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2013 Bay Area Headphone Meet & Headmasters (CAS4) Impressions Thread (8/9~8/11) - Page 2  

post #16 of 300

This was my first audio meet and I had a great time, and definitely coming back next year! Thanks to Bill P for letting me borrow the use of his Vaio laptop as a source for my Audio-gd gear. Hopefully people made good use of it while I was out and about for most of the day. 


I'm new-ish to headphones outside of Grado, so I didn't know what everything was, but I came away with a few impressions.


- Fostex TH900: Great clarity for a closed headphone, nice tonality, and among my favorites for the day. A little heavy on the bass. I played a track by LTJ Bukem with a deep bass note that should sound soft, airy and distant, but it came out hard, loud and forward. I'm guessing the bass has a large component of harmonic distortion ("apparent" bass). This part is the deal breaker.


- Modded ATH-w1000x: Incredible tonal balance and long-term listenability. Also they did a nice job of disappearing on my head. These were a Bill-P one-off, so there's no telling if another pair would come out the same. 


- Beyerdynamic (model?) 600 ohms: I had to max out my AGD C-2 amp to drive these puppies to a moderately loud volume! And they sounded excellent, but I didn't fall in love for whatever reason. 


- Denon D7000: Impressive at first listen, but not one of my favorites. My ears are sensitive to the tin sound that can result from a forward upper midrange, and if I recall correctly, I took these off when I got tired of that part of the spectrum. 


- Audeze LCD3: I was really looking forward to hearing these for the first time based on the reviews I've read. I'm glad I listened before buying them. Amazing clarity and lightness, but I quickly got tired of the aggressive upper midrange I mentioned earlier. Also heavy.


- Sennheiser HD 800: Some of my favorites. They do live up to the hype. However, they look like they're designed for teenage boys and I would not want to be seen with them. I'm shopping for headphones to use at work, so that matters. Back to back, I thought the Fostex sounded better with most music. 


I had a cocktail at lunch - whiskey with lemon and orange bitters - which was nice but I regretted it when I started listening to headphones again. My perceptions were clouded for a few hours and I could no longer make reliable comparisons. Should have had coffee instead! Enter the HeadMasters demo room. I listened to the Alpha Dogs from Mr Speakers, and they sounded great I guess, but I just don't know how they would stack up against anything else. I do remember thinking they sounded remarkably open for a closed-back headphone. I wish I could hear them again because I might buy them. 


Cavalli Audio: Amazing! The electrostatic setup on the left might have been the best thing I heard all day. 


Electrostatic setup at the Woo Audio booth: Close second to Cavalli.





Did anyone tour the home audio rooms? There was a full-height, full range electrostatic system on the 3rd floor set up by Martin Logan that was probably the coolest thing I've seen all weekend. I was also very impressed with the Kef Blades (next to registration), as well as a homemade wood-veneered system with 6 isobaric woofers in each speaker. Amazing stuff! It was a sensory overload weekend for ear and eye candy. 



Edited by earthtodan - 8/11/13 at 9:54pm
post #17 of 300

My favorite table of the day:


Edited by earthtodan - 8/11/13 at 4:46pm
post #18 of 300

It's my first headphone meetup and really nice to meet all you guys. I'm not good at writing review in English. So, just what follows...


-- The mod T5P is really great, both bass and vocal. On my thought, it worth 0.5k bucks to mod it.


-- Compare the HE500 with my HD650 with Cardas fat-pipe and I would say, for vocal and rock, HE500 wins on every side of the sound.


-- K3003 is my final choice for earphone. You may say it has no "shinning point" while it actually has no shortcoming. The most important one, I took switch from headphone to K3003, no big change on the soundstage.


-- 009 and 007MK2. I've nothing to say about these two. I think I know 95% of the finite sound of headphone.


I asked Koiloco for suggestion about active bookshelf speaker and he told me some models to try. I went to AudioHIgh in Mountain View and tried the KEF X300A. Today, I went to AudioEngine's room and had a listen to the AudioEngine 5. Since I can't tell big difference between them and AE5 has a 20% discount, I bought one.



Edited by leslie - 8/11/13 at 6:33pm
post #19 of 300

Hmm, looks like I forgot about this meet.  Nice list of vendors and gear so far though!

post #20 of 300

Not sure if these impressions will ever make it over from the speaker world, so quoted from this post over here 




quoting cjfrbw :


Name: P1010424.jpg Views: 131 Size: 200.1 KBName: P1010425.jpg Views: 130 Size: 185.1 KBName: P1010428.jpg Views: 131 Size: 201.8 KB

Anyway, here's my tour in brief.

Headphones, the great Stax 009(electrostatic) and Abyss (single sided magnetic planar) face off.

009 was at two booths, one with the tape project tapes R to R and Bottlehead head amp with Blue Hawaii amplifier, the other at Dr. Cavalli's table with the Cavalli liquid lightening solid state amp. 

I really liked the Abyss. Technical stuff says the single sided drive creates even ordered harmonics, so I guess I am an even order harmonic guy. It was with the Cavalli Liquid Gold amp and was driven reasonably well with it, good pairing.

I preferred the Abyss over the Stax 009, which had a very small pixel pitch, but was a tad dry, bass was not that greaat. I did not prefer the Stax from either Stax rig over the Abyss, though the Cavalli Liquid Lightening was very nice.

Doc Cavalli said that the listeners tended to be quite polarized in favor of one over the other when they listened. The presentations were very different, with the Stax doing that detailed electrostatic thing, but with the Abyss running neck in neck in detail but providing more fullness and bass. I did not hear the treble problem that some observers claim with the Abyss, so either my ears are burned out or the amp didn't convey it if it was there.

I don't know why, the R to R setup which should have been the bee's knees was a bit tepid with the 009/Blue Hawaii. It's one one of those head scratchers where things just don't turn out the way you thought when you finally get to listen.

Both headphones were "good" so evaluation I suppose is in the context of what do you want to spend and what do you prefer?

That being said, I don't think either one unseated my current preferred rig, a 50 watt Wavac amp with a home rigged transformer adaptor using new Dyna Z565 transformers through an over 25 year old Stax 3n/5n antique headset. The 3n/5n isn't even supposed to have much bass, but with the Wavac, it has bass the other two can't even dream of. The old stax 3n/5n is fast, detailed, but also lush and bass rich in this context.

Another stand out was the Eddy Current tubed amp with PX4 tubes. It sounded best with my own Ultrasone Ed8 headphones (in picture)over some LCD headphones lying around. Considering prices, I can't say this was markedly poorer than the Abyss/009 thing, and in some ways better in the way good dynamic setups can be.

I did not especially care for the Sennheiser 800 rigs I heard, but I will concede they are soundstaging champs.

post #21 of 300

Interesting impressions.  I'd love to hear an R2R with a stax rig personally.  I'd be very surprised if the old Stax do real sub-bass, its probably higher up where its more pronounced.  If he has the 833 based Wavac amp, he's my hero.  I've always wanted to ask Craig to build an 833 speaker amp but I also don't want him to kill me.


By the way, cjfrbw is also a posting member here so it may indeed migrate anyways.

post #22 of 300
Originally Posted by leslie View Post

Since I can't tell big difference between them and AE5 has a 20% discount, I bought one.



wow, 20% off? how much you ended up paying for the pair?  cuz at the store, regular price is $400.  How do you find the bass on those?

I thought about you when I was reading the show guide and saw audio engine as one of the vendors.  :)

Good that you went back today and tried.

post #23 of 300

This was my first show if any kind related to audio... I didn't get to make it to the HF meet (I only had 2-3 hours to spend at the show frown.gif, but I was on cloud nine!! It was pretty sweet to see the folks behind the businesses whose builds I've dropped buku $ for and dedicated several hours of my life listening to and loving!!  - folks like :


jason from schiit - him and mike were awesome, über cool/friendly!! Didn't get a chance to listen to the new flagship dac/amp, but finally got a chance to listen to the Asgard 2 and lyr (the latter which is an awesome grouping for any ortho for an impactful yet lush sound (I realize I'm eons late in listening to this pair but oh well)


Gsx mk2: man!  Grouped with either hd800 or Th900 (which I would have loved to a/b with LCD-3s)  it made both of them sound that much more enjoyable-especially at the bottom end... VERY tempting


Dr. Alex Cavalli - VERY nice man... He came up to me and introduced himself as Alex and I had to think twice about what Dr. Cavalli's first name was.  I listened to the liquid gold with abyss cans (I had never heard of abyss before) but hotel California live (hell freezes over album) when the kick drum (I think it is) comes up on the intro of the song it was pure craziness!  The impact and depth of the bass just forces you to bob your head.  Shameless plug, but my only desktop amp, a cavalli EHHA rev.a  is being rebuilt by Corey at solder works audio (who by the way is great in attention to detail, communication, and overall quality of build) so again it was awesome to meet dr. Cavalli in that regard.  Dr. Cavalli is truly just a nice all around guy with an awesome sounding liquid gold that I may have to pick up in the near - mid future.


(Here's a pic of my almost finished amp by Corey at SWA, a rebuild of a Cavalli EHHA(!!) take note that the perspex will be located under the lid when completed




Woo: finally heard the wa6 Se.... Grouped with the LCD-2s which I have never could really find a place in my heart for it made them sound pretty good to the point where I'd actually reconsider re-purchasing them (which won't ever happen - see LCD-3 review).  The firefly also sounded great with a huge sexy factor.  I listened to them with beyers however which I'm not a huge fan of, but I plugged in my hd650s and there was a very nice synergy between the two... Wish I could have had 1:1 time in a quieter environment however but oh well


Moon-Audio:  Tried out the TH900 w/Silver Dragon and the Clarity and Bass extension were great! Debating whether to sell my d5000s and "upgrade."  I'm trying to keep things stock re: cables but had drew put black dragon iem 3.5" cable on my hd25-1 ii which have a great synergy and portability factor with my ak120.  If it weren't for the clamp factor of the senns, I'd definitely keep them


Astell and Kern: HUGE sexy factor... Sound quality in my opinion was great!  Listened through a momentum and through the hd800... Makes for a GREAT portable all in one rig.  MUCH smaller and with a nice touchscreen interface.  Despite the negative reviews re: playlist etc. I had to pick one up for the "special" price they had during the convention. Yeah, still insanely expensive, but personally, the fun factor and enjoyability of the music/sound it produced compelled me to "put it on the plastic!!"  Quick update, I loaded a bunch of jazz/bossa nova/blues/chesky joints on the player and was in audio bliss on my couch at home until 3am this morning. I still had ~95% of the "bliss" I experienced at the meet (the funds spent did place a damper on my spirits once I got home) .  Everything was great with my D5000s and SD650s but one VERY disappointing thing about the AK120 was the fact that some HD tracks (from HD tracks) had serious "hiccups" when played - as if the player couldn't keep up with the resolution.  My AK120 has the latest firmware and everything but it definitely was a disappointment - especially for a player that costs > a grand.  This one maybe sent back for a 30 day guarantee depending on if we can get this straightened out.  I'm really pulling for you Astell & Kern!! Anywho, onto the next table...


Alpha Dogs....MmMm.... I wish I would have A/B'd them with LCD2 or 3s.  Such clarity and punch when played off the bifrost/lyr.  I'll seriously consider this one when it comes out....I've owned the mad dogs in the past but the alpha dogs are really a better beast - kind of like going from LCD-2 to LCD-3 (at least from my limited past auditions)


Finally, Audeze.....ohhhh Audeze.   I did the Burson Soloist SL Loaner Program through burson and was pleasantly surprised when they included an LCD-3 with the unit.  My impressions of both can be found on the Burson facebook page (rookie writer/auditioner impressions just as an FYI)... LCD-3 was a different beast with regards to the clarity of the highs and comfort of the ear pads - both which have improved on what I really disliked on the LCD-2 (which sounded congested with my equipment when I had them, but sounded actually really good at the Woo Table with the WA6SE - awesome amp by the way).  Mark from Audeze is who I have been in contact with in the past re: impressions and getting information about the LCD-3 and I was fortunate to meet him at the show - great resource for info related to anything Audeze, not to mention an uber nice guy.  LCD-3 with the RWA Audeze Edition Amp was sickening!!  If I weren't so infatuated with the Cavalli amps (Dr. Cavalli just singed a great impression in my mind having met him and having owned his CK2III and EHHA that I would definitely support his company/endeavors in the future), I'd save up for that RWA Amp.  All I can say is that the LCD-3 is so lush in sound throughout the spectrum it is very tempting to "put that on the plastic". 


All in all, GREAT day - makes me excited to go to another HF meet whenever that may be in the near/distant future.  Please excuse any typos/rants as I've added to this post throughout the day.


post #24 of 300

Physther, I didn't see you!frown.gif

post #25 of 300

I was ambulating with a bum leg on a single crutch rocking the manny pacquiao (vs. Rios 11/23/13!!) shirt with a credit card on hand ready to "put it on that plastic!!" Yeah I hope to meet some folks during future meets

post #26 of 300

The most fun for me was listening to Shane's recordings, followed by chatting up the Woo rep about potential new products, and listening to the 009's - super awesome on all the amps I heard them through.  The woo rep was quite adamant that I would like the HD800 out of the WA22, but I didn't get the chance to play a bright recording to really find out.


The big downside for me was time - not enough of it.  I could only spare the 5 or so hours on the one day...:(  Like every meet, I really don't understand how I am not able to listen to more stuff in that amount of time; I probably only listened to 5-7 tables and one speaker room...where does the time go?

post #27 of 300

I want to thank everyone for coming and the show was a success and I will post more impressions as I just got back to Nj form the show.  If you guys would like to do it again  next year in August I will organize it again but this time I will have seating arrangements and headfi names on your badges as well. i got involved late the show this year but next year I will be doing more as the organizer for the CAS as well as this meet. I wanted to say you guys were the best and hope you all had a blast. I covered all the headmaster vendors plus a bunch of rooms so look for my show report soon

Edited by Frank I - 8/12/13 at 5:30pm
post #28 of 300

Thank you for getting this together Frank. I had a blast and will attend next year if there is one for a longer period of time and with some new gear hopefully too!

post #29 of 300

If you guys want to do this again next year I will commit the rooms again.  I will see if I can make this a yearly San Francisco event if you guys want to keep supporting it. The Headfi attendance from the entire show was terrific. The Headmaster booths were busy all weekend and I was excited to have participation. My goals will always be to get more of the Bay are guys involved. I will work harder next year to make this work even better. Thats my commitment to you guys and the terrific vendors who helped to make the meet and the show more successful,. This because of you guys was the most successful show CAS has ever had and next year it will be bigger and better.  THANKS SAN FRANCISCO!!!


Special SHOUT out to my two buddies WARREN CHI and MICHAEL MERCER for their support and the VENDORS who made this all work so well.


Woo-  Jack thanks for sending Simon who did a terrific job

Moon Audio- Drew and Nicole Baird Loved hanging with you guys and Drew great cable sand products

Schiit- Jason and Mike for their participation

Headamp- Justin Iron Butt was terrific and thanks for the support

Astral Kearns- Owen and Jimmy Exciting products and a thank you for participating . it was a great time and loved the A120

Cavalli- Alex for coming and showing his terrific products

MrSpeakers- Dan Clark for his innovative participation and exciting alpa dog closed can. 

Audeze- Alex and Mark for coming and look forward to the exciting new products

Bob Hordas- for his innovative approach to room treatments and for participating

Amarra- for their innovative software for MAC and support of the show. Thanks James

Veloydne- nice products at very affordable pricing.


I will get information out about the show for next year and would love to have you all back..


THANKS for making this years California Audio Show so successful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Edited by Frank I - 8/12/13 at 5:31pm
post #30 of 300

I'm definitely in for next year!

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