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Honolulu Headfi meet - What a blast!

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well, I was the last person to leave the site...and boy what a day it's been. From 10:00AM to 6:00PM (for me and pigmode at least)!!! That's gotta be a new record for amount of time spent on headphones or something.

I want to first of all thank jeremymayf for hosting the meet, and for springing for the pizza lunch! We got to listen to our gear in his very nice, cozy house. Totally aloha environment, with the pidgin flying alongside the English. THANK YOU JEREMY!!!

We had at the meet jeremymayf, pigmode, taisho75, aitron, artmusic247, and me. It was a nice small gathering, and everybody got to stay for at least an hour or two to go through all the gear we had. taisho75 particularly enjoyed bombing me with questions, and I had lots of fun bombing him back with answers. pigmode and I went hardcore and hanged out with jeremymayf till the end at 6:00, and we struck up an awesome conversation for about an hour or more, just yapping about our gear, our future plans for our gear, etc. I had my most fun I think not just listening, but just talking with the guys in general, and answering questions. I mean, where else can you get into such a detailed conversation over how something sounds?

I just got back home so I need some time to organize my thoughts on what I heard, along with the pics I took. As far as what I spent time with, I got to hear the JMT Cmoy next to the RA-1 and Altoid CHA47, compare the Panasonic CT-570 to the Rio MP3/CD player (the newer model I believe), and a Radio Shack CDP (aitron can fill in the model #), compare the RKV to the Earmax Pro, and compare the Sony 333ES to the Ah! Njoeb 2000. Also got to compare the Grado 80s, 325s, and RS-1s, along with rehearing the K501s again (and I must say I don't think it's boring this time around). I will post impressions and pics later. (Of course I'm really just trying to make life miserable for you guys. )
post #2 of 22
Of course I'm really just trying to make life miserable for you guys

Looking forward to it, and I do hope someone, anyone from that meet was brave enough to have their pic taken with the Kings

I also look forward to hearing everyone else thoughts on the gear.

post #3 of 22

Re: Honolulu Headfi meet - What a blast!

Originally posted by Vertigo-1
...along with rehearing the K501s again (and I must say I don't think it's boring this time around).
Thank god! you're finally learning!
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
post #5 of 22
So, the question eating at all of us is, what did everyone think of the R10s???
post #6 of 22
So, I take it this is the first time R10 #13 has felt the ears of someone else in Vertigo's ownership?
post #7 of 22
Wow, I never realized how small the Earmax Pro was! If somebody would make a cover for the tubes, it'd be the ultimate semi-portable amp!
post #8 of 22
cool pics, the R10 looked smaller than I thought they would for some reason. The Earmax Pro is sooo tiny! oh, and I saw an audiophile CD there

Ok, now we shall wait for the comments to start puring in from those who were there.
post #9 of 22
Wow, those are great pictures Vertigo, well, except for that dopey lookin guy with the blond hair I want to thank everyone for making the meeting alot of fun. What a great bunch of guys. I agree with vertigo--the most fun was not the listening but the conversations. I also want to thank aiotron who gave me a pair of sovtek tubes for the EMP--I foresee a tube-rolling obsession in the making. By the way, aiotron, did you leave a mini to mini cable at my house?
While the r-10's were undoubtedly king, I was most fascinated with the Hp-1's and C-moy (pronounced see-moy, not k-moy ) amp. Side by side with ra-1, there is no denying the cmoy. While cmoy and ra-1 sounded similar with the RS-1's, the cmoy blew the ra-1 away with non-grado headphones like pigmode's AKG's. Highs were higher, soundstage was wider and the music just sounded 'full' with the cmoy. I'll never give up my ra-1, but i am going to have to look into getting the cmoy.
Thanks again everyone--and we definitely have to do this again!
post #10 of 22
Yeah, it was pretty fun, I just wish I could have stayed a little bit longer. Thanks again to Jeremy for being cool and buying us pizza! The radioshack portable was the model 3904. I thought it sounded better than the panasonic CT570 and I tried to get Vertigo to agree with me but alas I think he preffered his player in the end. I also forgot a mini to mini connector there but I already have a new one thats better so whoever wants it can have it. As for the R10's, well, they sound very natural, very realistic... But they aren't PERFECT. One might expect perfection at that price, but in all truth they were very good, and had the most naturally detailed presentation of music I have ever had the pleasure of listening too. It was amazing how they captured the essence of the sound without offending ones ears. Their one imperfection is a somewhat absent bass region. Yeah, yeah, my HD600's have bloated bass arguments aside I still think that all in all the R10's are just a touch too polite in the bass region. Just a touch. But the bass is still there, it's just not THERE. Get my drift? I could see a serious audiophile buying them for their performance bass considerations aside. I think perhaps they were too refined for my tastes, I will now wallow in the ignorance that my sub 1,000 dollar system permits me to wallow in.
post #11 of 22
Now that's one freakin' Head-Fi meet I would have loved to visited! For the phones of course -- forget the beautiful scenery, nice weather, and everything else.
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
The radioshack portable was the model 3904. I thought it sounded better than the panasonic CT570 and I tried to get Vertigo to agree with me but alas I think he preffered his player in the end.
Out of the headphone outs, I definitely liked the 3904 more...it sounded very similar to my beloved Sony D-465. I never did like Panasonic's headphone outs, they're too warm for my taste. But out of the line out I thought the 3904 lost out in that it had a thinner, dryer sound, and the Panasonic sounded fuller, particularly in the bass. I also thought the Panasonic sounded more airy and transparent. Of course these are differences one can only tell in a sit-down situation...if one actually uses these players like they're supposed to be used, which is as a portable, then I wouldn't be able to hear this kinda stuff. The Rio on the other hand was definitely no match for either player for CD playback, it just didn't have much range in bass or midrange or treble, and sounded very bland.
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
Alright, now that I'm all showered and relaxed...time to post about what I heard.

I'll start with the K501s...I only got to hear these for a very short time, and pigmode (who owns them) was so busy checking them out of every headphone amp jack around that I didn't get to use them a second time but I did hear them long enough to sum them up in two words: power hungry. Quite simply, when I ran the K501s out of my JMT Cmoy, they sounded very bland, very boring, very weak, brittle, and bright. Not bad sounding, but hardly up to my Grado SR-325s in sound quality even. Next thing I did was just take them over to my lovely, mighty RKV, and try it out of there. For lack of a better word, they simply bloomed. The midrange just filled up like crazy, and there was bass that was quite feelable. Not impacting like Grados or Sennheisers, but quality bass that you can feel grinding into your eardrums. The 501s have a pretty clean treble that's nice and clear, maybe even bright, but with the RKV the treble had nice control...not too much, not too little. I also discovered the 501's bass tends to respond to recordings...if the recording has a lot of bass, the 501s will kick that bass out with aplume...but if the recording has weak bass, the bass will be weak and just tight droppings. The 501s naturally have a wide soundstage, but the RKV just pushed it out even more. I do question the soundstage though...as some people put it, it's unnaturally wide. It's so wide that I think of all the information simply taking place in layer 3 from the listener, rather than 2 or 1, or an ideal mixture of all 3, which would mean the headphone has excellent layering capabilities. Grados would be level 1, Senns being level 2. For lack of a better word, I'd say the K501s qualify for the word "neutral".

Now the RKV against the Earmax Pro...I gotta say, I had my heart set on the Earmax Pro from day one that I saw it online...so small, so cute. But listening to it in person rather disappointed me. I used my R10s strictly to audition with it, and didn't get much of a chance to try other headphones. Both jeremymayf and I agreed that the EMP didn't seem to be driving the R10s properly. But assuming that it was, the RKV simply kicks it all over the place...and I think mostly in part to the much beefier power supply. The RKV has much more bass kick, a much more expansive soundstage, more extended treble, better transparency, and the tubes euphonics was more noticeable with the RKV. On my Bond - Born album, which consists of busy and furious violins primarily, I noticed something today that I never paid attention to before, even though I've heard this CD tons of times by now. Through the RKV + R10, I noticed that I could clearly hear the bow sawing back, and then forth, on the violin, very distinctly...I could actually hear it stopping for that microsecond before sawing back in the other direction. When I switched over to the EMP, I noticed that the microsecond pause was missing, and was smeared away into the bow strokes. This particularly caught my attention, because if I remember, it particularly takes beefy power supplies to be able to push instrument seperations out to their best. At the same time, I also discovered this was part of the R10s capabilities...I immediately switched back over to my Grado 325s, and the bow strokes totally sounded smeared on both the EMP and RKV. All of a sudden I feel much more confident about the R10s as an auditioning headphone...I think it's much, much more revealing than anybody ever gave it credit for.

Comparing the C333 to the Ah! Njoeb 2000 with stock tube...this one was much more subtle, as expected. I still did hear some differences, using my R10s. The C333 particularly had an airy detail to it, which at the same time added to its transparency. And there's no doubt about it...the famous Sony bass was very much there. The treble had a bright sheen to it. The midrange strangely sounded a little drained though...a tad dry. The Ah! sounded similar at first...but off the bat I noticed there was definitely less bass than the 333. And while I thought Sonys were forward sounding before, I now think the Ah! totally takes the cake there. It was so forward with lead singers and players in fact that it actually started covering over background info. I thought the tubes would actually create a warmer midrange, but in reality I think the Ah! had a pretty dry sound to it. I could clearly hear the tubes influencing the treble though as it had the same trademark treble as my RKV...very extended, even more so than the 333, but lacking that extra bright sheen on the extreme top. Strangely though I just couldn't get over my impression that both players had a dry sound to them. Now that I've come home to my 9000ES, I realize why. The 9000ES takes what the 333 has, and adds even more layering of air between things, and there's particularly a subtle sense of musical warmth to things. This I believe was what I felt was just simply missing from my R10s when I listened to both players; it was as if the R10's wooden cups were only half filled with music, versus being totally, fully filled when with the 9000ES. It was interesting hearing the 333 today, since it allowed me to gauge how much better the 9000ES is for the price increase, and if it was "worth" it. I now know for sure I made the absolute right choice going with the 9000ES.

The last thing I've got to say is about the Grados (again). We had a pretty good representation today however of the levels of Grados most people would be most likely to get...the SR80s for the low end, the 325s for the medium end, and the RS-1s for the absolute top. Now, for any ears that has ever graced a higher end Grado for any amount of time, there is an instantly noticeable
difference: driver matching. To put it bluntly, lower end Grados have horrid driver matching compared to the upper end ones. The imaging and centering is totally off. After that, the next big difference is in soundstage...the lower end Grados have a much smaller soundstage. The treble is also more coarse...NOT harsh (not to me at least), but just more rough and not as smooth. The bass is also not as extended. Between the 325s and RS-1s, the RS-1s have more midbass and lower bass, while the 325s have a tighter bass, with more clearer highs. The RS-1s however are superior in transparency and details...it's instantly noticeable that you can hear "more" with the RS-1s.

And well, that's about all I've got to say. Off to listen more to my 9000ES and R10s, both which I love even more now.
post #14 of 22
I knew the 501's would sound good on the RKV; after all, it has considerably more power than the SAC does. So now we've gotten both vertigo and KR to recognise how much power the K501's need. They need lots. lots and lots. Is everyone learning something???
post #15 of 22
First I'd like to thank Jeremy for graciously opening up his home for the better part of the day, and for springing for the pizza. I was starving. We had a great group of people in attendance, and once eveyone settled in, a pretty decent setting for critical listening. There was plenty of time for rest between listening sessions. So without further ado...

Grado HP-1:
This was the first that I listened to, and I loved it right off the bat. Vertigo's specimen is in pristine condition, and it sounds as good as it looks. Its strength is in its detailed sound which is very airy and articulate. The HP-1s midrange is not as sweet as with the AKG 501 and neither is its bass. I thought its bass was rather thin in the mid to lower regions. Everything above that range was well balanced in an analytical sense. If the proper circumstance ever presents itself, I will definitely acquire one of these.

AKG 501:
The RKV gave life to the 501. Compared to my CHA 47, the RKV brought improvements all across the board. The bass filled out nicely, although it still lacks a tiny bit of impact in the lower regions. I always knew it had a large soundstage, but the HP-1 and R 10 showed me how exagerated that soundstage is. I feel that they are a little too forward in the upper range, but nothing can touch it in the mids. Both the HD600 and the HP-1 have a more restrained treble than the AKG. These are still my favorites.

Again the RKV (and the EMP) does wonders for the Senns. I had basically put my 580 in the closet already (after getting the 501), but the 600 on a good tube amp is a revelation. The 600 will become an essential part of my inventory, because on those few CDs where the 501 falls short, the HD600 fills in very nicely.

This is a sweet little amp. It has a similar sound to the RKV, but I think the price of both amps are reflected in their respective sonic qualities. The RKV brings power and refinement, but the differences are sometimes subtle depending on the headpones used.

The R 10:
The qualities of the R10 are very subtle. Everything is there in a refined and controlled atmosphere. I agree with aiOtron about the bass though, it could use a tad more.

Audiophile CDs:
I brought a few DCC and MFSL titles. Any comments?

I'm in the white tank top. No, I didn't eat all of the pizza.
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