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Party at Neil's Orpheus/K1000 Meet Impressions

post #1 of 160
Thread Starter 
We are into hour 4 of the meet focused on two types of setups. For electrostatic bliss, we have dualing HEV90s with 2 HE90s, 2 HE60s (one woodied by Headphile), and 1 Stax Omega II. For high-end K1000 listening we have had three different amp arrangements: FirstWatt F1, Redwine Audio Signature 30, and the mbl 8011M monoblocks. All of these amps were fed by the same source, the amazing EMM Labs CDSD/DCC2 Signature Edition combo.

Needless to say, we have all been treated to some incredible music from these various setups. I will post up some pics to get things started and will get to some impressions a little later on. The only thing I will say, is the HE90 is the king of headphones for me, and the K1K is truly impressive when driven properly. Thanks to Neil for opening up his home and providing plenty of snacks and beverages to fuel the party.

post #2 of 160
wish I were there. have fun guys.
post #3 of 160
Just got back from the meet, so I'll post my impressions while they are still fresh.

Aside from meeting all the awesome Bay-Area Head-Fiers, I came into this meet with one objective: to find out how much the K1000s can scale up with equipment. And the answer is that it goes as high as your source goes.

This is the setup that really blew my mind:

EMM Labs CDSD Transport-->EMM Labs DCC2 DAC/Pre-amp-->First Watt F1-->K1000s (stock cable).

This is a fully balanced setup, and the K1000s have never sounded any better. The EMM Labs transport/DAC combo really showed me what my FirstWatt/K1000 setup is capable of, and I have never heard bass on my K1000s sound as good as they did with this setup. To my ears, there was not a single harsh note to be found. So if you are skeptical of the K1000's transparency, you should really try them out on a top-end source, because they are only going to be as good as the source, provided that they get the right amplification.

Now the important question: is the K1000 setup I've just described better or equal to an HE90/HEV90 setup using the same source? The answer is a bit more complicated. The Orpheus/HEV90 setup definitely had greater bass extension, but that is to be expected. The midrange is comparable on the two setups to my ears, although the Orpheus was a tiny bit smoother. They also have comparable highs, although the K1000's highs are just a tiny bit more emphasized. This isn't a problem with the EMM Labs source. Overall I think the HE90 setup is a better setup, but the K1000s are right behind it. But I wouldn't trade in my K1000 setup for an Orpheus setup myself.

A slight aside: the K1000s sounded awesome on Neil's state-of-the-art MBL monoblocks, but it's a little bit too extreme to run the K1000s out of a pair of $15,000 monoblocks

I also came into the meet wanting to compare the Red Wine Audio Signature 30 against the FirstWatt. I personally prefered the F1, because it just has so much control over the K1000s, and it is actually surprisingly smoother than the Signature 30. I heard some slight sibilance on the Signature 30, but nothing really glaring. Plus it is more versatile than the F1. But the power of the F1, it just calls out to me, because it just grips the K1000s in a vice and refuses to let go of the drivers. And at heart, I'm a power guy, and I think that there is no such thing as too much power.

At the end of the day, I was just happy that I got to listen to some of the best setups I've ever heard. And I know once and for all that I am completely happy with my K1000s setup. Sure, the Orpheus is technically better, but even going back to the K1000s setup, I did not feel the slightest urge to upgrade.

The only thing left for me to do is to upgrade the source, because the K1000 is so transparent that it is only as good as the source that is feeding it. I was blown away by how incredibly good it sounded out of the EMM Labs digital front-end; it eats my Lavry for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. I have now, more than I have ever before, a believer in source-first.

So I can say that this meet was freaking awesome, it really showed me how much more potential I can unlock out of my current setup. I'll just have to start saving my pennies and plan for a source upgrade.
post #4 of 160
Hello all here are the pics I took. EMM Labs and Orpheus is amazing!

I had a great time guys. Pizza was delicious. Thank you Neil for hosting this!

post #5 of 160
Thanks Voltron, and special thanks to Neil for sharing his home and putting this together. Neil has some amazing equipment and he's a very cool guy.

I was a little bit nervous about attending this meet. I've been pretty happy with the Sig 30 and was wondering if the FirstWatt was going to cause another round of equipment buying. It hasn't.

The FirstWatt is a truly great amp. It is spectacular paired with the K1000. However, at the meet I preferred my Sig 30.

I was never really able to do a true A-B comparison of the two amps. The primary difference factor seemed to be headphone cables. We listened to K1000s hooked up with equinox hardwired and moon blue dragon tail / stock K1000 main.

Surprisingly, I didn't care for the hardwired equinox/FirstWatt combination. It sounded brittle and edgy -- pretty much the opposite of what I'd been expecting. I thought the Sig 30/Moon combo was much more relaxed and musical while retaining a wonderful sound stage and sufficient detail.

When the cable combinations were reversed (actually, this is how we started) it was much closer. This is where the FirstWatt revealed its extraordinary detail and control. The Sig 30 showed less detail but a more organic sound.

What I've learned from this meet is that I need to make more money. The truly amazing component (that I lust for) was Neil's EMM dac. I want one. If you haven't heard this dac you've never heard what fine audio equipment can do. If you have to ask how much it costs -- you can't afford one.

Thanks again to Neil, Humanflyz, Voltron, and the rest of the fine group that I met.
post #6 of 160
I'd just like to echo Bob's sentiment about the EMM Labs digital front-end. I have no doubt in my mind that one day I would definitely want to own a source of that caliber. The music really takes on a new lease on life with that source. And like Bob said, I need to make a lot of money
post #7 of 160
Wow, those are some amazing shots of all the gear you guys had present that day. I'd like to hear just one of those setups in the near future if possible. =T I definitely want to try an Orpheus and Baby Orpheus, hopefully both will be present at the NY meet in March.
post #8 of 160
So let me get this straight... did you guys like or not like my EMM Labs gear? Because I wasn't sure!

Haha... its probably one of the best deals in audio right now, head over to audiogon and check out some of the used prices on EMM Labs! It's not the signature stuff.. or the newest software but it is EMM and it is good.

As a further comment on the EMM gear - the Signature Upgrade (new DAC essentially) IS SO MUCH BETTER... it really isn't subtle. Many of these people heard the EMM Labs at the Marin meet when I did not have the signature upgrade. This upgrade is, mind blowingly enough, takes the EMM Labs combo even further.

I'll make some more meet comments later. Thanks everyone for coming! Good Times!

post #9 of 160
Can anyone comment on how well the CDSD is able to read CDRs?

I agree with source first, there is a CDSD/DCC2 combination in my future.
post #10 of 160
Originally Posted by J-Pak View Post
Can anyone comment on how well the CDSD is able to read CDRs?

I agree with source first, there is a CDSD/DCC2 combination in my future.
Well, our reference test disc was a CD-R, but we only had one, since the EMM Labs sourced all the amps.
post #11 of 160
The CDSD/DCC2 handles cdr's very well. The only problem I have had with it aside from the forthcoming comment is that certain copy protected CD's (I think they are some sort of enhanced CD) tends to skip every now and again. These CD's are few and far between so it's not really a prob... and maybe the problem is fixed with the new DAC... we'll see (but not likely).

Forthcoming Comment: the EMM Transports is just a bunch of $^%. And what I mean specifically are the transport controls. So slow, so susceptible to error and frustration. I finally got an answer: Ed doesn't like two internal clocks... he doesn't want them to run asymmetrically, and apparently doing this has an adverse effect on the SQ. However, even his employees are skeptical.

Either way, in the end it is worth it because clearly the fidelity is just so great and balanced that it doesn't matter and I put up with the minor inconvenience of sloppy transport control.

post #12 of 160
A few more shots...

It was great meeting some of you for the first time and many of you again. Neil thank you for hosting. Thanks everyone for suggesting the tracks for the test CD. It was a great collection. And also great to finally hear the Beatles Love album.

Funny even a phone as great as the Omega II, pales in comparison to the HE90. And a revelation how good the K1Ks can sound with the setups we had today.

And I knew I shouldn't have turned on my system tonight. Damn it sucks.
post #13 of 160
The major discovery of the meet was a spectacular new audio accessory: the Crackling Java Log audio stand (see attachment). The sonic experience one experiences while experiencing this stand is difficult to adequately describe. The bass becomes more basic. The highs become Jerry Garcia-esque. The mids become so middle ground that they wouldn't offend anybody.

I might be persuaded to part with one of these extraordinarily amazing audio accessories. For just one EMM dac, one of these amazing stands could be yours. Contact me via private message to achieve audio nirvana.

BTW: Neil -- you have entirely too many Orpheus's. I'd be happy to help you solve that problem.
post #14 of 160
Great meet, guys. Brings tears to my eyes, really, just looking at the gear.

I happen to be wearing my K1000 right now as I found this thread while the great Late Gilels is doing some incredible things with Beethoven late piano sonatas.

Which brings me to the question regarding K1000 cables. Did the Equinox hardwire really sound edgier than stock+blue dragon? What about stock+stock extension cable?

How about HE90 vs HE60 comparisons? Last time I compared them out of the same amp (KGSS), I thought HE60 really made a good case for itself.

BTW, what level of Virtual Dynamics cable madness are we seeing here, Master, Revelation?
post #15 of 160

To quote Neil, it's "only" the Master series lol
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