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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. MRC001
    Crossfeed sounds like a gimmick, but when well-done (like Jan's implementation) it is a nice feature.

    The crossfeed on my Corda Jazz is analog, and while it's not entirely transparent, it's the best I have heard among many different headphone crossfeeds over the years. The crossfeed on the Soul is implemented in DSP. It has the same overall effect as the analog one, but is more transparent. Still not entirely transparent, it makes the music sound slightly more lean with a subtle emphasis on the upper midrange. One could correct this using one of the Soul's tone controls, but I find it too subtle to need correcting. I normally don't use the crossfeed. But those occasional recordings that have absolute L-R stereo separation can be really annoying to listen to on headphones. This also happens listening to movies. In this case, the crossfeed makes a huge improvement and the price of being slightly less transparent is well worth it.
  2. MRC001
    BTW, I should add that with the production Soul now in my listening room I like its appearance. It has the look and feel of high quality industrial or military equipment, a definite step up from normal consumer audio gear; the phrase "tools not toys" comes to mind. The prototype has a similar look, but the production unit is more refined with a solid top rather than mesh.
    It also doesn't get hot during operation. It gets slightly warm, but not as hot as my Oppo HA-1 gets. The Soul's air vents are in the bottom and rear -- not on the top. So you can put stuff on top of it without the stuff getting hot or blocking airflow. And its LEDs are not glaring bright.
    I'll post pics soon on the review page.
    Richter Di likes this.
  3. Richter Di
    Wow. You must have great ears. I heard the sound degradation (hope this in an English word) with the former crossfeed implementations. But so far I did not hear it with the Soul and music. Maybe I need to use some white noise.
  4. MRC001
    My ears are old, but experienced. You are correct; full spectrum noise (pink or white) is one of the best signals to use for detecting changes in frequency response.
    Richter Di likes this.
  5. MarkHe
    Since players have been mentioned here a few times: Audirvana and Swinsonian on my Mac work well with the Soul. On the iPhone connected via Camera Connection kit USB 3 Onkyo HF and Neutron seem to work. At least they can be configured to skip filters, resampling and equalisation, and the Soul displays frequency and bit depth accordingly. I haven’t had long sessions with the iPhone. Unexpectedly my Astell&Kern SR15 can’t communicate with the Soul, except for rare cases I can’t reproduce. I have tried different OTG cables and switch on sequences and got the recent player firmware.
  6. MRC001
    I own a Jazz and Soul and listen to each daily (one at work one at home). I don't normally use the headphone crossfeed, but for certain recordings that have absolute L-R separation. The Soul & Jazz crossfeeds sound different in 3 key ways:
    1. The Soul is more subtle. Of its 5 positions, #4 seems to have roughly comparable impact to the Jazz, and #3 is typically the one I use. But it's hard to compare directly because they sound slightly different.
    2. The Soul crossfeed seems to blend the L-R channels without shifting the image much. The Jazz crossfeed not only blends, but the image shifts outward away from the headphones. Is that a phase side effect from the analog implementation? I don't know.
    3. The Jazz crossfeed causes a slightly leaner sound, like a frequency response shift. The Soul's effect here is much more subtle, almost nonexistent. I can barely detect it with pink noise, let alone with music.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
    daytona98 likes this.
  7. Jan Meier Contributor
    Dear friends,

    quite a few people did like the concept of the integrated DSP of the SOUL but were not in need of the amp/DAC sections and/or simply were not able to spend so much money on one single device. The wish for a stand-alone DSP was expressed by many.

    Over the last year I have been working on such a device and a "rough" first design now can be found on my website. I called it the COUNTRY:


    Again, like with the SOUL, there will be a regular newsletter on the progress of this project. Should you be interested in this project and want to be on the mailing list, please let me know.


  8. Andrew Rieger
    @Jan Meier

    Awesome project. Sadly, it looks like the design has now changed since your last post. You mention that a lot of people want a more versatile unit with a DAC and headphone output.

    I’m in the opposite camp. Many people here already have nice DACs and amps and really just want a box to fine tune their sound.

    I highly urge you to still build a version that is just the DSP section. You say that the analogue section increases the cost considerably and many users will be interested in the DSP but won’t want to pay twice as much for functions they won’t use.

    Look at the Schiit Loki. It is only an analogue EQ box but it sells extremely well for the company. Your DSP box is exactly what I have been looking for. I have lower sensitivity in my left ear so the balance function will be a godsend. I also like to EQ my headphones and I use crossfeed quite often. I also like to use my CD player so being able to put this box between my CD transport and my DAC would be a game changer.

    All I’m saying is at least consider building just a DSP version. I’m sure there are a number of others who feel the same way.
  9. MRC001
    The analog stage of the COUNTRY is not as expensive as the Soul's analog stage. How much does it really add to the price? Would it really double it?
  10. Andrew Rieger
    He said on his site that the analogue section adds “considerably” to the price. Keep in mind that this is being built by Lake People who build great products but charge you “considerably” for them. I have one of their amps so I’m well aware of this.

    The cheapest amp Lake People makes costs like $500. Adding an analogue stage, plus a DAC and upping the power to run it all will most likely double the price.

    This is easily going to be $1k to $1.5k now with the analogue and DAC section. I was so pumped for this product but I’d have to have my head checked to pay that much to just use the DSP functions. I have a nice DAC and a nice amp and I have no need for an all in one unit.

    All Jan needs to do is make a version in the same case with just digital in and out. Please do this.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2019
  11. MRC001
    The Soul is built by Lake People which adds to the price (and quality), but Jan's other amps are built in China to keep prices down. I have not heard who's going to build the COUNTRY.
    A pure DSP may be a tough product to sell, it seems like a more competitive market with many other options. That said, two of Jan's DSP features are unique: the crossfeed and bass processing.
  12. Andrew Rieger
    Check the Meier site. The Country is also being built by Lake People.
  13. MRC001
    That seems like overkill. Lake People are great for TOTL stuff, but the COUNTRY is not and might be half the price if built elsewhere.
  14. Andrew Rieger
    I like the fact that Lake People makes it. You want the DSP to be quality and transparent as possible but I’m worried the cost of the additional analogue features will now put it way out of my price range.

    I guess I’ll wait and see what the price is but I can’t lie, I’m worried about the cost.
  15. MRC001
    Sound quality is defined by the parts used and their layout on the board. This is the same no matter who makes it. I'd be surprised if being built in China versus Lake People in Germany makes any difference in sound quality (audible or measurable).
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