New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

NYC meet at Sony Qualia store

post #1 of 77
Thread Starter 
I'm pretty beat and hungry so I need to recharge my batteries before I write any long impressions.

I'd like to thank Sony for letting us have a meet at their place and Josh who was their representative helping us out. I have already been there and heard the Qualia 010 headphones out of the 9000ES player's jack and thought it had potential so I had to go back and this time with some head-fiers.

I was happy to meet my old buddies bozebuttons and jpelg again and make some new ones, Jahn and Romanee. This was a perfect number of people with a minimal amount of gear.

Sources:
- stock Philips SACD1000
- modded Toshiba 3960. Jahn can say more what mods are in this.
- stock Sony 9000ES. This was their player.

Amps:
- modded Krell KSA-5
- Ray Samuels Stealth II, RCA 12AU7, Electroharmonix 6SN7. I don't use 1/4" headphones with this amp so I had no other 6SN7s.
- Ray Samuels SR71
- Xin SuperDual
- Boostaro

Headphones:
- Sony R10
- Sony 010 (the Qualia one)
- AKG K1000
- AKG 271 (~60 hours burnin)
- Etymotics ER6i (~12 hours burnin)
- Etymotics ER4P
- Koss SportaPro

I'll leave it at this for now. Jahn's pics are here, http://photobucket.com/albums/v449/jahn0603/
post #2 of 77
I've got a huuuge hangover headache so I'll just post a bit for now -

Sony R10s are the Lord of All Cans, as far as I'm concerned.

The Qualia can reminds me of the k501, with the good and bad magnified.

The Toshiba 3960 sounded the bees knees with The Stealth and the R10s. No joke. Check here for the mods done on it (plus a ceramic fuse was put in - but the stock powercord is still on it) http://www5.head-fi.org/forums/showt...ht=3960+voodoo Oh and imho the Qualia sounded best with this rig- it actually showed its superior detail over the R10 when playing the souless bass of the Pet Shop Boys.

The Superdual held up very well against the SR71, especially with the bass boost on - not as detailed but a fun amp nevertheless.

The Rat Shack Boostaroo actually sounded decent with the KSC-35s and my Ipod, no joke. And you can't beat the 3 output jacks.

MS-2 got no love with the K1000, the R10 and the Qualia present. But its bass kicked the Qualia's butt, as would all grados. But the R10 had great bass too with the right system (the right system is NOT the SR71 and the 9000ES SACD player - way too bright.)

Edit- oh yeah, you fellow headfiers are a cool bunch of people, I'm looking forward to seeing you all again at the Fall Meet!
post #3 of 77
Thanks to lan for setting up Our little mini meet at the Sony Style store.
What a class act the NYC sony style store is.A big thanks to Josh Kim our sales rep who was intrigued with our gear as much as we where with theirs(future HeadFier in the making).Josh gave us an open invitation to do this again,I also spoke to him about attending the next NY meet and supplying us with some Quaila gear,Josh was very receptive to this and even suggested about seeing if he could get one of the Sony engineers to attend as well.How cool would that be to get Sony involved with Head Fi.
It was great meeting Jahn & Romanee as well as old friends Jpelg & lan.
I got to the store First before 11:00 am, The qualia room was downstairs ,I met up with the other members outside to bring the gear in, we set up in no time .
The Qualia room had glass doors encloseing us from the rest of the display areas.So we had our own private HeadFi area.
In the room was 3 Qualia headphones on stands all with differant headband sizes S,M,L . 2 had red pads one had the blue pads. The M headband seemed to be the headband of choice,except for Jpelg who felt the S was a better fit for him. The L headband was way to big for any of us. I prefered the Red pads over the Blue ones.
The Sony XA9000es as well as the Qualia camera and midi disc setup was also in the room.
The 010s are very light ,comfortable ,hightech looking phones almost fragile looking.
I asked about the warranty ,they have a 5 year warranty ,if repair is needed they will arrange for pickup and if it will take long for repair supply a loaner.
lan posted the gear which we had brought the Krell Ksa-5 amp.
We spent more the 2 1/2 hours listening to gear in that room.
My impressions are in the limited time we had with the phones and should be taken with that in mind.I asked about a home trail but no go,I would have to buy them.
The R10s & 010s are differant animals ,their presentations are differant
the R10s are the more intimate headphone, I feel the R10s vocals and instruments have a more rounded sound things seemed to be more fleshed out,an example would be how Tubes give more body then SS.
The 010s are a top tier headphone no doubt, first thing you notice about them is how open the sound is(similar to the AKG1000s) detail level is better then the R10s.Separation of instruments and vocals is on the level of the omegaIIs if not better ,This headphone lets you see warts and all.
Bass is well defined ,but lacks the weight of the R10s(Yes the R10s do have Bass with the right equipment) piano strikes seem to have better tonality on the R10s. The 010s may be one of the most neutral headphones around, with a wide open soundstage with great seperation & detail.
But the R10s suck you into the Music better IMO, you forget you are listening to gear.
I like the 010s alot and will own them at some point,this is definately a referance headphone and personal preferances will decide if you like these or the R10 presentation. I love the R10s and also thinks the 010s are world class. Unfortunately for my wallet.
For those of you who heard the 010s out of the headphone jack of the xa9000es at the qualia store it basically was underwhelming compared to the amps we had at the meet.
I think the 010s would mate well will my Cary300sei giving it a little more body in vocals & instruments,make it a little more rounded.
Carefull system matching will be needed to bring out the best the 010s can give,because how clean sounding they are.
We also got a demonstration of the QUAILA projector with the blue ray disc,We saw a clip from Spiderman 2.All I can say this was stunning,you couldn't ask for a better picture,the best I have seen.
post #4 of 77
Way to go, guys! Thanks for arranging this mini meet and sharing with the rest of us.

Nice impressions, Tom. What you've said about the 010's having a wide open soundstage, great instrument seperation, being very neutral, etc seems to be in agreement with Nik's description of the 010's sounding a bit "dry" relative to the Omega II's "wetness". It also makes sense that the 010's would reveal all of the good and bad on recordings, and thus would benefit from proper system matching (i.e., a little warmth ala tubes). Do you agree with Nik that the 010's have more of an "electrostat" sound than other dynamic headphones? How do you think they would compare to the HE90?
post #5 of 77
Excellent impressions! I'm still feeling lousy so in the name of laziness I'll tack on some more impressions by leeching...
Quote:
Originally Posted by bozebuttons
Thanks to lan for setting up Our little mini meet at the Sony Style store.

*Same here, lan is a class act - although I never met him, the Ety6is gave him away

What a class act the NYC sony style store is.A big thanks to Josh Kim our sales rep who was intrigued with our gear as much as we where with theirs(future HeadFier in the making).Josh gave us an open invitation to do this again,I also spoke to him about attending the next NY meet and supplying us with some Quaila gear,Josh was very receptive to this and even suggested about seeing if he could get one of the Sony engineers to attend as well.How cool would that be to get Sony involved with Head Fi.

*Yep Josh was very enthusiastic - of course, very knowledgable of the Qualia line (especially the projector) but his enthusiasm extended to everything we brought, so I agree - a fellow head-fier in the making!

It was great meeting Jahn & Romanee as well as old friends Jpelg & lan.
I got to the store First before 11:00 am, The qualia room was downstairs ,I met up with the other members outside to bring the gear in, we set up in no time .
The Qualia room had glass doors encloseing us from the rest of the display areas.So we had our own private HeadFi area.

*Everyone who came were pleasant and very cool and patient with this newbie, and Bozebuttons had a primo parking space right in front of the Sony Style store - setting up was smooth and I couldn't have asked for a better listening environment than the Qualia room for my first mini-meet!

In the room was 3 Qualia headphones on stands all with differant headband sizes S,M,L . 2 had red pads one had the blue pads. The M headband seemed to be the headband of choice,except for Jpelg who felt the S was a better fit for him. The L headband was way to big for any of us. I prefered the Red pads over the Blue ones.

*Same here, none of these are adjustable, so make sure you get the ones that fit! Microadjusting them didn't seem necessary tho, since the Mediums fit perfect.

The Sony XA9000es as well as the Qualia camera and midi disc setup was also in the room.

*That camera was the size of my thumb. No joke, coolest camera ever. The Minidisc sounded really great, nice bass, powered those qualia buds just fine - but the buds dont have as much isolation as ER4ps.

The 010s are very light ,comfortable ,hightech looking phones almost fragile looking.

*and cool modern looking too.

I asked about the warranty ,they have a 5 year warranty ,if repair is needed they will arrange for pickup and if it will take long for repair supply a loaner.
lan posted the gear which we had brought the Krell Ksa-5 amp.
We spent more the 2 1/2 hours listening to gear in that room.

*and shooting the breeze - i really want to hear electrostatic cans now, it seems the Qualia does give that impression - the most electrostatic-sounding dynamic cans, from what i gleaned from the conversation.

My impressions are in the limited time we had with the phones and should be taken with that in mind.I asked about a home trail but no go,I would have to buy them.
The R10s & 010s are differant animals ,their presentations are differant
the R10s are the more intimate headphone, I feel the R10s vocals and instruments have a more rounded sound things seemed to be more fleshed out,an example would be how Tubes give more body then SS.

*I would say the 010 is not an evolution and natural successor to the R10 - they are totally different animals.

The 010s are a top tier headphone no doubt, first thing you notice about them is how open the sound is(similar to the AKG1000s) detail level is better then the R10s.Separation of instruments and vocals is on the level of the omegaIIs if not better ,This headphone lets you see warts and all.

*In my mind, it was like the 501 versus the 225 - the 501 has great detail and a very open nature and wide soundstage, but the 225 gives you that fun factor and "oomph" visceral impact. The R10s are very fun and have a nice punchy bass, while the 010 presented every little thing in the recording in a very sterile and accurate, "reference" way.

Bass is well defined ,but lacks the weight of the R10s(Yes the R10s do have Bass with the right equipment) piano strikes seem to have better tonality on the R10s. The 010s may be one of the most neutral headphones around, with a wide open soundstage with great seperation & detail.
But the R10s suck you into the Music better IMO, you forget you are listening to gear.
I like the 010s alot and will own them at some point,this is definately a referance headphone and personal preferances will decide if you like these or the R10 presentation. I love the R10s and also thinks the 010s are world class. Unfortunately for my wallet.

*waah. me want money.

For those of you who heard the 010s out of the headphone jack of the xa9000es at the qualia store it basically was underwhelming compared to the amps we had at the meet.

*yes, bring your headphone amp, they will let you hook it up no prob. my sr71 with Magwires rca-mini interconnects did fine with this source, but the overall impression with this setup was pretty bright. funny tho, the K1000 sounded great with this setup- the sr71 BARELY manages to drive the k1000, but it does. wow, great soundstage (ahem, the best i heard today) and the way you can angle the speakers - i love this can with that combo. the looks tho...oi.

I think the 010s would mate well will my Cary300sei giving it a little more body in vocals & instruments,make it a little more rounded.

*i actually really liked The Stealth and the Toshiba with the 010, but the R10s did even better with that rig. The 010 definitely lost to the R10 on the pioneer/krell combo, and in some ways to the MS-2 too (big fan of bass and losing yourself in the music here)

Carefull system matching will be needed to bring out the best the 010s can give,because how clean sounding they are.
We also got a demonstration of the QUAILA projector with the blue ray disc,We saw a clip from Spiderman 2.All I can say this was stunning,you couldn't ask for a better picture,the best I have seen.

*i think i found a new hobby. that projector was insane. especially the Lawrence of Arabia split screen - does analog really make horses look like clouds of oil? amazing detail.
Final note- if you haven't gone to a meet, i highly suggest it. I have touched the peak of audiophilia, and it was good. I can't wait for the Fall Meet - my wallet will be good and ready by then! Thanks again you guys!
post #6 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wmcmanus
Way to go, guys! Thanks for arranging this mini meet and sharing with the rest of us.

Nice impressions, Tom. What you've said about the 010's having a wide open soundstage, great instrument seperation, being very neutral, etc seems to be in agreement with Nik's description of the 010's sounding a bit "dry" relative to the Omega II's "wetness". It also makes sense that the 010's would reveal all of the good and bad on recordings, and thus would benefit from proper system matching (i.e., a little warmth ala tubes). Do you agree with Nik that the 010's have more of an "electrostat" sound than other dynamic headphones? How do you think they would compare to the HE90?
The He90s came to mind when I was listening to them with how the headstage of the 010s presented itself. The akg1000s would be a better description of how the 010s sound.
Jpelg commented that if you where in the demonstration room for the projector demonstration your checkbook would have been out in a flash
post #7 of 77
Tom,

Many thanks for this extremely nice and detailed overview of your meet. I feel as if I had been with you guys in the Qualia store. I can't wait to hear the cans myself.

Thanks again!
post #8 of 77
Nice job guys! I wish I could have been there but spending time with the family is more important. It will be a long time before I buy a pair of 010 headphones though. Still, it would have been nice to have heard them. Who knows? Maybe at the fall meet from what you guys are saying.
post #9 of 77
Great impressions!

I am quite intrigued by these phones. I'll wait for a head to head against the HP-1000's now
post #10 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanth
Great impressions!

I am quite intrigued by these phones. I'll wait for a head to head against the HP-1000's now
I'm ashamed to say that my MS-2s were the highest (um only) Grados in the house. I would have loved to have compared the PS-1 or HP-1 with, hmm, any of the cans there (another nod to the Fall Meet incoming). But even from the MS-2 I can tell you that the 010 is a totally different signature - yep to this newbie ear, again, the difference from the grado sound would be like comparing the midlevel 501 to the sr225.
post #11 of 77
seems like you guys had a great time at the QUALIA store. and it looks like the 010 is a great headphone to have. cannot wait to hear more about it from the other guys that went to the store.
post #12 of 77
Wow, what a neat afternoon! I walked up to the Sony Center from Grand Central, and asked someone with a Sony blazer where the 'Qualia' store was. He gave me a strange look until a fellow employee said, "Oh, yeah. That's the new high-end Sony store. It's inside those doors, and down the stairs". I proceeded into and thru the regular Sony store, and went downstairs. I was immediately transported into an environment that reminded me of a chic, upscale martini bar where they might sell Tiffany jewelry instead of drinks. Subdued lighting, with small, individual video-watching stations with flat-panel diplays and soft leather couches. Kind of cool, if not completely ready for primetime (the Qualia store is not officially open yet, btw), but all still very professional.

I peered around, looking for some recongnizable faces, and soon found the listening room with Bozebuttons, Lan, Romanee, and Jahn. They had been there for a few minutes already, and had all the gear setup and ready to go.

My first listen was actually to Romanee's pair of AKG K271's. I have been considering a pair of modest closed headphones, and wanted to hear these. Initial impressions were that they are quite pleasant, and very comfortable. More listening revealed a bit of a sterile nature, and light bass, very much inline with my overall assessment of the AKG line up thru the K501's. A bit of bass boost EQ helped a bit, but also had the deliterious effect of sucking out the all-important midrange. Not horrible, but not satisfying enough for me.

Onto the mission at hand, which for me was R10 vs. 010. I decided to keep my variables down to a minimum, so I stayed with the Philips/Krell combo for most everything. Perhaps my first mistake was to listen to the R10's first, but the three 010's were in use, so... I've heard these many times before, out of many top-notch downstream gear, and these have always been amongst my top headphones. The R10's are a class-act, starting from first aesthetic impressions. The woodie earcups eschew old-money charm. The leather headband, and thick earpads are like sinking into your favorite, plush leather armchair. Sonically, they continue these positive impressions. While the Krell may not be the best amp I've heard the R10's out of, it is quite impressive, not sounding typically solid-state. Perhaps the extensive modifications, including lots of red Blackgates, and a DACt stepped attenuator, have a hand in this. In any event, this is a great amp. The R10's were in top form as well. I am always impressed to hear how the R10's address each section of the frequency range (low, mids, highs) equally well, with plenty of detail for me all around, yet you are not made conscious of this excellence individually. You are only left with beautiful music, merged together in the most natural of ways. I feel that the R10's come closer to emulating the naturalness of speakers than any other headphones I've ever heard, dynamic or electrostatic. And I've heard all the best. They also do positioning better than any other too, which probably falls under that same idea of being speaker-like. Plenty of bass, warm & natural tones in the midrange, and non-fatiquing highs. That's a winner in my book. At one point during our discussions, Boze said that the R10's "are coloured, no doubt about it". I replied in agreement, "Well, if the R10's are coloured, I don't wanna be neutral!"

Switching over to the new Qualia 010's was a bit of a disappointment. Cosmetically these things are the polar opposites of the R10's. Industrial, minimalist design of black carbon framework, and mesh headband reminds me of the end scene in "I, Robot". The earpads consist of some thin padding along the outer edge, that is angled inward toware the center of the drivers. The leather coverings (I prefer the red) are stretched thinly over this. Still, they are very comfortable, and light enough for long, extended listening sessions. Headband size selection is very important, not only for comfort, but for proper driver positioning. I found the Small size fit me best, and put the drivers in their optimal placing for best sound. Which brings me to my comparison. Sonically these are in another galaxy compared to the TOTL R10's they replace. There is no family resemblance here. They seemed quite extended in the high-end, bordering on fatigue, which made me wonder about longer listening sessions. The midrange is affected by the soundstage qualities of this headphone, which is very open, and airy. For me, unnaturally so, and very much akin to their less expensive brethren the CD3000's, and even more so the the AKG K501's. In fact, I'd consider the 010's and the K501's very close in their overall presentation and sonic signature. So the question becomes, why spend $2600 or more for the Qualia's when you can get it all for less than $150? If you like that sound, save your money and get the AKG's. Or if you want it even better, get the K1000's which best them both (but still inferior to the R10's, imo).

Josh, the Sony rep was very cool. He obviously had his Sony spiel down, and managed to get it all in during our little session. But he seemed genuinely interested in our gear, and experience. He asked very relevant questions about our comparative impressions, and most times agreed with us. He was very impressed with the 'old' R10's.

I also listened to the new Sony minidisc player with my Etymotic ER4P's, and it sounded great. It seems to have a very powerful amp section built-in, which sounded better than most portable players I've heard of late, including most of the popular DAP's, and my current CD-based mp3 player. But $1700 for a player only is not going to cut it, no matter how good it looks. It is quite hefty, and looks like one of those art-deco cigarette cases that rich women would have carried back in the 40's - all of which I liked. The remote is very intuitive, and required no instruction for easy use. This was unlike the main unit itself, that did not provide any clues how to eject the minidisc inside. After being shown how (by Josh), re-inserting the disc proved somewhat difficult, and not displaying the buttery smoothness I would expect at this pricepoint. I did not listen to the Sony earbuds at all. If any of Sony's less-expensive portable minidisc recorder/players have the same amp section, I'll be buying back into minidiscs again.

The final, icing on the cake was the new Qualia 004 projector, paired with Blue-Ray technology. The demo included split-screen views of Lawrence of Arabia, with the standard DVD quality on one side, while the enhanced, remastered Blue-Ray version was shown on the other. The difference on the 120-inch screen was remarkable. With such a setup, you would never have to leave the house - seriously! Crystal clear, with absolutely no pixelations whatsoever (on a 120in screen!). But, Blue-Ray is a very limited technology at this point, and only ubiquitious software will spread a new format. That's always the big question, and a common problem for Sony. Still, Kirsten Dunst's face never looked so good as we saw her today during the Spiderman-2 clips - yumm! I hope that Sony can make this technology work.

Again, thanks to Lan for arranging all of this, and to Josh (hopefully he will eventually be reading this) for being very accomodating to us. It was a pleasure to see my old buds Boze, & Lan, and a pleasure meeting Romanee & Jahn - two very welcome assets to the Head-Fi community and whom I look forward to seeing at future meets. Thanks for sharing your gear guys.
post #13 of 77
Damn, I couldn't make it this time Oh, well, at least some of the ears I trust had a chance to be there. What do you guys think about Qualias scalability, how transparent were they to changes in amp/source combos?
post #14 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpelg
If any of Sony's less-expensive portable minidisc recorder/players have the same amp section, I'll be buying back into minidiscs again.
from what the QUALIA concierge at the store in tokyo told me a few months ago, it apparently is the same as their regular MD players. hopefully someone can confirm this since it has been a while since I went there and I might be thinking about something else.
post #15 of 77

Sony Qualia 010 Mini Meet - Initial Impressionss

Greetings to headfi's eager 010 aspirants! . . . and thanks to my new friends bozebuttons, jahn, jpelg and Lan (purposely in alpha-order to avoid emphasis) -- for participating in a thorough, intelligent and cooperative shared experience. And my thanks, too, to Josh Kim. I look forward to seeing him at future meets.

I always need to let impressions percolate for awhile 'til they coalesce into communicable thoughts -- and though this process is only partially complete, I certainly want to share my impressions as well, so I'll start blabbing. It's so late now that I hope I don't doze off while writing. And if all these words put anyone else to sleep, my apologies in advance.

The Qualia 010 is a remarkable, new kind of headphone. From our chat after hearing them, I believe we all agree that they are very much a new breed of headphone in search of the ideal chain(s) of synergistic components to control and cultivate the sound it generates. To clarify that: my experience listening to them directly from the headphone jack on the store's Sony 9000E was not what I would call underwhelming; rather (to recall just a few impressions) it produced sizzlingly hot highs, thin "jumbled" bass (not muddy, but uncontrolled and thin), and what seemed like a raw sound in need of taming. The frequency spectrum, while obviously extended, was not well-balanced and definitely not comfortable to hear for more than a short while -- directly from the headphone output.

As the other four attendees did, I was constantly juggling phones, amps and software. At the start I heard the Qualia through bozebuttons Phillips SACD1000/Krell combo, via a very nice disc of (I'm guessing) Allison Krauss and Union Station with Jerry Douglas on dobro, and I was excited by the quality of the sound, which was richly textured with lots of air around the instruments and voices, and lots of harmonic detail of the strings and the singers breathing.

While this system tames the worst of the sizzling highs and presents the openness and detail of the phones, it still does not enable the Qualia to produce a bottom end with any weight. I wouldn't mind owning both the R10 and the Qualia (if I could find a successful system for it and had oodles of cash to accomplish that goal).

The Qualia obviously gave a different impression through the Toshiba/Stealth combo and the Sony/SR71 combo. I was also surprised that the SR71 managed to drive the AKG1000 adequately enough (though just barely) for it to create a very nice soundstage, a very pleasant over-all balance and more bass energy that I expected. Of course, by the nature of this diminutive unit, it has more limitations that the Krell and Stealth, but it also somewhat tamed the migraine-highs that the Sony 9000ES' headphone output sent screaming through the Qualia. The SR71's presentation of the Qualia was a bit dry and veiled, and still a bit bright with the Qualia -- just not the right combination.

I didn't listen enough through the Toshiba/Stealth system, but I remember that the Qualia was perhaps more relaxed or laid back with it, though it lost some the air and energy that I heard with the Phillips/Krell. Late in our session, Lan replaced the Krell with the Stealth in the Phillips chain and we compared the phones again to see if the Toshiba source may have limited the sound. I felt that the Phillips/Stealth combo was much better that the Stealth with the Toshiba player. I must have become somewhat brained-fatigued by then, because I can't recall a clear picture of the comparative listening with this last combo, except the same differences I noted with the Krell, and the obvervation that the Stealth did sound much better with the Phillips player. I hope to hear the Stealth at greater length in the future. Aside from the Toshiba's influence, we weren't sure that the Stealth's tubes had enough warm-up time to perform optimally.

I haven't yet heard some of the super-phones (HE90, etc.) so I can't compare the 010 to any of those.

The Qualia is very detailed, but I don't think I would call it "dry". The Union Station/Jerry Douglas recording I heard through the Phillips/Krell sounded really "juicy" to me, in a way. My sense memory of that early, brief listen isn't too reliable, so I won't go into that -- but the voices and guitars were too richly texture and had too much "presence" for me to call them dry. The uniqueness of its sound was exciting in a way that a "dry and analytical" headphone (or loudspeaker) never is. As I'll probably repeat a few times, the Qualia is a strange, wild new beast. Detailed and analytical may apply, but I don't think "dry" quite fits. The AKG K271S does have a dry sound (I can imagine it being used for studio monitoring.), and the Qualia is nothing like the K271S. I'm hoping that there is true mate of a system out there that will allow this new adolescent to blossom.

I know that the K271S was hugely outclassed, but it's always fun to hear the more affordable units in the same context as the big guns and then enjoy them for what they can do. I much prefer the K501 to the 271S -- and the K501 costs less -- but the closed-back 271, though lacking the wide open soundstage, detailed and lucid mid- and upper-midrange, and the subtlety of the 501, is still pretty fast, with tight bass, and enjoyable enough with proper amplification. As Jahn mentioned, after the meet we had fun comparing the KSC-35s, and also the K271S, through the SR71 and the Superdual with pleasant results.

Since I've shifted away from the Qualia, for a moment, I have to say that the AKG K1000 was really a delight with all the systems present and to my ear/mind setup provides the best soundstage of all the phones present and had (for my taste) a wonderfully balanced sound -- though I couldn't really spend enough time with it since it was not the primary focus of the meet. I'm not sure if I'd be happier listening the the K1000 or the R10 for long hours. Although I like the immediacy and impact of the R10, the added sonic weight might obscure some of the air and intricacy I enjoy in the K1000 and K501. I just don't know yet. I'll also have to listen more to determine which I prefer in terms of placement of instruments and which soundstage. I find the K1000 soundstage much preferable to the K501, which I have found extremely (almost unnaturally) wide, but not very deep front-to-back. Again, in that regard I haven't tried the 501 through enough amps to hear it at its best.

After trying a number of Red Book and SACD discs for my own comparisons (Stevie Ray Vaughan Gold Disk "Couldn't Stand The Weather); "The Rite Of Strings with Al Di Meola, Stanley Jordan & Jean-Luc Ponty; Steely Dan "Goucho" SACD; "Tigerlilly", "Carmen Highlights" (EMI); etc. -- I finally chose my SACD of Bill Evans (Live at the Village Vanguard in 1961): "Waltz For Debby". Despite its few tiny spots of damaged master tape warble, I felt it was a great, complex, live recording which provided a palpable, dimensioned performance with people moving, breathing & clinking (tableware) in a 3D space, as well as Bill Evans delicate, rich, romantic jazz piano, Scott La Faro's passionate, guitar-like string bass and Paul Motian's solid percussive foundation on the classic, intimate Village Vanguard stage.

The counterpoint between the R10 and the 010 is fascinating, wonderful, tantalizing -- and a guaranteed wallet-assassin for the brave-hearted. The 010 painted a wide-open, elegant and detailed jazz portrait in a deep stage -- but it lacked the mass and impact, and the visceral feel that not just bass and drums, but even a piano delivers at modest sound levels (not just at ear-splitting volume). The piano is a big, percussive resonating chamber which you can feel in an intimate club like the Vanguard. Here's where the R10 is so engaging. The R10 lacks some of the elegance, air and quick detail, but it presented all the heft, body, impact and excitement of the bass and drums, and clear separation and placement of the musicians, tho' the piano was a bit recessed -- which I suspect might be inherent in the recording. I've read in a couple of articles that from this same performance date, the first release "Sunday at the Village Vanguard" was specifically edited to showcase Scott Le Faro's bass innovation, since he died just after this session. Perhaps Bill Evans' conscious and deliberate "stepping back" was true of the entire date, which would free the listening gear of blame.

The R10 is dramatic and exciting, and perhaps a bit aggressive. In this context the bottom end wasn't just solid and punchy, it was very forward, in-your-face and as bozebuttons states, grabby (my word) -- it does suck you into the performance. It is seductive and anything but cerebral. On this day the Qualia did not have that kind of warm, seductive appeal. There's a lot about its sonic signature that I like. it does not create the K1000 out-of-your head 3D soundstage, but it does create distinct air around instruments. I need to listen to them more, with different music and electronics. With all that the Qualia does well, you wish it had the bass foundation and heft of the R10 -- that might help it create a really great sonic picture.

Josh said the Qualia 010 is designed for SACDs. Perhaps at the fall NYC meet we can have, in addition to lots of electronics, a wide range of superlative, audiophile SACDs, to show the systems at their best. Some of observed that the R10 and the Qualia behaved different with different recordings, which doesn't surprise me but which complicates evaluation.

It's obvious that I have a preference for the AKG1000 sound and soundstage and I agree that there are aspects of the Qualia sound that are similar in character and feel to the AKG1000. Though it is a vastly different instrument, if you have to pigeon-hole it in a genre, then K1000 may be the closest. Don't try an A-B comparison of the K1000 and the Qualia without lowering the gain (volume) substantially before hearing the Qualia, since the K1000 needs much higher levels to drive it than does the Qualia, and your hearing will be at risk if you're not careful.

I am very much looking forward to future investigations and experiments that will place the Qualia 010 in many well-thought-out system configurations. Will the wild beast be tamed? And will we be privvy to a wonderful aural picture capable of reassembling something close the original sound and emotional experience of the performances we're hoping to hear? Or will this very interesting, high-tech transducer remain a tantalizing work-in-progress with incorrigible flaws.

As of this limited -- but very welcome listening, the Qualia is an exciting question mark and a fun challenge. I'll look to those with the expertise, money and equipment to meet this challenge, and hope that I might ride their coattails a bit, and give a listen here and there.

At the next full-fledged NYC fall meet it will be interesting to see if the Qualia shows and it will be fun to see how it shows, fits in and performs.

In concert with the previous comments, the Qualia 040 projector -- shown to its best with the Spiderman2 trailer -- is breathtaking when showing off great Hi-Def program material. HD Video can have a hyper-real look which is an exciting jolt, and so thrilling you don't want to stop watching. After experiencing it, it's hard to get it out of your mind when you view lesser-quality monitors and software. If you can swing it, get ready to ante-up the $30K MSRP.

Well - my fingers have ground to halt, so -- Good Night!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav: