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Meier Audio Corda Soul - TOTL DAC/AMP/DSP

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by Toad_of_Toad_Hall, Oct 29, 2017.
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  1. Richter Di
    @Jan Meier sends this update letters to all people who showed interest in the Soul. I am pretty sure you can sign up for the newsletter by writing Jan: meier-audio@t-online.de
  2. MRC001
    Jan loaned me the Soul prototype and I just spent a week with it in my home, using both headphones and the line stage output to my speakers. It's subtly different sounding than other top quality solid state. It took some extensive listening for me to assess these subtle differences. I feel the Oppo HA-1 that I've been using for the past 4 years is one of the most neutral and transparent DAC/preamps I have heard. Yet comparison with the Soul revealed subtle differences and I was surprised to conclude that I felt the Soul was even more transparent and true to the source. I still think the HA-1 is an excellent DAC, but the Soul takes it to another level. I will replace my Oppo HA-1 with a Soul as soon as the production version is available, which is very soon.
    Anyone who is interested in TOTL DAC/preamp/headphone amp, I recommend contacting Jan to borrow the prototype and listen for yourself.
    Richter Di likes this.
  3. MRC001
    Hearable? Yes, if you have high quality source material. Especially with natural acoustic instruments like piano and voice.

    To me, the FF sounds slightly more smooth and pure, at first it seems like some "air" or extreme HF is attenuated. Yet on deeper listening, all that detail is there, with perhaps a bit more resolution. By comparison, the upper mids and treble on a normal solid state amp, may at first seem to have more presence and detail. Yet deeper listening comparison reveals them to be slightly less pure, more "earthy" sounding.

    There is no actual difference in frequency response. Yet there is a difference in distortion (not just the amount, but also its frequency distribution), and how people perceive this varies. To me, overall, FF sounds more transparent. But which sound one prefers depends on individual taste and the recording.

    What FF actually is: frequency-shaping the amp's internal feedback loop to reduce distortion in the frequencies where the ear is most sensitive.
  4. FritzS
    Has anyone compared only the amp section from Corda Soul with Corda Classic -ff?
  5. Richter Di
    Not really possible as the Soul is kind of a package with having the ff digitaly. But I compared my Corda Daccord ff and my Corda Classic ff with the Soul and it is no comparison. Just another league.
    FritzS likes this.
  6. FritzS
    I know that Soul is another league, but I think the analog amp section is alike to Corda Classic -ff
    Corda Classic -ff use AD797 OPAs and two paralled BUF634 in each the power stage.
    As far as I know Soul use four of this power stages.
    Classic -ff only three - left and right - and one for the ground too.

    Last year Jan had me loaned his Corda Classic -ff for the Vienna head-fi meeting. Corda Soul was unfortunately not yet available at that time.
    For the next head-fi meeting I hope I could get an Corda Soul test example.

    PS: Whats your experience between -ff technologie and without -ff?
  7. Richter Di
    As I am a fan of micro details the ff makes a big difference for me. Transparency is increased quite a bit. So I immediately bougt DAC and AMP in ff.
    FritzS likes this.
  8. FritzS
    I had heard only the Corda Classic -ff and couldn't compare them. The only benefit I changed the OPA in my DIY WNA MKII headphone amp to AD797 and the WNA MKII come closer to Corda Classic -ff but not equal. My preferred headphone K812 offers very detailed sound. One benefit too, K812 emphasizes not so strongly sibilants with Corda Classic -ff.

    One HiFi friend tells me I should buy the Funk headphone headphone amp module LPA2-S (I think this similar to the diy-audio 'The Wire' project) but i am unsure what I should buy.

    Indeed Soul is a very good thing, but to expensive for me, I would rather replace my Marantz CD/SACD player.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
  9. MRC001
    If the Soul is too expensive, I suggest trying an Oppo HA-1. Oppo doesn't make them anymore, but you can find them used.
    FritzS likes this.
  10. MRC001
    I have a Jazz without FF, and have listened to the Soul, but never listened to the Classic.
    Feature-wise, the Corda Soul has an analog input and uses FF here as well as for the digital inputs. The Soul is fully balanced while the Classic is unbalanced (Meier's clever differentially signalled "active balanced"). Also the power supplies are different. Also, the volume controls work differently. Both use stepped attenuators, no analog pots in the signal path. But the Soul's volume control changes the gain, where the Classic takes the conventional approach of fixed gain with attenuation.
    Also, all signal processing in the Soul is done via DSP. Thus the Soul cannot apply crossfeed to its analog input, while the Classic can. The Soul's crossfeed is more transparent due to being implemented in DSP, but it can be used only with digital sources.
    These functional differences show that while the Classic is very well engineered, the Soul is a step up. And they are likely to sound different under careful listening.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
    Richter Di and FritzS like this.
  11. MRC001
    I posted a detailed review describing my experience with the Soul Prototype.
    Richter Di, daytona98 and FritzS like this.
  12. Richter Di
    daytona98 likes this.
  13. Jan Meier Contributor
    Dear friends,

    just a short note, that the SOUL project is now close to the finishing line. The first production batch is expected to be at my place within the next two weeks.

    Pictures of a first test-production-amp can be found at my website. I hope you like them.


    daytona98 likes this.
  14. Richter Di
    Having the Soul prototype now allowed me to re-try something @Jan Meier and I tried a while ago with the iPad / iPhone camera adapter 1. The sound wasn´t very convincing back then. I now got a newer version of the camera adapter with additional power supply, which even downloaded a new firmware into the camera adapter when I first used it with the iPad. Unfortunaely the sound quality is still unsatisfying. I did a direct comparison with an Android based Samsung Galaxy A7 with an OTG adapter and sound quality was much better. Unfortunately I wasn´t able to output HiRes directly from the Qobuz app but it worked with the HF player.

    So try to use Android USB out and do not try Apple “i” products with the Soul for audio quality reasons.
  15. laurentplop
    The final product is now shipping. I got mine.
    Richter Di likes this.
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