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DFW Meet Jan 23 2010 Impressions  

post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 
As expected from the interest thread, this meet was better attended than 2009, both by people and equipment. I got a chance to hear several legendary items for the first time.

First of all, I'd like to thank Alex for hosting the meet and all the regulars that make this meet possible. I was glad to see several new people (to me at least) show up. I had a chance to chat with just about everyone at some point or another.

We started the meet with the ritual sacrifice, the loud pop from the blue hawaii, standard fare for sacrifices here at DFW. pabbi1, of course, was the supplier. After it was determined to be finished for the day we began scavenging it for parts, notably a volume knob for another amp in the room. About an hour into the meet everyone had finished unpacking, setting up and checking their setups and the listening wars began in earnest.

In one ring we had a towering B22/O22 with a 6/3 switcher terminating in a great pair of K1000. The other side of the room included some Markl D5000 powered by a set of 4 small CIAudio cubes containing 2 power supplies, 1 DAC, and 1 amplifier. Another table featured a (properly made!) Blue Hawaii SE leading to some SR007-Omega2s. The HD800 was a given to attend and was powered by an unmarked 'it's just an amp' quoting the owner.

My table housed the HD600 fed by a Little Dot MKVI which doubles as a toaster oven (even with 2 fans). pabbi1 continued the tradition of having far too many amps including 2 eXStata amps, 1 Bjiou, the sacrificial BH, at least he brought 2 garage sale sources to make the balance better than 4:1 this year. Headphones included the Stax 40 'test' phones which Alex then claimed and the Senn HE60. On another table was a budget setup that sounded great, including a Denon 1940 source, HD650, and a small yet powerful amplifier that I don't remember the name of. The only marking was a model number starting with TU, I believe.

Alex brought his 'bad' cd player, the Rega Apollo, since his good one is hush hush and can't see the light of day. HD580s powered by the same unknown amplifier were present. He also brought 2 pairs of HifiMan HE-5s which were a popular test item throughout the day. ktm had at least 4 separate rigs up showing his badge for the Stax mafia including the SR404 and SR202 with SRM1 and SRM313 amps. Also present was a Millet (hybrid?) connected to HD650. There was a lower-fi on the end of the table, but I didn't notice what was there.

Some Sony SA5000's showed up source-less, and amp-less, but of course we took care of that adopting them around the room for trial. In similar condition were a pair of K701 and D7000, the latter of which I didn't get a chance to hear. Next meet perhaps!

There were cookies, pop, pizza, more cookies (Alex's wife made some great cookies!), and did I mention cookies? All the nutrition we growing boys (uh oh) need to stay in the mood of sitting around doing nothing but listening to great music.

Tear down began slowly at 4pm with the big setups, then full time tear down closer to 5pm.

I took some pictures with my forever old POS camera, that of course turned out almost entirely blurry, but I do know there were at least 2 other cameras in the room snapping. ASR should be along shortly with some high quality pics. I saw him snapping shots inches away from the gear, hopefully he got some of the people, too.

I had a great time and will be posting actual gear impressions a bit later, but I wanted to get this started so others could gather their thoughts.

Thanks again to all who showed,

post #2 of 52

DFW #6 - Jan 23, 2010

As always, a blast - staying up til Midnight the days before, feverishly soldering, then facing the day like a bleary zombie. At least I did NOT have a 3+ hour drive just to make it.

Here was my table - 7 amps (dead and alive), 3 sources, and all manner of errata.

Others took real pics, and I got distracted. One phone REALLY captured my attention (it is always my bane to be captivated, and fixated, on a singular thing at each meet. This time it was the HE-5. I'll say the hd800 will ship out so I can have the HE-5. Driven by my balanced (differential) Bijou, this puppy is the Cat's MEOW. I reaffirmed this with Chris's Little Dot MK VI - just sweet. The HE-5 left the hd800 quivering like a puddle of goo in comparison, but, maybe i have been listening to stats too much - again. Like, as the only thing I listen to any more. Which takes us to my own personal hell - listening to my builds versus industry heavyweights - well, or at least the percepted leaders.

Ok, so what did I hear in the Stax smackdown? The actual participants were the two hybrid eXStatA, a Stax 313, Stax SRM T1, and the Headamp KGBH SE. Since we did NOT use the same source, there is no ceteris paribus, but...

Caveat: I just don't like the OII, and listened to unmodded and modded versions today - just not for me. Not now, not ever. This makes about 20 experiences with OII over a dozen units. So, using the HE60, I compared the 5 amps.

I remembered within 30 seconds why I long ago sold the SRM-T1 - simply not enough power. Oh they do well for the first half of knob travel, you know, ok, but lose steam after 12 o'clock. same with the 313 - servieable, but leaving you really wanting more.

The BHSE is a REALLY nice amp. Radiohead's 'Subterranean Homesick Alien' was as etherial as anything I have ever heard, from the midrange up. Just transported me to a different place - almost astral projection.

The eXStatA (prod), on the same material is just a tad less lush, but far tighter in the nether regions - a firm bottom, with no jiggle. The midrange is just as lush, but not *quite* the same air, though a crisper presentation.

Same experience with the Tool test - here we used Aenima, where the result was more of the same. The two amps are comparable, and really are tradeoff for what is more important to the listener. I do NOT know what the tubes are in the KGBH SE, but the bass was a bit flabby, an experience I live with on BH (even with Mullard xf2, circa 1961), well, or did (it is now dead to me, even if it lives).

Also tried the 404LE on my prod version, and like them a lot, but there is a bit of what I'll call etch - something up around (WAG) 15k or so that is just a tad harsh - not sure what it is, but, enough to keep me from getting a pair (though several other factors intersect with that decision as well). This was on eXStatA and the BHSE

Just didn't listen as much as I should have - the usual di(Y)istractions. I was pretty disappointed in the hd800 vis a vie the HE-5, especially on the Little Dot. Marc's new All-FET-ALL-The-Time amp has promise, especially on a hot source with Senns. Still has some work, but I have never seen an amp with 100 hand matched FETs. Just, well, extreme...

So, what did we learn? Campisi's has great pizza, there is a new headphone in town (HE-5, for a REALLY reasonable price) and the quest for the ultimate stat amp - even though it seems we are getting closer.

We missed you guys who couldn't make it - maybe next time, or we can always do a mini-something summertime, or, any time new toys are secured.
post #3 of 52
Thread Starter 
We need a mod to merge these, Al! I just posted my own.
post #4 of 52
Sounds like you guys had a great time! That's what it's all about.

But the HE-5 leaving the HD800's "quivering in a puddle of goo in comparison"? Really, now, Al? I think you need to check the labels on your meds, my friend! Ha!!! I've got 'em both right here in my hands and will soon begin searching my CD collection for any goo puddle inducing music I can find. Somehow I'm guessing it must be Alan Parson's Project or the like. In my view, both are outstanding performers and more or less in the same league. What makes the HE-5's remarkable (IMO) is their relative price more so than their absolute performance (a fellow giant at a fraction of the price, rather than a giant killer as such).
post #5 of 52
Oddly, I think it is me turning my back on dynamics. The bass sounded flabby, and the midrange not as crisp. The HE-5 was just spectacular on Beck's "Sea Change", and pretty darn impressive with Monster Magnet. Now, as with all meet experiences, a bit of temperment is required, but the hd800 let me down bigtime.

As for FOTM, I keep coming back to the he60, the true stud in my stable, and the hd800 relegated to hanging idly on the rack. My '10 goal is 2 phones and 2 amps - ONE dynamic and ONE electrostatic (probably NOT in that order). So far, the hd800 is the odd man out, but I may revise that once the dynamics have a proper amp.

Both phones are balanced, and both have APS v3 cables, so it was a dead even match. But, price aside, the HE-5 just sounded more like what I had hoped the hd800 would be.

Dunno - maybe I will have to have both, as you suggest Wayne, but only one will stay by YE. And, it will still likely hang idle in favor of he60.

I do wonder if the he90 will sound as good on an eXStatA?
post #6 of 52
Sounds like you guys had a great time. I really wish I could have been there.

Al: I was hoping that you guys would say that the HE-5's were rubbish. I have been trying to convince myself that I don't want a pair for a while. Sigh. Seems like I may have to get a pair to compare for myself.
post #7 of 52
Sounds like a blast but holy crap Al, that BH is cursed. Were the socket extensions at fault this time?
post #8 of 52
Originally Posted by pabbi1 View Post
I remembered within 30 seconds why I long ago sold the SRM-T1 - simply not enough power. Oh they do well for the first half of knob travel, you know, ok, but lose steam after 12 o'clock. same with the 313 - servieable, but leaving you really wanting more.
I've been stating on some of my posts that the T1 and the HE60 is a beautiful pairing, but I never go over 9 o'clock (usually just 7:30 or 8). Isn't over 12 a quite loud volume for a HE60 from a T1? Perhaps it is just me, that I'm used to listen at low volumes...

I might need to put a caveat on my signature stating that I use to listen a fairly low volumes. I don't want to misguide people with my impressions.

An example could be the reason why I have the L3000 in such a high regard, as at low volume the bass is delicious, it still packs a punch PRaT-wise but you don't get any weird echoing that you can get at higher volumes, getting a hint of "closed" sound and somehow odd high-mids. Or why I think the HEV70/HE60 is a pretty decent pairing. But I digress...

Thanks for your impressions. Cheers.
post #9 of 52
Volume level is always tied to the output voltage of the source but if it is 2VRMS (i.e. the line level standard) then you could probably suffer hearing loss if you go past 5 on the Stax dial. The tubes are also being asked to swing voltages they were never designed to handle so performance suffers.
post #10 of 52
Originally Posted by spritzer View Post
Sounds like a blast but holy crap Al, that BH is cursed. Were the socket extensions at fault this time?
Nope - I *think* a flex in the board (they are pretty thin) has popped a trace - the shot went straight through to the LEDs, scorched one outright, and probably took the center components as well. It was (I think) wired correctly, but since the VM lost one of the HV windings, it seems time to just retire her - and pull the Goldpoints for other duty.

Besides, once psu is sorted on Vulcan (plan B for me), I'll still have basically a BH online.
post #11 of 52
If you are using metal standoffs to secure the board then this is certainly possible. When these things go it is usually quite spectacular...

Ditto on the Vulcan, mine is pretty close to completion and only missing the dual transistors. It will be fun to compare it to the BH, BHSE, T2 and ES-1.
post #12 of 52
Thread Starter 
Since I've slept and there have been no pics posted yet you all get to suffer through 5 year old camera with poor photography skills:

post #13 of 52
Originally Posted by spritzer View Post
Ditto on the Vulcan, mine is pretty close to completion and only missing the dual transistors. It will be fun to compare it to the BH, BHSE, T2 and ES-1.
...... and the Exstata, right?


Good god, swt61's S22/B22/Darwin stack is incredibly imposing
post #14 of 52
This was my first meet and I drove from Houston to attend. I slept around 1 in the morning due to work and got up at 4 to drive down. As usual wifey got delayed and we ultimately started from Houston around 6. The first person I saw was Jeff and he was listening to HifiMan HE-5.

I had iPod as a source with the NuForce line out adapter which I didn't have the courage to pull out seeing all the fantastic players. I also had the out of production HeadRoom Ultra Micro Amp with me which also did not leave my bag. What left my bag were the pair of K701's and AH-D7000's.

Jeff was wonderful and it was great chatting with him about music and headphones. Thanks Jeff for getting me addicted to the Thomas Crown Affair soundtrack.

I started out my listening session with Markl Moded Denon AH-D5000. I prefer the AH-D7000 to these but Jeff got me a pair of HiFiMan HE-5 and said I got to listen to it. These cans just floored me. I used to own a pair of mid-range speakers back in India and these can's reminded me of those. The bass was just brilliant and it did not overshadow anything else, the vocals were smooth and clean and the highs just a pleasure. My favorite headphone is the AKG K701 and I got myself a pair of Denons just to get the feel of the speakers I left behind. If I had heard a pair of these before, I'd have never brought the denon's. This was the sound I was hunting for when I got myself the AH-D7000. I know what to buy next.

The biggest disappointment was the HD-800's. I drove down 5 hours just to listen to these cans and I was thoroughly disappointed. I think that these were just not my type and I just did not spend much time with these.

I have heard nothing but praise for the AKG K1000. This was my first time listening to them and they were simply outstanding. It did make me look goofier than I was but the music was brilliant.

If I had to pick one headphone, I will pick the HiFiMan HE-5's. I may even get myself a pair soon. This was the sound I was hunting for to make me miss my speakers less. But the headphone I love still remains my K701's. I may soon get these babies recabled as nothing seems as lovely to me as these for letting me listen to music as I mostly do. Analytical.

I enjoyed my stay there even though it was short as I had to drive back to Houston. It was wonderful meeting all and seeing all those wonderful audio gear. Next time, I'd be prepared for the meet. I hope to own a pair of HE-5's and probably Grace M902's as well by then.
post #15 of 52
Thread Starter 
Great to have you here sree. Don't fret about your gear. You should try cans on your current gear so you have a reference point. Everyone starts somewhere and your current gear is certainly better than the average person (ipod buds.. yikes).

If the drive was a bit much the Houston guys have a meet right in town that you can catch next time if you want to spend more time with the gear. Also you'd have Shelly's array of cans to try for lots of selection.
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