Great meet all. Again thank you to Chris for putting together such a well organized meet.
Here are some of my impressions from the notes I took. These notes aren't meant to be a review, just what I wrote as I was listening. Usual meet caveats apply. What I look for in headphones are accurate sound stages. I like the sound to be centered and out of head as possible. If it sounds between my ears, I won't like it. You'll hear me mention cymbals a lot. I don't know why but I think they are some of the hardest sounds to reproduce and they reveal flaws, so I tend to focus on them sometimes. Please remember that these listening stations are a complete chain, and not liking something about the chain doesn't reflect on any one piece of equipment.
Cutting to the chase, my favorite rig of the meet was hard to pick but I might have to go with the Ayon to LL2 to HE60. This is especially true for vocal music. The he60 handles tool surprisingly well. I didn't get to listen to any electronica with it, so I don't know if it could be my only headphone (I listen to mostly classical and electronica). For heavy electornica (infected mushroom), I still liked my setup better. That said, I might be shopping for stax sometime soon.
Liquid Glass with HD800 out of Oppo source. RCA Tubes. Started off with Tool 10000 days. Initial impression is excellent. Very fast, keeps up with Dana Carey well. Sound stage is great, but there is a bit of fuzziness at the center. On Rosseta Stoned there is a part of the track where there is intentional guitar feedback, this can be harsh on any headphones, espeically the hd800, compared to speakers, because it's close to your ear. On the LG it was not harsh, but had a smooth quality. Again, center is not quite complete. Cymbal shimmer decay is fast. Guitars are energetic and really nice mids here. Nice power. This track can be muddy on tube setups, and it is not here. Switched to the Hifiman HE6. These are not for me. No bite on the guitars. Drums sound distant and boring. No natural sound or tone. Thin and airy. Switched back to HD800 with Joes Garage. Only complaint here is center vocals.
Moved over to the SR009 out of the Liquid Lightning 2. Still listening to the Oppo and Joes Garage. Center is noticeably better. Faster, but I preferred what I heard with the HD800 and LG.
(about an hour later) Back on the LG with HD800 on Slyvana tubes. Sound is flatter but more impact. Tool guitars bite nicely. A bit muddier than I remember it with the other tubes. Fast sections are tripping up. Switched to Eric Clapton You make Me Happy. Had just listened to this track on the HE60 and 009. Both Stax had a nicer sound than the 800, but the 800 had the better sound stage; with an out of head sound.
Switched to HE6, same track. Again not for me. Snares sound low res. Bass is lacking, no texture.
XSabre Dac with my own system (In place of DA11). HD800 (alo cable) and Super7. Listening to Infected Mushroom Vicious Delicious. Sounds very similar. Might be smoother with a tad bit of resolution trade off, but hard to tell. Appalachian Spring. Sound stage sounds a bit far off to the sides, almost behind my ears. Other than that, sounds very close. Switch to Dire Straits Brothers in Arms. Bass guitar sounds nice. Good texture. High hat is sharp, but not harsh. Vocals are centered. Might be a tad veiled compared to the DA11 but nit picking. Switched back to DA11. High hat not as sharp, but close. Shimmer decay however is less stepped. Less gradient to it. What I heard as veil might just be that the Sabre is brighter.
Ayon CD player to Liquid Lightning 2 with HE60 and 009s. On he60s. Nice. Accurate, but slower than the 009s. Bass guitar has more texture than 009s. However cymbals sound perfect on the 009s. Best cymbal rendering I've ever heard. Pretty much perfect. Sound stage is wider on the 009s but also has more air. Instruments just kind of sound like they are out there. The 009 renders every single instrument very life like when you focus on that instrument, but somehow falls short when trying to listen to the whole song. I might be trying to focus too hard on the sound. I think I like the HE60 more here. They sound like they are trying to render the song instead of each instrument. Hard to explain. Both are superb with this combo. Ayon to LL2 to HE60 is my favorite system so far.
Anax Modded HD800 (modded by one of the vendors at the meet) on my own system. Sounds harsher than my own HD800s. First time listening to this mod so I'm not sure how it is supposed to sound. Not going to comment further, I didn't like it.
Oppo to GSX-2 with my HD800. Listening to Gustav The Planets. Harsh trumpets. Winced when they came in. Upper register too energetic. Otherwise this has a good center and sound stage. Sounds nice but may not be my thing. Could be the source, or could be that I have the volume up way high to counter back ground conversations. Not fair to call the amp harsh without comparing it on my own source and at regular listening volumes, but I don't like this at the moment.
Oppo to GSX-2 LCD3: Comfortably Numb. Vocals aren't centered on the recording on this track, but they should still sound as one. Here they sound as they are coming from 2 different directions. Resolution seems low. Decay is slow and no bite. Very laid back. Tone on guitar is excellent. Bass guitar is missing texture that the hd800 had.
Oppo to GSX-2 with HE6: Restarted comfortably numb. Better resolution than the LCD3. Brighter. Bass guitar is poor. Almost zero texture or presence, it's just kind of a low note rather than the instrument. Sounds anemic. Volume is at 10 oclock, so the amp has plenty of power. Turning it up gives more, but now it is harsh and unpleasant. Switched to Young lust. Bass guitar at opening again is missing texture. Guitar sound like they are coming from two sides instead of a single source. Not a fan. Switch to Gustav Holst Planets. Sound stage too closed in for my tastes. Instruments sound sort of close to where they should be, but not right. Trumpets harsh. Trumpets sound like they are above and inside my head rather than out in space. Cymbal crash is harsh and sibalant. Percussion is dull. No texture on strings, very whiney sound.