It was a terrific meet and I can't wait to attend another one. I was so delighted to be able to interact with real people (as opposed to computer posts) and converse about our passion for music and learning new things. It was fun to be able to relate to how everyone else got sucked into this money sucking hobby (I spent a lot of time trying to convince Hero Kid to forsake us while he still can...and benefit financially as a student. LOL).
I was having so much fun just conversing with other members that I nearly forgot to actually do any listening...but fortunately I did squeeze a session or two in. The Reference 7 dac was mated to vincents Ming Da speaker amp...which had a headphone out. I owned a Ming Da head amp...but this one was better, more precise and controlled, more solid state like than my tubey MC84 C07. It did have a low hum that could be heard with sensitive cans, but otherwise I am always surprised from the quality coming out of China, the value ratio is second to none.
I got to hear Currawongs Magnums (modified Grados) and I think I am starting to understand the midrange "body" that Grado's are famous for. I liked it a lot...far more than the GS1000s and PS1000s, which I felt overcooked the upperbass. The Magnums had a slight upper bass emphasis...but not overwhelming. This gave the midrange a substantial "heft"...this sort of midrange presentation I have always sought after, I found it in the HD650s, D7000s and LCD2s...the common factor here is bass...my kind of midrange is not possible on bass lite cans. So the Magnums had a very satisfying punch to the bass and a crystaline well extended treble, which for me was very pleasant...with a massive soundstage. I'd say that these cans were a notch and then some more technically accomplished than either my HD650s or K701s. I would take the Magnums over my HD650s and D7000s any day of the week.
I also got to try out Vincents Peachtree Idecco, its built in headamp and its dac also routed to my Lehmann Black Cube Linear, Rysieks Schiit Asgard and Alvians Perreaux SXH2. Using my stethoscope I probed each amp and checked it's state of fitness and how it paired with the built in Sabre dac of the Peachtree. Yes...I always considered my LCD2 as a stethoscope for listening to the insides of Dacs and amps..haha.
The winner in this shootout using the LCD2s was the Peachtrees built in headphone amp mated to its own internal DAC. It had lots of grunt to drive the LCD2s, it sounded detailed, alive, full bodied and musical with a large soundstage and organinc mids. I think the Peachtree was the star of the show...for its versatility, value for money and superb sound quality. Yes, I preferred the Peachtree combo better than my own amp, using the peachtrees dac.
That Asgard was also very nice...I liked how it ran warm...it was reassuringlys class A. It sounded class A as well...very non fatigueing, full bodied and laid back...I reckon this amp would be a no-brainer value for money amp for the HD800s...It would synergise perfectly. I still enjoyed it with the LCD2s as I have no problems with a warm on warm presentation (yeah, I like it hot!) but I can understand how others will not be as receptive to this combination as I was. Lets just say I still preferred this combo better than my BCL, yes the BCL is more detailed and a tad faster...but it sounded clinical compared to everything else. I fact I preferred all the other amps than my own.
Including Alvians Perreaux. This amp had the best sub bass it went lower than everything else. It idid not have the Class A bronze tinged tone of the Asgard, but it was not as clinical as the BCL. It straddled the middle ground. I was very surprised with this amp as I have never read anything about it. It had a relaxed presentation with a good degree of precision without being overwhelming with its details which the BCL can do. This leads to an easier and more enjoyable listen.
So that was how I saw heard those amps. My own BCL being the fastes, most precise amp, but least enjoyable when it comes to just enjoying the music. Even at home, my BCL is normally reserved for anaylytical purposes and my Cayin SET tube amp reserved for musical enjoyment. But to my mind...there was no two ways about it...the built in Peach tree headamp along with its own DAC...synergised in a manner that, to me sounded in a different league to the other amps...perhaps because of having to bypass interconnects or whether they were simply matched from factory...it had the the precision and speed of the Lehmann...combined with the musicality of the Asgard and by definition, encompassing the Perreux. I was thoroughly impressed, especially considering it is a DAC, Headamp, Ipod doc, speaker amp...all in one. The Peachtree is a no brainer for those that wish to enter the hobby on a strict budget.
@ truehobbyist. I think you'd be quite amazed at how the LCD2 would sound out of your existing setup. Going balance is not a necessity...it's an option. I think you need to be able to audition the LCD2s on your amp and dac and I think you might just end up being pleasantly satisfied by the result.