Tokyo, Japan meet at the FujiyaAvic 2011 Autumn Headphone Impressions - Page 2
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More photos and listening impressions to come, dinner time!
- 5 Posts. Joined 10/2011
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Hi Head-fi members.
I am an exhibiter "music with kikakugai"
my group enjoyed non-standard music.
What's the thing that sticks out from the iPhone?
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First, I want to say the highlight of this event was simply to be able to hang around with cool people / head-fiers. We had a lot of fun in day and evening time and everybody is pretty burned out by now ;) Will take a couple of days to recover at least...
I don't have pics to share as I knew Mkubota1 got that covered. Looks like crumpler is also running for the first place with the largest number of pics ;). As a matter of fact, I don't have so many listening impressions either as I did not sample much gear (one issue with being spoiled by an SR009 at home...). But basically, my experience resumes itself as being pleasantly surprised where I expected the least. I will list my impressions chronologically below. I won't be writing everything, esp. some things that sounded weird or meh, which I already forgot the name...
- This prototype was brought by Val Kolton, the man behind V-Moda (info here: http://shop.v-moda.com/p-195-crossfade-m-80-on-ear.aspx )
- I always thought this brand was just for wannabes looking for cool looking headphones without regard to how good or bad they sound
- I could briefly listen to it a couple of times out of my iPhone 4 (no amp) before and after the meet as we hanged out all together
- The fact that Val gave me 500 bucks to say good things about his new headphone might influence these impressions but basically, I liked what I listened to as I could not immediately detect any major fault and the tonal balance was very pleasing (emphasis on bass but not bloaty).
- Joke aside (Val is actually not very generous and didn't even buy me a beer ;), the headphone is named after some kind of explosive and I have to admit it fits well as it was simply a foot-tapping experience for me.
- I listened quickly to a direct competitor, the Sennheiser HD-25 "original" ( http://www.sennheiserusa.com/music-dj-headphones-hifi-stereo-adidas-sennheiser_504260 ) with same iPhone player and it was nowhere near as good. In particular, the Sennheiser had some unnatural mid-highs which I noticed right away
- Only drawback I could see is that it gets sweaty rather quickly and the clamping force is significant which may be getting uncomfortable over long time. I suspect this strong clamping force is part of the reason why it sounds good as the seal / distance to the driver apparently has huge influence on the response.
- I'd say, it's probably a good choice for someone who likes a fun sound with punchy / forward bass (but not bloated). It's probably also good in a noisy environment as the isolation is significant and the tonal balance will cover up low frequency background noise leaking through the headphone.
- Jude brought a pair with him and left it at the ALO table so I could briefly listen to it from my iPhone 4 feeding the CLAS and whatever this ALO amp which I could not read the name
- I was curious about the LCD3 with all the buzz from RMAF
- I'd say it was way to short to form a serious impression so the following is a rough cut...
- First, obviously the bass, this thing is literally "thumping" and I felt my tympanis being exercised like when you "decompress" after / during a dive . If you like a forward bass and are typically frustrated with headphones, I'd say you might be satisfied this time. For me, coming from the 009 it was actually too much in quantity.
- For the quality of the bass itself, I was not that convinced (I feel I get much more texture out of my 009) but it could be because I use my 009 with a nice D/A at home.
- For the rest of the balance / soundstage, nothing jumped at me as wrong and I didn't have sufficient time to form a good impression.
- One thing though, there was not a single thing I listened to that was harsh sounding with the LCD3 so for those who don't want to give up on half their music collection due to unforgiving gear, the LCD3 is probably a good option.
- For me, I guess I am a happy camper with my current rig and I don't see justification in spending 2kUSD + amplification on the LCD3 at the moment
- Stax table was right across and the current CEO of Stax himself actually sampled the LCD3 for a few seconds while I was there (my take is thus that Stax is not ignoring what's happening around them as we usually think ;o) ).
Stax - new flagship amplifier:
- Yeah, no... There was no such thing
- Just like the last 2 meets, I talked to the main sales person to see how this is ticking along
- Basically, nobody should get their hopes up for a product in 2012
- Stax is looking into this but they said they won't release a new amp unless it significantly trumps the current top models
- In particular, they feel (I share that feeling too) that the current top Stax amps are doing pretty good with the 009 so they don't feel so much pressure to release something in the very near future
- One thing he said also is that the company is very small (like 10 people in the main office) and their R&D staff really only works on one project at a time. So they need time, lots of time ... He said the 009 was 3 years in the development.
- My take: Stax is also probably waiting for the reaction of the market to the 009 as I guess they don't want to go down the same path that brought them to bankruptcy once...
Sony - new Balanced Armatures i.e.m's:
- Really, I didn't expect anything here either (info here: Sony Balanced Armature ).
- It just happened that one Sony staff managed to get me to try a unit. If I understood right, I actually talked to one of the engineers behind the new BA products (Tsunoda-san), which I found was really cool as I thought Sony was just sending "sales" staff to the booth.
- Even more cool is the fact that Tsunoda-san knew about head-fi and asked me where I "bought my head-fi t-shirt" ;). Jude, you'll need to send Tsunoda-san a t-shirt I think ;).
- I first listened to the 2 driver unit (XBA-2SL, JPY18,375 MSRP) and found it very smooth but maybe a bit rolled off. Midrange and bass were very clean and well balanced. I found it very natural sounding and close to my ideal for iem sound.
- I then listened to the 3 driver unit (XBA-3SL, JPY24,675 MSRP). The feeling of treble roll-off was replaced by something very extended up top with lots of sparkle. It maybe a little bit forward in the high treble range but I didn't have enough time to clarify.
- The comfort was good. I have tiny ear canal and the smallest tip ensured a proper seal without hurting. Would need to see after couple of hours but initial feeling was good.
- I'll have to spend more time with it to reserve judgement, but I have a feeling the XBA-3SL will be replacing my shure SE-315 in the near future.
- Actually, this may sound crazy but this is the item I liked the most with the V-Moda M-80 from all the things I sampled at the show (I liked it better than JH Audio 13's but this is likely due to a sealing problem with the non-custom demo).
- I have a suspicion this new BA line from Sony is going to make a serious dent in the competition at and above its price range. Sony has the resources to make good products and they are big enough a company to be able to price it aggressively. So, this is all a very good news for us headphone enthusiasts!!
Fostex - HP-A8 D/A+headamp, TH900 dynamic closed headphones:
- First attended the unveiling with explanations about the designs (info here HP-A8 to launch at CanJam @ RMAF and here TH900 to launch at CanJam @ RMAF ). Some bits and pieces I remember below.
- The headphone membrane is made of bio-cellulose (bactery based not vegetal) which gives a much small fiber size. Didn't understand the benefit soundwize but that's a Fostex original since the mid-80s or so.
- The headphone enclosure is finished in same lacquer process as traditional Japanese laquerware (urushi). So, it basically looks a million bucks.
- Premium leather and all, the finish of the headphone is indeed really special.
- Price is a worry, JPY150,000. Not sure, but this may be the most expensive Fostex headphone ever and much more expensive than their previous designs for Denon for instances (D7000).
- I briefly listened to the headphone through the HP-A8 with J-pop music I am unfamiliar with. I wasn't moved but nothing jumped at me as wrong, would have to use my own music and gear.
- The D/A+amp was more exciting for me: same AKM DAC as high end Esoteric gear, all discrete output stage and headphone amp, DSD capable from SD card (AND from mac / pc USB via firmware update after initial release next january), compact and awesome look, 32 bits / 192 capable for the USB input (natively on mac, custom driver for pc)
- The D/A is priced very competitively (much more than the headphone imo) at JPY100,000.
- The listening was too brief and not my music / headphone so cannot judge soundwise.
That's all for me! Hope to see more head-fiers next time and we will probably be organizing a head-fi meet with Sasaki before spring ;).
Edited by arnaud - 10/30/11 at 7:18am
Thanks arnaud !! Sounds like the Fostex DAC+Amp is something to put in office which can, to a certain extent, mirror my home gear - if the amp were tube-based, it would be even better. Finally something to replace the bricks I have in office?
Too bad that Stax won't have its own upgraded amp. Time to seriously consider a WES or BHSE now - arnaud, have you decided yet?
Edited by googleli - 10/30/11 at 7:45am