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Music City Meet, Nashville 2014 -- Pictures and Impressions Thread  

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 
Well, the Music City Meet on May 10th, 2014 in Nashville is over-- but the experiences, conversations, impressions, and impact of the attendees was outstanding enought to warrant an impressions thread!!

If you have any pictures, impressions, thoughts to share, or ideas for making the next event even better-- this is the place to share them!

I do want to take a moment to thank everybody that showed up to event, and a special thank you to those who took the time and effort to box up their own personal gear and haul it to Franklin just so other people could listen to and enjoy it-- you guys are what make this community work!!! Ben, Joe, Jay, Fred, and Eric, you guys had some INCREDIBLE gear, and I know I personally got to hear a lot of stuff that I was really interested in, but had never had a chance to hear before!!

Also, a HUGE shout-out to fellow Head-Fier Zach Mehrbach of ZMF Headphones is definitely in order. In addition to being one of only a surprisingly small percentage of of companies that even took the time to respond to our repeated attemps to invite them, he was the only one who agreed to share some of his creations with us, and then went well beyond the extra mile by then DONATING one of his (excellent) ZMF V1 headphones to support the meet!! That was truly next-level awesome, and Zach fully deserves all the success he will (if his headphones are any indication) enjoy in the very near future. Again, Zach, THANK YOU!!

My apologies for being a bit late in getting this posted... I had typed up a much longer message on my other tablet, and then the website froze and took all my stuff to the watery depths of the interwebs. But hey, persistence is a virtue for a reason, I suppose!

Watch this space in the near future-- there will be some pretty awesome pictures and commentary within the next few days!!!
Edited by Theogenes - 5/11/14 at 7:54pm
post #2 of 49
Thread Starter 

Credit for the good pics go to Eric (skyline315) and my friend Josh, who is also a shutterbug. All crappy pics thus far are, in all likelihood, me shooting from a cellphone. On with the pics!



Room panorama


HiFiMan HE-6




Audio-gd Master 8, Lynx Hilo, LCD-2.1


Yours truly, taking notes while listening to Denon D7000


ZMF V1 (foreground)


Beyerdynamic shootout: 1350 on left (black), T51p on right (silver). Eric liked the 1350 better, Fred and I preferred the T51p.


Schitt Valhalla in black... gorgeous!


Fred and his (incredible) Grado GS1000


Ben and his LCD-2 with the new Fazer modifiction


Grado SR80 (I believe... Correct me, Joe!) with maple cups


Gradheiser... or Senno... PX100 drivers, and surprisingly good sound!


BJ (not a serial killer, to my knowledge) with ZMF cans.


BJ with Audez'e LCD-X, Burnley (me) with Grado GS1000


Sign on snack table


AMB M^3 amp, Fiio E9, Meier Daccord, MacBook Pro, T51p, Fiio E07k (clockwise from left)


Beyerdynamic T70, Audio Technica ESW9


Joe's Grados w/ maple cups


Josh with Grado HF2




Denon D7000


Denon D2000


Sennheiser Amperior


Audio Technica ES9W


Beyerdynamic T70




Audez'e LCD-2 (w/ new Fazer factory mod)


Natasha with Denon D7000


This isn't all the pics (and I know some of the guys have some they haven't sent over yet), but this should give you an idea of what we had rockin' in the Music City this weekend!!


Again, big kudos to Eric and Josh for bringing their cameras by and taking real pictures, so we didn't have to rely on my (nonexistent) photography skills!

post #3 of 49

Thanks again for hosting.


I came away with a few things...


1)  Really impressed with the Valhalla.  I need to do some more research, but it really melded well with my 1350s and 880s.  But, not so good with planars...?  Something to look into.


2)  I feel alright crossing the HE-6 off my wishlist now.  My wallet is glad.


3)  I enjoyed the LCD-2 more than I thought I would.  This caused me to have a bit of an existential crisis, calling into doubt everything I thought I liked about audio.  Thankfully, I can't afford them, so no meltdowns are imminent.  But, it does open me up to trying some other things I may have written off in the past.  


4)  It's been a while since I had listened to a pair of Grados.  They still rock.


5)  Yes, I preferred the 1350s to the T51ps.  I think I'm the only one.  This is not a new feeling for me :P  The bass on the 51s just felt a little boomy to my ears.  I enjoy bass being present, but I need it to be a little on the leaner/sharper side.  That aside, they're both pretty amazing little portables.  And both sounded great from the Valhalla...hmmmm...back to point #1, I suppose.  Off to do some reading!

post #4 of 49

Great pics!! Love it. Will be back to post some overall impressions....:gs1000smile:

post #5 of 49

great pics !


i too was greatly impressed by the vahalla,one of the few pieces of schiit i haven't owned, it was quite a surprise by how well it sounded with grado's , and the lcd x

i guess my biggest surprise was the d7000, i really enjoyed listening to it. deeeeeeep bass

the he-6 is a headphone i've long wanted to hear, and i got my chance , and while i think i prefer the lcd x, if i'd heard the x first, i might have gotten it !

the hf2 ? i may have to get one at some point, very cool

joe doe has got to have about the prettiest collection of grado's around, i have a pair og sr80is that i got from him a month , love it !

alpha dog vs zmf, both great, different flavors


this was my first meet as well, and i hope we can do it again real soon, and hopefully i can come earlier, and bring more gear !

theogenes did a bang up job ! nice room, great location, i had meant to offer some help with the room, but i forgot , i hope he got the zmfs


just a great, great time, can't wait to see you guys again

post #6 of 49

Just a couple quick comments.  After a little checking and serial number confirmation, I've got to inform that the new LCD 2 I received last week and we listened to Saturday are NOT with Fazor.  This pair missed Fazor production by a short time.  That said, I'm happy with their sound and am undecided whether to persue update.


Also, I would be remiss to acknowledge how impressed I was with the ZMF V1.  To say they blew my socks off is an understatement.  I had them plugged into the Valhalla more than what should have been my allotted time.  Zach is a stand-up guy for supporting the meet, but honesty the headphones are the real deal.

post #7 of 49

well guys, at the next meet, we may have a ps1000 in the house, i just scored one of the classified thread !

post #8 of 49
Originally Posted by jaywillin View Post

well guys, at the next meet, we may have a ps1000 in the house, i just scored one of the classified thread !




Seriously, guys.  What are your income sources that allow you to afford all this awesome gear?  :P

post #9 of 49
Originally Posted by skyline315 View Post




Seriously, guys.  What are your income sources that allow you to afford all this awesome gear?  :P

i sold a kidney

and i may  have some headphones for sale pretty soon !

post #10 of 49
Originally Posted by jaywillin View Post

i sold a kidney


Ahhhhh.  An avenue of income I have yet to explore.


*frantically opens webmd.com and the he-560 order page*

post #11 of 49
Thread Starter 

Lol!!! You guys crack me up ;). 


It might be a couple of days before I get my impressions together and posted... Found out I've got a phone interview for a new position on Friday, so it'll be all-hands-on mentally until then. Wish me luck!! :)

post #12 of 49
Luck !
post #13 of 49
Thread Starter 

Thanks Jay. I appreciate it, man! ;). 


A few random, generally unrelated notes: 


ZMF Headphones: Zach was kind enough to send a ZMF V1 and one other headphone to try out, and quite frankly, the V1 was one of the big winners of the entire meet for me. The isolation and comfort was very good, and the sound was very, very impressive, especially given its price point (they start at $250 and go to $400+ depending on options). I thought they sounded very clear and articulate, with just a touch of lushness to the mids that made the sound really engaging. I didn't get as much time listening to this as I would've liked (I tend to be talkative... as hard as that may be to believe. Cough.), but the few minutes I did listen to it, it was on gear I use in my primary home setup (laptop > Lynx Hilo > Audio-gd Master 8 via SE headphone output) with my music, so I got a pretty solid understanding of what to expect with them. The highs are not quite as open as the HE-6, but at a fraction of the cost, they acquit themselves quite nicely.


The first thing I go for in a system (tone and texture, particularly with guitars) were definitely above average with the V1. It didn't have the last bit of detail that the HE-6 has, but it wasn't far from it. (The V1 was created and voiced with the HE-500 in mind, so this makes sense to some degree). The bass had sufficient heft and impact without becoming overbearing-- which was one of the reasons I preferred it to Zach's other, more expensive headphone. On Fiona Apple's Hot Butter (love her), I took the following notes: "Vocals sound really good, smooth without being overly so; This is just a good, enjoyable headphone; Reverb is really clearly delineated; Articulate, well separated sound." I think that, overall, sums it up for me. If I didn't already have a set of modified T5p's coming back to me this week, I would pick one up as an excellent closed-back headphone that actually provides isolation (unlike most of the Fostex/Fostexes/Fostices and Denons, according to the reviews I've read), and I might pick one up anyway. They're that good, no joke. 


I got a chance to compare Zach's other headphones to the Alpha Dogs for a few minutes, and it's amazing just how dramatically different two headphones using the exact same driver can sound. The Alpha Dogs are neutral almost to a fault; they come across as immediately linear, and impressively detailed. The ADs are also noticeably less efficient, as they require several volume bumps to get the same volume level of the other ZMF cans. Zach's other cans have considerably more bass presence, are more sensitive (louder at a given volume level on the same gear), and have a more "fun" sound. These cans are different enough that I could see someone loving one and disliking the other, with personal preference determining which is which. Personally, between the two, I preferred the AD, as I found the fun, extra-bassy signature of the ZMF to be enjoyable, but not quite as refined. Honestly, although I didn't do direct comparisons between these two and the ZMF V1 (wish I had in retrospect), I think I might take the V1 over either of them... Although I'd have to be able to sit down and do an actual comparison to say for sure. 


Grado Love Fest: Prior to this meet, I had heard two Grado cans for less than a minute each, both at meets-- which is to say, I basically had never heard them. Since Fred (Oteil) and Joe (JoeDoe) were kind enough to bring the GS-1000, RS1, 80, Senndo Gradheiser Whatchamacallit Grados with Sennheiser PX100 drivers, and HF2 (hope I didn't miss any, please correct me if so!), this was the first time I every got to really hear the Grados, and man, what an introduction!! I know that these can be polarizing headphones, and I didn't love all of them, but overall, it's fair to say that I am definitely a Grado fan now!! (Exhibit A of my newfound Gradophilia would be the fact that I snatched up a set of Magnum v4 from the F/S this morning). And of all the models I got a chance to try out, my favorite was most definitely the GS1000. Listening to that, for the first time on Fred's setup, was one of the "wow!" moments for me at the meet. The top end is beautifully open and clear without being strident, vocals and guitars are brought physically forward in the soundstage until they're right in front of you, which is (for me at least) a wonderfully fun and pleasing effect. Based on the things I'd read and heard in the past about Grados, I would have expected the transients on rock guitars to be more caustic and aggressive, but they were actually just about perfect.  The bass was clear, tuneful, and punchy when called for-- although it was not on the same level as the orthos in regards to body, depth, or overall articulation down low. One one setup, the sound started to congeal just a bit when the music got complex; but when I tried it later from another setup, that had cleared up entirely, and everything was beautifully delineated and clear. They manage to sound incredibly spacious, even when the guitar player is locking eyes with you right in the middle of a solo, three feet away. Really, really incredible headphones. I hope that I don't see any of these come up for sale at bargain prices any time soon... My wallet just couldn't handle it, I don't think. My only reservation was more a problem on my end than with the headphones: my left ear is slightly deformed from years of wrestling (and maybe a few altercations here and there growing up), and it physically touched the left driver, which became uncomfortable pretty quickly. I'm guessing this can be resolved with different pads, but I don't know that for a certainty. I'd be willing to give it a shot for sure though ;). 


Pictures: I finally figured out why I wasn't seeing all of the pictures I knew I had from the event (it may or may not have had anything to do with user error... aaaand there goes my pride.) I'm getting the situation rectified now, and should have some more pictures posted within the next few days (including those of Joe with his new ZMF V1 he won in the raffle... Lucky $%^&. :P). 


Atmosphere: In retrospect, it seems kind of odd that everyone just hit it off as well as we did, and that conversations just clicked naturally into place and ran throughout the event. There were a number of times when I was listening intently to a setup, taking notes on my phone, and paused to turn around and try to figure out what all the excitement and laughter was about-- but each time, it was just a result of the conversations people were having. And unlike the other two meets I've attended, I don't think I felt rushed a single time throughout the meet; everyone was just as relaxed and engaged in soaking up the experience as I was. I think if I'd wanted to sit down and listen to Fred's wonderful GS1000s for an hour straight on Ben's Valhalla, I could have done so without anyone batting an eye. There were a number of times throughout the day when people would break off into little pairings or subgroups, discussing something excitedly and switching back and forth between various headphones, amps, etc and talking through the results. Later in the day, Ben and Jay got into a deep examination of the new LCD-2 versus the LCD-X, and the couple of times I sidled up to join them, the conversation was as intense as it was deeply fun. I also had some non-Head-Fier friends and family that came by, and everyone was so immediately warm and personable that they felt completely at home and, somewhat surprisingly, never seemed overwhelmed or out of place in the midst of all our headphone craziness. That's a definite testament to the caliber of people that we had there, IMO. You always get some good people at meets, and you (I thought) always get some people you get along with less-than-ideally; but this time, I genuinely think everybody really enjoyed everybody else's company and opinions, and because there weren't 200 people crawling all over the place, you didn't miss out on actually getting to talk with some of the awesome personalities that showed up. It was kind of a perfect storm, for me anyway ;). 


One last moment I loved: while we were all in the middle of discussing something enthusiastically, a guy walks in the door with a box, a tie-dye shirt, and a huge grin... and without missing a beat, I knew who it was. "You must be Jay!" The grin got even wider, he shook everybody's hand, and jumped right into the group. Totally awesome moment. 


My Blue Ribbon Awards: Everybody had a few things they particularly loved or was pleasantly surprised by, and I thought I'd share mine. I've already mentioned the stellar GS1000 and ZMF V1, and I would add the Schiit Valhalla, Beyerdynamic T51p (love that headphone!!!), and Ben's new LCD-2 (with the Fazer mod or without). Honorable mention goes to Joe's frankencan Grado/Sennheiser dealio, which sounded quite flabbergastingly good, and might have been the best looking headphone at the whole darn meet. There was a TON of great gear there, but these were the ones that I kept coming back to in my mind afterwards. Awesome stuff!


There's a ton of other stuff I hope to get a chance to put up, but I've got to pack it off to bed so I can travel for work again tomorrow. Love everything you guys have posted so far, can't wait to see what other thoughts y'all had!!


And, in all seriousness.... We should probably start thinking about when would be a good time for the next meet :beerchug: 

Edited by Theogenes - 5/13/14 at 8:30pm
post #14 of 49

Guess I should have tried the ZMFs on a different amp.


I tried them on the Asgard, and they were fine.  Nothing offensive, but also nothing that really grabbed me.  I wonder if a different amp might have given them some more life.


The Asgard drove the HE-500s fairly well, so I assumed it'd be alright with the ZMFs.  And maybe it was...it's possible the headphones just don't do it for me.


Maybe Joe will bring them back to the next meet so I can have another round with them.  :gs1000smile:

post #15 of 49
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by skyline315 View Post

Guess I should have tried the ZMFs on a different amp.


I tried them on the Asgard, and they were fine.  Nothing offensive, but also nothing that really grabbed me.  I wonder if a different amp might have given them some more life.


The Asgard drove the HE-500s fairly well, so I assumed it'd be alright with the ZMFs.  And maybe it was...it's possible the headphones just don't do it for me.


Maybe Joe will bring them back to the next meet so I can have another round with them.  :gs1000smile:


Hey, diff'rent strokes and all that. No worries! I think I'm one of the few guys around who really dislikes the HD650s these days, so not everybody can love everything, I 'spose ;). 


Also, I sent a couple of questions to Zach about the version of V1s he sent us, and this is what he said (I don't think he'd mind me quoting here): "The V1 there was the full Master Model with Auric OCC Copper rewire." One other note of interest, regarding the bass ports on the other ZMF headphones: "Weirdly enough having all three plugs in really kills the bass slam down, I would say each plug is about +1 db but the last on that fully closes the enclosure is like -2 to -3 db." As I recall (feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken here), two of three ports were plugged when we listened to them. This means that I should have probably tried it with all three ports closed, as I enjoyed the sound, but found it a touch more "fun" and bassy than I typically go for. But hey, gives us something to shoot for next time, right? 


Random note: I think it's kinda awesome that I can love my HE-6 as much as I do, and have that be something of an end point for me-- and yet have other people who gravitate towards something completely different. It means there will continue to be a lot of diversity in the marketplace, which is something I'm definitely in favor of. Although I'm gonna keep working on these @#$% earpads... It figures the ones I like the best SQ-wise are also the least comfortable. Sigh. 


Okay, and now for the real treat: the other pictures!! (If there are duplicates, forgive me-- I've tried to weed 'em out, but I'll take another pass later if necessary. Also, I'm too tired to caption these ATM, so you can just let your imaginations run wild until I get some more sleep :P ).


This is just the stuff I brought... Nah, it's not an addiction. At ALL.


Who else? Jay!


My buddy Josh with the V1, which he really wanted to win. But didn't. *shakes fists at sky*


The epitome of sexiness in a headphone amp, the black Schiit Valhalla.


The Grado/Sennheiser PX100 frankenphones. Gorgeous.


Mr. Blurrycam makes a cameo...


ZMF headphone


Grado GS1000


GS1K again. Drool...


One of the several gear-strewn tables...


Audio-Technica ESW9A


Beyerdynamic T90 (I believe) and AT ESW9A


JoeDoe's setup. KICAS amp, Grados everywhere!


Maple Grados


Another JoeDoe table shot


Oteil wins the "best travelling headphone protection" award in a landslide


Oteil's Grados and Denons, out of their cases


Photo from Department of Redundancy Department Photo


Denon D7000. Basshead's dream!


Mr. Blurrycam strikes again!


I once had a thing for crazy cable colors from Blue Jeans. Don't judge me.


Cable management provided by Floor 


Grados and Hifimans, bein' neighborly


Hifiman HE-6. My (incredibly biased) favorite of the show.


Lynx Hilo


Grado HF2


GS1K again. Want.


ZMF headphones


ZMF headphones


ZMF'ers. (Ha!)


GS1K. Closer to real-life look to the wood-- it was a bit darker than some of the pics.


Enablers of Headphone Acquisition Syndrome, GS1K.


More, uh, GS1K.


HiFiMan HE-6, padded head band, Norne Audio SMC-to-mini-XLR adapters


Q-Audio cable


HE-6 w/ Q-Audio cable


Denon D7000. She's a beaut, Clark!


Denon D2000. Due to personal failures, didn't get to listen to this one... 


Grado RS1


Denon D7k in its bourgosie-box. :P


KICAS and RS1 (I think)


Auvio headband on maple Grados


Maple Grados again. Canada on the outside, America on the inside. Dunno what that means or symbolizes, but hey...


Another shot of everyone's favorite mutant, the Gradheisers


Fostext T10


LCD-2 (current revision sans Fazer, it seems)


More LCD-2 goodness


Still more LCD-2 yummies


Josh simultaneously enjoying the D7000 and hating me.


The official picker of the V1 winners, Miss Nea!!


Nea picking Joe for the V1 instead of me, in spite my attempts to use SpongeBob and ice cream to bribe her... Darn incorruptable youths these days.


Joe Vanna-White-ing his newly-acquired V1s for us.


Joe, upon the suggestion that he should give up the V1s to someone else. An idea poorly received, it should be noted. 


Joe, managing to look both cool and visionary, whilst modeling the V1.


Top shot of the Schiit Valhalla. Don't care what Jason & Co. need to do, they need to make more amps in this color scheme. Period. 


Vahalla. Note the red boards inside, visible through the grill around the tubes. Hotness of many kinds!


Valhalla font shot. LCD-2 new version in background.


Glow DAC 1.3, Valhalla, LCD 2.newer-than-mine


Another Grub DAC / Valhalla / LCD-2.new shot




Classy shot of the Valhalla and Audez'es. 




Hope y'all enjoy these as much as I did ;). Again, big props to Eric and Josh for their time, effort, talent and discipline in getting these photos taken!!

Edited by Theogenes - 5/18/14 at 12:18am
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