The guys, my rack and boxes of goodies.
I had told bayac before the Tokyo headphone festival that I'd have a mini-meet at my apartment a couple of weeks later and that he was welcome to invite the locals. While not their first mini-meet, it was the first at my apartment. I managed to clear out the mess, toys and small children and in 3 hours we managed to work our way through quite a bit of gear:
ALO Panam (with Mullard tubes).
Woo Audio WA7 (upgraded tubes and my Vaunix hub supplying power for the USB DAC).
Various other portable amps, most modded.
DACs and sources:
Audio-gd Master 7
Mytek DSD DAC
iRiver AK100 (Mezzo mod)
2 MacBook Airs and one MacBook, all running Audirvana Plus.
Audeze LCD-3 (with Norse Skuld cable)
Symphones Magnums (V4 with VX drivers and Norse Skuld cable)
Sony XBA-3 and XBA-30 (with micro-fibre cloth mod)
PS Audio Power Plant Premier ("PPP") supplying everything.
Various portable amps.
Misc exotic cabling. You know you're a headphone audiophile when you have more ICs, LODs, USB cables and whatnot than you own headphones amps and sources all combined. Meh!
The Mytek DAC is very good. Having not been as impressed with the Benchmark DAC2 in Tokyo as I was hoping, the Mytek was a surprise. I compared the USB input with my Audiophilleo through the S/PDIF and was surprised that the improvement using the Audiophilleo was only small. I didn't get around to trying the in-built headphone amp, however. The downside was that the USB2.0 input wasn't recognised by my Mac (only the USB1.1 port) and the menu navigation is a bit confusing. Still, if I was in the market for a good DAC around its price, I'd get one. I hope to try it again using DSD files in the future.
My LCD-3s + re-cable out of the Phoenix versus the 007t + SR-007A was interesting and a pretty close match, noting that the PPP improves the Stax amps with their basic internal power supply a bit more than it does the Phoenix with its overkill and separate power supply. With the Master 7 having multiple outputs, it was easy and quick to switch headphones mid-song. Between the two Stax and Audeze, I liked the 007As best for the kind of music I listen to which is more acoustic, which is what I felt a couple of years ago as well the last time I had the chance to compare them. Both rigs resulted in utterances of amazement and discussion of violent wallet bleeding and death when anyone attempted to figure out the total cost...
AKG K3003 with default filters from the Mezzo AK100: I've been wanting to give these a good listen for a while now. They make my XBA-30s sound like mud, but are rather harsh in the mids and treble, despite the bass being about right for me. Perfect for me would be their sound with the and the clear sound of the Sure SH846. I can't help wondering if it isn't the cable (yes, can of worms but...) as back when I had TF10s, I had an issue with harsh mids and treble that was fixed by switching to a Null Audio cable. Now if I could battle off these, the Shures, FitEars....
The guys all seemed to like my AK100/Pico Power/Magnums rig. It probably helped that I fed them Amber Rubarth's binaural album and most of my regular listening fodder consists of music that is well-recorded and not compressed.
The Shure SH1840s were as bad as I remembered them to be. Harsh and unpleasant with a frequency response that makes no sense with any music I tried. The guys seemed to like them with the PanAm.
So, all in all a fun few hours and something I hope to do again in a couple of months.
I'm going to give the guys permission to post their impressions in Japanese if they want.