This past weekend, e-Earphone held their audio festival in Akihabara.
Although not as big as the Fujiya festivals, it actually was quite successful. There was a more local feel to this event than the Fujiya where there's more international participants there. Most of the portable and some desktop audio industries were represented there.Strangely though, Sony, FitEar, nor Stax made it. However other big names such as TDK, Fostex, Audio Technica, VentureCraft, Ortofon, etc. were present at the show. In addition, distributors and other importer/exporters were also present such as Mixwave, Musica Acoustics, Focal Point, etc. made their show.
Aside from members of the trade, the Headphone Girls brought "The Lady Spade" singing and dancing group along to the show too for a little support. And e-Earphone's favourite model, Julie Watai was also there on the live talk booth.
Julie Watai on live video blog stage
Now to get into the real stuff :D. I actually spent most of my time on the Musica Acoustic booth as Dimitri had just come back from CanJam and brought back some new cool toys with him. Note that in Japan, usually the big names dominate the audio retail market scene (such as Sony, Audio Techinca, Sennheiser, Monster, Shure, etc.), and even the boutique ones make a show. However it's very rare to be able to demo some of the smaller custom products such as Mr. Speakers Mad Dogs (or Smeggy's Thunderpants which still has yet to make a show except for those who bought from him online). Musica Acoustics managed to bring and display Mr. Speaker's Mad Dogs, Jaben's custom cables for BeyerDynamics, TTVJ's new Apex Glacier ultra slim DAC/Amp, Tralucent's 1Plus2 and amp, etc. These are some of the more unique products which I read off in Japan but never get to hear till now.
Apex Glacier in amp mode only with my iPhone and V-Moda M-100
My M-100 and the Mad Dogs. I was surprised how big and heavy it was, I thought it was going to be light. The Mad Dog does need a decent amp to drive it nicely though. the Glacier does it well and so does the ALO Rx Mk3. Next to the M-100, it's not as bass focused however it's quite transparent in the highs and mids.
Can't remember the name of this portable tube amp...maybe it's just called "Tube Amp"? Anyway, I found it to be quite refine and mellow. Nice for jazz and classical, and a contrast from the GoVibe DAC/tube amp which was more agressive to my ears (that's not say it's bad thing and it's probably more suitable for pop).
Russia's MyST1866 can take in quite a few inputs (optical, coax, bluetooth, USB). I tried in BT and this was a demo so the BT range was short. Worked decently.
Tralucent's 1Plus2 is as good as it's dedicated thread describes it to be!!
Whilst I was enjoying the Glacier, the Musica Acoustic team was busy posing in pictures. I don't blame them.
Someone may wanna ask Shigzeo what he's doing with his hands.
and back to work. BTW, that's DonnyHifi with his back towards us demo-ing out the Tralucent 1Plus2 :-
Next stop was VentureCraft's table, Hamada-san hard at work.
Aside from showing their existing products, namely the Go-DAP X, their new cables and Go-DAP DD Socket 1 DDC/DAC also made a debut.
These cables aren't cheap, the upper ones go for around USD$275 whilst the lower ones (7N OFC) are around USD$120+. The are beautifully built though.
Then a test of the Go-DAP DD Socket 1. It uses an AKM DAC (presumably AKM 4353?). On the 2nd day I brought my Cypherlabs Algorhythm Solo along. At a very brief initial impression, I'd say the Go-DAP DD Socket 1 has a milder and mellow sound. It reminds me of my older HP-P1. It's a pity I don't have my HP-P1 anymore as I would have attempted to compare side-by-side. It's a nice DAC with a refined sound. To use it as a transport, it has not just coax, but optical output too. And like the other Go-DAPs it charges your iDevice.
Another table I stopped by was Sakata-san's Ortofon. They have just released their portable amp. As with Ortofon's signature, they also have a very refined sound signature that's suitable for jazz and classical. In my past conversations with Ortofon, their products lean more towards the more analogue stream than digital. I speculate that this is probably due to their LP needle background. I'm hoping to get my hands on their new amp to do a proper review.
As with their other products, beautiful craftsmanship and minimalistic design.
One other nice looking portable is the Matrix Mini-Portable DAC/Amp. As with their desktop Matrix Mini-i, the Mini-Portable uses the AD1955 & AD8620 Analogue Devices DAC and OpAmp respectively. Inputs accepted include microUSB, RCA Coax, & Optical and naturally output is 3.5mm single ended. It appears it operates in DAC/Amp only, there is no line out. The battery lasts for approx 8 hours and its dimensions are 112x65x20mm at 180g. USB supports up to 24/96 whilst coax and optical supports up to 24/192. I think the price is going for approx USD$620.
Not all the products in the show were portable, some desktop component makers also made it to the scene. And here Orb showed their Jade Casa desktop amp. It takes in unbalanced RCA whilst output is a 1/4" SE jack. There's Dynamic (bass) boost which was rather mild. They had a pair of Grados PS1000 as demo headphones with source coming from PC DSD-DSF -> USB -> Chord Electronics QuteHD DSD DAC. Very nice setup.
The following day I spent more time at the Fostex table. Now, for those who follow the CanJam thread and new products threads, some may have heard about the new Fostex TH-600. Unfortunately the TH-600 didn't make a show at the Fostex table but I did get a chance to ask them about it. It seems the sound signature is still not decided for the TH-600 (as such unknown if it's using the same driver as the TH-900), and it's planned release is next April/May 2013. The estimated price is approx 1/2 of the TH-900s.
Photo credit below goes to Bootsy1
With my bright orange jacket, I just had to try these headphones on for fun. I was pleasantly surprised that they actually sounded good!
Photo credit below goes to Bootsy1
At this point, I'd like to take the opportunity to say that on this 2nd day some Tokyo Head-fiers did meet by chance. I met Bootsy1 for the first time, a real cool chap!
Although he preferred the TH-900 sound, I think the Fostex Kotori looked better on him.
For the first time, I also managed to try the Final Audio Design Piano Forte X. Personally for me, it was too mid-centric for my tastes.
Photo credit below goes to Bootsy1
Not too sure what Bootsy1 was thinkin' here.
But, as his name suggests, Zhiqiopera enjoyed it quite a bit (though maybe not its price)
More pictures of the booths can be found in my Flickr :-
And thank you to The Lady Spade and Headphone Girls for their appearance at the show! Naturally a final big thanks to e-Earphone for hosting such an event. More info about the Headphone Girls Magazine can be found here (http://www.headphone-mag.com/2012/10/ewith.html)