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Dallas, TX - "Beat the heat" mini-meet - Sunday, June 24th - Page 5

post #61 of 119

Anyone have pics or impressions to post?

 

Man, I wish I could have driven down for this one.
 

post #62 of 119
I'll have some impressions and pics tomorrow/next day.
post #63 of 119
Thread Starter 

My 60-second review:

 

Senn HD800 coupled with the Cavalli Liquid Fire amp was my favorite cost-no-object combination. Vast, holographic soundstaging with gobs of detail and a sprinkle of lush tubey sparkle on top. Drawback? Price. Serious ouch. But very nice.

 

Stax SR-202 didn't move enough air for me. The overall sensation was too cerebral. Quick and accurate, but lacking in visceral slam. Keep in mind that aside from the Orpheus I have yet to audition an electrostat headphone that I'd consider buying. 

 

I was pleased with the stubbornly good price/performance ratio of the Mapletree Ear HD+ and Grado SR225. Lightning-fast transient SNAP at certain frequencies were unequalled by any other headphone. However, typical of Grado was a comparative lack of presence in the lower bass frequencies. Regardless, it remains a rockin' pair for the money.

 

The Hifiman HE-500/Schiit Lyr combo was a nice surprise (my first listen). The HE-500 attempts a middle balance between the Grado/Senn camps and somehow does justice to each. More head-snapping immediacy than the Grado? No. More vast than the HD800's incredible soundstaging? No. However, the "best of both worlds" approach left me intrigued to hear more. In fact, I just placed an order for a custom Decware Zen Taboo amp. If the Lyr can make the HE-500 sing, the Taboo should make it soar. We shall see...

post #64 of 119
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Dangerous View Post

My 60-second review:

Senn HD800 coupled with the Cavalli Liquid Fire amp was my favorite cost-no-object combination. Vast, holographic soundstaging with gobs of detail and a sprinkle of lush tubey sparkle on top. Drawback? Price. Serious ouch. But very nice.

Stax SR-202 didn't move enough air for me. The overall sensation was too cerebral. Quick and accurate, but lacking in visceral slam. Keep in mind that aside from the Orpheus I have yet to audition an electrostat headphone that I'd consider buying. 

I was pleased with the stubbornly good price/performance ratio of the Mapletree Ear HD+ and Grado SR225. Lightning-fast transient SNAP at certain frequencies were unequalled by any other headphone. However, typical of Grado was a comparative lack of presence in the lower bass frequencies. Regardless, it remains a rockin' pair for the money.

The Hifiman HE-500/Schiit Lyr combo was a nice surprise (my first listen). The HE-500 attempts a middle balance between the Grado/Senn camps and somehow does justice to each. More head-snapping immediacy than the Grado? No. More vast than the HD800's incredible soundstaging? No. However, the "best of both worlds" approach left me intrigued to hear more. In fact, I just placed an order for a custom Decware Zen Taboo amp. If the Lyr can make the HE-500 sing, the Taboo should make it soar. We shall see...

Custom? What kind of stuff are we looking at there, Nick? biggrin.gif

Also I totally forgot to try a Grado on my LF. I still haven't found one I liked yet but the LF is magic. Who knows.
post #65 of 119
Thread Starter 

Well, no secret military tech/magic glowing wires or anything this time. It will be a standard build w/custom headphone jack and a few tubes to roll. I'm curious to hear what the "lucid" enhancement conveys. Apparently Steve & his team liked it so much it is now the standard Taboo build for all orders. My goal is to verify whether a HE-500 setup favorably spans the price/performance curve from the Mapletree+Grado to your top-tier rig. 

 

Thanks again for coming up & bringing the gear... you guys are a fun couple.

post #66 of 119
Thread Starter 

Maxvla... I've hit page refresh too many times. We want your 2c buddy! :)

post #67 of 119
Sorry, been busy with other things!

Great smaller meet by Nick at his place, and quite a place it was. Outside every other car was a Mercedes Benz and what weren't Benzes were Audis, Porsches, BMWs, Infinitys, Lexus, even a Lotus and Fisker among others. Felt like a poor guy rolling around in my Pontiac, heh.

Thanks for all the food and hospitality, Nick. It was great!

Had about as many people show as I expected, what I didn't expect though was how quickly people left after arriving. We'd scheduled for 11 to 6 and it was down to me, Nick, and the Morbids by short of 4pm. Maybe I was too busy doing my own thing, but it didn't appear that people tried everything there?!? That's your opportunity! Don't squander it when there's a piece of gear there you want to know about. Don't say 'oh well there was a XXXXX there and I've always wondered about it when I read on Head-fi, but I didn't listen to it', dig in and take the time to do it. We're not charging rent! Take your time, enjoy the music, the gear, the food, the people.

A few of my goals for the meet were to try the HD700 for the first time, since it's been SO polarizing on HF, to pit my Bryston against the Liquid Fire with HD800s using same DAC (also to hear my Bryston balanced for the first time), and to hear the AT M50s at long last as well as the Senn HD-25s, which I didn't accomplish as the owner left really early so I picked HD700 instead. Maybe next time.

Getting to some impressions:

Audio GD DAC19 -> Antique Sound Labs MG Head OTL/Transformer -> Grado SR100 (flat pads):

Typical small Grado stage. Vocals slightly harsh and thin, but not bad. Comfortable to wear for short term at least, not too hot. Gap in middle of sound stage, vocals are definitely left and right. Bass extension not so good, punch is lacking. Amp seems to drive the phones well. Setup sounds good with rock, but just doesn't fill the sound out. Very nice setup for bargain-fi. Warmer than expected on most tracks.

Audio GD DAC19 > DIY Exstata > Stax SR-202:

Rose tinted goggles were in full effect while sliding these on again. I'd heard them in 2009 and thought they were something special compared to my balanced HD600 setup, not better, but different. With the experience I've had since then, these didn't live up to my memories. Still they were very nice with a filled out sound compared to the Grados. Clearer and more real. Bass is rich without overbearing with a middle gapped sound stage, but not too bad. Small closed in feeling stage typical of most planars. Vocals slightly out of focus, punch is good, feels almost like a dynamic on kick drum. Still a great setup, but not what I was expecting. I've moved up the ladder, and these of course have stayed put. Hm...

Schiit Bifrost > Bryston BHA-1 > Sennheiser HD700:

Came in giving the HD700 a clean slate as I do with any headphone, but this one in particular has quite the story on HF so I wanted to make that perfectly clear. Bright, but passive at the same time? Odd. Sorta dull? Bass is more than HD800, but mids - lower treble is less. Vocals are distant, the most Grado of Sennheisers to date, IMO. Not my taste, but not ridiculously bad. A poor man's ED10, very similar characteristics, with a slight edge to the HD700, actually. The ED10 is just way out there in left field.

Beringer UCA202 > Mapletree Ear+ > Grado SR225 (not sure which pads.. something between a flat and a bowl?):

Intimate, smooth, great jazz setup. Lacking on rock (a bit too boomy on bass) or anything with a soundstage. Folk was nice too, but tonality seemed off a bit. Things were just a hair thick. The Mapletree really calms down these Grados to an extent I've never seen before. Impressive. Great budget rig or dedicated jazz rig (at any budget).

Calyx > Bryston BHA-1 > Audio Technica M50:

These are GREAT headphones for the money. I know I'm running them with some ridiculously expensive gear, but I would expect them to sound almost as good on very cheap hardware. They are pretty bulky and ugly, but the sound is worth it. Strong bass, but it doesn't cover anything. Mids and highs are very much present and smooth. Somewhat rolled off as expected, but not like Beats. Listened to these for much longer than expected. Really nice. Clamp is a bit much with glasses on, perhaps better with time spent adjusting the headband.

Bryston BHA-1 vs Liquid Fire (with HD800 off the Calyx DAC, Bryston using balanced, Liquid Fire on unbalanced, 800s on Bryston using balanced output)

The main attraction for me, seeing just where this Bryston stood among the Head-fi elite. What does a speaker amp maker know about headphones? Apparently plenty. Coming into this comparison I knew my tastes lately have been for more neutral, slightly biting/attacking, crisp, clean sound, and with Bryston's reputation for these attributes in the speaker world, I thought this BHA-1 was a sure thing. After roughly volume matching the two, I started paying attention with the Bryston going first. I've had this pairing of HD800 and amp for a couple weeks, but the DAC was new in the chain so I wanted to get my bearings. Oddly the sound didn't seem all the much different than what I remembered from the Bifrost, but we didn't compare the DACs side by side so I can't be sure. I picked up the expected bite and extreme resolution from this pairing and readied myself for the Liquid Fire change off. Right away the Liquid Fire was a completely different sound. People who say amps make no difference in sound have no clue what they are talking about. The Liquid Fire impressed right away with it's smooth flowing sound that luls you in and relaxes you. At first, coming from the Bryston, I panicked, thinking.. the Liquid Fire is way better(!), but as I listened more, I could tell the accuracy is not what I'm used to. Things like birds flying across the stage sounded like a recording not as if they were really there like I hear with the Bryston. Detail was slightly smeared, and on the whole I started feeling less in the music/sounds, and more bored. The Liquid Fire was playing music at me, not taking me along for the ride. Back on the Bryston, I hear the detail pushing the edge almost to harshness, but not quite. Exactly as I want it. Travis commented that certain passages with the Bryston were just too energetic and he couldn't accept that for his enjoyment. I can certainly see where he is coming from, but that rawness, when paired with an ultra clean headphone like the HD800 is really majestic, IMO. Bass seemed rather similar between the amps, no difference in volume I could detect, perhaps a slight warming from the Liquid Fire, but it was negligible. Soundstage and imaging edge goes to the Bryston easily. A marble (or something like it) effect used on a BT recording tracked left to right and right to left precisely on the Bryston, where there was some slight gap in the middle on the Liquid Fire. I think the Fire did better with meshing images in front of the listener, though, and with it's smaller soundstage brings sound sources together and blends them nicely with it's creamier presentation. Large wide tracked effects were a delight with the Bryston. Massive, but precise soundstage with the HD800 paired along with it put everything in place from very intimately near to very distant and all in between. Orchestral music is as best as I've heard, short of playing in the orchestra myself, with this pairing.

In the end, Travis preferred the presentation of his amp, and I, mine, so it's good that we bought the right ones for ourselves. I hope I didn't cause Travis any problems with the revealing of the resolution difference between the amps. It does seem the Fire has room to improve on that aspect most of all. Perhaps Travis can rebut my comment about his with his about mine to give me perspective. This is my first solid state amp in nearly 10 years having had tubes all between, not even any hybrids and I'm loving it. My first tube amp gave some soul to the music, but now in a much higher end SS amp I'm getting that soul with the detail I'm craving.

I haven't been all that active on HF since I got my HD800s and even less so since the Bryston arrived. I'm really happy with this setup. I hope to improve on my DAC, but after hearing the Calyx, I'm not sure what I can expect from an 'upgrade'. We'll see what the mid-tier Schiit balanced DAC, the Gungnir, can do, I suppose.

Thanks for everyone who showed up and especially Nick who was a great host.

Here's some pictures I took.

http://www.head-fi.org/gallery/album/view/id/660499/user_id/4156#

900x900px-LL-a92e85d3_IMG_0256.jpeg
900x900px-LL-425cce03_IMG_0253.jpeg
Edited by Maxvla - 6/27/12 at 10:54pm
post #68 of 119

Nice write up as always Maxvla.  The bryston sounds a lot like what I was after when I settled on the phonitor, I hope to hear it soon!  Would fall be too early to start planning another large Texas meet? :)  Spring sounds so far away.

post #69 of 119

I'd rather not make it semi-annual as eventually it'd just be too much to handle twice a year. 

 

We started planning in November(?) last year and I'll probably look at starting the proper thread around October to get the ball rolling. We'll have to get a bigger place this year and maybe charge a 'cover' if we have to actually rent a space.

 

As for the amp comparison. I did a small write up and posted it in the HD800 thread already. Here it is. It seems we differed on what we heard in a few places, but mostly agree.

----

 

DAC: Calyx 24/192 (LF = SE, Bryston = Balanced)

Source: MBP w/ Audirvana + (Playing mostly ALAC or AIFF. Some 24/96 as well)

 

We had Maxvla's pair (in that sexy all black), and mine. We decided to just run them side by side and go from one phone to the other. No cable swapping. Both in high gain mode. I'll just give a few notes on each first.

----

Bryston: So much power. On high gain in balanced mode you couldn't go past 9 o'clock without damaging your ears (vs about 10 on the LF [Revised]). Razor sharp (in good and bad ways).

 

LF: Liquid is definitely the right word. I never realized how much of a 'tubey' sound the LF had until now (B22 was warmer than I thought after listening to the Bryston). A 'listeners' amp (as described by Maxvla).

----

Head to head I preferred the LF. The more musical and more laid back sound is really just what I needed for the HD800 to be my favorite headphone...but the Bryston was impressive. Listening to some track with great positional cues (BT's These Hopeful Machines) I came to the conclusion that while the LF has wider soundstage, the center image is slightly blurred compared to the Bryston. When something would 'sweep' the Bryston would get that center exactly while the LF would struggle a little to keep the ball rolling right on the line. Because of the wider soundstage I felt the LF overall had superior positioning, too. Detail was actually better on the Bryston (only slightly better at reasonable listening levels but at low levels the Bryston pulled away a little more). I wasn't too surprised by that one though. The kicker that I ran into was this though...I found the Bryston to be almost unlistenable with a few tracks. It gave the HD800s that sharp edge that I just can't handle having younger ears (which I do my best to take care of). The Bryston had a lot more 'air' to the sound, but in turn also sounded a little more thin.

 

Overall considering their price points the Bryston is impressive. It'd be my choice for a more 'critical' amp, but I felt the LF bested it in the ways that count for me, and the more laid back sound is exactly what the HD800 needs (IMO). It takes that sharp edge that I had never really heard before (having only used the HD800 out of the LF in my home) and just plunges into the music. 

----

Both Maxvla and I came out preferring our amps and we came to the conclusion that we'd both found what we were looking for in the HD800 + Our amps. He can handle the SS sound with the HD800, but I just couldn't get into it like I could the LF. Another member that also did some comparisons with the 2 came to the same conclusion I did (picking the LF over the Bryston), but the price difference is a bit daunting. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TWIFOSP View Post

Nice write up as always Maxvla.  The bryston sounds a lot like what I was after when I settled on the phonitor, I hope to hear it soon!  Would fall be too early to start planning another large Texas meet? :)  Spring sounds so far away.

post #70 of 119
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the detailed write-up and photos, Maxvla! Per your advice I should have spent more time auditioning gear instead of chatting & grazing on guacamole. Twas a good time anyway. :)

 

Morbid, I was considering making this a "roughly" twice annual event. The use of my community room requires no additional fee, so there would be no cost to attendees. Furthermore, the attached full kitchen makes it easy to provide food and drinks, and seating/expandable table space is adequate for at least 15 folks with gear. Of course, the meetups would be scheduled so as not to overlap with the Austin/RMAF/holidays/etc. PM me and we can discuss in more detail.

 

Decware is currently building a Taboo for me, which is ideal for driving the LCD/HE-500 type orthos. I'd like to bring it to a future meet. Perhaps sometime in October...?

post #71 of 119

Summer is when a lot of people buy new gear so it might be a good plan to do one around this time and one around October each year. 

 

I meant that I didn't want to make the big meet a twice a year thing. Mini meets are much easier to do twice a year. I think it's a good idea especially since the space is free and nice. 

 

I'd always try to make it. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Dangerous View Post

Thanks for the detailed write-up and photos, Maxvla! Per your advice I should have spent more time auditioning gear instead of chatting & grazing on guacamole. Twas a good time anyway. :)

 

Morbid, I was considering making this a "roughly" twice annual event. The use of my community room requires no additional fee, so there would be no cost to attendees. Furthermore, the attached full kitchen makes it easy to provide food and drinks, and seating/expandable table space is adequate for at least 15 folks with gear. Of course, the meetups would be scheduled so as not to overlap with the Austin/RMAF/holidays/etc. PM me and we can discuss in more detail.

 

Decware is currently building a Taboo for me, which is ideal for driving the LCD/HE-500 type orthos. I'd like to bring it to a future meet. Perhaps sometime in October...?

post #72 of 119

From the old Travis:

 

"A marble (or something like it) effect used on a BT recording tracked left to right and right to left precisely on the Bryston, where there was some slight gap in the middle on the Liquid Fire. I think the Fire did better with meshing images in front of the listener, though, and with it's smaller soundstage brings sound sources together and blends them nicely with it's creamier presentation."

 

Hey, Maxvla:

 

Thanks for the all the descriptions (and thanks to the young Travis as well) and your excellent photos.

 

I'm a little confused about the description quoted above.  I guess meshing and slight gap got my attention.  I have no dog in this fight so just some clarification if you have the time.

 

Thanks also for letting me listen to your WA6 in Pflugerville this spring.  Now, I'm loving what mine does with the two Grado's I have.

 

BTW, I've spent many hours at PrestonTowers waay back in the day when my Dad and stepmother lived there.  I don't think it was quite as upscale then as it is now.

 

Too bad the Metroplex is a little too far for me now.  A hundred miles is about my comfortable limit, you know, San Antone, Austin, Houston.  I'm sure that sounds wussed out to you since you come from OKC but so be it.  I'm looking forward to the next central TX meet.  Hint, hint.

 

Till we meet (sorry!) again.

 

Best

post #73 of 119

Looking forward to planning the next big meet later this year. Bigger and better than before. Might actually contact some more vendors if we get as much interest as we did last year. You know Alex will be there. :D

 

To put it a little more bluntly (from what I could gather when we talked about it at the meet)...The center image on the LF is better, but if something sounds really 'big' (spacious, soundstaging, etc.) the middle gets a little 'lost'. 

 

Visual:

Bryston (Left-----[--]-----Right)

LF (Left-----[  ]-----Right)

 

Brackets represent the center image. The line doesn't blue on the Bryston where as it blurs a bit on LF. 

 

At least I think that's what he means.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbophead View Post

From the old Travis:

 

"A marble (or something like it) effect used on a BT recording tracked left to right and right to left precisely on the Bryston, where there was some slight gap in the middle on the Liquid Fire. I think the Fire did better with meshing images in front of the listener, though, and with it's smaller soundstage brings sound sources together and blends them nicely with it's creamier presentation."

 

Hey, Maxvla:

 

Thanks for the all the descriptions (and thanks to the young Travis as well) and your excellent photos.

 

I'm a little confused about the description quoted above.  I guess meshing and slight gap got my attention.  I have no dog in this fight so just some clarification if you have the time.

 

Thanks also for letting me listen to your WA6 in Pflugerville this spring.  Now, I'm loving what mine does with the two Grado's I have.

 

BTW, I've spent many hours at PrestonTowers waay back in the day when my Dad and stepmother lived there.  I don't think it was quite as upscale then as it is now.

 

Too bad the Metroplex is a little too far for me now.  A hundred miles is about my comfortable limit, you know, San Antone, Austin, Houston.  I'm sure that sounds wussed out to you since you come from OKC but so be it.  I'm looking forward to the next central TX meet.  Hint, hint.

 

Till we meet (sorry!) again.

 

Best

post #74 of 119

Wow, not sure I would have noticed such a thing.  Thanks.

 

Keep us posted on the meet doings, please.

post #75 of 119

Meet impressions, grain of salt, etc.

 

Also, I'll be doing the same thing I did this year (PMing people from the last 2 years to get them in on it). Don't worry, I've got you guys covered. ;)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbophead View Post

Wow, not sure I would have noticed such a thing.  Thanks.

 

Keep us posted on the meet doings, please.

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