No one yet? OK I'll go first. My "big things" of the night were the Stax, driven by Eletromod's heavily modded Stax tube amp so I'll start with them.
Naturally, I gravitated immediately to the famed O2 first (Japanese version I believe from the colour scheme). And very nice they were too. The bass was luxurious, went very deep and was very textured if a little too much in quantity for me; the mids were sweet and laid back and very "real" sounding. Treble was not to my tastes. They were a few years old and Electromod explained to me the effect of run-in on stats that the treble suffers a little while the bass increases and I think the run-in O2s, for me, were lacking the kind of treble quantity and energy I really respond to. The fit, for my head, was also very odd. There was a gap between the fronts of the pads and my temples and the headband always felt like it was slipping off (it wasn't, it just felt that way). They weren't uncomfortable per se, all parts touching you were very soft and breathable, but they just didn't fit right which was a bit disconcerting. Not that it matters when they are that far out of my price range, were not my ideal headphones - although to read the above it might not be clear that these were the best headphones I'd ever heard… untill...
The SR507. The amazing SR507. Electromod advised that being brand new, their sound when run in would be different, but in their present state I was completely blown away and think that I could happily settle on these phones for good. I found it impossible to go from them to any set of phones in the room - the drop in quality (for my personal preferences) was just too great. And I include in that both the beyer T1 and the Stax O2. Mr Q's description of the Stax as "creamy" really fit the SR507 mids while the treble sparkled and glowed and the bass was very fast and at just the right amount for me. The soundstage was the most "out of the head" I've heard from headphones and I found them really comfortable as well. After a few goes I decided to stop my self from listening to them, so I could enjoy the rest of the gear. They are so far beyond my price range anyway…
The T1 were great, and a more financially realistic objective for me when they start to drop in price. My first impressions, through my own Cantate.2 were that they sounded great, but nothing that special. While they were better, they didn't grab me all that more than the 600ohm DT880 in attendence (which were very nice as well). But listening again through the more powerful FiiO E9/E7 combination they really came alive. In most dynamic headphones you get a trade off between clarity and detail on one side and body realism on the other, but the T1 tore all that up and delivered both in spades with a great soundstage that, while not quite matching the K70*, clearly exceeds most other dynamic headphones I've heard. Billie Jean by Michael Jackson did reveal an achilles heel later in the evening - deep bass was lacking a bit and there was even a tendency for the bass to lose control slightly on extreme low notes. It was only that one track I caught it on and on everything else they were utterly spellbinding. Perhaps a different amp/dac would fix that, but despite it's deceptive price tag the FiiO E9/E7 combination was one of the surprise hits of the night.
A lot of people seemed as surprised as me that a desktop rig this cheap and this small was quite so good. The head-fi world is one where, to an extent, price tag and quality of product are a little conflated sometimes. We see amps and dacs for hundreds of pounds and assume anything less just can't be good, can it? Yes it can. FiiO have pulled off a product here that was not just holding its own but actulaly out performing a lot of the more expensive amps in the room and frankly at the price is a no-brainer. Funny thing is if they'd slapped a multi-hundred price tag on the unit it'd probably have generated a lot more interest and praise by now.
Other insteresting moments included being able to compare the filter mod on my K702 to the stock K702s there and confirming I definitely prefer them modded (although others disagreed ;-), and a "cable test" on the K702 with an ALO cable to stock (for me, no difference at all, again, others disagreed ;-).
The only slightly negative issues on the night really related to lack of sources. I couldn't get my laptop to pair with Electromod's DAC for some reason so we ended up listening to those glorious staxs through various digital audio players. Considering you read so much that Stax will sound terrible without a top class source the results were surprisingly good (i.e. still the best thing I'd ever heard), but did leave me wondering what we were missing out on if we could have got a computer or CD player hooked up. There were other issues with a CD player not having the right cable and macbook power sources being left at home (no problem though as the battery lasted OK in the end) and me leaving my harddrive at home so having a tiny amount of music to play with. But none of that actually stopped us all enjoying the gear and (I hope I speak for everyone) the evening as well.
Reza was a no show as well so no photos to speak of (I think there might be a couple of grainy ones on someone's phone).
It was nice to meet and chat with other people of this hobby rather than boring my girlfriend and mates to death with it all, and learnt a lot from some conversations too. There was more talk about a potential weekend meet in the new year as well which could be great to get more people from around the UK out, so lots to look forward to for the UK headfi community.