This was the first larger-scale head-fi meet I have attended and I thoroughly enjoyed it - what a great event! I had a wonderful time interacting with many people and putting faces to a few head-fi names/avatars. It's a privilege to share some highlights of my experience at the meet:
The event was held in a large room in London's Russel Hotel and I estimate about 100 people were in attendance, many of them with their head-fi rigs to share.
I had lots of fun listening and was pleasantly surprised with some equipment that I'd never heard before, and even equipment I had heard before but heard in a new way at the meet. I brought along my Sennheiser Amperior and the MOMENTUM headphones which I enjoyed sharing with some people who hadn't heard them.
The table of event sponsor's Sennheiser displayed the new Club Orpheus range of products and the very headphone that inspired it all, the one and only Orpheus. It was a pleasure to hear such a prestigious headphone again, and just like the first time I heard it, I got goosebumps when listening.
I enjoyed hearing the HDVD 600 and in the brief time I did I was very impressed. With the HDVD 600, the HD 800 - the headphone the HDVD 600 was primarily designed for - was very neutral sounding and exhibited nicely-rounded, very clear treble and some warmth in the bass region. The new balanced cable for the HD 800 (shown on the left of the stock cable in the pic below) was quite beautiful and something I'm excited to hear more of.
I listened to the HD 700 again and heard the IE 800 for the first time. The latter proved to be one of the most refined sounding IEMs I have yet heard. It sounded great even straight from my iPhone, though a higher quality player/source would be my preference for the IE 800 if I ever own one.
I was thrilled to meet Axel Grell, Sennheiser's product manager and the designer of many Sennheiser products including their flagship HD 800 headphone. Axel was very friendly and generously answered the questions I asked him.
I was fascinated listening to his talk about the Club Orpheus range and enjoyed checking out some components of the HD 800 that he passed around the table. Axel is a man of vision and it was a treat to hear him go into detail about the meticulous creation of the HD 800 and IE 800, and also his opinions on topics including burn-in, binaural sound, balanced cables, listening volume, his favourite recordings.
The ever-friendly Custom Cable were at the meet and had some nice head-fi gear on hand including one of my all-time favourite headphones, the Sennheiser HD600, which I eagerly picked up for a listen when I saw one on their stand. It was plugged into the awesome Resonessence Labs Invicta DAC/Amp, which I have tried before, and again it amazed me. The wonderful natural and neutral sound of the HD600 was given extra support and drive from the Invicta, and I got the feeling that this is a rig I could listen to for every at-home/main rig head-fi purpose and enjoy it immensely.
Custom Cable also had a Fururtech cable for the Sennheiser HD series which added added some bass depth and treble sparkle to the HD 600 and HD 650. I'd say it's worth a look for anyone seeking an alternative to the HD series stock cable.
On another cable-related note, Frank from Toxic cables was also present at the show though I didn't meet him. Frank's cables are excellent and I definitely recommend giving them a listen if you are investigating aftermarket cable options.
Stax and stats
Head-fier Shipsupt generously shared from his collection of stats including various Stax models and the Sennheiser HE-60. When I spoke about my surprise at the HD600/Invicta combo I had just heard, Shipsupt spoke from his experience that from all the headphones on the market, it's a wonder why people ever deviated from the HD600, such an undisputed classic of the headphone world.
That said, I can see why many of the Stax stats are also considered classics. This meet was the first time I had heard any of the Stax models Shipsupt provided and I found that they all exhibited an enjoyably light yet-warm overall sound with the majority of them having very smooth treble that sounded brighter than natural. If you get a chance I highly recommend giving the Stax headphone range a listen.
Custom Cans showed up with some customised (and brightly coloured) Sennheiser HD 25 headphones and the Beyerdynamic DT1350 (more on that later) as well as some aftermarket cables, which I enjoyed trying and recommend as a tweak to the stock sound of the headphones they cater for.
Amongst the headphones I had never tried before were some offerings from BeyerDynamic, namely the DT 770 Limited Edition and the DT 1350:
The standard DT 770 Pro, which I have heard before, had a warmly clear sound with gentle PRaT that have found enjoyable each time I've listened with it. The DT 770 Limited Edition on hand was a headphone I'd wanted to try since seeing it reviewed online and it was a nice surprise to hear. The LE had more sheen on the treble than the standard DT 770 and overall a very clear sound but I preferred the sound of the music I listened to with the standard DT 770 Pro.
Hearing the DT 1350 for the first time was a treat and one of the highlights of this meet for me. I loved it's clear treble presentation and controlled-yet-deep sounding bass. Comparing it with my Amperior, I found that the DT1350 portrayed more detail and clarity than the Amperior did, though I found the the DT 1350 to have slightly heady and nasal-feeling mids that were still very enjoyable to hear and feel. The DT1350's bass sounded well-defined and tighter than the boomier bass of the Amperior I am used to, which though less revealing is still very fun.
Zenpunk was on hand with an impressive rig including the HiFiMAN HE-6 and the Sennheiser HD 700.
I enjoyed losing my HE-6 virginity with his rig and very much liked what I heard. The HE-6 on this setup had a natural sound w/ nice softly-visceral bass, similar to the HE-500's sound. I found the treble of the HE-6 to be a little shiny at times, but it was clearly evident to me why it is considered one of the premier flagship headphones available today. It's a crystal clear sounding listen that with a powerful enough rig to drive with will be a stellar-sounding experience.
The last rig I listened to at the meet was one of the best-sounding I had ever heard. It was a closed-back Ultrasone headphone used in combo with a the Sonosax SX-DA2 and fed by an iriver player.
This rig had an amazing sound that was very clean and clear with a lovely, perfect tonal balance that I did not find fault with. The deep bass and a slightly warm sound was a delightful experience.
In closing, I'd like to thanks GSARider for organizing this event, Sennheiser for sponsoring it, and all in attendance including Jude (who travelled to the UK to attend this meet), the man who started this head-fi community, the man without whom this meet wouldn't have happened.
Edited by Windsor - 5/3/13 at 2:21pm