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2013 Bay Area Headphone Meet & Headmasters (CAS4) Impressions Thread (8/9~8/11)  

post #1 of 300
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone!


Frank is still a day away from getting back on the Internet, so he's asked me to post up the impressions thread, which I am only too happy to do.  Please post up all of your impressions and pics when you can.  Frank and I will be joining in with our own soon.  Thanks!  smile.gif

post #2 of 300

I liked it.

post #3 of 300
Well, we are up nice and early on a Sunday. I had a great time. It's always nice catching up with online friends.

Highlights - the headmaster room was really nice and wide open, with lots of chairs and rigs, so it was never hard to find something to listen to. Frank and Constantine, if you are looking in, take note - in my opinion, the nice big vendor room was really nice.

The Mr. Speakers Alpha Dogs were a big hit with me, and are will be my next upgrade.

The Woo Audio 7 Fireflies is a wonderful amp! A great size, built in DAC, and sounds stunning. There was a WA 22 and a WES 6. The little fireflies fared well in the comparison.

Cavalli Audio - beautiful pretty much covers it.

Abyss - fugly and expensive, but at least it's uncomfortable...

LCD2 - a lovely headphone, but not one I aspire to own.

LCD3 - a brilliant headphone.

HE500 - I had 2 different pairs in my hand, and no listen. Again. I'm such a bonehead.

Schiit Gugnir and Mjolnir stack - big, but really nice. I want one.

Denon D7000 - I still love them...

HD800 - I need to hear these away from a meet. So far, they just don't move me.

That's all I've got - nice meet, great vendor show, and a world class 2 channel stereo show right next door!
post #4 of 300

I wish I was able to do the entire show.  There were so... much to see and hear.  Getting to hear this and hanging with these guys was definitely the highlight of the show for me.  I think those who were there would agree. biggrin.gif




Edited by HiFiGuy528 - 8/11/13 at 9:59am
post #5 of 300

So...it was really nice to hang out with such a great group of people. There are a lot of great people Head-fi who are even better people in real life. 


This was my first meet ever, and it was definitely an eye-opener after a Head-fi hiatus for about 3 years. After the Headmasters show and Head-fi meet yesterday, I'm regretfully saying...IM BACK!


Lots of good stuff at the meet. Definitely need to start looking into upgrades. I'm not very good at posting impressions, but here is what I thought people would be interested in.


Mr. Speakers Alpha Dogs: Now, I already have the Mad Dogs 3.2 and have been perfectly happy with them. Dan has definitely raised the bar for closed headphones under the $1000 price range. Only thing I can say, I'm trading in my Mad Dogs the moment these are available. 


Sennheiser HD800: I finally got to hear this headphone, and I have to say, I really really like it. Most of the shortcomings that people describe, I feel that I am able to live with. 


Audeze LCD 2/3: Great headphones. With that said, I can definitely see why a lot of people have both these and the HD800. They are quite different, and I can see both being great for different occasions. Both headphones have gobs of quality bass.


Stax SR009: These were amazing.Then I saw the price and the associated gear, and suddenly these weren't that amazing. Nevertheless, these were probably my favorite headphone if price wasn't a factor. 


JPS Abyss: I didn't like these headphones very much. They look ugly, They are very fiddly and tricky to put on and get to sound right. It sounds good out of the Liquid Gold though...


Schiit Mjolnir/Gungnir: First balanced setup I've listened to. Definitely an interesting improvement that I may be looking into the future. 


Astell and Kern Players: These made my Sansa Clip Zip look like a piece of Sch--- Uhm... These were really nice players. 


Woo Audio: WES and SR009 was ridiculously nice. The WA7 is a heavy mofo. 


This is mostly what I remember off the top of my head. I'll probably have to take some time to actually write it out, but these were things that I either really liked or were really interested in. 


Great event. Definitely met lots of great people, and will be making a return to Head-fi.

Edited by No_One411 - 8/11/13 at 10:37am
post #6 of 300

I had a great time.  Everyone was really friendly and very courteous with each other and gears.  Also, everyone was very honest with their impression/take on different HPs, amps, DACs...The headmasters were great.  The room was open enough that I didn't feel closed in when testing out gears.


I will borrow aamefford's formatting for gear impression :


The Mr. Speakers Alpha Dogs : I for some reasons prefer the white unpainted pre release/prototype version over the final one.

The Woo Audio 7 Fireflies : Beautiful amp, sounds butter sweet for my Q701 and other dynamic HPs but barely has enough pwr to drive my HE500, even on high gain.  I was at around 4 o'clock.  Maybe, this is a good thing opening up the amp all the way up?

Cavalli Audio - This is the only amp I walked away wanting one for myself :) to drive my HE500 in balanced mode.

Abyss - huge diminishing return compared to HE500 and other orthos.  It sounded absolutely awesome but at 9X the price of the HE500, 5X HE6, 3X LCD3, I am not sure...

LCD2 - same impression as before, not for me.

LCD3 - better mid, high than LCD2 but bass/sub bass somehow did not cut it for me on many bass/sub bass tracks I tested it with, both on my own set up and off the studio 6.

Denon D7000 - One of the best HPs driven straight from iPhone and my tablet.  Wow, just even, neutral sound across the FR range.

HD800 - Glad I listened to these on many amps in the meet room and also in the headmaster room.  Not for me personally.  That's all I would say.


W1000x - modded by Bill P.  It rocked my world with acoustic tracks.  Loved it and will buy one and hopefully could mod it to the same level as Bill P's.


T5P - modded and owned by Tim Liu.  Omfg, bass doesn't get in your face any more than this modded HP while maintaining clear mid/high.  Definitely fun but not for prolong listening.


DT880 600 Ohms - owned by Shane55 and driven by an audio gd,  I absolutely loved both male/female vocals on this pair.  So much air and presence in the voice.


Stax 009 - driven by Blue Hawaii - analog source.  What can I say! or what is there to say!  I want one...


Stax 009 - driven by the Liquid amp - digital source.  Great but not as warm and moving as the above setup.  Still want the LG to drive orthos though.


Schiit amps and DACs - 2 words :  hot schiit  biggrin.gif (pun intended)


Woo audio amps : great smooth amps.  Fortunately for me, I did not catch the tube amp bug while at the show.


Gtg, taking family out to SF for the day.  More impression later tonite.

Edited by koiloco - 8/11/13 at 10:04pm
post #7 of 300

I wish I took pictures... too preoccupied with the great stuff in the meeting room. Thanks all for sharing. 


I apologize to those who I kept confusing with each other.... I've given up fighting with my deteriorating memory (meds and such).  But enjoyed you all!  


The HD800 sounds great if the treble peak doesn't bother you.  For me, that is a sensitive area of my hearing. but what detail!  


The HD650 is my favorite sound signature.  Adequate detail, with a good cable....  I heard the Fat Pipe built by Cardas for a retailer Headroom, and liked it well, even in a long length.  http://www.stereophile.com/headphones/1108fatpipe.  I use the Cardas Clear, which might be better, but the Fat Pipe is enough! 


I was stunned to hear the high-impedance HD650 on the Schiit Valhalla OTL amp: wow. Despite the background noise, I found myself listening loud with no sense of strain and an uncanny "rightness" to the sound -- voices, high-hats, etc (several tracks on Jennifer Warnes' The Well, including Arlo Guthrie's voice, and percussion on The Panther; opening track on my M&K remaster of For Duke with family friend Bill Berry on horn, McCoy Tyner's New York Reunion opening track high hat detai, even Amanda McBroom remaster of Growing Up in Hollywood Town, a very familiar track).  They all sounded right, not different or merely better.  At $350, this is a fortuitous combination.  Mike Moffat (old acquaintance) says it was tuned to a different high-Z phone (Beyer?) so it makes sense that the 300 ohm Senn sounds great.  Warning: on less efficient phones, perhaps like the HD800, the volume knob might max out; would need a higher output source... and some verification that it can swing the voltage.  


I was surprised at the Alpha Dog, being a closed headphone.  Not maximally revealing in the treble, it otherwise made music sound right compared to live orchestra and voice.  Women's voices sounded right, such as Ana Caram.  Dynamic. I had to really work to hear anything "not right" about them.  The shell technology—from 3D printing—is more than mere novelty; I know enough about stereo lithography (the original term) and about resonances and such to recognize the validity in various in depth discussions with Dan.  More than meets the eye, more than just another tweak.  


I found the Woo amps lovely and in some cases just a bit more smooth than I like.  But the WA22 (?) worked well with the HD800, something dearly needed!  


Still more to listen to Sunday.  

post #8 of 300

The Astell&Kern AKR01 IEM sounded really good for only $199.  




Gonna spend some quality time with this little guy too this week and report back with a full review.  Thanks Jimmy & Owen for letting us check out your gear.



post #9 of 300

The AKR01 sounded fantastic, you got a review sample of bothconfused.gif?

post #10 of 300

Here are my impressions of what was going on.  Unfortunately I might have shown up too late or too early but there didn't seem to be many people showing off their gear at the headfi tables.  But I did get a chance to listen to MikeMercer's equipment and the studio six paired with the HD 800's was absolutely stunning. The way it made Miles Davis come alive was unparalleled to me so far.


I also got a chance to drop by each of the vendors booths.

Audeze: Like always the LCD 3 was nothing less than amazing..makes me want to upgrade.  

Moon audio:  I got a chance to listen to the JH16 and honestly I though that it sounded good and I could kind of see the potential there but without custom fit to my ear it just did not sing the way it should of.

Cavalli Audio:  I got the try out both the Abyss and the SR-009 paired with the Liquid Gold and Liquid Lightning respectively and I liked the SR-009 better and honestly I thought that that was the best pairing in the room.  I think a close second was the LCD3's with the EC Ballancing Act but they where having trouble with it so I didn't get a chance to listen to it for very long.  

Woo Audio:  As always their amps are stunning but I didn't have much time to browse their stuff. 

Schiit:  I can see what all the hype was about.  Honestly man the different stacks all had their appeal and now I want a Lyr. 

Headamp:  The SR-009 and BHSE was amazing.  Personally I liked the Stax with the Liquid Lightning more but I did have to really nitpick to even tell a difference.  


The star of the show though in my opinion was Dan and the Mr. Speakers booth.  Now granted there where better sounding headphones but the fact that the Alpha Dogs even come close and in some respects beat competitors that cost 2 to 5 times as much I think is a testimate to how hard Dan and the Mr. Speakers team is working to get as much out of the Fostex drivers as possible.  I just have to say I can't wait to get my hands on a pair of Alpha Dogs and really sit down and so some listening they are truly a gem.  Also I don't want to finish typing until I have finished talking about the Maddogs 3.2.   They though don't sound quite as good as the Alpha Dogs are also something to behold.  I think that everyone should have a chance to listen to both of the headphones in the Mr.Speakers lineup.  Honestly in those price points and sometimes even higher than that especially for the Alpha Dogs I can't think of a better headphone, even taking into account open headphones.  


After going through everything I did take a listen to some speakers as where impressed by some and not so much by others but even thinking that I can afford most of the speakers at the show was so far beyond me so I decided it was time to leave.  


Thank you so much to the people that organized everything and also to the people that where nice enough to let me listen to their gear.  I had an amazing time and can't wait til the next meet.  

Edited by Zashoomin - 8/11/13 at 2:07pm
post #11 of 300
Originally Posted by HiFiGuy528 View Post

I wish I was able to do the entire show.  There were so... much to see and hear.  Getting to hear this and hanging with these guys was definitely the highlight of the show for me.  I think those who were there would agree. biggrin.gif




Is that...the newest prototype of the closed LCDs?

post #12 of 300
post #13 of 300
Dang it! I always leave the room at the wrong time!
post #14 of 300
I would love to hear some impressions of the closed Audeze prototypes. I'm kind of curious why Audeze is creating a closed can - is it just to offer isolation, or is there something in the sound signature they are trying to achieve?
post #15 of 300
Originally Posted by billybob_jcv View Post

I would love to hear some impressions of the closed Audeze prototypes. I'm kind of curious why Audeze is creating a closed can - is it just to offer isolation, or is there something in the sound signature they are trying to achieve?

We don't know the pricing yet, but I'm saving $$$ for it.  The closed back suits my needs more than the current offerings.

Edited by HiFiGuy528 - 8/11/13 at 4:21pm
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