At the Nashville meet today I had the chance meet some cool fellow head-fiers and to hear cans and amps that I have never heard before. My general impressions are:
The HD800 is very clear sounding and nice to listen to, but did not wow me in the bass department.
A big surprise for me was the Grado PS1000. Jazz on this can had nice separation and clarity, without mistaking the Grado signature sound.
I didn’t keep track of all of the dac/amp combos I heard, but I came away realizing that I prefer my Dac-Wow/Pioneer SX-650 stereo receiver sound to some others I heard. I brought my Alpha Primes and Sound Magic HD200s to try out on different equipment.
The main things I wanted to hear, since I have recently placed orders for them, are the Ether and Cavalli Carbon. Listening to the Ethers through the Carbon with music played through what I believe was an Astell & Kern player, was utterly fascinating. Dan had some classical music playing through it which was obviously well-recorded, presenting a 3D sound quality.
There were 3 other amps that Dan had, a Cavalli Crimson, the schiit ragnarok and yggdrasil, and a Woo amp (I don’t remember the model number); I preferred the Woo. The Ethers are lightweight, comfortable, and it seems they will upgrade as far as your equipment will take them. The Woo/Ether combo (not sure what dac Dan was using) is hands down the best thing I have ever heard. The realism and separation blew me away. I never felt I was missing anything with the Ethers.
I even tried the Ethers with my Ifi nano and sansa clip. I was able to get loud and good sound from the Ethers, much louder than with my Primes.
Oh, and I prefer my Primes to the Audeze phones I heard.
So, in a nutshell, I feel good about my purchases of the Ether and Carbon, and look forward to receiving them in a few months. And I also feel that my present setup is able to hold its own.