Whew! What a trip! Sorry I haven't had a chance to post my impressions yet. Things have been crazy in Cayman since I got back home, plus I have this miserable cold that I picked up in New York. Ahh, but it was a fun trip, so it's worth it.
Let's see, impressions... I didn't actually get into the listening rooms until about 1:30pm. After returning my car rental, I had to wait an hour for the 30 minute airport shuttle. Then when I got back to the hotel, I chatted with Holly (mikeg's far and away better half) for another hour about all sorts of interesting non-audio topics (movies, books, travel and such).
Then when I walked into the (not so) quiet room, there was food staring at me! About a half hour and half a sheet of cookies later, I did some listening:Gary's SCD-1, with Justin's knock-off HEV90 amp, and the HE90.
I thought it was excellent and much like what I'm accustomed to hearing with my Orpheus system at home, but I honestly didn't give it enough time to do any critical listening. From my brief impressons, I'd say that this amp shows a lot of promise but it would be impossible to comment intelligently about how it might compare to the HEV90 unless and until I had them side by side for a comparison.mikeg's Exemplar Audio modded Denon 2900, big caps Supra, and R10.
I noticed that the R10s distorted at about 3/4 volume, which is much louder than I (or Mike) would normally listen. It was interesting to learn that Aaron (and others) also picked this up later in the meet. I didn't notice any distortion at 12:00 on the dial, but apparently Aaron did and was able to help Mike with this. In any case, the amp was sounding great at low-to-normal listening levels.
I used the same music with Mike's R10 system that I tried on the HE90 system: Junior Wells for blues and Buena Vista Social Club for jazz, which provided a nice upbeat tempo to bring out the best in both systems. For my money, I'm still an HE90 man (especially on the more up tempo material), but the R10 system wasn't far behind. Both are definitely reference headphones, and both were in reference class systems.Matt's Denon turntable, Channel Island phono stage, MPX3, and HD600 (then K701).
The albulm spinning was "Kind of Blue" by some unknown guy by the name of Miles Davis.
I thought to myself, "Hmmm, where have I heard this 1,000 times before?" Again, a very nice presentation, and after Matt described to me what a steal he got on this table for, plus 3 crates of vinyl tossed in for free (all for $300), it was a truly incredible sounding system! But quite frankly, the pops and hisses got in the way a bit for me. Although I'd love to have an analog rig one day, it would have to come with all of the whistles and bells (which unfortunately means big $) or it would probably drive me nuts! I'm kind of finicky about noise floor, so if nothing else this allows me to justify sticking with digital for a while longer. The K701s were a better match for this system than were the HD600s but this, again, might be a preference thing in that I'm not generally a big fan of the HD600s.Gene's Proceed dap and cdd combo with the Brocksieper (Ear Max Pro) amp and L3000:
This time it was with another unknown band called The Beatles, using some of the MSFL remasters that Matt so graciously provided to each of us! (An incredible gesture by our young host, both in terms of the thought itself, and also the time that it must have taken to make all of these copies!). What I found was that The Beatles were overrated. They really sucked big-time! Nah, just kidding... they were sounding great, although this amp distorted at about 12:00 on the dial (which, again, was really loud, and far beyond normal listening levels).
Next, with the same system, I tried the "Thunder Road" from the new (remastered) 30th anniversary edition of Springsteen's "Born to Run" albulm. (If I've heard "Kind of Blue" 1,000 times, I can't begin to tell you how many times I've herad this material.) With the volume more in the "control" zone, it was quite nice. (As a side note, I tried this same track with several more systems throughout the afternoon, and have pretty much concluded that the 30th anniversary remaster isn't much of an improvement over the original... sad, but true).
Now, same system, but swapping amps and using the CI Audio VHP-1 amp with its VAC-1 power supply, rather than the EMP amp. Wow! This is most definitely a solid state sound, a little quicker than the EMP but with noticably etchy highs. Better? Worse? Hmmmm...
Back to the EMP with the same music on the fly, and it's definitely a more distant presentation, with notes falling off into outer space at times. I'm really not sure what to make of this quick "mini amp" shootout except that the EMP gives you a warm (even distant) tube sound whereas the CI Audio amp gives you a more immediate and up-front (but sometimes bothersome in the highs) presentation. I guess this means that both amps are operating as advertised!!!