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UK Meet: Manchester 2009 Impressions - Page 2  

post #16 of 103

UK meet reviews/impressions

Some of my initial impressions of the Manchester audio meet.

There was some really nice stuff at the event with a really good mix in sounds. There was loads that I liked on the day and each had its own unique characteristics.

Some of my favourite bits were:

Definitely the HD800's. I was very keen to try these out. They definitely have a much more open sound then my hd650's but i didn't find that the 650's were miles behind. I won't try and say the 650's are as good, because they simply weren't. However for the price tag, i still find the HD800's hard to justify compared to the hd650's price. I did love the sound of the Hd800's on the various valve amps and solidstate amps I tried them with.

It was nice to hear the b22 amp. For me this was one of the nicest sounding solidstate amps. This amp was built by Naamanf and the quality of the built was exceptional! The b22 matches really well with the sound of the HD800 headphones. I love the way the b22 sounds detailed, but has much more warmth in tone than other solid states such as the Graham Slee solo SRGII.

The Solo SRGII is by far the most detailed amp I tried. It is extremely crisp, crystal clear and very detailed. I feel this amp really does manage to pull out everything within the music. The solo SRGII is definitely an improvement over my Solo intro green version. For me the only way to describe the difference is it is much more refined and it also helped I tried the SRGII with the PSU1. However, I would have to say I preferred the warmth of the valve amps I tried on the day, mainly as I felt I could enjoy the music mush easier for longer periods of time.

I enjoyed the sounds from both the WOO Audio W22 valve amp and the Dark Voice valve amp. For me the Darkvoice had more presence in sound. It had a really warm feeling about it. Both were great and well worth listening to! My only gripe about these amp is I feel they are over priced.

One of my favourite portable rigs was the iMod, PV-Cap to LisaIII . I couldn't believe how nice they sounded for a portable setup. They sounded much bigger than they really were.

As for headphones, where do I start! There were so many there I found it hard to listen to them all. It was the first time I had heard any Grados, AKG and Dennon's. I found both the Grados and AKG's had similar characteristics in sound. They were both very bright sounding and detailed. I felt they were more focused on providing detail within the music and on some songs I felt they lacked in bass. Still it was great to hear the differences in the headphones.

On a personal note, I really enjoyed the sound of the HD800s on my Aikido valve amp and My X-canv3. I felt they managed to open up the amps a little more in sound. I still feel the 650's perform well on most amps, but the 800s are a real joy to listen to. I also really liked the sound of the Beresford TC-7520 dac. Paired with my valve amps the Beresford had a really warm and weighted feel whilst managing to also have lots of detail. The bottom end was amazing. I already have a modified TC-7510 dac with the LM4562 op amp installed but I did feel the TC-7520 was better.


So what did I learn on the day? I felt that these meet ups were extremely educational in hearing a massive difference of sounds all in the one place. I really felt that it helped me to explore so many options and refine the options in to a sound that I like suited to my own tastes. I felt that there was equipment in a lower price range really provided some stiff competition over some of the more expensive gear. It also confirmed to me that best gear is not always the one with the highest price tag, that is if there is such a thing as 'best gear' in the first place.

Heres a few of my pics at the event (sorry they are not the best quality - the lights were a bit low in the room)





















post #17 of 103
Hi Guys

Just wanted to say thanks for making me feel so welcome, it's a bit daunting turning up for an event like this, when you're quite clearly a girl who knows very little about audio equipment. Thanks to everyone who chatted to me and made the day a good one for me too!

I was mainly at the event to support Mark but really enjoyed hearing all the different gear.

I really enjoyed listening to....

The Ear Drum Drum destroyer 3000 AKA The DACS clarity headmaster! This just looked so huge compared to everyone elses!

I loved the look of the Dark Voice, and it sounded pretty neat too.

I think I have established what kind of sound I prefer, and that is of a Valve amp as I enjoy the smooth warm sounds as opposed to ear tickling precise detailed solid state sounds. I know I am a little bias but I did enjoy Marks (Fault151) Aikido Valve amp with the Beresford TC-7520 and really favoured using the Sennheiser HD800 head phones and I can see why he now wants a pair... although I am not sure I should be encouraging this... what with my Christmas present in sight!

It was nice to hear the B22 amp, I know its a hand made amp and it sounded fantastic, I really hope Mark gets his finished soon so we can both have a listen.

Overall I had a brilliant day and hope there will be more events like this!

Janine
post #18 of 103
Yes score, my face is not on camera

Thanks
post #19 of 103
Thanks to all for the great day, especially Shaun and PedalHead.

I'd like the thank those that made the longer journeys too - some travelled serious miles just to share thier gear with others, it's appretiated.

Before Saturday I hadn't really heard any higher end gear other than what I brought along. It was a great oppurtunity for me to learn what I like and dislike in a headphone.

After comparing my pair of HD600 with Mark's (pedalhead) it looks like I'll be buying a Cardas cable in the near future

I'll add some impressions when I've got a little more time.
post #20 of 103

UK CanJam next year?

Just arrived back home after the long drive back down to Brighton.

I just wanted to post a quick note to say thank you to everyone for coming along and making it such a pleasant occasion. Special thanks go to PedalHead for making the event a reality.

Kristina and I really enjoyed ourselves and learned a lot. It was great to meet everyone, have a chance to put some faces to names and it was also an opportunity for us to get feedback on the products we had on demo (iBasso amps, Phonak Audeo earphones, SoundMAGIC earphones, etc). It was also most informative to have the opportunity to try so much different equipment side by side.

It was our first step at attending (and sponsoring) an event, so we've learned a great deal that will surely be useful for the future.

With a bit more planning ahead for next year's meet I feel we could get at least some of the manufacturers who have UK presence to attend, e.g. Grado, Goldring, Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser, Audio-Technica, Denon, Shure, Graham Slee, etc.

Why not aim for a UK CanJam next year?
post #21 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by shaun_g View Post
Just arrived back home after the long drive back down to Brighton.

I just wanted to post a quick note to say thank you to everyone for coming along and making it such a pleasant occasion. Special thanks go to PedalHead for making the event a reality.

Kristina and I really enjoyed ourselves and learned a lot. It was great to meet everyone, have a chance to put some faces to names and it was also an opportunity for us to get feedback on the products we had on demo (iBasso amps, Phonak Audeo earphones, SoundMAGIC earphones, etc). It was also most informative to have the opportunity to try so much different equipment side by side.

It was our first step at attending (and sponsoring) an event, so we've learned a great deal that will surely be useful for the future.

With a bit more planning ahead for next year's meet I feel we could get at least some of the manufacturers who have UK presence to attend, e.g. Grado, Goldring, Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser, Audio-Technica, Denon, Shure, Graham Slee, etc.

Why not aim for a UK CanJam next year?
Shaun & Kristina - Thanks for setting this up for us it was much appreciated! I think we should definitely try get it even better next time. A UK Canjam would be amazing!
post #22 of 103
^ x2
post #23 of 103
QI am just reserving this space for my pics. Mark (Pedalhead), I do remember that I've got to send you the small clip of Led Zeppelin's track and Duggeh, the pictures of your Stax rig. Just give me another 24 hours. Hey Mark, those are some really nice pictures.
post #24 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by tudj View Post
After comparing my pair of HD600 with Mark's (pedalhead) it looks like I'll be buying a Cardas cable in the near future
That is interesting because I did not think much of the Cardas but did think more of sceptre's apuresound
post #25 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by LFC_SL View Post
That is interesting because I did not think much of the Cardas but did think more of sceptre's apuresound
I'm not one for believing cable makes such an improvement as people like to suggest, however I did find the apuresound cable did make an improvement on my 650's especially over the stock 650 cable. I do have a Cardas cable and I am wishing I compared the two, side by side, at the audio meet.
post #26 of 103
Quote:
Originally Posted by fault151 View Post
Im not one for believeing cable makes such an improvement as people like to suggest, however I did find the apuresound cable did make an improvement on my 650's especially over the stock 650 cable. I do have a Cardas cable and I am wishing I comperd the two, side by side, at the audio meet.
I was a sceptic myself, I didn't see how a cable could make any differance at all but after Saturday my opinion has completely changed. I'm sure PedalHead and alvin_sawdust commented on the instantly noticable difference between my cable and the Cardas.

We discussed that the cardas may have been too bass heavy for the HD650 but that may have been the Darkvoice paired with the Monarch DAC which seemed quite bass heavy to me.
post #27 of 103
Indeed looks like your guys and girls had a really nice time. Sweet!
Several great looking rigs...
post #28 of 103
Again, a big Thank to pedalhead for organizing all of this for us, and also Hifi Headphones as well, our sponsor.

- I found the new Solo GRHII has more detail than the previous version, also slightly more treb, good amount of bass and very refined. This one really a very good SS amp, but I wouldn't pay more than £400 for it.

- fault151's Millet Max was very nice, I found it smoother than the new Solo, and the mids is much sweeter, slightly warmer as well. This amp sound excellent with the Sennheiser's. Also his Buffalo sound awesome as well, such a great DAC, I think I like it better than the Benchmark DAC1

- Grado PS1: drive by the Melos and Xciter DAC, the PS1 is indeed looks awesome in person, the build quality much better than other Grados (I haven't seen HP1,HP1000,HP2...), though they are heavier, but a lot more sturdier. Soundwise, I found them have bigger soundstage than other Grados as well (except the GS1000), they sound quite similar to the HF2 to me, but more emphasis at the low, the bass is really nice, tight and well defined, but the mid-bass is too prominent for me. Yes the mid is very forward and nice as well. Wish I could spend more time with them.

- HD800: not quite my cup of tea, though I can see that they are technically better than other phones. The soundstage is very spacious and wide, very detail, the mid is a bit too distant for me. Bass is very good, fast, tight and very refined. One of the issue I found with them, is the bright treble, they produce enough sibilance to...annoy me

- Ultrasone Edition 9: I was amazed by how aggressive they are! I used to own the Pro 2500, have tried hfi-780, pro 750, and to me, the ED9 are much better than those. They are very forward, dynamic, fast, and everything was all over the place! The bass is very powerful, in-your-face type, nice mid with metallic treb, but no harsh to me. They are very detailed, could be due to the forward sound make you hear the detail clearly. They don't sound realistic with some music like classical, acoustic, also lack of soundstage and separation... But with electronica, rock, pop, they are exceptional! I really like these, more so than the ESW10, because the ED9 have so much energy, but I still think, they are overpriced.

- ESW10: there was many time in the past I was about to pull the trigger to get these, but never did it. And now I had a chance to try them, personally, I was quite disappointed in the bass, not very tight and not so deep, the bass didn't really appeal much to me. Other than that, they are just so good, the mid is very sweet, warm and less color than my AD2000, the treb is very detail yet still very smooth. I was impressed how can these portable headphones have such a great soundstage depth. They handle female vocal, acoustic, new age, some pop... better than the ED9 IMO, some when you need something soft and musical, the ED9 way too aggressive.

- Beta 22 + o22: look great with solid case, such a nice built, clearly one of the best SS amp I have ever tried, so much dynamic and punchy sound, the bass has a good amount with great impact yet still very refined and tight. Everything else just great, everything I plug them in also sound great, however, I didn't try my AD2000 and the HD800 with these, wish I were

- Woo WA22: this is the only amp that make the HD800 (balanced) impressed me, though the treb is still bright and has sibilance. The image is very big, soundstage has a excellent heights and depths, incredible separation, also very detail and have a nice warm sound. The HF2 (SE) also excellent with this amp, sooooooo smooth, bass is very tight not muddy anymore, very clean sound and refinement is top notch. Pedalhead just got this amp 2 days ago, so it is not fully burn-in yet and it is already this good! Can't say B22 or WA22 which one better, they are different, but both really impressed me.

- Stax O2 Mk1/717: though the signal sometimes got cut off to the DAC (could be caused by the dodgy USB connection), but this was, the rig that I enjoy the most, no doubt about that! First time I tried stax/electrostatic as well, though I have heard the portable SR-001 before. Duggeh has such a great collection of Mike Oldfield, who is my favorite artist of all time as well, and the O2 just make them sound flawless to me. The Stax have such an incredible speed, extremely detail but the sound is ridiculously smooth, the details don't force you to listen or they don't sound analytical, but very musical, and still organic, neutral, realistic. I guess now I'm saving up for these

- LFC_SL and I did compare the V-DAC and the DacMagic, and we couldn't detect much different, can't say which one is better, they are just different. The V-DAC is more forward in the mids, a bit clearer, while the DacMagic is warmer, slightly smoother, a bit better separation as well, it has tubey sound I think. But again really, there are no big differences between these two dacs.
post #29 of 103
Hi All,

First off, a big thanks to Shaun for sponsoring this event and Pedalhead for organising it. Having attended the previous Manchester meet in 2007, the room was definitely better organised!

Really enjoyed the whole day and the chinese meal with the guys who stayed over on Saturday night. Only downsides - "no-shows" and having to lug an overloaded suitcase to and from London (it got stuck while attempting to traverse the ticket barriers at Waterloo tube station yesterday...!).

Clear favourite headphone for me was the HD800, so much so that I snapped up Duggeh's for-sale pair from him. I found these tremendously resolving and neutral with a lovely headstage and great comfort. They will be paired with my Sugden Headmaster for now (which unfortunately couldn't come by suitcase due to the weight of it) but no doubt the upgrade bug will bite before too long and I will looking to audition more amps with it at the next meet. I tried a few on Saturday but not enough. The sound from the Woo was very agreeable, unfortunately I neglected to try the B22. I have owned the Solo amps previously so didn't really concentrate on them. The PS Audio amp sounded good and I also tried it directly connected to Alvin Stardust's DAC and that drove them particularly well.

From memory, things I did like were the AD2000 going through the Millet Minimax and a Yamaha CD player (Tudj's?). Surprisingly nice sound and it bested the HD600 sitting close by very easily. I used to own the W5000 and sold it due to what I perceived to be a coloured/honky midrange - no such problem with the AD2000 and I would definitely recommend it.

I was also impressed by Alvin's Stardust's HD650 and Moon Audio cable paired with his own gear. It sounded liquid, spacious and resolving and not dark/muddled like the two pairs I used to own and sold. I would be very happy with that set-up. Interestingly, I took the 650's back to my own gear. The opposite was the case for my Markl D5000's which I didn't like as much on Alvin's rig so it just shows different synergies at work.

I had a quick listen to Duggeh's Stax set-up but I still don't quite know what to make of these headphones. The sound is lightning quick and spacious, but I found it too dark too be honest. I didn't think it sounded as lifelike or revealing as it should. I really need to audition these headphones at length in a top-flight system I think.

I enjoyed comparing the Sceptre's stock D7000 various my hyped Markl D5000's (mine are the DE version except I took the stuffing out of the pads as I perceived it to be sucking the life out of the midrange). I noted the stock D7000's come with much thicker pads so the driver's are sitting further away from the ears. Unlike my Markl ones though when they had stuffed pads, the mids are present and correct. I thought the sound was fairly close with the D7000 just edging ahead for me. It had a better sense of clarity and headstage, however I felt the sound was a bit lacking in warmth. The bass on both headphones is big and not for everyone e.g LFC_SL. I will keep mine primarily for use in bass-lite rock/pop.

Also enjoyed listening to the Grado's, something I haven't done much of due to the overpricing in the UK. The HF-2 is an excellent headphone, and not dark like I had read. I half wish I hadn't cancelled my order for one of those, although the HEAD-F1 balls up isn't the best! GS1000 is very impressive to listen and has a decent headstage atypical of the Grado range but it didn't quite float my boat at the UK price of asking, also I found the fit a bit awkward. The big plus point of Grado's I think is their musicality - I can see why they are recommended for rock etc., I found them very involving at an emotional level.

Had a quick blast with the Ultrasone Edition 9 and preferred my Denon's.

Cheers

P.S. The HD600 and Cardas are definitely highly suited. The difference was not subtle.
post #30 of 103
Thanks to Pedalhead and all those who attended. I had a great time and it was good to meet you in person.

There was such a lot of fantastic kit at the meet that I found it hard to select my favourites. Here are a few highlights that I want to mention..

I enjoyed the PS Audio GCHA which was articulate and smooth with my AKGK701s - it was also one of the subset of amps that brought out the bass in these difficult to drive headphones.

Fault151s Akido Kit Amp sounded fabulous and was really well matched to the Beresford 7520 that I brought along. I would love to one available to listen to at home, but talent and time are not on my side.

I was also surprised by Marks Musical Fidelity Xcan V3 amp. This modified version with replaced caps and tubes really made my foot tap and caused me to exclaim 'wow' when I hooked it up to my system (Mark lent it to me for a short trial during the meet). I was so impressed that I have since decided that I will keep my eyes open for a secondhand Xcan for myself.

Thanks for a great day

Ade
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