Now that I'm back home and not on the phone trying to make a coherent post, I can clarify some things. Given it was a meet environment, I only had about 10 minutes with most setups. The most important thing I tried to do was play my own music on the various setups to truly compare with something I'm very familiar with. Luckily, I got to this will most setups that has a USB DAC option.
Here are some notable pairings for the context of this thread and I'll try to put in chronological order to show what I experience and my thought process throughout:
Obviously started with my Questyle and my Emotiva DC-1 DAC.
Went over to mrspeakers' table to try out my HD800 with his setup of Cavalli Liquid Glass and Auralic Vega. Mind blown. Completely different presentation from anything I've heard before, other than perhaps the K1000 later. Not only were the subtle details more audible, but the seemed to be given their own space in a new area of the soundstage I never knew existed. The best way I can describe it is that normal recordings sounded binaural. The subtle details seemed to have their own speakers to produce just those background sounds.
After this, I went back to my gear to make sure I wasn't hearing things, and it was apparent there was something special about mrspeakers' setup.
Not sure whether it was the DAC or amp, someone else offered to let me use try their $3000 DAC out (forgot name of DAC) with my Questyle. Honestly, at this point I was not focusing on the subtle differences like small details or tonality changes, but really looking to see if I could hear that binaural effect with anything else. With the $3000 DAC, it was not there with the Questyle.
At this point I briefly tried the HD800 with the WA22. I don't know if it was my source or his chain, but there was some weird rattling the whole time and it took away from the experience. Oddly enough, I wasn't quite sure if I was getting a similar effect to the Liquid Glass because the rattling could have been creating that sense of extra sounds. Either way, even if it was the amp and not the rattling, the effect was nowhere as profound as the Liquid Glass.
Next I went over the HeadAmp's table where they had the GSX mk2 and the Stax SR-009 with BHSE. When I listened to the HD800 through the GSX, I found it strikingly similar to my Questyle. Now I didn't spend the time to compare the small differences in detail; I only cared if it could have the details jump out at me in a holographic fashion the way the Liquid Glass did. It did not. I moved on to the SR-009. I did notice that immediately after listening to the HD800 + GSX, the SR-009 + BHSE seemed to have a more natural tonality and sounded softer. However, when listening for the effect the HD800 + Liquid Glass had on subtle details seemingly having their own channel, the SR-009 did not have that effect either.
Before the end of the meet, I got the opportunity to use mrspeakers' Vega DAC with my Questyle. Unfortunately it did not have that binaural effect. Thus, I conclude something about that Liquid Glass amp is doing that.
I got to hear the Liquid Glass at a meet with both some LCD2's and some HD800 and it was pretty much as you described it. There is no way in the world I could see paying $4000 for a headphone amp but if you were going to do it, I don't think you are going to do much better than that amp, even at double the price. It is something I would hope most people could hear as it is special. The I will never forget the way the Audeze sounded on that setup, it was other-worldly, or close to it.
Edited by HPiper - 4/21/14 at 5:31pm