I'm being a little bit tardy with my commentary here, but as the saying goes "better late than never".
It was a great meet and a very worthy build on what we did in 2007. I very sincerely hope that this can continue to build year on year. More people more rigs and more fun. I want to express my gratitude to Pedalhead for doing the put-together and for his faultless presence on the day in spite of his stomach bug. Hifiheadphones are to be credited for their sponsoring of our wee shindig and it was a marvellous oppertunity to speak to people in the business (I learned a few things about who owns who and who sells who).
I had persistant troubles with my DAC at the meet and have been able to diagnose what was going wrong. The DAC would run fine for a time and then briefly cut out and then work fine again. This is because I was running a USB to COAX transport and an external hard drive from the same USB bus (my netbook only has one USB ring). So as much data was coming in and going out and I think this was a bandwidth/processor speed issue. I apologise for the frustration that this must have caused people who were hoping for a, less stilted, presentation of the music.
I got to listen to many things for the first time, including Ultrasone headphones and a smattering of Grados I was not experienced with. However, my secure comfort in my O2 lends more discovery of affirmation and less adventure of the revalatory in listening to headphones with which I an inexperienced. Although I've yet to hear the HE90 of course...
My personal highlight of the meet was having the chance to plug my DIY orthos (sadly I had to bash together a pair in haste because my go-to pair suffered a fried driver) into some meaty headphone amps. They were best of the DACS Audio amp in the 19" rackmount. The B22 was struggling with them which I was highly surprised by, but It may have been because of the amp having a low gain, combined with the very low efficiency of the ortho drivers. As when I tried the T-50RP from the same amp they were far easier to drive. Even the HD800 was an easier load on the big amps than the wee SFIs in that regard. The Woo Audio amp was excellent with the SFI orthos except for a strange and somewhat ghostly imaging strangeness in the treble. We spent a wee while contemplating what this may or may not have been. Possibly something to do with the single ended output from a fully balanced rig. I wish that my proper SFIs hadn't blown up. They were terminated 4-pin XLR and so would have avoided, if it were the issue, that issue.
Got to plug my HD800s into the big amps too, and hear the HD800 balanced from the Woo 22 (gosh that's a sexy amp). I continue to recognise their very fine technical merits, however, at the end of the day, they're not the O2
I spent a wee while with the Edition 9 and the Denon D7000. Both of which had their merits, certainly for closed headphones, but at the same time, they suffer from the same feel in the sound which I dislike in all closed headphones. I also thought the Edition 9 deeply overrated and far too expensive for the sound it produces. The D7000 was a different story. I thought it to be much better, and to have a very
good sound at very low listening levels, a great deepness in the bass for such low volume. However once I turned them up to drive them a bit they very quickly got shouty and harsh, which was not great. I'd spent a bit of time with the MarkL modded D5000 a couple of months ago when I was in the states, and I took a brief listen with them again, I still found them to be competant enough but not remarkable, certainly nothing like anywhere near at all in R10 territory, and I still think that Jenalabs cables and that chunky Y-Splitter are ugly as hell. However, like the HD800 or Darth Beyer I think I can understand what the appeal in the sound might be for other listeners. I cannot though extend that understanding to the Edition 9 considering the money for one puts you in Omega 2 price land.
There was a Beresford DAC. I cannot remember which one of the multitudinous revisions it was but I refused to listen to the rig out of general principle until it was unplugged and replaced. I also didn't bother with the recabled K701 as I know from multiple past experiences that I just don't like the K701. I did see it getting some enjoyable use by others though
I got to hear some RS-1s, old and new, and the GS1000. The old RS-1 had some very notable grattle in the left channel which detracted from the music, but the underlaying sound I liked a lot. Reminded me, perhaps unsurprisingly of the old RS-2 I'd previously heard. The new RS-1 (no buttons) on first listening was fine, but after a couple of minutes left me with a sudden onset treble headache and I had to take them off. The GS-1000 was a flipside in that regard. A very clear high energy in the treble but without making my teeth hurt. They also had a good whack in the bass, more than I've heard from other Grados but I couldn't get them to sit right on my head. Best Grado all-in was the iGrado, that has clearly usurped the KSC75 or PX100 or Portapro for sound per pound in that type of headphone. They were the last headphone I listed to as everyone was packing up and I'm glad I took the chance.
Lessons learned or affirmed are that I really am a planarhead. And while most people who tried them were being very cautiously polite about the SFI orthos (ie I don't think that anyone liked them much at all), I'd have picked them over the HD800. Also that, R10 aside. I wouldn't be able to live with a closed back headphone. Livingston Taylors "Isn't she Lovely" is a great track.
MarkyMark bought my HD800 and I am certain that he will enjoy them muchly. We were fortuitous in having three pairs of HD800 at the meet, one of which was balanced and they were certainly one of the most popular choices for the attendees. Sadly the O2 were the only electrostatics and I was unable to bring the TakeT setup as it is on holiday with Nikongod over in the colonies. Moar Stats For 2010!
Also nobody listened to the Goldring NS-1000 the entire meet. They must have felt really lonely.
Best times of all were to be had though in banter with the congregation of fine chaps (and chapettes) who came along to share and enjoy the day. I have to say that my unfashionably late entrace between 12:00 and 13:00 put a bit of a stilt onto my social aptitudes. I also got enthusiastically kidnapped by Sceptre to listen to his wide selection of headphones, amps and CDs. There was though good banter around the biscuit basket and in doorframes.
I have a couple of pictures (I could only take 2 or 3 because I had neglected to check the batteries in my camera prior to the meet). This is something, along with laptop rig - DAC glitches which I shall be sure not to overlook in the future. I shall post them as soon as I can.
Headphone of the meet: iGrado. Sound per pound surprise victor.
Amp of the meet: DACS Audio Headmaster (the 19 inch rackmount isn't my formfactor of choice. With a desktop friendly recasing, I would be keen to see that amp get a FOTM)
Source of the meet: Sony DAS-R1. Because I got to swear at it for not working, which was rather theraputic in many ways.
Until next year gentlemen!