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Chi-Uni-Fi 5 2011 Chicago Area Headphone event impressions!!! - Page 2  

post #16 of 31

Just wanted to drop a note to say that I am listening to the HE-300's that I have on loan right now.  I've always liked the signature that hifiman puts out.  these things are incredible.  I may be making some changes over here.  This bass is unbelievable.  sorry, just got excited.  more soon

post #17 of 31
Originally Posted by dxanex View Post

Another great event! It was nice recognizing people from last year's meet (my first) this year as well as new faces. I got to spend even more time with some really great gear. Some of the highlights included the obvious- Sennheiser Orpheus on Ray Samuel's A-10 Thunderbolt II, Laszlo's Sony R10's and Ray's fully balanced HD 800's on the B-52, which to me the balanced HD800 still has the most amazing soundstage I've ever heard. 


Another special thanks to Ray Samuels and gang for good food and conversation after the meet. My girlfriend also really enjoyed herself and wants to come back next year! All in all it was a great day, and I can't wait till ChiUniFi 6 in June beerchug.gif

Thanks again for everyone who attended.  It's always a pleasure for me to hang out with the kind folks in Chicago.  As a minor correction, I do not own the R10s exhibited there.  Those are also Ray's.  I agree, the B-52 has great synergy with a number of these amazing dynamic headphones.  If I had room in my small bedroom, I would definitely purchase one of those babies to keep my A-10s company..:-)


post #18 of 31
Originally Posted by Audio Addict View Post

I also ordered a set for my Klipsch X10is since I didn't win any of the sets drawn at the end.  Thanks to Comply for the discount.


I just placed an order for my Klipsch Custom 3's and my new Spider Realvoice.  Thanks to Comply for the offer.




post #19 of 31

Thanks to Bill & Steve for organizing a great event. I had a great time seeing old friends & making new ones.

here are some of the pictures I took....































































































Edited by Ray Samuels - 11/15/11 at 10:56am
post #20 of 31

Where is the camel??

post #21 of 31

Looks like a great meet! Sorry I missed it this year. 

post #22 of 31

Here you go Ray, makes the photos a little more friendly to view.



Edited by zlobby - 11/15/11 at 4:38pm
post #23 of 31
Originally Posted by SACD-Man View Post

Where is the camel??

Okay, someone needs to let me in on this one  confused_face(1).gif


post #24 of 31

Everyone's enjoying a different set










Not only were the 650s on deck, there was also a set of 600s and two sets of 800s.




Onsong brought a nice array of Calyx DACs for us to try.




Everyone was talking about the HiFiman HE-500 and HE-300.






Another pair of beautiful HE-500s w/ reference cables from Whiplash.






Everyone loved the gear Ray brought.




A nice "Little" setup.




The amazing Dark Star, it was surreal with the LCD2.






Ray's source




Ray's HE-6s




The Porta Tube with my setup, I really liked this little guy.




Laszlo brought along a nice array of customs, portable amps and his recabled HE-500s, 300s, and DT880s. Along with the new JH-3A/JH16 combo.






The new Bottlehead Smack and the Crack were there showing their potential.




My NFB-12 DAC with a Little Dot MK III. The tubes are the Amperex 5654s from a MK II.




It's a family reunion.




The recabled HD600s power by a Bottlehead Crack, a very nice combo.




HiFiman loaning a pair of HE-6s with it's dedicated EF6 amplifier.



My thoughts on about the meet....

  • It was awesome meeting you guys in person, especially Ray Samuels. Ray was kind enough to bring along, at least, 50 grands worth of equipment. Including the rare Sennheiser Orpheus, a pair of rare Sony R10s, Audeze LCD2s & HE-6s all in Balanced Configuration.
  • The Orpheus's were the first headphones I got to listen to. For a ~5 year old headphone, they were amazing. They could easily compare to today's big boys. Sadly I didn't have an in depth listening session with these phones.
  • I did get to listen to the amazing LCD2/Dark Star combo and it was simply surreal. There was absolutely no noise and it felt like I was listening to the artist in the recording studio. This was an amazing feeling but for a 1000$ headphone, it did not feel amazing. For a thousand dollars, if it does not fit good and doesn't wipe my @$$ it's not the headphone for me.
  • After seeing multiple headphones in balanced configuration, It gave me a new goal to strive for in my DIY/Amp explorations.
  • I was able to do the ultimate comparison between a pair of recabled HD600s, a pair of HD650s and HD 800s all powered by the same system. My favorite of the three was the HD600 because it seemed to be the warmest of the three, offered as much detail as the 650s and it had a bit more bass, even though it did seem a little bloated. The 600 sound made me think about selling my FA-002 Woodies. The 650s were the most analytical of the three and had the least bass of the three. The 800s were on a completely different ball game. The 600s and 650s seem "flavored" because they have a distinct sound to them, on the other hand, the 800s seem uncomparibly balanced and on the next level of detailed but I would still pick a pair of HE-6s over a pair 800s because the 800s have a less detail than the HE-6s to my ears. The HE-6s huge driver can move more air to reproduce cleaner  bass at lower frequencies and to me, the HE-6s look and feel like a world class headphones and the 800 do not.
  • The talk of the show had to be the HE-500s. The headphones look as good, feel as good, sound almost as good as the HE-6s and now cost a little more than a pair of 650s. That  brought me to a point were I was debating whether to eat for the next month or buying them. Even Ray, the man that has all top end headphones in the world, jumped in joy when he won the raffled pair.
  • The rest of the talk was about the HE-300, the youngest brother of the Hifiman line. It's really more like a twice removed distant cousin you never knew you had. Although it sounded very good, it is a completely different animal when compared to any of it's brothers. I would say it is a direct competitor to the 600 and 650s and sounds very similar. If i remember correctly, it sounded a lot like the HD650 but not as analytical with a small midbass bump. Both look amazing, sound amazing and have the same features. I will give the HiFi man a thumbs up for it's exquisite box it arrives in.
  • When I saw the Bottlehead Smack and Crack in person, I thought they were profesionally built. They looked amazing in person and both could drive a pair of 600s nicely. I did find the Crack to be a bit more clear but also a bit more noisy but I didn't spend enough time with it to get a definite conclusion. I used the Smack to do a comparison between the 600s, 650s and 800s and I found the amp will drive any of those phones very nicely. I found the smack to be very detailed, almost at at a chip amp level, but warm and mellow at the same time. The Crack is now on my list of tube head amps to look into and I know I wont be disappointed if I buy it.
  • A jem I tried at Chi Uni Fi 5 was the goVibe Porta Tube. This slightly big portable amplifier was very mellow and boosted the Bass/MidBass to the next level. It was like someone took the bass setting on their amp and set it to more or less +6db. It was interesting to say the least. It also seemed to have the mellow "tube" sound that is expected but I found that the highs were a bit noisy. I enjoyed this sound a lot, it was different in my kind of way. Thought the build was a bit disappointing, Yes it does have a 1/8th in and 1/4th in jack and a very nice aluminum knob, and the size is acceptable being just a bit bigger than my ipod but at ~600$ it is a bit disappointing. The similarly priced Ray Samuels SR-71B has twice the features and twice the build quality.
  • As I tested different headphones in the price range of my FA-002 Woodies and others tried my FA-002s, I found out just how awesome they are. Plenty of people told me that they really liked them and I found them to improve nicely with the different Amps & Sources I tried. I personally think I made the right choice because I liked them more then the 650, 600s, D2000, AKG 701 and HE-300 I tried at the meet.
  • Overall I think it was a great experience. I recommend anyone who is into headphones to attend a meet, even if it is your first time. A headphone meet will give you a good idea of the potential of headphones, the headphones available in your price range, how different amplifiers affect your headphones, what you should upgrade next and most importantly the sound you are aiming for in your system.



I'm sorry it took me so long to get my impressions done, hard to find free time in collage. Those were a couple of my thoughts on the meet, the rest are trivial or I just can't remember.

Edited by iLovPieNCake - 11/17/11 at 1:20pm
post #25 of 31



Thanks for the pictures and impressions and glad to hear you've got some value out of it.  A few minor corrections to some of what you have mentioned:


  • By conservative estimate I would think Ray has brought about $100,000 worth of equipment, not $10,000.  I think the confusion came about is that the estimated value of the Orpheus HE-90 ear speakers alone is more than $10K.  That Boulder CD-player alone costs about $25K, but it is worth it to demonstrate all of his amps at peak performance because of source quality.  High-end sources are often overlooked in favor of other components so I always enjoy the experience of listening to one even during a meet, which is far from ideal.
  • I believe the last pair of Orpheus ear speakers were manufactured around 2004 after the initial run of 300 has ended, so they are not quite 25 years old, but certainly out of production. It is a shame, because many--including yours truly--believe they represent the best and most engaging headphones ever made even to this day.
  • I do agree with you about the LCD-2's comfort level, or lack thereof.  The LCD-3 isn't that much better at all at nearly twice the cost.  Hopefully they will make progress in future models in that area.  But they do have the SQ commensurate with their price if one can put up with the less than ideal ergonomics and build quality.


It was a great meet for sure. 



post #26 of 31

Thanks for organizing this great event. It was my first so it was a treat to meet folks whose posts I have read on this forum. This is a great way to get music nuts like myself who in the past may not have not gotten around to doing the equipment research required introduced to the true high-end headphone lifestyle.


Ray's rigs was my focus as I am looking for a main desktop rig to match my newly purchased HD800's. The Dark Star was amazing, the B52 even better IMO on these headphones, making them come alive with tube warmth and great 3-D like soundstaging.


Great event. I look forward to ChiUniFi 6!!


Thanks again to everyone involved.

post #27 of 31

warp08, I corrected my post. Thank you.

post #28 of 31

damn. lots of new equipment this year! I had to miss this one this year, but next year, I can certainly say I'll be there! Haha, I haven't even finished my M^3 yet, but hopefully I can finish it soon.

post #29 of 31

Yeah, a little slow in posting on this thread, but things got a lil hectic around here.


Tons of great headphones on display, but what really blew me away was the amplification on display this year. Tons of great variety there and some stellar options there. The standouts for me:


Calyx Coffee: a USB DAC/amp combo that includes controls for the computer audio software you are using. A beautiful piece of aluminum with some outstanding sound. Very portable, and what I would go for if I was only using a computer's USB as a source. Great sound. Really glad Onsound came up with those. With less time spent on HeadFi lately, this product wasn't on my radar at all.


Bottlehead Smack: I'd heard of Bottlehead amps, but this was my first time hearing one. Very nice sound, especially with my Fostex T50RPs. Wonderful feature that you can adjust the amp to match the impendance of your headphones. And boy did this amp illustrate the importance of paying attention to impedance matching. Very versatile amp for those that have or cycle through many headphones.


The Dark Star: Wow, did this amp make all of the ortho headphones I tried with it sing. Wonderful wonderful presentation of the sound. And all of Ray's gear sounded great. But I am a bit of an orthohead, so it was the Dark Star that blew me away.



Thankfully, I came away content with my HE-5LE's performance, since I feared that I'd end up lusting after the HE-6s.


And I came home with a new cable for my HE-5LEs, from Double Helix cables. Another company that hadn't been on my radar. They donated a headphone cable made for HiFiMan headphones, which sounds fantastic.


Loads of new stuff on my HeadFi radar thanks to the generosity of all who brought their gear and donated to the raffle.


And what a great group of HeadFi folks to meet out there. Billy and AudioAddict deserve our thanks for putting this together. And great venue. Glad it looks like we will be heading back there.

post #30 of 31

I know this is way late but I wanted to say thanks to everyone that had all the awesome equipment there. 


Ray's B-52 was my favorite amp at the meet and it really made my Ultrasone HFI-2400s shine.  I need to find a way to buy one I guess as I'm really curious how it would sound in preamp mode with my home system.

Ray, are you coming to Cleveland anytime soon?


The Calyx Coffee really sounded great for the price.


I had my Little Dot MKIVse there and I was pretty disappointed with how it sounded with my Sansa Fuse.  The other source I had with me failed on site so the Sansa was my only other option.  At home it sounds great with my McCormack DAC.  I discovered after the meet that all I needed to do was change the gain setting (internal DIP switches) to compensate.


Finally thanks to SoundEarphones.com who donated the gift certificate I won.  I purchased the AKG Q701 Quincy Jones Reference headphones.  I've almost got them broken in and they are starting to sound great.  They started out pretty harsh and bright on the treble and the bass response was recessed.  Both of those problems have all but disappeared after about 60 hours of burn in.  Very analytical at this point, I'll bring them if I can make it next year.  Unfortunately the June date is going to make it hard but we'll see.

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