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SF Bay Area Mini Meet May 4th 2014 impressions  

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Well, it's a mini-meet, but since I got to speak to folks and listen to a lot of cool gears, and did comparisons, I was able to get impressions on a lot of stuffs.


First up... Zana Deux + HD800 combo. Man, I was floored, no doubt. Easily the best system I heard at the meet. Everything was just right. Especially the midrange. It wasn't too bad for dubstep and EDM either.


Next... HD600 + Geek Out 1000. Haha... I never thought I would say this, but this is not half bad for a transportable setup (it's transportable because the HD600 is not a good choice on public transport... or airplane). For approximately $500, I think this can be end-game for a lot of people.


HD600 + Bottlehead Crack... legendary. Enough said.


HD800 + Bottlehead Crack... hmm... I think I prefer the Zana Deux for a bigger soundstage and slightly cleaner presentation, but... all things being equal, this is not a bad budget setup either.


Stax SR-007 Omega 2 Mk.II... wow... technically with warmth and smoothness. It's not the best setup out there, but it is still technically very competent compared to the rest of the other setups. If it was more spacious, it would have been killer.


Hifiman HE-500 + Schiit Lyr... nice BASS! Nice midrange! Soundstage a little congested, but nothing too serious. I think that's due to the clamping force more than anything else. Easily one of the best setups there. By the way... this is still not enough volume for the HE-500! Mwahahaha! :evil:


Svetlana 2 + ATH-W3000ANV... hmmmmmmmm... weird sound where it's both spacious and super warm at the same time. But not "oh man, this sounds bad!" kind of weird, but the "oh man, this is surprisingly good!" kind of weird. Love the impedance switch. Wish I had my measurement tools there to see what sort of effect it has on the output impedance.


Svetlana 2 + ATH-W1000 (non-X)... this one is stock. It's not my pair. My pair sounds... very different. That said, this one has a pretty nice full sound. It might be a bit dark, but not as excessively warm as the W3000ANV. Overall it's a nice relaxed sound with some body. But... it is still very different compared to my modded pair!


Leckerton UHA-6S Mk.II with AD4627 + UERM... wow... it's scary how even and technical this combo is. It's just... good. There is nothing to complain. Enough bass, midrange, treble for everyone, I think.


iMod + Pico Slim... oh ho ho, here is a surprise. An unexpectedly fun setup. Pairs very well with UERM. I can see how this can be one of the ultimate portable rigs.


Now this might be a shameless plug but...


HD600 + McIntosh Mac 4100... anyone who owns a HD600 must simply hear this setup at least once in their audiophile career. Seriously. I insist!


Those are fast impressions from my memory.


Thanks, guys, for making today possible! I had fun, and I also had a lot of good feedbacks on my modded headphone to know which direction to head toward.

post #2 of 12

A great meet! Got to meet many great people and hear a bunch of great setups.


Some of my favorites:


HD800 with the Eddie Current Zana Deux: An amazing combo. Retains the accuracy that I love about the HD 800 and injects a little midrange and bass warmth. Also takes the edge off of some notoriously sibilant songs of mine and yet retains the excellent soundstage. Absolutely on my short list next time I have a few thousand lying around :p.



Stax SR-007 MK2: I was very surprised by this headphone. It had one of the most detailed sound signatures I have ever heard while still having warmth and fun. One of the least peaks in the treble than I have heard, and as a result sounded extremely accurate while being not fatiguing at all. Very impressive, technically and musically.


The Geek Out trio (100,450, and 1000): Probably the most personally interesting piece of gear at the meet, and caught me off guard. The sheer functionality of this tiny amp/dac has to be admired. With a sound signature that I would describe as very neutral and the cross-feed function, this could easily be a portable endgame for use with a headphone that leans on the dark side such as the HD 650 or another closed headphone. I will definitely be keeping an eye on this company and product.


Well that's what stood out to me the most. Thanks to everyone who brought such amazing food and coffee, and all the amazing gear to listen to. 

post #3 of 12
Did any of you get to check out the Enigma?
post #4 of 12
Originally Posted by zerodeefex View Post

Did any of you get to check out the Enigma?

Yes, I spent a small amount of time with the Enigma. I was actually quite impressed, going into it with a "this is a closed headphone" mindset. One of the best closed headphone soundstages I have heard, and a very balanced sound. The clamping force was a bit much for me, however the very soft pads helped make up for it.

post #5 of 12

This was such a nice break! 


Thank you to Bill for building the mini-meet momentum and organizing, P-man for providing the stellar venue and being the grill-man/host.  To Van for handling the coffee-fi (keep learning amazing stuff from you) and making the best cheesecake I have had since I can recall.  Walfredo brought wine that <everyone> liked. 


Oh yeah, Audio?  Was maybe ~30% for me this time around and that's great too...it's an ongoing journey with friends.


I need to:

  • build a NUC music server to get USB external drives off the bus at home
  • keep listening with the surprisingly good Geek Out 1000 > HD600 pairing
  • try all three Geek Outs again with UERM and HD800 to see if they sound the same with adequate power
  • troubleshoot what may be a tube grid short that is causing some issues in one Zana Deux channel
  • re-configure my audio racks so that I can use different tube amp combos more easily
  • revise an amplifier faceplate design for prototyping
  • keep making lists
post #6 of 12

Oh, did somebody accidentally pick up my Grado 1/4" to 1/8" adapter?


EDIT:  Mystery solved!  Will be getting the adapter back soon...:tongue:

Edited by CEE TEE - 5/5/14 at 3:34pm
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Oh yeah, thanks for your comments on the ES10, too, CEE TEE!

I went back home and listened more closely to the ES10. You are right. It's more disjointed because there is a dip in lower frequencies and also right around 1K-2K. I have remedied that now. In fact, I tried to tune it to sound more like the W1000 + McIntosh combo. I can't wait until the next mini meet to have you listen to it!
post #8 of 12

Conclusion one: 30% audio at a mini-meet is the perfect balance. 


Conclusion two: I need an UE IERM for my "ethically compromised" portable rig. It edged out my JH-13 by quite a bit.


Conclusion three: Stax land... Someday. Someday much later. 


Conclusion four: The HD800 is the best dynamic headphone of all time. I already knew this, but now I must have one. Curse the effects that this hobby has on my wallet.


Conclusion five: The HE-500 wasn't quite loud enough out of the Lyr. Perhaps Schiit's Mjolnir or Ragnarok will be up for the challenge in the future. 


Final Conclusion: The Bay Area. Georgia is too far from the Bay. 

post #9 of 12

It was super-fun, folks!  Special thanks to Andrew for the hospitality!!




1)  I am really amazed how much better Bill's modded W1000 sound (compared to my W1000 stock).  Even more amazing is how effective the simple opening mod is.  I did to all my woodies and they all gained space and definition.  The effect on the W1000X was particularly remarkable.


2)  The Stax rig was amazing!!!


3)  Zane Deux is an awesome amp.  That was the impact on my wallet.  I may end up getting one some day. :-)


4)  The currently-on-sale HiFiMAN HE300 + EF3 combo sounds really good.  It is a steal for $250.


5)  It is great to talk to people, drink wine, eat barbecue.  This is actually better than the large meetings... :-)


Pictures to follow.




post #10 of 12

A few pictures...










post #11 of 12

@Bill-P. The SR-007Mk2 was driven by a KGSSHv. (Not knowing the source), I'm curious on your thoughts what you felt was lacking?

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

@AnakChan, as I listened to the setup, I thought there was a weird lack of space. Everything was a bit too upfront. Not like I am one to say given my gears are mostly midrange-centric, and thus have very forward vocals, but I thought the SR-007Mk2 was even more forward than that, and in some cases, that caused the soundstage to collapse upon me. The immersion is still there, and some recordings were still wide and big from what I could hear, but some recordings were just too forward from the setup


Perhaps the DAC (Schiit Bifrost) wasn't the best one for the job.


@walfredo, nice photos!


And thanks for bringing the W3000ANV and the original W1000. I didn't realize there was that big a difference between the stock and my modded pair either.


Zana Deux is indeed a very nice amp. My W1000 was lacking some warmth out of it, but the space and clarity were to die for!

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