Meier-Audio Corda Rock Budget Headphone Amplifier
Meier-Audio Corda Rock ($240)
Meier Audio of Germany has been a part of the headphone specialty market for a long time. My first really high-end headphone amplifier was Meier's top of the line amp back in 2005, and I was very impressed with the level of transparency and detail it delivered. Since that time, I have probably reviewed, and subsequently purchased, at least a half-dozen Meier amps. And that notable transparency and detail, coupled with just a touch of warmth, has remained the hallmark of Meier designs.
Meier amps are designed in Germany, but built in China by Shanling. This no doubt has contributed to a strong value for the money. And the subject of this review, the "Rock" home headphone amp, is clearly targeted at people who are looking for value--the Rock is the smallest home (non-portable) headphone amp Meier has ever made, and also the least expensive, at $240 USD, or EUR 220 (in the EU). That actually makes it LESS expensive than any of Meier's current line-up of portable headphone amps!
One of the things I immediately liked upon opening the small box that the Rock came in is that there is no dreaded wall wart power supply. The Rock's power supply is on-board, and it has an IEC power cord receptacle, although one cost-saving method is that it does not come with a power cord. It's up to the user to supply one, which is fine with me--I have tons of them. Note, however, that the Rock is small and light enough that a super-crazy-cobra-thick "audiophile" power cord is going to make it tough for the little Rock to remain flat on a desk/table. But I doubt many people will use expensive power cords with a $240 headphone amp.
The Rock is based around the TDA2030 IC, and the relatively few parts it has are of nice quality. Being a non-portable amp, it sports a full-size 1/4" headphone jack, and one pair of RCA jacks on the back. That's pretty much what you get.
We'll talk about the sound quality on the next page.