Thanks to Doc B. and company for hosting the meet, and Big Poppa for initiating and managing it. It was a great meet. It got to see some familiar faces from my last attended meet a few years back and new ones as well. I think Seamaster's photos represents the whole meet enchilada, so I'll leave mine out that was taken with my crappy camera on my dumbphone.
In contrast to my last meet when the Audeze was the new, big hit and half the setups had them, it was nice to see a nice mix of gear covering the spectrum of audio candy. My envy was well hidden from most of the setups. It was a great experience to audition most of them even though on the way to the meet by ferry, I swore to myself that I would audition everything. Well, that didn't happen. Here are my (IMO) impressions in chronological order with an ending that left my memory in trauma:
I arrived at Bottlehead HQ with miceblue and his friend, and new member, blownaway (nice gentleman with a very nice portable rig - AK120/VorzAMP Pure II/HD650), a good number of members were there setting things up. I counted a total of five setup rooms with the grandest being upstairs, which I can only describe as a perfect man cave to die in. Doc didn't show off his speaker setup, but he did show off a familiar treat with his tape reel setup. As always it sounded sublime on the most speaker like headphone ever made, the AKG K1000. This connected to the Mainline amp was jaw dropping and impressive. Its features of fine tuning the volume levels were high in the precision department.
Almost equally impressive was his modded Monoprice cans. I overheard the Doc talking to another member that the Monoprice cans is tweaked by his ear and other than replacing the stock drivers, there aren't any more mods to be done. On a similar note, I heard the Mad Dogs with Alpha pads for the time and I concur with the hype that it deserves. It's a well tuned, neutrally voiced can; so well that it's on my shopping list. I can't say the same for the ZMF version because either something was wrong with it, or just didn't sound that good to me. On the same setup the two T50rp modded cans aren't in the same playing field. Before I left upstairs, I got a chance to listen to the HD800 and AKG-812 on Doc's setup with Jazz track going through his new DAC. In the past, I've always found the HD800 too relaxed and it still holds true. However, the AKG-812 surprised me with it resolving capabilities. The stage wasn't as wide as the HD800, which was a good thing for my ears, but man was it very realistic and detailed can. I'm not sure how much help came from the Mainline amp and DAC, but I thought it was a great combo.
Down stairs in the other four setup rooms, I recall each had at least one STAX setup. In terms of quantity, STAX was very well represented. There were maybe ten STAX models present from the mid level all the way to the previous and current flagship models. I don't know how much each setup cost, but my gut feeling tells me KingStyles takes the crown with his Balancing Act and STAX flagship cans. Indeed, like Seamaster had posted, KingStyles rolls like a King, including the wheels he drove. I couldn't call out or describe all the components in his setup, but man did it sound sublime. The imaging on this setup, or on any other STAX setup at the meet is truly out of this world. To my ears, they were the best for live tracks. In the setup room that had four STAX models side by side, there was one long out of production model that really suited my ears. During that audition, I discovered a new album that I'll be purchasing by artist, Kokia - wonderful and haunting voice.
Next to KingStyles setup, was what I think is the LCD-3, or maybe it was the LCD-2. These are the heaviest headphones I tried on. I couldn't drop my head down a bit without fear of gravity taking over. I found them darker sounding over the two STAX. It's a great sounding can, but due to the weight, it would prevent me from my natural tendency to head-bob when the right track is playing. Sitting to the right of the LCD-3 were the Fostex TH-900. Besides the pretty burgundy red can housing, it reminded me of my beloved Denon D7000, and it sounded like it too, but with a lot more balls in the bass. It was tight, it had snap, but a little too much for my taste; perhaps enough for a bass head.
Going clockwise in the same room, I finally was able to audition the DT-880. I'm guessing it's the 600 ohm version being amplified by the SPL. It had a nice bright sound and very spacious. I can see why these are used professionally for mixing and recording. Sitting on the perpendicular table was the almighty HE-6 powered by the Odyssey Cyclops. This is the second time I've heard the HE-6, and man this combo sounded awesome. I felt it was definitely driven with authority. Audioslave, Metalillca, Soundgarden, and G&R tracks sounded the best on this setup. The energy and treble produced by this setup with the chosen tracks had me to tapping and head bobbing like nobody was watching - kind of. If my wallet allowed it, this setup along with the STAX I mentioned above would remain permanent for the sole purpose of non-stop eargasms. Glorious is an understatement.
Across the hall, my Grado RS2 setup accompanied two STAX setups, Mad Dogs and ZMF, and the HD800 and HD650. Off to the side was the 009 STAX powered by the KGSSV. I agree with miceblue's impressions on how this setup sounded warmer like tubes compared to KingStyles Balance Act. The KGSSV looks like a monster and impeccably built. I was able to max out the pot on a few tracks with zero distortion. The volume steps were extremely linear and very close. For me, it was the smoothest volume control experience at the meet.
Time flies when you're having fun and this meet was no exception. Doc B.'s humor is undeniably witty. His pre/amplification products are called S.E.X, Crack, Crack /w speedball, Foreplay, and Quickie. If you look at the 5th picture taken by mechgamer123, that image is what starred right at me when I was drying my hands after nature's calling. I wondered if the paper towels dispenser was purposely empty so that one would have to turn around and use the roll of paper towels that was placed directly under the picture with high probability that the eyes would gravitate up to eye level and meet eye to eye with the naked Doc.
And so, I left the meet with a disturbing image of Doc B.'s efforts of a Greek like body with nothing more but a tape wheel. If you look at his feet area for a second, the tape made it look like the Doc was wearing high heels. I hope time swiftly burns out that image (no offense Doc).
In closing, this was an excellent meet, and always a lot of fun. I look forward to the next one scheduled sometime this summer, and I plan to attend the after meet festivities. I highly recommended all members who haven't attended one to try it out. At best, you'll walk away knowing you're content with your gear - or at worst contemplating on how to make your wallet lighter in exchange with how long you can consume ramen and water for x number of days, and/or what you're willing to sell.
A big thanks to everyone at the meet.
Edited by alpha421 - 4/27/14 at 10:28pm