Review of Meier Audio Corda JAZZ with ƒƒ-technology upgrade
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MRC001

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Yes, I've been following that discussion since it started. Even Amir wasn't sure at first whether he connected it right. On further discussion it looks like he did. So the measurements are not missing 6 dB! The Jazz simply has limited output power. Output is clean up to about the 2:00 position on the knob. Past that it distorts.

I've owned a Jazz for the past several years and use it with HD-600 and LCD-2 headphones. I can't get it anywhere near the 2:00 position on high gain. Maybe I have wimpy ears.
 
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Yes, I've been following that discussion since it started. Even Amir wasn't sure at first whether he connected it right. On further discussion it looks like he did. So the measurements are not missing 6 dB! The Jazz simply has limited output power. Output is clean up to about the 2:00 position on the knob. Past that it distorts.

I've owned a Jazz for the past several years and use it with HD-600 and LCD-2 headphones. I can't get it anywhere near the 2:00 position on high gain. Maybe I have wimpy ears.
:beerchug: Now we are on the same page!
Actually, Jazz is not limited in power, it has plenty of it, the output stage is very powerful. The problem is a different one, input stage would run into saturation at too low level, starting to distort, so that the output stage would now just amplify this distortion...Real pity...
 
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MRC001

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I'm not a designer but I gather the limitation is related to the Jazz applying the volume control in the gain-feedback loop instead of attenuating a fixed gain like most amps do.

Theoretically this can reduce noise & distortion at low to medium volume settings, but the Jazz implementation clips the voltage at higher gains.
 
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a-LeXx

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I'm not a designer but I gather the limitation is related to the Jazz applying the volume control in the gain-feedback loop instead of attenuating a fixed gain like most amps do.

Theoretically this can reduce noise & distortion at low to medium volume settings, but the Jazz implementation clips the voltage at higher gains.
Yes, partially. It‘s not a general problem of the approach though, just of this particular implementation...
 
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I spoke with Amir in person today, he said while the Jazz has limited output voltage, he is now starting to measure amps at lower voltages that people actually listen. That's where his new 50 mV test comes from; that's about -32 dB from a standard 2V max output.

The Corda Jazz measures pretty well on this test, for example 9 dB better than the Lake People G-109S he recently measured, which is far more powerful and measures better than the Jazz at full output.

So the Jazz is a clean amp at low to medium levels, despite having limited output power. Measurements are a great tool, but one must be careful exactly what he's measuring and how to interpret it.
 
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MRC001

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It's worth mentioning here something about FF that Meier revealed on the ASR site. I've read about FF and haven't seen him mention before.

TL;DR: the FF upgrade increases the Jazz amp's output by 6-8 dB, depending on the type of music. This is a power output increase of 4x to 6x. Details on the other site.
 
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alexdemaet

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This is a very nice amp! Has anyone tried the Jazz-ff with the Grado Ps1000e?
 
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This thread is a few years old, we've learned some things about the Jazz we didn't know before, and some great new amps have become available. All that is to say, a year ago when I needed another headphone amp, I got a JDS Atom instead of another Jazz. The Geshelli Archel 2 would be another great choice.

The key thing we learned is that the Jazz output is voltage-limited. This is due to the design of its stepped attenuator volume-gain control. At the low to medium volume levels most people listen, this unique design makes the Jazz one of the best performing headphone amps. However, this design also limits the Jazz output to about 3.6 volts. It has a high-current output stage, so it can drive that voltage into low impedance loads with no problem. The FF upgrade increases its max output voltage at low frequencies - but the higher frequencies have the same limit.

All that said, no reason to replace the Jazz if you already have one. I still own mine, use it daily and like it a lot. If you don't listen too loud, and your headphones don't need high voltage, it's a great amp. Also, its unique volume control ensures perfect channel balance at all settings, and its crossfeed is a nice feature. Yet the amps I mentioned above are among the few that measure as clean as the Jazz at low to medium volume levels, while also being more powerful.
 
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Jan Meier

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Dear Friends,

indeed the standard version of the JAZZ is voltage limited but is that really a problem?

Over the years several hundred copies of this amp were sold and never (!) did I receive any complaints on sound level limitations. For normal use the output is more than adequate.
There are good reasons why the output is limited, and these reasons are all for sound quality (not quantity). Please check my response in the corresponding discussions.

Also please note that there is also an upgrade version of the JAZZ, the so-called JAZZ-FF. This version not only does sound (significantly) better than the standard version but it also can reach much higher output levels. And it doesn't cost much more.

And people who already do have the standard version of the JAZZ can have their amps upgraded.

Cheers

Jan
 
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I don't hear any limitations of power or voltage in the Corda Jazz. In 2019 I've done a comprehensive comparision of a number of amps and dacs which included Schiit Vali 2, Magni 3, Corda Quickstep, Corda Jazz, Corda Jazz FF, Corda Classic FF and Phonitor e and various dacs. I owned all of those and compared them just ouf of interest and for fun with the intention to keep all of them. The Jazz FF ist one of my favourite amps, still. It's better than the non FF Corda Jazz and it's also better than the two small Schiit units, which sound excellent and are very well regarded.

The FF Jazz is more dynamic and more organic sounding than the non FF version. It reveals low level information very nicely and has very clean treble and is well suited for bright headphone, I've tried it with a dt880. My usual headphones are HD650 and HD600, both work extremely well from the Jazz. There's no "limit" at all audible in volume or dynamics, the Jazz can drive these very loud with ease.
The Jazz FF is a very engaging sounding amp that is very transparent to the source. I'd say it's on a simillar level as the Schiit Jotunheim in general performance and thus a great amp. I'm sure it will perfom very well with any Grado headphone.

The Quickstep is extremely good as well btw, a much overlooked little gem of an amp that makes the HD650 sound great. Very versatile, too.
 
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This thread is a few years old, we've learned some things about the Jazz we didn't know before, and some great new amps have become available. All that is to say, a year ago when I needed another headphone amp, I got a JDS Atom instead of another Jazz. The Geshelli Archel 2 would be another great choice.

The key thing we learned is that the Jazz output is voltage-limited. This is due to the design of its stepped attenuator volume-gain control. At the low to medium volume levels most people listen, this unique design makes the Jazz one of the best performing headphone amps. However, this design also limits the Jazz output to about 3.6 volts. It has a high-current output stage, so it can drive that voltage into low impedance loads with no problem. The FF upgrade increases its max output voltage at low frequencies - but the higher frequencies have the same limit.

All that said, no reason to replace the Jazz if you already have one. I still own mine, use it daily and like it a lot. If you don't listen too loud, and your headphones don't need high voltage, it's a great amp. Also, its unique volume control ensures perfect channel balance at all settings, and its crossfeed is a nice feature. Yet the amps I mentioned above are among the few that measure as clean as the Jazz at low to medium volume levels, while also being more powerful.
... I have this amp for years now and I agree that the odd part is the power limit, although the quality of the build is fantastic. This said I was thinking to replace it with a new amp, what do you think about S.M.S.L SP200 THX AAA-888 , or i should look for something else?
 
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MRC001

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Hey JediMa70, I replied to your post on ASR, where they also measured & reviewed the SMSP SP200. The SP200 has impressive measurements and looks like a great amp. But remember, most amps are measured at or near full-scale output, which nobody actually uses because it's way too loud for listening. And, like most amps of conventional design (volume upstream from fixed gain ratio), as you turn down the volume, the SP200 measures worse. The Corda Jazz outperforms the SP200 at 50 mV, with a significantly better SNR and perfect channel balance at all volume settings. It also has crossfeed, which the SP200 doesn't have.

I'm a big believer in measurements, but you've got to measure correctly, understand the limitations, and how they relate to actual listening conditions. I wrote more on this subject here.

Generally speaking, there are many headphone amps with impressive SNR and SINAD, better on paper than the Jazz appears. But with these amps, as you turn down the volume to actual listening levels those measurements become less impressive. Amps that measure and sound as good as the Jazz at normal listening levels, are rare. This is what is unique about Jan Meier's design and philosophy. Where most companies engineer to maximize measurements on paper, Meier engineers to make the amp more transparent at the normal listening levels people actually use.

The only amp I know of that comes close to the Jazz, and is reasonably priced, is the JDS Atom. I have both (a Corda Jazz and an Atom) and have used them daily for over a year. The Jazz is built better than the Atom, and it has crossfeed. The Atom is a lot more powerful, but since the Jazz can take the HD-600 to about 116 dB SPL, you've got to question whether you would actually use that extra power. Perhaps you would if you had an unusually power hungry headphone like the HiFiMan HE-6. But for any normal headphone, I'd take the Jazz.

In short, since you already own the Jazz, my advice is to keep it. I don't think you can get a better -- by better I mean one that performs better at actual listening levels -- for under a kilobuck. One thing to consider is upgrading to FF, if it doesn't already have that.
 
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I posted on both forum almost at the same time... I like to read different opinions BUT yours is extremely valuable, because it's accurate, makes sense from any perspective and most of all it's wise. Here in my signature you can see all my hardware. So I would like to clone your setup with another amp with just more power but Atom in italy is not a deal 99 + 36 shipment + 20% fees :disappointed_relieved:
Thanks a lot for your very precious help
 
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Jan Meier

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Dear friends,

an aspect that often is overlooked in the discussions on the JAZZ models is, that indeed the standard version is voltage limited to around 3.6 Volts but the FF-version isn't!! The latter version goes much higher (with normal spectral sound distribution). So if you have any doubts, then the latter (which currently is on sale) may well be worth a consideration.

Cheers

Jan
 

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