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Seattle/Bottlehead Meet 8/4/2012 Impressions thread - Page 3  

post #31 of 52
Back from vacation. Thanks Big Poppa for organizing the meet and thanks Bottlehead for having us back for another meet. I will post a few thoughts later. Spent a lot of time talking and just a little listening.
post #32 of 52

Meet Impressions

I have to say again how great of a meet this was. Doc was a fantastic host and kudos to him for opening up Bottlehead to us. It was great to tour the place, and I did take a bunch of pics of the facility which I'll post later. Pics of the meet itself too, which will also be posted.

Of course, things wouldn't have gone smoothly without Gil either, and it was great to sample some beer from next door too (Bainbridge Island Brewery). Out of all the meets I've attended, it was also by far the most snack-loaded one I've been to. Chips, crackers, cheese, etc, plus those Voodoo doughnuts. I had 2 of them, just because.

All told, it was great to get my meet fix in Seattle! The ferry ride to & fro added up to a great starter to my 9-day vacation in Washington state. It was great to catch up again with the Seattle crew too, of course. Always a fun time hanging out with you guys.

Equipment Impressions

Disclaimer: For anyone who might be thinking how I can possibly write impressions from a meet that was a little more than 1 week ago, I'm writing from memory of what I thought at the meet. Much more reliable than trying to remember what I heard.

Disclaimer #2: Meets are getting to be an interesting thing for me lately and I'm no longer interested in them that much for the appeal of listening to gear. I consider my home setup to be pretty much finalized and have no further interest in either "upgrading" anything, or side-grading, or downgrading. In fact, at the past several meets I've attended, most of my time was not spent listening to gear, this one included.

* Stax SR-007 on Cavalli Liquid Lightning: I started out my listening at the meet on Sachu's setup, where he had the LL prototype (so not the final production version), and of course I took it to task on some of my reference CDs. This system was being sourced by a Parasound DAC which naturally affected the sound, and more on that below. (DAC was actually an Assemblage, see Sachu's post directly below.)

To put it bluntly, I wasn't really overly impressed by this setup, and I wasn't sure which was more to blame between the LL and the DAC. Maybe both? Ok it was fine-sounding. Very good, even. But there was just no way I thought it compared to my own setup (BHSE on Plinius CD-101). I'd say it didn't seem much different than from my previous experience with the HeadAmp KGSS - that is, it didn't seem any better. There were some of the same characteristics I heard with the KGSS: some lack of clarity, minimal dynamic range, & indistinct bass.

Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC (MKI) vs Parasound Assemblage DAC (Sachu's, unsure of model): At the end of the meet some source-swapping was done on Sachu's system and I got to hear the difference between these two on the SR-007/LL.

The Alpha DAC affirmed to me that source can definitely make a difference, especially when it comes to the SR-007. As I told Sachu, I thought the Alpha was the better DAC. It had more dynamic range - it was better at conveying low volume specifically, and it provided more of a contrast between soft and loud. It also had more clarity, and more separation/diffusion. The imaging on the Assemblage was downright concentrated/integrated in comparison.

However, as better as the Alpha DAC was, and I thought it was a clear step above the Assemblage in pretty much every way, it still wasn't as good as my own setup at home. My setup provides even more dynamic range - specifically, the ability to really push wide-volume swings from very soft to very loud, and I also got the nagging suspicion that my setup is considerably clearer-sounding too.

A combo I would've liked a chance to hear: SR-007 on LL, sourced by KingStyles' Ayon Skylla. Now that would've really been interesting for me! Can we do that next time?

* Stax SR-007/SRM-717: I don't think I'd heard an SRM-717 before, so this was the first thing I listened to on KingStyles' rig. It seemed to me a lot like the KGSS and LL - meaning everything good, and bad, about them. Translation: it sounded really good. Nothing anyone would probably complain about, well unless you hear something better. A great value combo for sure. A BHSE would likely kick things up quite a bit for KingStyles (especially on his Ayon Skylla source), but I told him he doesn't need to upgrade. The SRM-717 was already plenty good. And I thought his dynamic rig was better!

 

At the end of the day, I think I'd put the SRM-717, Liquid Lightning, and KGSS all in the same category, sonically. They all seem to be roughly the same to me. The next step up to me would have to be something in the class of a Blue Hawaii type (or maybe a KGSSHV, but I haven't heard a build of that one yet).

Audeze LCD-3 on Schiit Mjolnir vs EC Balancing Act: An interesting comparison? Naturally the LCD-3 was balanced on both setups. If I had to pick a winner between them, my choice would probably be obvious: the Balancing Act took it easily. Both were really good for the LCD-3, and I don't even like the LCD-3 that much either (I think it's a great headphone, but not particularly excellent). But the Balancing Act had more "drive" for lack of a better word, and I don't mean that in the amp driving-sense, more in the mid-bass/lower-mids sense. It seemed to have more depth and presence factor, and added even more tactility on top of what the LCD-3 can already do on its own. It was actually pretty awesome, and definitely the best I've probably heard from the LCD-3. In fact, I'm starting to get convinced that the Balancing Act is probably one of the best amps for the LCD-3.

The Mjolnir wasn't bad though and I'd say it put up a good fight, especially considering it was running from an iPod (not really sure how the digital connections were all set up at this table). So it wasn't exactly a fair fight here. It'd be a fair fight to get both amps on the same source - wonder if that would ever happen.

Cavalli Liquid Fire: Ok I admit, I didn't listen to the one at the meet, but I wanted to relay the important part of a conversation that I had with Equus. It can be amazing what you learn from other people sometimes, and I learned just from talking to Equus that the Liquid Fire, and Cavalli equipment in general, will probably never be for me sonically. Preferences & the subjective experience play a big part as to why certain people like certain gear (which is something that's never really said on Head-Fi), and when Equus told me why he likes the Liquid Fire (mostly due to its mid-range), I realized his preferences were totally opposite to mine, and the Liquid Fire started sounding like something I wouldn't like at all. I actually lost all interest in it after our conversation. And extrapolating what I heard from the LL at the meet, I figured I'd never be interested in the sound of Cavalli gear in general. From now on I think I'll be sticking with my HeadAmp gear, since that's my acquired taste.

Senn HD650: I had to listen to a pair at the meet to find out how it still held up after so many headphones have come after it, and to refresh my memory. Still a very good headphone and it totally deserves marks for being a classic. No I wouldn't buy one again, but it was nice to remind myself of what everyday average headphones sound like. It wasn't that much worse than the higher-price stuff currently being pushed on the market and I think a lot of people would be satisfied with it instead of bigger-buck stuff like the LCD-2. Just because the LCD-2 has tons of fans doesn't mean it's that amazing. As a detractor/supporter of the LCD-2, I think the HD650 would be a fine choice for anyone who can't afford the LCD-2 - don't sweat the difference!

* My HeadAmp KGSS mini-review provides more context on what I think of the respective amps to the KGSS (and the BHSE): http://www.head-fi.org/t/566419/mini-review-headamp-kgss-vs-blue-hawaii-se

Meet pics to come later, hopefully within the next couple of days. I have 800+ pics on my camera from my vacation to sort through at the same time....


Edited by Asr - 8/20/12 at 12:57pm
post #33 of 52

My responses are in blue.

 

Steve, having met you at RMAF first in 2008, based on the listening we did at the Odyssey room, i immediately knew we had very different tastes in music based on your conversation with Klaus.

 

That said, always a pleasure to hang out with you. Its really the only reason i ever come to meet as well these days. THough am a little tired of making the drive up and back to Seattle now lol

 

Looking forward to meeting you at the LA meet.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Asr View Post


* Stax SR-007 on Cavalli Liquid Lightning: I started out my listening at the meet on Sachu's setup, where he had the LL prototype (so not the final production version), and of course I took it to task on some of my reference CDs. This system was being sourced by a Parasound DAC which naturally affected the sound, and more on that below.

To put it bluntly, I wasn't really overly impressed by this setup, and I wasn't sure which was more to blame between the LL and the Parasound. Maybe both? Ok it was fine-sounding. Very good, even. But there was just no way I thought it compared to my own setup (BHSE on Plinius CD-101). I'd say it didn't seem much different than from my previous experience with the HeadAmp KGSS - that is, it didn't seem any better. There were some of the same characteristics I heard with the KGSS: some lack of clarity, minimal dynamic range, & indistinct bass.

 

No, The LL was the production version. It was the first production verification model so its got a serial number 0000. It had some cosmetic quirks to it that i was made aware of by Alex which were fixed in subsequent builds that are going out to customers. But yes.. that is production spec through and through. 

Note: The LL was sent by Cavalli Audio specifically for the meet. I do not own it. It is a loaner/demo model as i understand it.


Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC (MKI) vs Parasound DAC (Sachu's, unsure of model)

However, as better as the Alpha DAC was, and I thought it was a clear step above the Parasound in pretty much every way, it still wasn't as good as my own setup at home. My setup provides even more dynamic range - specifically, the ability to really push wide-volume swings from very soft to very loud, and I also got the nagging suspicion that my setup is considerably clearer-sounding too.

A combo I would've liked a chance to hear: SR-007 on LL, sourced by KingStyles' Ayon Skylla. Now that would've really been interesting for me! Can we do that next time?
 

This was my Assemblage DAC 3.1. ANd i agree with you on your observations as i have done this comparison once before in a speaker rig.

And yes, the Berkeley is hardly the last word (as a Linn Akurate DS was even better at the same price point) in a good source and we should definitely try out next time with the Ayon Skylla. The LL has a lot more to give in my opinion. 


Cavalli Liquid Fire: Ok I admit, I didn't listen to the one at the meet, but I wanted to relay the important part of a conversation that I had with Equus. It can be amazing what you learn from other people sometimes, and I learned just from talking to Equus that the Liquid Fire, and Cavalli equipment in general, will probably never be for me sonically. Preferences & the subjective experience play a big part as to why certain people like certain gear (which is something that's never really said on Head-Fi), and when Equus told me why he likes the Liquid Fire (mostly due to its mid-range), I realized his preferences were totally opposite to mine, and the Liquid Fire started sounding like something I wouldn't like at all. I actually lost all interest in it after our conversation. And extrapolating what I heard from the LL at the meet, I figured I'd never be interested in the sound of Cavalli gear in general. From now on I think I'll be sticking with my HeadAmp gear, since that's my acquired taste.
 

Heh...its not for everyone..same as how every headamp product i have heard hasn't been for me.. too sterile and unemotional comes to mind. SOlidly built and neutral however.


Edited by sachu - 8/13/12 at 11:05am
post #34 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asr View Post

Meet Impressions
Audeze LCD-3 on Schiit Mjolnir vs EC Balancing Act: An interesting comparison? Naturally the LCD-3 was balanced on both setups. If I had to pick a winner between them, my choice would probably be obvious: the Balancing Act took it easily. Both were really good for the LCD-3, and I don't even like the LCD-3 that much either (I think it's a great headphone, but not particularly excellent). But the Balancing Act had more "drive" for lack of a better word, and I don't mean that in the amp driving-sense, more in the mid-bass/lower-mids sense. It seemed to have more depth and presence factor, and added even more tactility on top of what the LCD-3 can already do on its own. It was actually pretty awesome, and definitely the best I've probably heard from the LCD-3. In fact, I'm starting to get convinced that the Balancing Act is probably one of the best amps for the LCD-3.


The Mjolnir wasn't bad though and I'd say it put up a good fight, especially considering it was running from an iPod (not really sure how the digital connections were all set up at this table). So it wasn't exactly a fair fight here. It'd be a fair fight to get both amps on the same source - wonder if that would ever happen.

FYI -- it was iPod -> HP-P1 then optical to Eximus DP1 -> Mjolnir
The Eximus doesn't have quite the bass extension/detail as a PWD2 (closer to the BADA/Ayre I'd imagine). So at least some of that is source. Damn you're going to give my upgraditis...ack

Interesting observations.
post #35 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by m2man View Post


FYI -- it was iPod -> HP-P1 then optical to Eximus DP1 -> Mjolnir
The Eximus doesn't have quite the bass extension/detail as a PWD2 (closer to the BADA/Ayre I'd imagine). So at least some of that is source. Damn you're going to give my upgraditis...ack
Interesting observations.

I liked your rig. very nice. Great music too!!

post #36 of 52
Well I cant say I have a lot of impressions.

The only rig I listened carefully to was the LL/007 combo. First off, a warm transport (cary) with that combo didnt sound that great. The bass wasnt tight and the whole lower mids were muddy. When he changed to a computer front end, the bass tightened up and the mids cleared. Still I found it too warm. The highs seemed to be slightly rolled off. The tape hiss that I can hear clearly on the 717/007 was barely audible kinda of like how my lcd3 present it. I could see this as a good thing with the 009, but it just didnt do it for me with the 007. I like stats for classical and jazz so having air up top and not to much warmth is probably what I would be looking for in a stat amp with the 007.

I took a moment to listen to the d7000. I had forgot what a fun can it could be. I really want to hear the new denon can as I could use a closed can for certain situations.

I listened only for a moment to the balanced schiit amp. they seemed to do a nice job with it. I only listened to it for a song that I never heard on headphones before. It seemed to have good control of the bass and didnt seem as slow as some of the other schiit amps.The last time I listened to that song was when I had 2 15in subs in my car so my perception is probably a bit skewed. Look forward to taking a better listen in the future with something I know better.

Hey Doc, what was the name if the guitar player you showed me that was playing little wing?

Asr- nice to have you up and if you ever want to have something else hooked up to my skylla that can be easily arranged. We did it once before with my BA and the LF both hooked up to it at the same time. With my new xlr switch, it makes it really easy to hook another amp up to it and to do some quick comparison switching.

Thanks for coming up sachu and bring the LL and the donuts and it was nice to have ham sand. also up from Oregon.

To everybody else that I talked to both new and the regulars, it was nice talking to everybody.
post #37 of 52

Thanks to Big Poppa and Doc, respectively, for putting on and hosting the meet.  This time around I had a chance to talk with more people and to meet some new faces.  Pop's wife, Cheryl, was fun to talk to...she even remembered it would have been Jerry Garcia's 70th birthday on 8/1.  Guess we are everywhere...

 

It was nice to have a chance to listen to the LCD3 on KingStyle's setup and to finally spend more than a New York minute listening to the Stax setup he brought.  I think the Stax is a bit too refined for my tastes..perhaps some more time with the HE-5 (that was not a prototype in the picture MiceBlue took) would lead to more appreciation for the Stax.  I prefered the LCD3 on the Zana...very nice soundstaging and tone. The bass was wonderfully more pronounced for me compared to the Stax, but that's just me.

 

These meets have lead to a narrowing of what my equipment needs are going to be like...there are certain synergies that work well and others that don't, at least for me.  Palmfish's Oppo/Carver was way up there with the LCD/Zana in terms of presence and rhythm...Poppa's WA3 on my ATH-AD2K cans was a pleasant listen....very nice tube sound...

 

Thanks to everyone who took the time to chat with me, especially Satya...learned a few things I hadn't noticed on my vintage gear, such as a soft hiss at low volumes that vanished when cranked up to normal (your normal, not mine) listening levels.  Might need a transistor check or a DeOxit moment...I'll get around to it when I finish restoring a pair of Pioneer HPM-100 speakers I got off Craigs.  New drivers and restored cabinet....thank god for E-pray. 

post #38 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by palmfish View Post


That's a lot of headphone for $35. I may have to spring for a pair just for fun! Can you tell me more about the other models? I personally thought your 681's were a little too bassy for my tastes. Does one of the other models have better controlled, tighter bass with less bloom (much punch and less rumble)?


Sorry for the vacation delay: the HD681 is the bassiest and has the "on-stage" voicing.  The HD681B has lesser bass and puts you back in the hall, while the 681F hass the least bass (claimed flat, actually) and has a front-row voicing:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/579675/superlux-hd681-how-to-determine-which-is-f-and-which-is-b

So says Superlux marketing - however, I am about to order the HD681B and F, so could report back on my impressions. 

 

As for the bloom in the bass, I don't hear it with the O2 amp right now: were you listening with the Schiit Lyr amp by chance?  Its 32 ohm output impedance will add some bloom to lower-impedance cans like the HD681 (themselves 32 ohm).  They are so efficient, just a little Fiio E5 will do the trick :-)

post #39 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Satya View Post


Sorry for the vacation delay: the HD681 is the bassiest and has the "on-stage" voicing.  The HD681B has lesser bass and puts you back in the hall, while the 681F hass the least bass (claimed flat, actually) and has a front-row voicing:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/579675/superlux-hd681-how-to-determine-which-is-f-and-which-is-b

So says Superlux marketing - however, I am about to order the HD681B and F, so could report back on my impressions. 

 

As for the bloom in the bass, I don't hear it with the O2 amp right now: were you listening with the Schiit Lyr amp by chance?  Its 32 ohm output impedance will add some bloom to lower-impedance cans like the HD681 (themselves 32 ohm).  They are so efficient, just a little Fiio E5 will do the trick :-)


Thanks Satya! I don't remember which amp it was connected to, but if it was the Lyr, I agree with your thoughts. Yes, please report back (here or PM). I need another cheap pair of headphones like I need a hole in my head, but I am still very interested in hearing your impressions of the 681B - it sounds like the best of the bunch for my tastes.

post #40 of 52
Quote:

Originally Posted by Asr View Post

 

...

 


Cavalli Liquid Fire: Ok I admit, I didn't listen to the one at the meet, but I wanted to relay the important part of a conversation that I had with Equus. It can be amazing what you learn from other people sometimes, and I learned just from talking to Equus that the Liquid Fire, and Cavalli equipment in general, will probably never be for me sonically. Preferences & the subjective experience play a big part as to why certain people like certain gear (which is something that's never really said on Head-Fi), and when Equus told me why he likes the Liquid Fire (mostly due to its mid-range), I realized his preferences were totally opposite to mine, and the Liquid Fire started sounding like something I wouldn't like at all. I actually lost all interest in it after our conversation. And extrapolating what I heard from the LL at the meet, I figured I'd never be interested in the sound of Cavalli gear in general. From now on I think I'll be sticking with my HeadAmp gear, since that's my acquired taste.

 

...

 

I feel somehow influential now!  LOL!

 

I always feel with differing music tastes, thoughts on presentation, and just plain old physical and mental differences in perception that while I can (and do) respect the opinions of others, it becomes more important to learn what you want to hear than try to figure out what the gospel of impressions and head-fi is.  There's usually no "right" or "wrong", just whether it works for you.

post #41 of 52

I wish Seattle would do this again so I can hear for myself... 8/4... finals time... couldn't make it at all. Listening to the Mjo/LF/ECBA would've helped me so much.

post #42 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingStyles View Post

Hey Doc, what was the name if the guitar player you showed me that was playing little wing?

Ayron Jones. Ayron is really making a name for himself locally as sort of a Jimi and Stevie Ray incarnate, though that comment doesn't really recognize his very original and soulful voice. The video was one we made when he stopped by a few weeks ago to pick up his new Tode guitar amp:

 

 

We have several other demo videos up now too, featuring a fair diversity of guitars and player styles. Watch the above video on youtube and click on "Dan Schmalle" above Ayron's video to see the other four demos. Tode works great with headphones too.

 

Doc B., from Chicago, looking to soak up some electric blues.

post #43 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingStyles View Post

The highs seemed to be slightly rolled off. The tape hiss that I can hear clearly on the 717/007 was barely audible kinda of like how my lcd3 present it.

THe highs aren't rolled off.. that hiss is probably the noise in the amplifier in the 717 that you are hearing. Wtih a gain of 1000 in balanced mode without a seriously low noise floor like the Cavalli LL, you are bound to hear noise as you go up the volume knob. Has been reported by other users as well.

post #44 of 52

Finally got around to sorting through my pics of the meet.

First I want to add a quick note to Gil here: although I missed going to Uneeda Burger (ran out of time), I did manage to try a few other restaurants in Seattle during my trip that I thought were really good: Luna Park Cafe, That's Amore Italian Cafe, & Dragonfish Asian Cafe (right across the street from my hotel). Luna Park's burger was especially good!

Next, the promised pics of Bottlehead which I posted yesterday in another thread: http://www.head-fi.org/t/623056/factory-tour-bottlehead-corp

And now for the pics: (click any for a larger 1024-width or 800-height version)

 

The snack table (1-4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael/miceblue

 

BIG POPPA's wife (who was hilarious I might add, it was great to meet her!)

 

Ethan/Equus

 

KingStyles' rig w/ dual power conditioners

 

KingStyles' LCD-3 and Balancing Act

 

Cary CD306 transport & Cavalli Liquid Lightning

 

 

 

Left to right: Sachu, unknown guy, BIG POPPA's wife, Gil/BIG POPPA, Josh/KingStyles

 

LCD-3 & Mjolnir (Eximus DP-1 off to side)

 

Equus' name tag

 

KingStyles' Lexus

 

The Lexus' awesome wheels

 


Edited by Asr - 8/17/12 at 12:07am
post #45 of 52

Unknown guy next to Sachu is Clark Blumenstein. Clark had a very cool nearfield speaker system running in my office. 

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