Here are my impressions in very short and concise form:
One of my main reasons for coming to CanJam was to listen to both the Dragon Inspire amp and the DNA Stratus, determine whether the DNA's price was justified against what the Dragon could do for a reduced price, and then pick one. Well the DNA was nowhere to be found, and the Dragon Inspire seemed to have some hiccups when I demo'd it at the Moon Audio booth. Some songs displayed some distortion, and there were some gain issues where the volume, maxed out, wasn't loud enough with my LCD-3. Disappointing, but I feel it deserves a second chance because one song - in the absence of distortion or volume reticence - drew me in emotionally.
I listened to the Yggdrasil at 3 different stations with differing impressions. On Saturday, all were underwhelming - being a Gungnir owner, I put that down to a lack of warmup. Honestly, I didn't expect to hear much improvement the next day since a less than 4 day warmup has never done enough for my Gungnir - and I was right. I was able to uncover positive attributes nonetheless. Great detail, spaciousness, and solid bass impact. However, there was a degree of harshness that varied over all three Yggys that I experienced. This one also deserves revisiting.
One revelation for me was the SR-009. I heard it at 3 different stations - Nerdling's Aristaeus, Frank Cooter's 845, and Headamp's BHSE. Hearing it on the Aristaeus really had me second-guessing my established tastes and what I look for in audio. I lean towards a full-bodied, mid-centric, bass-laden sound with great tone and micro-dynamics thrown in. However, I was loving the ethereal, floating, speedy, articulate sound of this headphone. The clarity was ridiculous. Frank's amp threw me a curved ball as well because it took all these things and added heft and bass to the equation; making this a combination I could live with for all genres. The BHSE had a similar sound to the Aristaeus but wasn't as moving to me. Frank's amp was definitely the best paired with the SR-009s. I defeated the urge to ask him what the price was. Smart me.
My best of show was the Abyss on the Wells Audio Enigma. It could have been the fact that I have been coveting Lampizators for a while now, and it was refreshing to see a vendor pair their wares with a DAC that is off the typical Head-Fi beaten path. All the same, I am always quick to dismiss solid state amps, but there I was very impressed by the great sound coming out of the Enigma setup. Tactile bass, great soundstage, microdynamics, holographic images with life-like body and tone. Keep in mind that I haven't even gotten to the Headtrip, their 7k flagship which I listened to for all of 3 minutes because it wasn't hooked up to a CD-player, and I had brought over a reference CD of my own. Do I wish I had listened to the Headtrip much longer? Maybe, but I would never dream of purchasing it at 7k. The Enigma, on the other hand, is within financial reach. It has definitely caused me to seriously be open to a tubed DAC + Solid State amp combo.
Purrin's EC 2A3 + Theta DAC/Theta transport combo was up there with Frank's and Nerdling's systems. There was details galore, and a level of punch impact that was second to none at the show. All this without any sign of glare or etch. I tried his setup on Sunday with the Yggy, but it seemed to be undercooked and not ready for primetime due to a lack of warmup (even though I heard it had been kept on overnight for that reason). All in all, the Theta DAC spoke volumes about the evolution of DACs in the industry, and about how much unnecessary stupidity we the consumer have had to endure with flawed chips and designs over the years. I reserve my take on the Yggy for now.
Newly released headphone rankings by Enjoyment and Value:
Atomic Floyd's IEMS (bassy)
Noble K10 Universal
I'll put up pics and share the link here in due time.