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Headphone Festival 2011 in Tokyo October 29th, 2011 PICTORIAL (BANDWIDTH WARNING)  

post #1 of 68
Thread Starter 

This is a bi-annual event that is held in Tokyo and this is the second (consecutive) one that I've had the good fortune to attend.  Somewhat knowing what to expect, I was still blown away by what this show had to offer.  As I wrote about the last show, there were far too many things to listen to or even see in the seven hours from opening to closing.  Very luckily this time, with HUGE thanks to Head-Fi's very own Sasaki-san, myself and a few others were able to get advanced access to the show which made things so much easier... and yet I still managed to miss some things!  In fact, to illustrate the size, depth, and level of excitement this event held for me, imagine going to a show and forgetting to listen to the JH-3A.  Yeah.  Throughout this post you will read a lot of, "I wish I got to listen to... maybe next time."  Luckily this time there were a few more Head-Fiers there (including Head-Fi papa, Jude!) and you can read some of their impressions here:

 

currawong

Currawong
http://www.head-fi.org/t/577893/tokyo-japan-meet-at-the-fujiyaavic-2011-autumn-headphone-impressions/30#post_7858460

 

arnaud

 

Arnaud

http://www.head-fi.org/t/577893/tokyo-japan-meet-at-the-fujiyaavic-2011-autumn-headphone-impressions/15#post_7857306

 

 

 

crumpler

 

Crumpler
http://www.head-fi.org/t/577893/tokyo-japan-meet-at-the-fujiyaavic-2011-autumn-headphone-impressions/30#post_7858630

 


...and bunch more photos:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/577893/tokyo-japan-meet-at-the-fujiyaavic-2011-autumn-headphone-impressions
 

 

In writing this post, going through these pictures not only brought back the show for me, but I also saw things that I missed or didn't know about.  So feel free to ask questions, but much of this still requires further research and study for me!  And before I forget, BIG, BIG thanks to Makoto Ishizone, COO of Fujiya AVIC who organizes this bi-annual show.  Thank you Sasaki-san for getting us early access to the show, and thank you Jude for the super-cool t-shirts you had made up just for this event!

 

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Fujiya AVIC is a hi-fi and professional A/V store located about 10 minutes outside of central Tokyo in Nakano.  The store specializes in pre-owned gear, and it is stocked in warehouse fashion with mint examples of Accuphase, Esoteric, Levinson, Luxman, and many other high-end pieces.

 


 

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This photo was taken at just after 9am- two hours before the show was to open to the public.  In Japan, whether it's for a new video game, new gadget, or tickets to an event, long, patient, and organized lines are the norm.

 

Headphone Otaku
Otaku as defined by Wikipedia:  "(おたく / オタク?) is a Japanese term used to refer to people with obsessive interests, particularly anime, hentai, manga, or video games.  In modern Japanese slang, the term otaku is most often equivalent to "geek".  However, it can relate to a fan of any particular theme, topic, hobby or any form of entertainment."

 


 

 

the Greeting

 

 

 

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Headphone Girls greet attendees as they come off of the elevator onto the seventh floor.  The gentleman on the phone in the lower right photo is Ishizone-san.  Everytime I saw him during the show, he was running around on the phone or talking to people.  He never rests!

 


 

 

the Gear

 

 

 

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RAL/ RATOC Audio Lab headphone amps and TechDAS high-end DAC

 


 

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NuForce CDP-8 CD player and DAC-9 amp, Icon amps

 


 

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Olive Music Servers, ORB Audio Jade - both uber-gorgeous units.

 


 

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Shure had a few sets of the SE535 LTD-J on hand for listening.

 

 

 

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While I admit to only having heard the 'regular' SE535s a handful of times and as recent as a few days before the show, to my deaf ears the LTDs sounded very similar.  I have to admit though that I like the red!

 


 

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I got to listen to the Furutech ADL (Alpha Design Labs) Cruise DAC/ amp the night before, and it's a nice piece of gear!  The curved shape and finish are especially nice to hold.

 


 

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Ortofon had the 'usual' headphone and IEMs on display, and a beautiful line of cables.

 


 

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EAR Yoshino's vinyl set-up.  Read Currawong's brief impressions here.
 


 

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Kojo Technologies: A serious line of line conditioners and AC power-related components from Japan

 


 

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I've always been curious about the 'portable' STAX- the SR-003.  I finally got a chance to listen to them.  And although the demo material was not familiar, I must say that I am intrigued by them and they warrant a follow-up listening with familiar music.  My initial impressions are that they are midrange-centric.  The ear pieces are unique in that they rotate on the headband so that the ear 'cups' will adjust to your ear.  At first I thought they looked like suction cups on an octopus.  But as it turns out they are actually quite comfortable for my ears.

 


 

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Ken from ALO Audio was there.  (Sorry, Ken-  I incorrectly told you that I bought my HP-P1 from you, when I was thinking about my iQube!)

 

 

 

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Not enough time to listen to the JH Audio JH-3A?  Geez...

 

 

 

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ALO had a set of the Audez'e LCD-3s on hand to demo.

 

 

 

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The Rx mk3 amp... wow.  The thing has muscle.  It was driving LCD-3s on 'M' gain with the volume at around 9:30 just fine.  I loved the feel of the control knobs (not too loose), and the bass is completely defeateable if desired.  Just as the volume knob 'clicks' to turn the unit on, the bass knob does the same to add or remove it from the circuit.  The LF gain is reasonably subtle- my guess is 4-6 db?  I really like this amp.  Ken says it will sell alongside the Rx mk2 at a different price point.

 

 

 

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This thing was found out and about and had to be put back before it hurt anybody.

 


 

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I've always wanted to hear the Monster Trumpets!  They sound very much like the MD Tributes- which to me is sort of like a club (not a jazz club).  Of all the Turbines, I still like the Golds the best.  BeatsPro- they sound pretty much like you'd expect them too.  Yes, they have lots of bass; but the rest isn't all bad.  It's somewhat balanced and there isn't really anything too offensive sounding.  One thing I have to praise these for is the build quality.  The leather pads are just plain wonderful!  These might not sound the way a $400+ headphone should (or as most of us might like), but they sure feel the part.

 


 

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Being the Etymotic rep must be either the best or worst job there is.  They rarely have anything new to push, but what they have is still d@&%ed good!  One of my favorite questions on Head-Fi is, "I have ER-4P/Ss, and I want to move up to the next level."  Hmm... for me it's more like "the next level over"?

 


 

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AKG K3003:  (From my listening notes) "hmmm... wow.  Pretty nice.  Great balance and FR extension in both directions.  Very detailed.  Highs are almost silky-sweet.  Balance tips on the brighter side- getting a bit close to being 'cold'.  Sounds a little like a reference monitor.  Lots of HF detail though."  Overall I liked these IEMs.  They did remind me a bit of my UE Reference Monitors.  They come with three different sound filters: Bass boost, high boost, and neutral.  I listened to them with the neutral ones.  While I can't really imagine using the high boost, the bass boost (probably more like an LP filter) might make me like these even more.  But for the price, they are well into 'customs' territory.

 


 

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Soul by Ludacris: The thing I like the most about this show, as you will see in other pictures, is there is something for everyone.  In Japan, headphones and earphones are like cars in America: Everyone has or needs one.  And just like cars in the States, they can be as much about fashion as function.  Another thing I am starting to notice is that while some of these might be easy to dismiss based on their marketing or target audience, some of these cans WILL surprise you!

 


 

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MH Audio amps and some really beautiful accessories, including LODs, knobs, and cases

 


 

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Radius:  "Who got ear crud all over my DDMs?"

 


 

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Pioneer has these IEMs that you can wear underwater, or at least wash them underneath the sink.  And colors for Bass Heads!

 


 

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Bispa: Sells electronic components in Japan, much like Digi-Key or Mouser does here in the U.S.  They manufacture their own little amp.

 


 

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Zero Audio: The ZH-BX300 sounded quite a bit muffled in my ears, but the BX500 has a pleasing sound.  I really like the build of these little IEMs.

 


 

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Phiaton:  "When I get my hands on the guy who shipped these to me..."

 

 

 

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There were a lot of wireless/ Bluetooth products at the show, none of which I had the chance to listen to.

 


 

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The last time I heard the SRS iWow 3D, I was intrigued but I thought the effect was a bit too much.  It now seems that they have an App to use with it from which you can make adjustments.  Sounds really cool!

 


 

A8FV4522.jpg    A8FV4523.jpg

 

Wow.  I think the last Scosche product I used was an in-dash radio kit for my 1990 Honda Accord.  I wonder if they know that phonetically 'Scosche' mean "a little" in Japanese?

 


 

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Westone had a few pairs of the W4Rs to listen to.  To my ears, they sounded very much like the 'regular' W4s.  And I think I actually prefer not having the memory wire.  But it will definitely come down to preference and the wish to have a replaceable cable.

 

 

 

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The UM1 comes in Team Edition Corsa (red) and Team Edition UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling (orange).  They are essentially the same as the regular UM1, but in a different limited edition color and no extra charge.

 

 

 

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The really nice people at the Westone table remembered me from the Spring show!  I'm not sure if that's good or bad.  And to make me go away, they gave me this really cool Westone cable wrap.

 


 

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Final Audio Design:  Unwrapping some of the most pricey IEMs on the market.

 

 

 

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So if you read my previous post of the May show, I wrote how I couldn't figure out how to get the Piano Fortes into my normalish ears.  Well, the bad news is they still don't fit.  I think I did manage to get them in further this time.  Maybe it's like one of those things where you have to leave it in there and then let your body grow around it.  Getting them further in and with a little help of keeping them in place with my fingers, I could see how these could sound really nice.  I did notice a difference between the copper ones and the silver ones.  And while I can see the potential if they happened to fit just right, for now it's still like trying to get someone else's custom IEMs to fit into my ears.

 

Moving on to their other IEMs, the 'BA-SS' are definitely on the 'fun' side of things.  And yep- the ba-ss is the strength of these.  The midrange and treble seem to have a bit of coarseness or edge to them, so this is definitely a rockin' IEM.  The 'heaven s' is not bad but my overall impression was that it was just average.  Now the 'heaven c', I thought these were nice.  Tonally they are just on the fun side of neutral.  The bass is very good- tight and low.  I think part of this is because I seem to be able to get a really good fit with these (heavens).  These can be quite detailed and the highs ride that fine line between detailed-sparkly and harsh.  Some would call these harsh, but I really like them.  And they can't possibly cost anywhere near as much as the Piano Forte's- can they?

 

 

 

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Final Audio Design Headphone:  You have to see these to believe them.  Someone told me that they weighed around 1.3kg (just under 3lbs.).  I would say that would be on the conservative side.  I wasn't sure if these were for real when I picked them up.  And the weight is just part of it.  The clamping force on these things?  At rest they're about 2-3 inches smaller than my head, which is average-sized from most accounts.  To pull these apart you almost need tools.  Think medieval torture device.  I was afraid I was going to break them.  But that would probably be impossible because the headband is as solid as it looks.  There was nothing to listen to, as this was only a prototype and the real thing is due out sometime next year.  There is already a thread here on Head-Fi about these here.

 


 

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Audinst and Audiotrak were both there, the later showing their top of the line Dr. DAC2 TE or 'Top Edition', which is a  limited edition DAC/ amplifier and uses new high-end op amps.

 


 

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Ultrasone's distributor Timelord had these display booths set up for quiet(er) listening.  The heavy cardboard booths are actually double-walled so they did a pretty good job given the ambient noise.  This would be really neat for some of the larger Head-Fi meets, but they look pretty expensive.

 

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Interviewing the owner of Timelord for Fujiya AVIC's UStream channel.  She is also the owner of a new boutique headphone and earphone store in the upscale Roppongi district of Tokyo, where they have a store called GEM.  The concept is a rather new and unique one where they make custom handmade earphones for upscale consumers.  It really needs to be seen to be believed, as I was able to go by the showroom earlier and see what were really more like works of art or custom jewelry that happened to be earphones.  They also make hand-carved and hand-painted Japanese lacquer (urushi) iPhone cases!

 


 

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There were some really remarkable sets at the vintage headphone table.  Who knew ESS made a headphone with nothing less than their Heil Air Motion Transformer?  Wow.

 

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Definitely a once in a lifetime thing.  I wish I had spent some time here!

 


 

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Vestax is definitely trying to capitalize on their reputation for having the best DJ gear (mixers), as well as cater to a female audience.

 


 

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One of the stars of the show, seemingly agreed upon by the group of Head-Fiers there, were these V-Moda M-80s.  They definitely have everything going for them including sound (of course!), comfort, durability, looks, and accessories.  You might say that we were all biased since we were hanging out with the owner of the company, Val Colton, the day/night before.  But personally I really like these headphones and to know that there is such a cool (nice!) guy behind them is just a bonus.  Really try and check these out if you get the chance.

 

edit:  It looks like these headphones are making the rounds here on Head-Fi.  Check out this thread for a stack of opinions.  I haven't read it yet, but I'd be surprised if they were anything but glowing.

 

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Venetor Sound:  I mentioned it at the last show and here again, I really like these compact digital integrated amplifiers that come in different glossy enamel finishes.

 


 

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NineWave:  Excellent review of these earbuds by ClieOS here.

 

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"Somebody get this guy with the camera away from me."

 

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I thought I remembered reading that Klipsch was going to discontinue the X5, which is too bad.  It's one of my favorite IEMs that I hardly listen to anymore (mainly because there are others).

 


 

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I didn't stop to listen to the JVC IEMs, mostly because I had just made good on my promise from last time to buy a pair of HA-FX700s.  Done!  And I already have my next IEM picked out, which you will read about shortly and won't be out until next year anyway.

 

 

 

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Give them what they want- XX Deep Bass Sound & Tough Body!  I had the chance to listen to the smaller JVC 'Woodies'- the HP-DX700, and I thought they sounded a bit hollow and echo-y.  They're not bass heavy nor bright.  They're actually pretty easy to listen to.  I just happen to think that they sound quite a bit colored.  But then looking at their design (large beautiful wood cups, oversized earpads), perhaps that is what they were aiming for, and I'm sure there are people who would like their sound signature.

 


 

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Ultimate Ears brought custom demos this time- they didn't at the last show.  Perhaps they are looking to expand into the Asian market.  When I visited several shops in both Osaka and Tokyo on this trip, I noticed a few places that had JH Audio, Westone, FitEar and Canal Works custom demos.  But not Ultimate Ears (yet?).

 


 

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In no paricular order, Fanny Wang, Burson, PreSonus, and Ray Samuels modified by Oji Special Design Audio.

 


 

 


Edited by Mkubota1 - 8/3/12 at 11:15pm
post #2 of 68
Thread Starter 

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When I sat down to listen to the Audio Technica ATH-CKW1000ANV (spell that four times), a guy sat next to me and had brought his own set of W2002s to compare to the new W3000ANVs.

 

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Mmmmm... wood.

 

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The ATH-CKW1000ANVs were definitely on the bass-heavy side for me.  The highs were a bit laid back as were the mids.  But they did have a sweet sound to them.  It's a very warm and bold sounding IEM with a good amount of punch.  Someone needs a manicure badly.

 


 

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You can always rely on Fostex to brighten up the show.

 

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When will I be able to apply Kotori to my HP-P1?

 

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I make fun, but I actually like this concept of customization and making things fun.

 

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Is that a Kotori USB cable I see?  I've been seeing these Fostex AR-4i things around.  It looks a bit goofy, but it actually works quite well.

 

 

 

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Just before leaving the show, I happend to go by their table and they asked me if they could flash the firmware on my HP-P1.  The new (not officially released yet) firmware is supposed to increase the battery life of your iPod (and presumably any iDevice you have connected to the P1) dramatically.  Those of you who own these know that when connected together, the iPod battery goes pretty quickly- presumably because it takes more processing power to output the digital signal to the P1.  (Don't hold me to that- it's just a layperson's guess.)  The guy said that it doubled the life of the 6G Nano from 3 hours to 6.  And so far from using it, I've run the combo for about 8 hours and the iPod (4G Touch) battery indicator still shows FULL.  Before it would've been close to empy at this point.  It appears that they did this from a laptop with a standard USB cable.  So hopefully current owners will soon be able to download this from the website and do the update.

 


 

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RME and their color choices for their Babyface.

 


 

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Computer audio is huge of course, and so are compact systems.  Here is one from Kripton HQM (who seemingly also does recordings) and Conisis Lab's Gizmo which runs both headphones and speakers from a USB input.

 


 

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Jaben from Singapore was there.  Speaking of Singapore, one of the Head-Fiers we met at the show came all the way over from there FOR THE DAY just for this show.  It later turns out that he is a pilot for Singapore Airlines and that's how he got to hop over to Tokyo.  Still... 7 hours each way in one day!  Crumpler also posted a ton of great photos here.

 


 

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TDK was on hand with their wireless Bluetooth headphones.

 


 

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Demitri from Musica Acoustics was hard at work showing the ColorflyC4.

 


 

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Sony takes a stab at wireless headphones, and throws in some 3D for extra measure.

 

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Sony has their noise-cancelling headphones (some think NC isn't great, but I love my ATs for most plane flights depending on what part of the plane I am seated in).  And they have their well-known dynamic IEMs that seem to have become quite popular once the prices settled down.

 

 

 

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The Sony BA Premium  Headphones.  For me, these stole the show.  I am up to my ears (no pun) in BA IEMs, and while I like each of the ones that I have for their own sound, I promised myself that I would not get anymore of the BA kind (dynamics are still fair game).  But these made the exception.  Of the four models on hand, I liked the XBA-3sl the most, with the 4sl a reasonably close second.  Here are my notes from the 3sl:  "wow.  Sweet highs!  Nice bottom end.  A bit of a v-shaped curve.  Really smooth upper area though.  Bass is pretty big (fat) for a BA.  Wow.  I have a prediction that this will be a very popular IEM.  My god this is one sweet smooth sounding IEM!  2nd listen... still shaking my head.  Freq separation and clairty.  Man."  And when I was listening to them, I actually was shaking my head.

 

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And at a show like this, of course you would meet the lead designer of the line.  His business card says:

 

Naotaka Tsunoda

Sony MVP 2004

Distinguished Engineer Dept No. 1

Personal Entertainment Division

 

If you Google his name, you will find that he holds multiple patents.  I had the honor of having a brief conversation with him, and he pointed to the gentleman on his right as being the lead engineer of the design team.  How cool is that?  Other Head-Fiers in the group were similarly impressed with the 3sl and 4sl.  Some of my notes from the other models:  4sl  "warmer and more forward mids from the 3.  Like a W4 (Westone) with more balls.  This has an exotic sound to it.  The highs are similar to the 3s but a little hidden by the midrange- not in a bad way.  I'm shaking my head listening to these.  It has a slightly dark character to it.  I prefer the 3 for now, but this is very nice too."  1sl  "same smooth overall character to upper models. Not the same level of sweetness or bass (of the 3), but still really nice.  Quite neutral.  Over-achiever."  2sl  "sort of the opposite character of the 1.  Big v shape.  Probably the most ordinary of the lineup."

 


 

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I used to work in the CD/DVD duplication business a while ago, and Plextor was always the top drive.  I wonder if they still are?

 


 

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YamahaB&W, and Denon

 


 

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HiFiMAN and Grado

 


 

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SonoCore: I wish I got to hear these coaxials.  Another excellent review of these IEMs by ClieOS here.

 


 

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Our guy from Taket and Southern Acoustics Ltd. and their HATS (head and torso simulator) system

 

 

 

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The Taket H2+ that I didn't get to listen to again (MSIDHTTH = More stuff I didn't have time to hear).  Maybe next time?  If you recall, this is the headset that Jude did a review on a while back.

 


 

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A8FV4750.jpg    A8FV4748.jpg

 

As I wrote earlier, during the course of writing this post I am learning a lot about what I saw last week.  And one of the things that caught my eye was this set-up from Canal Works (think JH Audio of Japan... even more than you may think, maybe).  The set-up doesn't seem to have a model designation as far as I can see.  The amplifier is called "Portable Multi Amp System" by oort-cloud.lab.  The sign next to it loosely and partially translates to "6 channel (Hi, Mid, Low- 2 channels each).  3 way channel divider built-in."  On the oort-cloud.lab website, they only mention a balanced amplifier, and nothing about this 'alpha' version.  What could this possibly be?  Perhaps someone who was at the show and has a better grasp of the language can tell us?

 


 

A8FV4754.jpg

 

FitEar is the other custom IEM maker out of Japan.  Sasaki posted a quick overview a while back.

 


 

A8FV4756.jpg

 

A8FV4758.jpg

 

The local headphone club seems like they're having a good time!

 


 

A8FV4544.jpg    A8FV4766.jpg

 

A8FV4767.jpg     A8FV4769.jpg

 

Fiio came out with their usual assortment of accessories and DAC/ amplfiers.

 

 

 

A8FV4784.jpg

 

They even had this station set up where you could custom decorate your E6- why not?

 


 

A8FV4775.jpg    A8FV4778.jpg

 

A8FV4929.jpg    A8FV4777.jpg

 

A8FV4780 (1).jpg

 

ApogeeSchiit (no Bifrost), and SPL.  Oh, Phonitor... not only are you built like a tank and sound good, but you are also very photogenic!

 


 

A8FV4803.jpg

 

TEAC (TASCAM), Beyerdynamic, and Sennheiser all shared one room on the top floor.

(That photo right there is a photographer's white balance nightmare, and I'm too tired to clean it up.)

 

 

 

A8FV4788.jpg    A8FV4790.jpg

 

A8FV4793.jpg    A8FV4801.jpg

 

A8FV4795.jpg    A8FV4799.jpg

 

While I am not into full-sized headphones (or headphones in general) mostly for comfort reasons, I was very impressed by the Beyerdynamic DT990s (32/600 versions) that I heard earlier in the week.  And they're comfortable for me to wear too!  They have a sparkle that I really like and they aren't nearly as dark as the DT880s.

 


 

A8FV4810.jpg    A8FV4815.jpg

 

A8FV4812.jpg

 

Some of you may have noticed the Headphone Girls.  How could you not?  Without getting too deep into it, this is a project by Kubrick Design where they promote headphones (duh), music, model-personalities, and related get-togethers.  You can check out their website if you're interested.

 


 

A8FV4807.jpg    A8FV4819.jpg

 

A8FV4808.jpg

 

To take a break from head gear, there was a breakroom complete with those fantasic Japanese vending machines and futuristic furniture, and a few speaker rooms.  In the above larger room they were listening to Focal Maestro Utopia- not the EV's on the stands.  There was also a room where they had guest speakers as well as a live performing artist.

 

 

 

A8FV4831.jpg

 

A8FV4828.jpg

 

While I did not get to hear the B&W PM1s and just heard these ELACs briefly, I have developed an interest in the later.  Having seen them in Japan before but never in the States, I've always wondered about them.  And we had the chance to briefly hear some higher end models at the Fujiya AVIC store, and they were quite impressive.

 


 

A8FV4822.jpg    A8FV4824.jpg

 

A8FV4826.jpg    A8FV4832.jpg

 

Luxman had their new digital gear playing.  (MSIDHTTH = More stuff I didn't have time to hear.)

 


 

A8FV4899.jpg    A8FV4901.jpg

 

A8FV4902.jpg    A8FV4909.jpg

 

A8FV4910.jpg    A8FV4912.jpg

 

BlossomGrace Design, and Phasemation

 


 

A8FV4914.jpg    A8FV4916.jpg

 

A8FV4727.jpg    A8FV4925.jpg

 

KingRex TechnologyStyle Audio, and McAUDI.

McLaren and Audi and it's not related to cars?  I need to look into that some more.

 


 

A8FV4921.jpg    A8FV4922.jpg

 

Audio Design:  That really cool amp with concentric stepped volume knobs is one of the products I vividly remembered from the last show.

 


 

A8FV4880.jpg    A8FV4881.jpg

 

Read Currawong's impressions of Bakoon here.

 


 

A8FV4984.jpg

 

That silver thing escaped and is out and about again... who knows what it's doing.

 


 

A8FV5000.jpg

 

These are the new Fostex TH900 dynamic headphones that were on the promotional poster and material for the show, alongside the HP-A8.

 

A8FV5002.jpg    IMG_4741.jpg

 

On the downside, I was only able to listen to them for a very brief few minutes since it was almost closing time and I wanted to let the other people in line hear them too.  But very quickly after listening to them on the HP-A8, I plugged them into my HP-P1 where I could listen to my reference material.  And man, those headphones sounded great!  I had been spending the last two weeks listening to Stax 007s and 009s almost every other day at various places.  And while I can't really say how they compare directly, what I am saying is that they are in that league (top tier, HD-800, LCD-2/3, etc.).  I definitely hope to hear them again sometime soon for a longer period of time.

 


 

What follows are a few snaps of things I didn't get to hear, but though might be intersting to see:

 

A8FV4919.jpg    A8FV4706.jpg

 

A8FV4708.jpg    A8FV4722.jpg

 

A8FV4887.jpg    A8FV4888.jpg

 

A8FV4895.jpg    A8FV4896.jpg

 

A8FV4927.jpg    A8FV4887.jpg

 


 

And finally, some shots of what the show looked like during the day.  To me, this is what it's all about.  It's what impressed me the first time I went, what made me come back, and what will make me come back in the very near future.  The energy, enthusiasm, and diversity of both the crowd and the exhibitors is worth half the trip alone.  The opportunity to hear so much gear (too much) in one spot is secondary.

 

 

A8FV4866.jpg    A8FV4868.jpg

 

A8FV4870.jpg    A8FV4871.jpg

 

A8FV4873.jpg    A8FV4877.jpg

 

A8FV4878.jpg    A8FV4879.jpg

 


 

Well, that's about all I have.  But maybe later I will post some more photos of other places visited during this trip.  I can't thank Ishizone-san and Sasaki-san enough for putting this on and giving us wonderful access.  Also, it was really amazing seeing Head-Fiers from all over too: Arnaud (again, always great to see you!), CurrawongcrumplerAnakChanJudeValDrewConner, and anyone else I forgot because it's 6am (really 7) and my brain is fried.  Including touring Tokyo's headphone shops the day before with fellow Head-Fiers, this had to be a Head-Fier's dream come true.  It's almost surreal now that I think of it.  I'll clean-up any typos or other mistakes later.

 

6297954632_1e815208a3_o.jpg

 

(Lifted from Currawong's iPhone, that's me in a happy place!)

 



Edited by Mkubota1 - 8/3/12 at 11:12pm
post #3 of 68
Thread Starter 

On this trip, I started in Osaka.  Actually, long story- I started from San Francisco to Frankfurt.  I did this so I could fly on the A380 Airbus.  Yeah- I'm just a little weird like that.

 

IMG_3322.jpg

 


 

Then after three or so hours in Frankfurt, it was on to Kansai (Osaka).  Among the first places I hit was Denden Town- sort of like their version of Akihabara in Tokyo.  I went to a few places that I had visited before.  They are mostly full-on audio shops, but they have headphones too.

 

IMG_3730 (1).jpg   IMG_3728.jpg

 

This is Cyma Audio.  They've been in business for over 60 years at this location.  They have an extensive selection of full-sized headphones as well as other audio gear.  Like many stores in Japan, since land area is at a premium this store goes up about 4 more floors.

 


 

IMG_3735.jpg    IMG_3733.jpg

 

This is Kawaguchi-Musen Sound Pal.  The are right next door to Cyma a few blocks down from Cyma. (edit: Kawaguchi Musen is next door to Cyma (above).  I got my stores mixed up!  Kawaguchi has some headphones, most notably Stax, in the rear of the store.)  The thing I love about Sound Pal is that they are very old school.  I don't think there is anyone who works there who is under 55 years old.  They are all old guys, half of which whom smoke.  And they are low-key, personable, and super into audio.  Notice the 50-60's vintage furniture and decor.  This place goes up about 6-7 floors and carries a huge stock of cables, raw drivers, crossover components, and other hardware.  They are also very big on JBL speakers.

 


 

IMG_4463.jpg    IMG_4577.jpg

 

I sat in front of this for about an hour @Yodobashi, literally forgetting that I had to eat.

 


 

IMG_3966.jpg   Then it was on to Tokyo...

 


 

IMG_4666.jpg    IMG_4668.jpg

 

This is GEM.  The store is set up much like a museum, which is appropriate given what they carry.

 

IMG_4644.jpg    IMG_4653.jpg    IMG_4679.jpg

 


 

Another amazing store we went to in Tokyo was e-earphone in Akihabara.  They also have one in Osaka Nippombashi where they originated.

 

IMG_4702.jpg    IMG_4705.jpg    IMG_4706.jpg

 

If I remember correctly, they had three aisles full of headphones and IEMs.  You could also demo the full line of JH Audio, Westone, TrueFit, and Canal Works custom IEMs.  I think Jude likes this place!  They had a nice selection of 'pre-owned' cans as well.

 


 

IMG_4710.jpg    IMG_4693.jpg

 

We took some time to have a small Head-Fi mini-meet at Yodobashi Akiba!

 


 

IMG_5316a.jpg

 

One good thing to stock up on when in Japan are IEM tips.  I just picked up a variety of them because you never know what may fit.  Most are $4-$6 and they actually sell the Sony Hybrids in size-specific packages, unlike in the U.S. where you have to buy all three sizes.


Edited by Mkubota1 - 8/3/12 at 11:09pm
post #4 of 68
  1. THANK you for your coverage...this is a gift to all of us because you could have spent your effort listening/shopping.
  2. THANK you for posting such great pics "two-across"...more to look at in a NICE format in LESS space.
  3. THANK you for your quick impressions...I appreciate your respect for the Sony Engineers.
  4. THANK you for your sense of humour...I am still laughing at that cable-thing made by whomever.
  5. TRYING to think of an adequate CUSTOM TITLE for you...at a loss right now, but will start a petition if I can think of a good one!!!

 

Domo Arigato Gozaimasu!!!

 

post #5 of 68

Wow.... 

This is amazing!

Great job.
Many thanks !!!

 

post #6 of 68

Thanks for this. I wish i could have gone but i don't have any money for a plane ticket.

post #7 of 68

 

Excellent coverage, Mkubota1! That's some of the best presentation coverage I've seen of head-fi gear.

 

Cheers!  beerchug.gif


Edited by Silent One - 11/7/11 at 12:47am
post #8 of 68

Wow that's how heaven looks likebiggrin.gif

post #9 of 68

Why is it japan and europe care so much about audio quality and north america couldn't care less.

post #10 of 68

Epic! Thanks so much for all the effort. Great photos too! 

 

The fact that you thought the Beyerdynamic DT880 to be dark made me chuckle though. To me it's brighter than the sun. :) Different ears no doubt. 

post #11 of 68

 

非常に本当にありがとう

 

 

post #12 of 68

Speechless......ohh look FA's 011 is there for showcasing, hopefully this expands the brand more widely into the public.

post #13 of 68

Awesome! Thanks Mike. You did way better than I could. I think I'll have to bring my Nikon next time.

post #14 of 68

Thanks for the amazing photos and impressions! Love the clear, concise format and honest refreshing presentation. 

 

Great catching up over lunch and just chilling with a very cool headphone enthusiast as well.

 

Do hope you are intending to make this coverage of head-fi events a regular entry in your travel calender! L3000.gif

post #15 of 68

woohoo pictures galore! thanks for the pics and impressions, awesome stuff!

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