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NorCal 8/8/09 meet impressions  

post #1 of 154
Thread Starter 
Am I the first one home? Well, whatever... impressions in here, ladies and gents. Nothing from me yet.

Edit for my take:

For the first time ever, I felt like I brought some really good stuff to a meet, even by Head-Fi's lofty standards. I couldn't bring a full rig, because I don't own a CD transport, but everything I brought ended up being used at others' stations.

I only listened to the items that interested me, mostly to reaffirm my notions, but the Omega and JH13 Pro were new to me. The stuff that I didn't listen to, I either had a well-defined opinion, or they weren't on my radar.

K1000: good, but I don't love them. Nothing conclusive.
Omega (maybe with O2 drivers?): much better than the O2! It might be the most dynamically impressive stat I've heard to date. I guess I'm just not into stats in general, but these were great. How great? No idea, really.
4070s: I had previously thought I liked these, but they really sound wrong with certain things. By that, I mean one of my test tracks was sounding entirely different than ever.
Jades: Pretty good for a stat. Nothing conclusive, but I can't find any major faults yet.
other stats: I like but don't love anything. I actually don't even like the O2 mk1s. Still, the mid-priced ones can be very good considering the price.
Stax adapter box: Holy crap, I didn't know it was so cheap! $300 for the ability to run from a small power amp. This is a great alternative to those who already own good power amps and don't want another beast like a BHSE and WES.
vintage S RS1 vs HF2: Foo_me let me borrow his beauties for an extended comparison, which was very easy thanks to the Gilmore Balanced Reference and the Spectral stack. The HF2 has definitely has more body, but the RS1 has better balance and clarity. The tone is amazing on both, but the vintage RS1 may have the most perfect tone I've ever heard. Well, it's up there.
W10VTG: My personal reference and tied with the vintage RS1 for perfect tone in my mind. Can't find any criticisms yet. Other candidates include the JH13Pro, HD800, HP1000.
JH13 Pro: For maybe the first time ever, I felt like I was listening to the limitations of the Pico's DAC. Good stuff, but not a high end setup in my mind. Of course, a source upgrade would make a huge difference.
LCD1: I don't love it. The performance is there, but the tone isn't. The highs bother me, being strong and a bit unnatural. Also, synergy seems wacky. They sounded fine from Transdac -> ZDT, but terrible from Spectral -> Gilmore Balanced Reference.
L3000: I finally found what I perceive to be a fault. You know how a lot of "high end" phones have kind of a diffuse bass? The L3000 is about the only thing that I'd describe as having a diffuse treble. It doesn't bother me much, but hey, it's something.

Stacker 2/Sonic Studios: Great, of course. JP obvsiously knows his stuff.
Amarra software/Amarra 4/WES: sounded great when I got it to work, but it decided that it doesn't like me. I couldn't get it to work for me and never came back, so I basically forgot to listen to the Berkeley DAC. Oops.
CTH: I'm actually listening to one as I'm typing this up. I only have low impedance phones these days, but this little guy is a KILLER with low impedance. It's at least mid-fi, not lo-fi. I'll have to compare it to a CK2III sometime.
Eddie Current rigs: I listened to them. Can't say much other than Eddie Current and Headamp are probably my 2 favorite amp builders. I sometimes hate listening to analog like vinyl or tape. Whenever someone has a nice setup like Ironbut or Craig, it invariably sounds mind-blowingly amazing.

Anyways, it was good to see some familiar faces and to meet some new people.
post #2 of 154
a few pictures to get things started...

post #3 of 154
I thought I'd try to make an animated gif of Iron But's glorious tape real in action, but I think it might just give you all a seizure. Let me know, and I'll take it off!

post #4 of 154
great pic of the 800!
post #5 of 154
Hey... that would be me in the third picture!

The meet was great, although it might just have cost me a couple hundred dollars. Gotta pick up a pair of Sextetts or Ultrasones now!
post #6 of 154
Unloading car....

Had a lot of fun. It was a good gathering. Cheers to JP for putting it together. Got to listen to some good stuff, and good visits...

Will write up some notes and post some pics...

cool pics of my woo (wa5 that is)... rhythmdevils

post #7 of 154
I would like to know what headphones these were...

They were on the table next to DNA, and next to some Sen HD800.. They were Stax and they were in a row of maybe 5 different headphones. They were the stax square brown ones all the way to the right of the other phones... Those were by far my fav.
post #8 of 154
I just got home too.
I thought it was an excellent venue for a meet and once again JP# proved himself to be a great organizer. Many thanks to him and all the other members and vendors that really make these things cook!

I had a great time that seemed to go by way too fast.
I'm too burnt to post real impressions now,.. tomorrow,,.. sleep first.
post #9 of 154
Originally Posted by BauhausBold View Post
I would like to know what headphones these were...

They were on the table next to DNA, and next to some Sen HD800.. They were Stax and they were in a row of maybe 5 different headphones. They were the stax square brown ones all the way to the right of the other phones... Those were by far my fav.
I think you are talking about either the Lambda Nova Signature (lighter colored) or the Lambda Signature (dark brown).
post #10 of 154
I believe the one that was plugged into the left side of the stax amp if that helps. Its hard for me to remember, but It sounded a lot warmer and fuller than the other.
post #11 of 154
Originally Posted by BauhausBold View Post
I believe the one that was plugged into the left side of the stax amp if that helps. Its hard for me to remember, but It sounded a lot warmer and fuller than the other.
I don't remember which one was plugged into which socket. Maybe you can ask blessingx. I think that was part of his rig.
post #12 of 154
This was my first meet and it sure was fantastic. It was such a great opportunity to listen to all the types of headphones and finally figure out what kind of sound signature I like.
I'm a bit surprised I turned out to like Grado's a lot compared to Sennheisers. I was really loving the HD600 at the beginning of the meet, especially balanced and running from FallenAngel's rig. His stuff, which I believe was a balanced B22 and Dynalo, was still my favorite, but I had to be more reasonable in terms of pricing when searching for a starting set up.
I came across a set up consisting of the Wadia iTransport going to a Benchmark DAC1 then to Grado RS-1 and Grado HP-2. Those were my two favorite Grados. To my surprise, they were not as bright as I thought. I really enjoy that upfront in your face aggressive sound. Also, even though they were physically close to my ears, they still had a decent sound stage. I really want the HP-2, but unfortunately those are all gone so I'll have to settle for the RS-1.
When Christmas comes around, hopefully I'll have enough money to buy a set-up. I'm pretty set on Benchmark DAC1 -> Grados. It's pretty fantastic for a decently low price and I know I'll be able to enjoy it for a long time. It's a shame I have to deal with my iBuds and Logitech Z2300 until then. My ears have officially been spoiled.
post #13 of 154
Originally Posted by cclragnarok View Post
I think you are talking about either the Lambda Nova Signature (lighter colored) or the Lambda Signature (dark brown).
Yep. Nova also had the slightly larger handband. There was also another Lambda Sig at the end of the row with Voltron's Woo/Amarra rig. Don't remember the order, but the Nova Sig is punchier and the Sig smoother. I prefer the latter a bit.

I want to thank Iron Dream for bringing the JH13 Pros. It took four listens (had seal problems earlier), but in the end I became a fan, if I think they're still a bit over-hyped. They are incredible IEMs and great phones, but there are several full-sized I think superior overall, including the HD800s. That shouldn't be surprising, except for some of the commentary lately. It's important however to note my experience was only with the universals, and many have now had weeks with the customs. Nevertheless, it's amazing what they are able to accomplish out of only an iPhone, a Pico or a D/AC 1600 + GS1 combo. Very likely a pair in my future and the highlight of the show.

And of course thanks for JP for all the work in organizing.
post #14 of 154
Well, as always it was really awkward for the younger folk/those who didn't know many members in person. But I'm glad I was able to talk in depth to a few members, as well as the company workers of the Bottlehead amps and the Audeze LCD-1. And after I was done listening to the headphones and setups, I started my hunt of listening to music that I've never heard before.

Here are my fleeting impressions of headphones, most of them written down in my Moleskine:

HD800 vs. JH-13 Pro:
Even if the tips were universal (some cheap EAR Classic yellow earplugs) and it was obviously on the bright side because of that, I felt that the JH-13 was a better investment than the HD800. The HD800 has earpads that are even larger than the K701/K702, making them uncomfortable for me to some degree no matter where I place them on my head. A Grado HP-1000 and PS-1 were at the meet as well, and I would say that the HD800 reminded me of those, but not necessarily in the same leaugue; the Sennheiser had a much wider soundstage, but at the same time, it didn't feel as "emotional" as the old-time Grado 'phones.

The JH-13 was only driven by a Pico via the DAC part, and yet it held my fascination more than any other headphone in the meet. In the Pixies' song "Debaser," I have the MFSL version as well, and that was the first tiem I heard underlying bass throughout the song. I always thought it pretty much was gone after the first few seconds in! And the JH-13 Pro not only managed to keep up in Children of Bodom's "Follow the Reaper," but managed to keep all the instruments apart from each other, but not so much as to make you think "Hey, no metal setup sounds this clean!"

iGrado: Straight out of my iPod Classic, it sound thick and muddled in the low end; mids were recessed, and the highs were sliced off even moreso than the SE530.

Sennheiser PX 100: Pretty much a better version of the iGrado, although the highs were rather thin and sketchy. I'm glad I chose the 20% coupon for the SRH840 instead of the free PX 100!

Ultrasone HFI-680: Sounded pretty much like an unrefined SRH840.

Denon AH-D5000: These sounded pretty funky, in a bad way. Tinny and unrefined overall, I greatly preferred my SRH840 to them. They did have cyro cabling however, and later on when I talked to another Head-Fi member, he said that he greatly preferred the normal version of it over the cryo-treated version.

RS-1 (Classic?):
Finally got to listen to the older model of the RS-1. Prreviously, I bought the newer RS-1 model in the beginning of the year, and I hated this enourmous mid-bass hump to it. Fast forward to today, and I still noticed that it's even in the older versions, albeit not as obvious. That hump, to me, ruined the rest of the bottom-end spectrum, and overall everything just felt "okay." Definitely not worth full price to me, and I still wonder what I thought of the RS-2 when I had it a year or so ago. Maybe I'll buy an old version of it again, just for remembrance's sake. But at least I know the RS-1 is not my cup of tea.

Grado HP-1000/PS-1: Didn't have much time to listen to the latter of the two, but I think I still prefer the HP-1000 for its ungodly ability to sound neutral and clean, and yet make you want to rock out.

Grado HF-2: Very formidable headphones; they actually do jazz quite well as well as rock. I preferred them to the RS-1, and they are a notice step up or three above the SR225. Half of me still laments having OCD and not getting the HF-2 because of the QC issues, and the other half is glad that I held off, because now I can afford a decent speaker setup.

So yup, there you have it. Thanks to this meet, I found a lot of albums that I want to buy, listened to headphones that I no longer need to wonder what they sound like now, and met a few people that I'm glad I can put a face to the username to.
post #15 of 154
This was one great meet for me, totally fun and I think I enjoyed it even more than CanJam - less overload and I actually got to hear some stuff for a bit instead of walking around sampling for minutes at a time.

Great thanks to JP for organizing. The raffle turned out to be a great success and I was really happy to contribute a little to offset the huge costs of the meet rooms.

I really liked the O2 from the Woo amp, definitely my favorite electrostatic headphones I've heard so far. I never heard Sting - Desert Rain so beautifully before.

The DX1000 was a nice headphone to try - comfy as hell but a little too colored in the mids for me, and a little bit cut short on the highs.
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