Well I think it's time for me to post some impressions from the meet.
Firstly, a big big big thanks to Andy for making this happen. It was nice to see some new faces this time around along with some other veterans of the community. I enjoyed it quite a lot and as my listening habits and tastes have changed through these years.
Now on to the sonic impressions.
Outstanding combination and by far the best I've heard even with an iPod Classic's analogue line out as the source. Everything's much more refined, balanced with lots of detail retrieval with stomping authoritative resolution. All of my headphones reveal the details pretty well but this combo is on another level with the way the things are presented with outstanding spatial cues. Bass was just exceptional. It's got detail, texture and the right amount of weight to it without being over powering to my taste. Same goes with mids and highs. The guy who was displaying this didn't have a sticker on his t-shirt and quite stupidly I didn't even ask after being blown away by this although we had a lot of discussion about the system. I spent about 20-30 mins standing in front of this system and couldn't stop moving onto some of my all time favourite tracks one after another. It was that good. I could just go on and on about it all day. Now that I haven't listened to 009 on any other energiser units I can't say that it's down to BHSE alone. But I could live happily with 009 for sure.
[LCD-3, HE-500, HE-6, LCD-2] Vs HE-5LE on Objective2:
Path: iPod classic (ALAC) --> Pure i20 --> Arcam rDAC --> JDS O2 (1x Gain) --> Headphones
I started of with HE-500s because Head Direct are still selling HE-5LEs (Would be discontinued soon) and both these at the same price. HE-500s are more efficient. I didn't have to go any beyond 10'O clock position on the volume pot where as I had to go upto 11-12 for my HE-5LEs to volume match. I would describe the 500s as a more fun can compared to more neutral 5LEs. They pump more bass quantity than the 5LEs which I didn't prefer because it all sounded a bit over powering to me. It's not bad but it's not my cup of tea either. I would describe the sound signature as more on the warmer side compared to 5LE's neutral-ish signature. The presentation is more 3D compared to wider dispersion of 5LE. In the end I've concluded that I am happy with my 5LE with my system and wouldn't need to go for 500s.
Next I moved onto HE-6s. Now we're talking about upgrade. I was glad that O2 drove them well and with volume pot around 2'O clock there was plenty of volume even in the noisy environment we were in and I couldn't go past any further. That's a remarkable and quite an outstanding achievement on O2's part. 6 are more refined compared to 5LEs in almost all the categories. Bass, mids and highs all sounded much cleaner and refined (Note that I am splitting hair) compared to 5LE. I would definitely call it an upgrade from 5LE but not in terms of price. This puts the 5LEs in a really good bargain department and I think I just love them a bit more than I used to before because of this comparison.
Next up were LCD-2s. Quite a remarkable achievement by the other industry magneplanar manufacturers. Really good headphone and quite efficient. A bit on the warmer side of the spectrum compared to more neutral/sterile 5LEs. The thing that hits you right away is bass. It's so close to a closed can that I could live without one if it's not for the isolation. Mids are perfect with nice detailed treble. I wouldn't call it as an upgrade to 5LEs but a different flavour and I would like to have this in my collection in future. And given the fact these are made in the US the price is just about right.
Finally the LCD-3s, considered second best to the 009s on Head-Fi. I felt these had a similar presentation to 500s than any other cans in the list above. Of course on a different level (Again splitting hair). They are as efficient as LCD-2s and didn't need anything beyond 10'O clock on the volume pot. Again, the first thing that hits you is bass. To my ears on my setup I felt it's a little over powering to my tastes. A part from that these are really good cans and unless I do more evaluation I can't justify the high price. To be honest, I am not that impressed given that I absolutely love the LCD-2s.
From these brief auditions my order of preference would be HE-6 --> LCD-2/HE-5LE and I wouldn't need HE-500s and LCD-3s. It might change slightly with indepth audition of LCD-3s.
Coming to the in ears, thanks to Swimsonny for providing me an opportunity to listen to Heir Audio 4i earphones. I compared them to my custom moulded Shure E500s. 4i have a much more balanced presentation with better treble compared to E500s. I preferred the mids on Shures and the bass was on pretty much same level. 4i have a more laid back presentation compared to Shures but not at all veiled. They are detailed, refined and I would like to do some more auditions as my E500s are now about 5 years old and possibly need an upgrade of some sort. Need to enhance my IEM skills a bit more to do this.
Thank you all and see you all at the next meet for sure. For now I am happy with my headphones and would start craving for 009s.
PS: Would post some pictures soon!!!