Thanks to fatcat28037 for holding the meet in his lovely home, in a beautiful area on the outskirts of the Queen City.
I went for the love of the hobby and to be with fellow crazies who, in some cases, don't mind investing what could amount to the cost of an economy car in the pursuit of sonic bliss
Nice folks, and a nice assortment of gear ranging from Danny's incredible sounding electrostats to entry level Grados. Speaking of Grados, they were out in force. I never bothered to count but bet there were more than a dozen different Grado cans, including some special editions, modified cans, and in one case, a pair Danny said were 25 years old (which for my taste in sound, were the best sounding Grado I had the chance to try).
I didn't come to review, nor did I take notes on specific model numbers, so other attendees will likely fill in some of the gaps in terms of gear represented.
I'll stick my neck out and say I'm not a fan of Grado's sound signature. I like the immediacy, presence and warmth, but overall I've never found them to be neutral. I view Grado's sound signature as being more real than real. Kind of like looking at grass on a flat screen TV that's so green, it's greener than real grass.
The majority of my listening was done on my hardware and source, so that remained a constant [Red Wine Audio Isabella with DAC / headphone stage – and Signature 30.2 straight amp in the case of the K1000s, sourced by Apple laptop, lossless and USB. And Oritek's wonderful X-2 interconnect. All listening off-the-grid, thanks to RWA’s battery powered operation].
As stated before, this is not a review, just my impressions based on limited listening.
My favorite can historically has been K1000s, which I’ve run both balanced (First Watt F1 and Arye V3 with K-mod), and single-end via Signature 30.2 with Moon Silver Dragon hardwire. Prior to the Ks, I ran HD-650 balanced with Zu Mobius cable.HD 650s with Moon Silver Dragon vs stock AKG 701s
I have a new respect for HD 650s. Last meet I was at I ran them on the same gear, only with stock cable. I thought they were a little slow and bottom heavy. The Silver Dragon paired with the Isabella was extremely nice. Balance was excellent, bass was pretty tight and pretty deep, vocals were excellent and the soundstage was good.
It would have been nice if there were are pair of HD-650s with stock cable to compare, but lacking that all I can say is these cans were very listenable on my rig, and could easily enjoy them as an every day can.
AKG 701s – I’ve heard comments that 701s can be somewhat controversial, but on my gear I love them. And feel dollar-for-dollar they do a great job for their price point.
With the Isabella, the sound is very well balanced across the frequency spectrum. This balance and an overall neutral presentation I feel are their main strength. Said another way, other cans may have an edge on the 701s in an area or two, but 701s shortcomings are errors of omission (not the ultimate in detail, soundstage, speed), which IMO is far better than errors of addition (like overblown bass, or brassy highs).
Of these two I like both. Assuming the 650s had the Silver Dragon, they would get my vote by a moderate margin.K1000 stock cable compared to K1000 Moon Black Dragon Hardwire
It’s been a number of months since I’ve owned K1000s. Now being spoiled by Omega Alnico single-driver speakers in my dedicated listening room, the Ks were not quite what I remembered them to be. With stock cable they were decidedly brighter than neutral. A quick switch to Danny’s Black Dragon hardwire greatly tamed the brightness, but they still seemed a little brighter then I remember them being (I used Silver Dragon hardwire, but the lapse in time makes it impossible for me to really make a meaningful comparison).
While only one or two others heard the comparison, here’s case where the cable difference was pretty dramatic.HD 650s balanced, with SAA cable vs HD 650s single-end using Moon Silver Dragon
Having previously owned HD-650s balanced, I pretty much felt that 650s needed to be balanced to really bloom. Here I put the same music on Danny’s balanced rig (with SAA cable) and my Isabella running Elk’s 650s with Moon Silver Dragon single-end.
I may be biased here, but I really feel the Isabella had an advantage in terms of tone and timber, with more flesh on all instruments. Balanced HD-650s have always excelled at detail, and providing an open soundstage. Here I think Danny’s balanced cans had a slight edge.
I could easily live with either of these cans, but being used to RWA’s organic sound signature, I give a slight edge to the single-end.A brief listen to Danny's electrostats
Danny can fill in the model numbers. Here’s a case where I was not familiar with the recording, so I’m at a disadvantage, but the sound was fantastic, and based on my brief time I’d have to give them best of show. They sounded significantly more refined than anything else I tried. A short listen does not a purchase recommendations make, so I’ll leave final judgment to Danny and other that have longer tenure with these cans.Some time with Jeff_e's modified AT 5000s
These were very nice. Good detail, excellent presence for vocals. On the down side they seemed to be slightly bright of neutral, and the soundstage was a tad more restrictive than I prefer. But I could see why folks could be drawn to these cans, at least as they sounded with the mod.A sampling of Grados including RS-1s and Danny’s 25 year old classics
I’m already on record as not being a Grado fan, but Danny’s oldies were very nice. I’ll leave Grado impressions to those who know the line better.
Again, fun day, and great to spend time with good folks and good gear.
Happy listening, Kent