UK meet reviews/impressionsSome 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)