My belated impressions (sorry for their lateness):
I was at the show all day Saturday and Sunday. I spent most of my time in the CanJam room, but also roamed around and listened to speakers. I ended up mostly on the 4th floor for the speakers, because Madisound, Zu Audio, Rethm, and several others I wanted to hear were all on that floor. New things I heard:
Sennheiser 598 - I really like the look of these. They are a cream color with brown details, very tasteful and modern looking without looking "phat" or "spaceman". As far as the sound, I was mildly impressed but not blown away. They have good clarity, good frequency balance, and a fairly neutral sound signature. I suspect they'll get pretty good reviews. The bass detail was IMO good but not great. In the low end I like them less than my Grado 225s. And that's overall the level I'd place them in performance. If they were $200 headphones they'd have a good market niche. Which brings me to complain about the price. I heard that they are going to retail for over $300, which IMO is too expensive for their performance level. I like them less than the HD600 by a fair margin, and they are likely going to be more expensive.
EDIT: I thought about what I wrote above, and wanted to make an addendum. The 598's, I still believe, are comparable in performance to a $200 headphone. But they also look great in a way that's not blingy, and are very comfortable. So for those attributes, they may be worth their asking price. For people who are looking for a fashionable comfortable headphone and "good enough" performance, they should do well.
HiFiMan RE-262 - Jude was nice enough to let me borrow these for a day, and I spent 3-4 hours listening to them. My first comment is that, for me, they are extremely difficult to get a seal with. They only fit in the ears in one particular position, so they require tips that are sized perfectly for your ears in exactly that position. I tried all of the HiFiMan tips, as well as Sony hybrids. The large Sony hybrids fit the best, but I still had to put a finger on the left earphone to keep it in place. Luckily I have custom molded tips the right size for the 262, so I was able to use those.
Once I had a proper fit, the sound was excellent. The frequency balance is decidedly colored, but wide and fun. They have punchy bass with good extension, with a slight boost that doesn't stomp on the mids. The highs are smooth but detailed. They aren't as hyper detailed as the RE0, but they are smoother and less bright, and the detail is still very good. I tried them with various styles of music (on shuffle), and they seemed to suit all genres really well. I was very impressed. (At this point, I'm hoping I win one of the pairs in the raffle.)
Ultimate Ears Custom Reference Monitors - I spent half an hour or so listening to the demo version of these around lunchtime on Sunday. They are, IMO, UEs best custom earphone that I've tried. The frequency balance is dead on perfect, as far as I can tell. They have great bass impact without being too emphasized. They have great detail without sounding too analytical and bright. They are smooth and a touch laid back, unlike the JH13's which IMO are more punchy with a slight presence boost. The UEs, I think, are a little smoother in the treble than the ES5s, though the ES5s have an extreme level of detail there and are probably still the ones that I will buy. Overall, though, if I was going with Ultimate Ears, the Reference Monitors would be my choice. They are very good.
Grado HF2 (Jude's Serial Number 1) - These lived on my CTH most of the weekend, and I listened to them many times. The HF2s a little bit of a departure from the normal Grado house sound. The bass detail is different somehow, and the frequency balance isn't typical Grado. I personally really enjoy Grados in general, and my 225s are some of my most used cans. The HF2s are different, but excellent in their own way. They are fun and deep sounding, but still detailed and clear. I'd put them on par with the RS1's, or something like at DT880. They are, IMO, a great value at the price they sell for. I've been pondering getting some while they are still available.
I also listened to some amps, though I didn't take notes or compare with similar headphones, so I won't comment on them unless one comes up in discussion.
As far as speakers, my two favorites were the new Rethms and the Soul Superfly by Zu. The Rethms have sort of subtle detailed presentation, with great soundstage and lots of ambience. They are awesome. The Soul Superflies by Zu blew me away though. They combine a fun presentation with an extreme level of transient response and dynamics. And they are "musical" in a way that is hard to explain in text. There is a high probability of some Zu Audio speakers in my future.
Overall, RMAF was a great time, with great conversation, music, gear, and information. Well worth the time. Thanks to everyone for making it great.
Edited by barleyguy - 10/21/10 at 12:31pm