfeed and not mixed at all, but I'm not sure how technically feasible that is.

Anyway (boy give me an audience and I can ramble). For its $325 assembled price, the Corda is awesome. The plans are on HeadWize if you're a DIYer, but it looks complicated and I'm told by others that it is. I'm also told some of the chips are plug-in type and can be easily swapped if you, for example like me, prefer a slightly smoother sound. Nick hasn't discovered "chip rolling" yet.
smily_headphones1.gif


Edit: To answer the main question, if you listen to the 831 via the Corda at only half volume, you will be deaf soon. The sound will be good and clean until such time that you become deaf. In general, I recommend following the advice of others here: start with the pot at no volume position and increase gradually until the music is loud enough. Even only slightly elevated volume over long periods of time can cause hearing damage. Please be careful.
 
Apr 27, 2002 at 10:44 PM Post #15 of 18

tone

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Thanks for the response Kelly!

I've already have a pair of dt831's and i love them. i've tried a sony v6,grado 225 and a dt770 but the dt831 was my fave of the bunch. i've never had any problems with bass on the dt831 with my mg head but thru my reciever's jack i can see what you're saying about the dt831's recessive bass.

even with its faults the mg does make some music sound fantastic+rich. i'm just not sure if there is a tube amp out there that will do complex classical music justice (w/wide freq range, low noise, tight quick bass and gobs of clean headroom). i've been thinking maybe melos, audio valve rv, or zotl for tube amps but i'm not sure which one is for me since i haven't had the chance to listen to any (which one do you reccomend?).

i haven't really thought about solid state but i'll have a chance to check them out when headroom comes to seattle.
 

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