Thanks again to all of you for coming and making it such a great meet.
Though I didn't have nearly enough time to listen to gear or even to talk to the great members who exhibited and showed up to participate (plus I was scatterbrained with attention toward the event):
The HM-801 was smaller than I had imagined! Since my work rig is a Sony X attached to an iBasso D12, it is about as big as the HM-801 anyway... The battery life on the X is short. The HM-801 with an extra battery might be really nice- I would like to listen to it again when I have some more time and my own reference tracks but I thought it was incredibly pleasing.
I had been looking forward to listening to purrin's Grado PS1000 and comparing it to my RS2i and HF2. I found a lot of what I love about both the RS2i (resolution/upper mid-range/treble) and HF2 (bass weight) in the PS1000 but the midrange (vocals) seemed to be recessed. Only took a very short time to compare but going from PS1000 to my Grados a tiny bit of "roughness" was there in comparison. However, because of the recession of vocals I think I'm happy with my Grados for now. I wonder what a driver upgrade or re-cabling could do with my HF2 though...anyone done such a thing for additional resolution?
What I put on my list to buy later is a pair of closed-back Audio-Technica ATHW1000X. Since I like Grados, purrin recommended I try his modded Audio-Technica and I loved them. They were like candy, fit right in with the type of sound I enjoy and I didn't know a closed can could do that...I'll keep those on my radar. (They were comfy too!) Oh, he specifically recommends the "X" version so I will be careful when trying to get a pair.
n3rdling's set-up with Stax was just the best thing I had a chance to audition (of only a few things that I had a chance to listen to a tiny bit). It was the first time that I actually thought that something truly sounded "live." Just incredible.
Doc B.'s AKG K1000 through dual monoblock amps and classical music was a special experience. They really are "earspeakers" and remind me of being in a certain, special "Hi-Fi" coffee shop in Shinjuku where everybody sits in big old plush chairs and is <library-quiet> while facing a wall of vinyl and a hi-fi system playing classical music...
Got new ear impressions made, brought the ones that I had made over the holidays and like I suspected- they were a bit short and also weren't as smooth as they should have been. (The nylon pull-out cord was visible and not fully embedded within the silicone.)
I was very interested in trying the UE Reference Monitors- to hear what has been designed to be "neutral" and see how that differs from what I have ben listening to. In trying the UERM for a short period from my SonyX/D12, what jumped out at me was the mid-range. They didn't sound at all "thin" and I like the feel of the hard-shelled customs. I also tried the UE18 for a couple of minutes and found it very clean/full/detailed with lots of imaging and soundstage compared to what I am used to. A "tip" for listening to universal versions of customs is to bring your own tips that you are used to. UE had the foam tips which were easier for me to use when I first got IE8's but I learned that they do absorb high-end energy and so I now enjoy UE medium silicon tips on the TF10 for seal and sound. I pulled the tips off of my TF 10 and put them on the UERM and UE18 when I listened and so it felt really natural after I had them in. I would love to have more time between the UE18 and UERM but I think the UERM wold be a great first custom for me so I have a baseline, can understand what a more "flat FR" is and what is intended in the music and enjoy it. That's just my thought process...
Something else on my radar is the Schiit Lyr...I was able to hear my own reference tracks and my own RS2i through the Valhalla and the Lyr and the Lyr just sounded lush <but not too warm> and nicely extended into the lows, filling in a nice floor of sound to the ambient electronic music I was trying. The Valhalla seemed less extended in the lows and the difference on my RS2i would definitely be worth $100 to me. That and my friend thought the Lyr handled the HD-800 really well. Seems like the Lyr may be very versatile for the different needs of different phones and able to handle them which would be a big plus as I really want to try the HD-800. But did the HD-800 just go UP in price??
Ah, my strategy for the next meet is to first try and verify what is next on my upgrade path, then isten to the things I think I might like down the road, and finally just be open to more surprises and more audiophile friends...can't wait.