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ChiUniFi 8 meet impressions and pictures thread - Page 2  

post #16 of 59
From the first set of pics, looks like Paul from ps audio was there? I had read he liked the lcds, is he getting into headphones or was demonstrating the direct stream?

Would love to read more impressions!
post #17 of 59
Originally Posted by kayandjohn View Post

Folks, this was my first meet, and I had a Great Time!  Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I apologize for my unexpected early disappearance (more importantly, for my stuff's unexpected early disappearance).  At lunch time I got a message that stomach flu had just struck at home, with all its cataclysmic associations, and I HAD to get back, so I packed my stuff in my tiny red FIAT Abarth, turned tail, and retraced the 4 hour drive I had started at 5:00 this same morning!  All is OK at home now.

I did manage to (loosely) recreate my "can collection" that I had set up for practice at home and posted a picture of... here it is at ChiUniFi...

A very apt metaphor of this experience for me was found out in the parking lot, where a beautiful black Italian sports car reposed in stately grace, owned by someone who at least doubled my knowledge about headphone audio in 5 min of discussion.   So I HAD to position my own (red) Italian sports car next to it, emphasizing the contrast between beginner (me) and Master (him)!

I went with several goals in mind...

1) Hear the Sennheiser HD 800, properly amplified and with source to highlight its capability... done!  I really did hear a clear distinction of of "you-are-there" presence never heard on any other headphone.  It was already on my shopping list, but I wanted to hear if there was a clear difference with even the best of my own headphones (HiFiMAN HE-500).  There was.

2)  Hear the Audeze LCD-3, again in best conditions... done!  I can now understand the analogy that the Sennheiser is "clinical" -- it is EXACTLY as if you were there... no "signature," no extra bass... all clean glass and mirrored metal to hear.  And the LCD-3 has a personality, a warmth!  It is the example of why people do not build furniture of glass and metal, but of wood and colors.  Absolutely beautiful to hear.

3)  Experience the Sony HPA-2 headphone DAC and amplifier... one of the few that actually captures the digital signal from the iPod/iPhone rather than relying on it being converted in the Lightening connector with a DAC and then obtained.   Clear improvement in soundstage and presence!  It goes on the shopping list too.

4)  Hear the Shure SE846 that was scheduled to be there.  As I LOVE my Shure SE 535 IEMs, but find them a bit light in the bass, and with SomeGuyDude's recent review suggesting that the Shure SE846 did not simply increase the bass like turning up the knob on an equalizer, but actually made it as though each bass instrument was playing louder....  Not Done.  I did not find the Shure SE846 there.  Guess I'll (eventually) buy sight-unseen (sound-unheard?)

5)  Meet Claritas... done!  We had great exchanges comparing our headphones, which were of the same family but not identical.

6)  Meet ThePianoMan... not done.  Had a number of great conversations on head-fi.org with him.  Casualty of my abrupt departure.

7)  Meet jude.... DONE!  What a wonderful host and leader we have in him... most knowledgeable and free with advice and great to just talk with.

8)  Talk with and learn from Ray Samuels, and from jude and him about how he began the crafting of the Emmeline headphone amp (not a goal in advance but an opportunity not to be lost);

9)  Sell my AHA (Automated Headphone Auditioner, the black-haired mannequin at the right of my setup mimicking my avatar on the left).  Not done, but almost!  Its first enthusiast was so excited that she wanted to buy 4 of them, one for each family member, but I only had the one... she wanted all or nothing and I could not give all! mad.gif

10)  Give folks a chance to sample all the way from consumer headphones (Beats, Yamaha) through really-good headphones (HiFiMAN HE-500, Grado PS500).  Done!!  The variety of IEMs (ranging from the Shure SE 535 through Fidelio L2s and T-PEOS H-200s and beyond) didn't get much play, though.

I think I did a fair job of concentrating on my goals rather than trying to sample everything there.  I did suddenly become aware of the Chord Hugo and want to learn more about it, and I was happy to see the novel idea embodied in the decibull IEMs.

Of course, talking to the folks was great!  As a newcomer not knowing persons by face, and having put together the lists cross-referencing people and equipment they posted that they planned to bring, I had many conversations with myself of the following nature: 

(of course, that was the Engineer in me.  A real person would have just walked up, offering his hand, saying, "Hi!  I'm John of kayandjohn!" and have gotten a response that included the other's name!)

All  in all, a wonderful first meet.  Thanks, all, for making it so!

Cool pics bro (now I know U John tho your avatar did make me think you were Kay lol smily_headphones1.gif) glad your can collection went down well with other hi-fiers - was anyone shocked at how good your various beats actually sound compared to what's written?

Sorry to hear of your early depart but sounds like you had a blast anyway smily_headphones1.gif
Edited by cb3723 - 6/22/14 at 1:11am
post #18 of 59
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by arnaud View Post

From the first set of pics, looks like Paul from ps audio was there? I had read he liked the lcds, is he getting into headphones or was demonstrating the direct stream?

Would love to read more impressions!

Yes, Paul was there, and was very fun to talk to. It was his DAC that he was demonstrating, it was connected to an RSA A-10 driving Stax biggrin.gif I thought it sounded terrific, given the usual caveats about show conditions, unfamiliar systems, etc., but nonetheless the sound from that system was as good as I heard yesterday.
Edited by Skylab - 6/22/14 at 6:21am
post #19 of 59
Originally Posted by cb3723 View Post

Cool pics bro (now I know U John tho your avatar did make me think you were Kay lol smily_headphones1.gif) glad your can collection went down well with other hi-fiers - was anyone shocked at how good your various beats actually sound compared to what's written?

Sorry to hear of your early depart but sounds like you had a blast anyway smily_headphones1.gif

Though I didn't hear anyone commenting on comparisons (and I was wandering to other folks' stuff much of the time), I did see much use of the Beats, in particular the Beats Studio, headphones.


The lady in the avatar was until very recently the gate-keeper of the headphones section of the gradolabs.com website.  You would click "headphones" on the dropdown menu and she would appear, so enraptured by listening with my PS500 headphones, that she would completely ignore your arrival.  However, now that Grado has redone their site to accommodate their updated "e" line (i.e., "PS500e," SR325e," she no longer appears. I loved its intensity of involvement with the music and the black-and-white setting (as well as wonderful display of my wonderful Grado PS500s).

post #20 of 59

Great fun!  Glad to have met those of you who I got to meet, hope to meet more of you next time....   Jude-- much props for ultimately facilitating all of this.  skylab- thanks for lunch.....


I'll be back.......   

post #21 of 59
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by fzman View Post

Great fun!  Glad to have met those of you who I got to meet, hope to meet more of you next time....   Jude-- much props for ultimately facilitating all of this.  skylab- thanks for lunch.....

I'll be back.......   

Mark, always a pleasure, my friend.
post #22 of 59
Some quick impressions and comparisons, I'll do a more in-depth write up later.

Here's a link also to my impression of the HE-400i, which was my favorite can of the show:


I'll also preface this by saying that I am a musician first and foremost (classical, jazz and popular singing, piano, French horn, trumpet, guitar, etc.) and i actively study music at college. I will also say that's was a loudspeaker enthusiast before a headphone enthusiast. Headphones are somewhat new, but I've been hearing good loudspeakers since I was young (my dad's got some very nice Vandersteens)

Anyways, on to the show! Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures, but others have posted plenty. In no particular order:

kayandjohn had a rather striking display that you may have seen. I didn't try anything off it as it was a but intimidating, but it was certainly a talking piece!

I've met Zach of ZMF before so I walked over and chatted quite a bit with him. He's a cool guy, a fellow musician, and makes some very special headphones. His Vibros aren't exactly neutral but man are they musical. He had just gotten an old Marantz receiver from the 70's - it was huge, silver jet-set paneled, with knobs and needles to satisfy an air traffic controller. With the Vibros plugged in there was something about the sound, not a thickness, or richness, etc. but a real sweetness to it that made it one of the most enjoyable listens at the show. It was just so fun and engaging. He had to unplug it because of some channel cutting issues unfortunately, but still a great listen!
The Ray Samuels raptor with the ZMF and the Audio-gd with the same sounded phenomenal as well. The saber DAC on the RS seemed to make the cans speak more clearly and Rays traditional dark sound gave it a dark character. Audio-gd was opposite. More rounded attacks, but clearer character to the sound. I liked both, but maybe preferred the Ray Samuels for being a little less expensive and sounding just as good. The Audio-gd would work with more cans though, so it'd be my choice if I had multiple or brighter cans.

Speaking of Ray Samuels, he had his Dark Star there with some nice older meridian CD players, and LCD-3, Sennheisers HD800, HE-6 plugged into it. Lovely sound. I know a few people felt it had a hard time competing with Cavalli, Woo, and HeadAmp's best products, but i think it still sounded phenomenal. It certainly had that dark Ray Samuels flavor - build quality on the amp was also incredible. That Dark Star was gorgeous. I really enjoyed the HD800 on it, seemed to suit the lighter nature of the Sennheiser, and really made it a quick, liquid sound without being too thick or slow. Very precise. HE-6 was good too, though if had a particular tonality to it that I could see people loving or hating. I really liked it, but the HE6 seemed unable to push it beyond a certain point in terms of ounch and dynamics. I know Fang has said that the HE-6 pushes the driver to the limits, so maybe it's that. Still a top of the line headphone and I really couldn't find much I didn't like about it.

Back in the corner was the golden cow of the meet so-to-speak. The RS thunderbolt and STAX-009 holed up to the PSaudio streamer. WOW! The system had a signature, but it wasn't one your ears wanted to pick apart. The whole setup was so integrated, it made one just want to sit and relax and listen. That's the mark of a great system if there ever was one. Ultimately though, while very enjoyable and cool, it wasn't something I gave much thought to. For the price of just the amp and headphones I could build a pretty killer speaker system, and for the price of the PSaudio DAC I could get a phenomenal universal disk player and a whole bunch of CDs that would surpass the listening pleasure I got from that setup. The ultimate in conventional headphone listening? Maybe. Ultimate in music listening? Not for me at least. Still a beautiful system.

Speaking of conventional listening, the Smyth realized was another product I spent a good deal of time exploring. A very cool product. There were very particular spots where the image seemed to pop out more at me, and a few spots where it was less convincing but I was more aware of the headphones on my head. Cool system, though I don't think it's something is every really buy even if I had the opportunity.

The Sennheisers HD800's used on the Smyth and in several other Setups were some of my favorite cans at the meet. Some Sibilancewith the wrong amp, but light, airy, yet dynamic and fast with the right amps. Even poorly amped I was impressed with it. The price is a tad high, and I think there are less picky values, but I certainly don't think the hd800 is overpriced. One of my favorite cans!

A quick run through of some other cans:
TH900 Fostex: really out of your head sound, great soundstage that projects in front of you. Mids were way too recesses. Great tonality. I'd only use it for instrumental music. Too expensive for those Mids.

Alpha Dog. Imaging was good, but overall a little boring compared to other offerings (for me at least) they sound very similar to my Grados, which I'm trying to move away from. Good cans, kinda zingy up top though, but I preferred the ZMF to either the fostex or the Alpha dog (and the Vibros are going for $540 ish now)

I spent some time at the Ultimate Ears ears Table as well, trying out their different customs. Having done some shows with bad monitors, I can say is be happy doing a show or mixing with their IEMs! Not the last word in dynamics, but they were neutral and lively. If never spend that much on IEMs for pleasure listening though.

The HiFiMan RE-400 though is something I will be picking up without a doubt however. As you've probably realized by now, I'm kind of a Cheapo audiophile, and that value proposition is too good to pass up! I would just as soon do a show with the RE-400 as with the Ultimate ears. I wouldn't be as fast to master with them though. I've been looking for some less expensive IEMs for on the go, so I can work on a desktop setup, and I think these are it for me! Love the neutral tonality.

HiFiMan was a real winner for me, and I kept coming back to their table. The amps they had were rather underpowered for the 560 and 400i (why do manufactures make underpowered amps for their cans?) but I heard the 560 of one of the Audio-gds and what a beautiful headphone! I would use it to master in a heartbeat. For listening it had a drier sound than the 400i, but still great. The 400i though was my favorite can of the show. Incredible value, incredible sound! I'm selling my Grados and getting the 400i when it comes out (and a little Schiit stack when it comes out) you can read more of what I had to say on the 400i on the thread link I posted, so I won't bury you with details.

The oppo table seemed to really be hopping. I gave the PM-2 a listen. It had a lovely tonality even though the highs rolled off like an avalanche. The PM-1 didn't impress me as much, though build quality was nice.

I had brought all my own CD's to listen too, but was pleasantly surprised to find most of the attendees and sellers had a plethora of Chesky records binaural albums to go through. "Great, binaural, duh" you're thinking. Let me explain: there is a musician named Jamie Haddad who plays extensively on the Chesky Records binaural albums, especially the percussion album and some of the jazz and world music stuff. He happens to be a teacher at the school I go to, and I've studied with him and been in some of his ensembles. It's always really cool to be able to hear a piece played live, learn to play it, work with the artist who wrote it and then hear it on many really stellar systems. If headphone or speaker can make me just want to listen to the music instead of picking apart a piece like that, that's the ultimate test of great audio technology in my mind. The HiFiMan's, ZMF, and STAX systems all did that.

I've got some pretty extensive listening notes etc. on all the stuff I listened to, just ask if you'd like me to post it, or PM me if you'd like it. Sorry this ended up being so long - was a great meet (my first) and I had a wonderful time. There's some great stuff and great people out there, thanks everyone!
post #23 of 59

My only regret was not giving the LCD-Xs a go on my Vali. Oh, and I forgot to give kayandjohn's PS500s a listen -- I'll probably end up buying them anyway. Sorry I didn't get the 3D Grado cups in time, guys.

post #24 of 59

Sorry I couldn't go. Looks like the best meet yet. So jelly I couldn't hear that Master 8.

post #25 of 59

Thanks to everyone who made this meet possible. It was the largest one I've attended and it had the widest range of gear to demo.


I finally got a chance to sit down and demo Zach's ZMF headphones and I was pleasantly surprised with what I heard. I think he's doing some impressive modifications given their various price points. However, I have an opposing opinion to ThePianoMan's above. I preferred the more neutral representation of my Alpha Dogs to the Vibro but I can certainly appreciate with the Vibro sound brings to the table. And those cups, oh man those cups. So pretty.


The HiFiMan table was one of the places I made sure to visit early on in the day. The HE-400i is a tad more bass prominent than I was expecting and on certain tracks the treble was a tad hotter than I would have liked, but overall it was a nice sounding headphone. Then I made the mistake of trying on the HE-560. It was a mistake because now I want one. I was indifferent before hearing them but they are voiced in such a way that it resolved every possible nit-picking complaint I have about the HE-400i. Nice bass with good extension, slightly warm and wonderfully engaging mids and the highs were tamed so that cymbal crashes didn't make me want to turn down the volume. I was told that the pads are being tweaked to allow a bit more space inside so that most people won't experience rubbing on their ears while wearing either headphone. Before this meet I wanted the HE-400i and I wasn't considering the HE-560, but it seems that now the 560 is my personal winner of the two.


Oppo's PM-2 was another headphone I made sure to check out since they had it on hand. I was told that the final version still has a little development to go before they have it voiced the way they want but that what I heard should be pretty close to the final sound. They're gorgeous headphones, absolutely wonderful design, but they're currently lacking some of the energy and engagement that I was hoping to hear. They're also comfortable when using the leather pads and incredibly comfortable with the velour pads. If the final version has more extension in the treble then I'd definitely consider picking up a pair. I didn't audition the PM-1.


It was a real pleasure getting to finally meet several people in person and listen to various other pieces of gear around the meet like the AK100, LCD-3 and more. A special thanks to Sean for putting me up for an evening, making the trip much more enjoyable than doing the drive to and from Cinci in the same day. And now I should probably get back to actually working.

post #26 of 59
That 560 was truly stellar. Did you get to hear it out of something other than the underpowered amps HiFiMan had at their table? On one of the big Audio-gds it was tremendous. Even better than the LCD-3, and on par with the He-6 IMO.
post #27 of 59

My heartiest thanks to Audio Addict for all his hard work, and to the vendors for their enthusiastic participation.


Special thank yous to Brian Walsh for bringing an old Grado for me to try, Ishcabible for his K271, and ogodei for his Alpha Dog. I particularly appreciated Skylab's advice and encouragement about my Darkvoice amp.


It was a pleasure to see friends and acquaintances including zach915m, FraGGler, ScuderiaHeadFi, Keithpgdrb, and ogodei. I'm very glad I finally got to meet kayandjohn, our comically-gifted Statisticus Supremus, and Headfonics' reviewer Ishcabible.


The sonic highlight for me was the Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors, which I bought on the spot.


ZMF Vibro remains my favorite closed back. Its superior imaging often imparts an arresting three-dimensionality to particular instruments—notably strings but also vocals. I couldn't hear ogodei's Alpha Dog well enough to form an opinion (maybe at 8.5 . . .).


PM1 isn't neutral: the treble is shoved down, which also makes the bass sound a little boosted. But it has a natural sound, though that can sometimes become boring. Both Hifimans, in contrast, have real drive. HE560 has some of that wow I experience with the best flagships, but I suspect it could become fatiguing. If you still weren't sure which to buy, haven't I made it easy? :D


It was interesting to compare kayandjohn's K712 with memories of my K702. K712 obviously has more bass, but retains K702's clarity, resolution, and crisp treble. I think more listeners will prefer K712, but it's a matter of personal preference.


How I missed Kojaku's LCD3 set up I can only attribute to a wealth of social opportunities that come only once (or twice) a year. I hope to see you all soon and in good health.

post #28 of 59
They need one of these in Portland
post #29 of 59
Was it just a one day meet?? Is that how long meets usually are?
post #30 of 59
Originally Posted by grizzlybeast View Post

Was it just a one day meet?? Is that how long meets usually are?


Most meets are one day only. If it's a trade show or festival you could see it lasting longer. Portland does have meets of their own.




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