MrSpeakers Alpha Dog > Schiit Mjolnir > Schiit Gungnir: apparently I'm in the minority with my opinion that the Alpha Dog wasn't all that great. I mean, it was technically very good, much like the Mad Dog, and it sounded a lot like the Mad Dog as well. I previously owned the Mad Dog for almost 2 months and used it with both the Burson Soloist and HeadAmp GS-X MK2 and found it to be a very technically competent headphone, in fact an overachiever in its $300 price bracket. I didn't really think the Alpha Dog was a "huge" improvement - it did seem to have marginally more openness to the sound, along with more clarity, but I half-expected more considering its price. I didn't think they sounded much like the Senn HD800. They still had quite a bit of the closed headphone sound, IMO, and the openness of the sound wasn't as good as something like the Fostex TH900's.
I'm not really a fan of planar magnetics in general either, so there's that bias too. I did experience a funny/odd moment at the show when Dan of MrSpeakers took a look at my ears to determine my sonic perception.
The hype train on these seems to be going full steam ahead and I'm sure most people won't be persuaded otherwise by my post here, but I for one will not be in line for an Alpha Dog. At $600 I'd rather save up a little more for the much more efficient Fostex TH600. The Alpha Dog's inefficiency is another negative point for me personally.
JPS Labs Abyss > Cavalli Liquid Gold: This was the first time I've heard the Abyss, even though a pair was at last year's RMAF. Let me say one thing first: these are by far the ugliest headphones that I've ever seen, and I wouldn't pay even $5 for headphones that look like they came out of a metal junkyard regardless of how good they sound. I also had a ridiculous time trying to get them to fit that completely turned me off before I started listening.
That said, they did sound pretty awesome. The treble & clarity reminded me of the Qualia a lot, and the overall signature was almost my ideal type: very clear, very fast, very open, and bass to spare as well that matched the treble. There was some music on the system that I was familiar with, and some that I wasn't (classical), and it played a variety of genres really well. I think I'd say that they were probably better than the current dynamic flagships, even the SR-009 too, but for me it didn't exactly beat the OII MKI. It lacked a naturalness to the sound that the OII MKI has in spades.
King Sound Electrostatic Headphone 1 > King Sound M-20 > Bryston BDA-1: These were pretty dang good-sounding. The mid-range was uneven, almost in an Audio-Technica woodie kind of way (but not as extreme), but overall they seemed like versatile headphones. They delivered surprisingly tuneful bass too and maintained bass pitch surprisingly well, much better than most other headphones that I've heard. At $500, I'd call these headphones a really good value! I wanted to check them out more. The frame reminded me of the Abyss but unlike the Abyss, the King Sound actually fit and was comfortable.
Audeze closed headphones: I'm not a fan of the Audeze sound as defined by the LCD-2 and LCD-3, so I was expecting to be underwhelmed by these. They did retain a lot of the Audeze sound to me and sounded a lot like the LCD-2, except possibly with more treble and improved clarity. I heard them on very familiar music (Massive Attack's "Inertia Creeps") and thought they sounded good, but not great. Bass I wasn't sure about - it's possible they have more bass quantity than the LCD-2, but that's a guess. Audeze fans will like it, but those who don't like the Audeze sound probably won't.
Stax SR-009 > BHSE > reel-to-reel tape deck: I was hoping to be blown away by an analog source but was unimpressed, despite the quality of the amp and headphones. I mean, it sounded very good, but nothing about the sound of the jazz music particularly moved me. I was left wanting for the OII MKI instead of the SR-009. IMO the SR-009 misses what made its predecessor so awesome.
Random equipment observation: I didn't notice until later that the computer sources at the show were predominantly MacBooks. This disoriented me because I'm a Windows PC guy myself and the MacOS always throws me off. I sort of wish that more Head-Fiers and vendors would use Windows PCs instead....
First batch of pics, 2nd batch to come later
The room for the Head-Fi meet
warrenpchi's setup w/ Woo Audio Fireflies
a girl listening to the HD800 and WA22 (via my laptop PC-based setup)
re-cabled Fostex TH900 w/ unknown amp and Antelope Audio Zodiac Gold
Woo Audio WA5 (or WA5 LE, not sure which)
CA Audio Show registration tables
MrSpeakers Alpha Dog
Dan of MrSpeakers going for the photobomb
Woo Audio table
Cavalli Audio table
Head-Fier ironbut representing HeadAmp in lieu of Justin Wilson
Stax SR-009, HeadAmp BHSE, and ironbut's self-provided reel tape system
King Sound Electrostatic Headphone 1 and M-20 tube stat amp
Mrs. Nicole Baird of Moon Audio
Edited by Asr - 8/19/13 at 12:09am