This was my first time attending such an event and I enjoyed it greatly. The communal headphone collection was very impressive and was missing virtually no flavors!
Just to get things going here I will start with Super-Exotics
HE Audio Jade vs. Stax SR-009
The 009 is certainly a very expensive looking headphone, and does look as though it should cost much more than the traditional flagships; dynamic or planar. However the Jade just looks more special to my eye; intriguing, exotic, and unique while at the same time managing to be subtle and understated in comparison to the shiny 009. I also prefer the fit and comfort of the Jade, it feels lighter on the head and the earpads are massive and easily envelop the ears. However the 009 is still very comfortable, more so than the HE-6, LCD-3 and about on par with the T1.
In sound signature I think an easy comparison to make would be (roughly) the Jade is to the 009 as the HD650 is to the HD800. With perhaps less separation in quality and signature than those two. However in line with that comparison the 009 is the better headphone. The 009 is faster, clearer, more separated, the Jade is warmer, more intimate more impactful. Which does bass "better" is hard to say, not only does it depend on the listener of course, but on what music you are listening to as well. For something traditional like a bass guitar I would take the impossibly clean and natural decay of the 009 while for something synthetic, I would want the additional rumble and impact of the Jade. I mention bass first because it was the easiest and most definitive difference between the two. Both headphones present vocals incredibly well and in my short time with them it was very hard to discern differences, I would perhaps say that the 009 places the vocals more holographically in front of you. I did not find the 009 to be bright but it does have an extra touch of sparkle and clarity in that range over the Jade.
These headphones are both incredibly natural only presenting slightly different flavors, with the 009 simply seeming slightly more capable and effortless. The first and second best headphones at the meet to my ears. Thank you to HeadAmp and AudioCats for bringing these gems for us to enjoy!
More impressions to come, but we should get some pictures in here soon of all of the beautiful gear so others can better visualize.