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12/04/15 Seattle meet impressions

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  1. johnjen
    Nah it's the regular Sonarworks Ref 3 plugin.
    But their newer version, the Ref 4 plugin is due out fairly soon, from what I understand.

    What was 'special' were the "no limits" compensation curves that Sonarworks provided.
    Thus far they only have these "no limits' curves for the HD-650 and 800.

    So the combination of the "no limits" Ref 3 curves when used with the phase reversal trick and a little bit of added sub sonic boost (15Hz +3-6dB) along with the topper of my latest results of tweaking my 800's…
    Well, I'm mighty impressed.

    Where these mods are most noticeable is in the bottom end.
    As in the VERY bottom end, from well below 20Hz and up,
    all the way up.
    In fact when the very foundation of the audible spectrum becomes fully 'blended into' the rest of the 'normal' spectrum, that is when the 'magic' can happen.

    This results in not just impressive bass, but the overall soundstage takes a major step up as well.
    In fact all of the tests I use to determine if these changes are truly "Better" have all been positive.

    And I'm not finished dialing in this series of tweaks either.
    At this point, very small 'adjustments' are further refining the results, but fabricating the parts smaller and smaller with a suitable degree of precision, becomes more and more of a challenge.

    And so it goes…

    And lastly these tweaks do require a 'healthy' amp, as in one with 'enough' headroom to accommodate the 15 to 20dB+ of bass boost that all of this EQ is adding.
    AND it's important to monitor the Ref 3 plugin for clipping as well, on both the input and output monitors.
    And if need be, adjust the input and output levels to make sure clipping doesn't present a problem.

  2. Muziqboy
    I missed this. I just bought it last night when I got home. Well it's OK. I really liked the software and what it does to the sound of the HD800.
    Thanks BIG POPPA, JohnJen, Atomicbob for tweaking this on my set-up. I am totally enjoying the HD800 a lot more now. I didn't realize that the HD800 can produce such deep bass and the treble peak at 6khz and the harshness is all gone.
  3. Soundsgoodtome
    Thanks to Gil and company for setting up the meet, another great one in the books and this time there was plenty of room and lower decibels to really hear the rigs. It seems the setups were all finely tuned this time around, super concentration of highly dedicated.
    I brought my rig that was unusual for me, sort of an experimental chain and the results were pretty darn good. First I never linked the Project Horizon 3 to the Bifrost MB, this was its first pairing. However I knew that the tube I used were a good match to the Bifrost's up front sound and helped relax the sound a bit. It  did this without coloring the phones too much but still adding a nice tube sound to the signature. Second I usually don't use a Schiit SYS preamp with the Garage 1217 amps as it already has its own volume adjustment, however after some reading people had great results with leaving the Project Horizon at 1-3 o'clock (instead of the usual 9-11 o'clock) and using a preamp to adjust volume. This was experimantal #2. Both experimentals worked out great and the rig jelled quite well considering it's cut and paste assembly. :)

    Also for those with Bimby's, I would consider getting a Gustard U12 transport for it as it changes the treble aggresiveness to a more relax and natural feel that I've grown to enjoy out of my other Multibit (MHDT Labs). Hopefully Barra finds the same result with his Havana Dac.

    The THX00 made its way around to almost everyone there it seems and the general consensus was a really good fun headphone that audiophiles can appreciate. It paired well with a lot of systems; Muziqboys Taboo and Theta Multibit rig, Miceblues different LH Labs unit, as well as the many Cavalli Audio amps.

    I felt Muziqboy's rig can do no harm to any phones plugged into it, it made everything sound amazing from HD800/700s, LCD 2s, THX00, and the HE1Ks. Miceblue's LH Labs stack had amazing synergy with the THX00 with just the right amount of power and the Sabre sound!

    I was able to A/B the Denon D5000 and Fostex/Massdrop THX00 extensively and came out quite happy with the results (considering the Denons had a bit of unobtainable status now, therefore higher prices than what they were originally selling for). The THX00 for the price on the other hand is a no brainer, I think that's been established already but comparing to the D5K showed that it really was a different tuning as well as a more fun signature. continued
    The time you spend on your rig making sure it sounds great, it was my pleasure to help. I was wondering if you got it or waited? But since you didn't wait you did get your rig pumped up a bit and everybody else may have to wait until the next meet. You do have a nice sounding rig. Very easy on the ears. Hope to hear it at the next meet.
  5. johnjen
    I'm glad we could help setup the EQ and get it tweaked just a bit.

    There are 'adjustments' you can make to further dial the EQ into what works best for you and your music.
    Sometimes even very small (like 1-2 dB) changes can help optimize 'blending' the parts to come together, especially as you get closer to what sounds 'best'.

    I've found that when you get close, there is a 'seemlessness' that happens and the sound-stage gets much more homogeneous, as in the entire acoustical presentation is no longer a bunch of 'parts' or individual 'voices', rather the entire sound-stage becomes cohesive and coherent.

    And there is added depth, sometimes by quite a bit.

    And if you have further questions or want to compare your settings with any of the rest of us who are running this setup, please feel free to ask.
    But this thread may not be the best way to handle these sorts of questions and observations.
    So I'd suggest starting another thread, or you could use the DIY'r Cookbook thread, so others could follow along.

    And as you continue to get used to this new 'version' of your 800's, let us know what you find and what your impressions are.
    I for one am curious to hear what you notice and what the differences are that these changes make in your system.

  6. gefski
    Great meet!

    At the Yggy/Rok table, we could correctly rename it the "Digital Breakage Meet". I think JJ and I had a couple hours into solving silly problems.

    A couple standouts for me -- Muziqboy's rig -- very transparent and alive (and I noticed he's playing 16/44 files.) Yep, very good dacs now are wringing incredible detail from 16/44! I'm re-listening to all of mine.

    Also Andrew's THX00 -- beautiful and a staggering bargain -- a very clear window from a closed can. Hardly anyone in the U.S. has had a chance to hear these, right? We Seattle HeadFiers are a lucky bunch!

    Didn't get a chance to hear some stuff I wanted to, Gil's JK for example.

    The 7n7/SED tube setup in my WA6 works well in my very quiet office, but was lifeless and boring at the meet. I was at 1:00+ volume position and don't think I had much power left. Mid-day switch to 6fd7/Brimar brought it to life. Thanks to those who came back and liked it.

    Thanks Gil for the scheduling for hot transports, and to JJ for the "careful carries".

    UPS was out of juice when I left the Lagoon so I was glad to fire up the inverter for the drive home. Kris Kringle seasonal ale was great. I think she called it a pale ale, but I didn't get that, thought it was perhaps a nicely spiced amber/brown hybrid? Curbfeeler, whatcha think?
  7. Soundsgoodtome
    I didn't think of that, but I think we are indeed the first meet to have final production in the mix! I know the SF/Massdrop meet earlier in the year had a sneak peak of the prototypes that were supposed to be hush hush only but those were still going through the phases of tuning.

    The post meet at the Lagoon was cool. I had the bacon cheeseburger with egg, I forget the name. It was marvelous and amazing. I had the darker pumpkin ale, first I had of it, and it was delicious! The Kris Kringle was also good, now I need to find their beer at the stores!
  8. ericr
    Thanks for all the impressions - seems like it was a great meet!

    Any chance of Sonarworks adding support for some of the popular CIEMs in the future?
  9. Ham Sandwich
    A question about Muziqboy's setup. Did you have Decware's Lucid Mode(s) enabled on the amp?
    I forgot that the Taboo amp had that feature. Or I would have asked at the meet.
  10. johnjen
    It doesn't seem likely since they would need to develop an acoustically 'known' apparatus for IEM's that would be 'universal' enough to meet their needs of having a final correction fall within the ±3 or ±0.9dB window.

    Dummy heads for use with headphones are 'common' enough and translate well enough to how and what we hear so that they can realistically achieve their target response curves.

    And their primary customer base is professional studio use where headphones are used during recording and then during mastering etc.
    We in the hobby are taking advantage of their having measured known 'studio' headphones and correct their FR to 'flat' which is a dream come true for us. But outside of their original intended customers end use they may or may not be willing to step up and deal with the plethora of headphone choices let alone IEM's and CIEM's.

    Perhaps they will see us (headphone users) as a viable market to expand their measurement capabilities towards, but that is purely speculation on my part.

  11. Muziqboy
    What you were hearing in the amp is what Steve Deckert called the Hazen Grid Mod which automatically becomes active when using the SV83 power tubes. I had the Lucid Mode 'off' all the time. I only turned it 'on' when Andrew @Soundsgoodtome and @atomicbob  were listening to demonstrate that particular feature of the Taboo.
    For those who want to know more about the HAZEN GRID MOD and the LUCID MODE features of the Taboo amp, you can go here http://www.decware.com/newsite/TABOO.htm and scroll down to the 'More About The Amp' section.
    These 2 features are what sold me to getting this amp as I have not found any other tube amp out there that does this.
    Just the Hazen Grid Mod being active all the time is very addicting to my ears and the reason why I loose sleep every night. [​IMG]
  12. miceblue
    Wow, that was quite the meet! Thank you BIG POPPA for organising getting this meet put together. I didn't do as much listening as I usually do since I was going around the room taking photos now (image post-processing also took me a while, which is why I'm uploading this a few days after the meet). XD

    The breakfast pre-meet at Mcmenamins Tavern On the Square was really something. You'll have to go there to see for yourself, but the atmosphere of the whole venue is really laid-back and relaxing.













    For the amount of food you get there, the prices seemed a bit steep, but at least it was tasty (at least mine was). I ordered the Eggs Benedict, which was nicely presented and the Hollandaise sauce was excellent.

    After the breakfast, we had some time to kill before the actual meet, so we kicked back and enjoyed some beer at the bar. I got their Irish Stout, although I wanted a nitro beer that they didn't have in stock. It wasn't anything too special to write home about. Other folks got the Kris Kringle.

    Continuing the theme of great-looking venues, the library's meeting room itself was likewise very nice: spacious, lots of outlets along the wall, good lighting, and comfortable lounge chairs were available.
    There was some interesting art along the back wall. XD

    First of all, many thanks to bimmer100 for lending me the Norne Audio 3.5 mm TRRS to XLR adaptor. It's nice to hear that the K701 has great synergy with the balanced output of the v2+, unlike the X Infinity for some reason due to the Sabre glare. Barra the GOv2+'s 1000 mW power output is through the balanced output only via high gain, while the single-ended is 1/4 that amount (250 mW). Maybe at the next meet you'll have to try it ion that configuration.


    Actually, now that I look back on my notes, I only really got to listen to the Soundsgoodtome's TH-X00, FiiO X7, johnjen's HD800 briefly, atomicbob's HD650 briefly, xtreme4099's EL-8 Closed briefly, and the AKG K67 briefly.

    I guess I'll start with the TH-X00. I honestly wasn't expecting much from it because the TH-900 didn't really do much to me for all the times I've listened to it. I didn't even watch Jude's YouTube video about it because I thought "meh, Fostex; it'll be similar to the TH-900." However, I was completely thrown off my feet with the TH-X00. I had it set up on the Pulse X Infinity next to my STAX. If I had to buy only one headphone that's been at these meets, the TH-X00 would be it because they complimented the STAX so well in my setup. The TH-X00 of course has more bass quantity and presence, which gives the lower-mids some nice warmth. Seal's new album 7 sounded great because of this. The upper-mids and presence of the midrange frequencies as a whole are fairly close to the STAX, which I like: presence is neither forward nor laid-back. The treble did have some sizzle that bothered me at first, but after listening to them for some time, it didn't sound obtrusive for my enjoyment of the music unlike many other headphones. This may or may not have contributed to the graininess I was hearing in the treble. For a semi-closed headphone, I was surprised by the soundstage of the TH-X00. It doesn't have quite the imaging abilities as what I'm used to with the STAX, but it had good soundstage depth, and decent width and height.

    At a $399 price point, I think this is one phenomenal headphone.


    The FiiO X7 touring unit Barra brought was pretty interesting. I had no idea what to expect for the X7 other than it has a touch-based user interface. I liked the Android operating system it was running: very smooth to use with no hiccups navigating through menus, something that seems to be hard to accomplish in touch-based portable media players for some reason. Its sound though, I wasn't too impressed with it. With the K701 and PM-3, it sounded like a less-refined Sabre DAC kind of sound....actually right as I typed this I looked up the specs and it is using an ESS9018 DAC chip. :/

    I guess my ears have been spoiled with LH Labs' implementation of the ESS DACs, which are among the best from what I've heard. The X7 definitely had that prominent Sabre glare sound, which if you haven't heard before, is a bright and almost gritty sound signature and the X7 had those traits but more prominent than what I remember from other Sabre DACs. Compared to the Geek Out v2+ running from my computer, I, hands down, definitely preferred the sound coming out of that versus the X7 with the same songs.

    Beautiful hardware though!

    johnjen's modded HD800 on the Dark Star (which has beautiful aesthetics if I may add) playing that one song...man that bass was crazy. I had no idea the HD800 could have that kind of bass response. Just wow. The treble of the HD800 on that setup still seemed grainy to me, and the soundstage disorienting, but at least the upper-midrange edginess was gone for the most part. HD800S? : D





    I didn't get to hear it on the Ragnarok though.

    Similar to the HD800, I was surprised at the bass response being outputted from atomicbob's HD650. It reminded me of an LCD-2 kind of bass response.

    xtreme4099's Audeze EL-8 Closed sounded disappointing to me again. The bass and lower-midrange sounded fine with Nujabes, but the upper-mids to treble region were quite rough to me.

    One of these days I want to get the Samurai Champloo soundtrack, Nujabes or DJ Okawari's albums. They're just so relaxing to listen to.

    ^ play at 1.25x speed...YouTube removed videos containing the original versions of the songs. : (

    I don't have much else to say about the meet in terms of sonic impressions. The K67 sounded pretty decent for a $50 headphone. It has a bit too much treble emphasis for me, but it's not too much to complain about for what you pay for.

    Bifrost Multi-bit + Project Horizon

    Burson Conductor

    Liquid Carbon on top of the Liquid Crimson



    Liquid Crimson



    Dark Star + LCD-2

    Liquid Fire


    Gungnir Multi-bit

    LCD-2 and HD800 on the Decware Taboo

    Table of headphones



    Maze Audio cables

    Pono Player (balanced output)

    Ultrasone PRO900

    Tall stack of gear

    Power regenerator

    Theta DSPro gen V + Taboo (beautiful setup)

    Tiesto K267

    Woo Audio WA6



    2 Wyrd 4 me















    The aftermeet at North Shore Lagoon was pretty chill. The building is for an indoor swimming pool so I was really confused when I walked into it and saw the giant pool right in front of the secondary doors. Apparently the restaurant is on the second floor, hahaha. Anyway, it's always fun to talk to folks about the meet and recap things, or go into more details. I got their "Quantum Leap" pulled-pork sandwich with a Terminator Stout, which I enjoyed more than the morning's Irish Stout since it was slightly less hoppy and a little more malty.

    A super fun meet overall!
    mechgamer123, graphidz and Hi-Fi EDU like this.
  13. vegan
    Thanks for sharing your experiences of the meet :blush:

    I have Burson Conductor and perhaps a TH-X00 on its way. So curious if anyone heard that pairing - and how it stacked up to the competition?

    (Finding good upsampling settings in Audirvana made a world of difference using the Sabre-based DAC)
  14. Ham Sandwich
    It was doing that fantastic enveloping headstage without the Lucid mode. That's fantastic. Headstage like that is one of the important things I listen for and want in an amp. Few amps manage to do it, or do it well enough. The Taboo was doing it very well. Amps like the Liquid Fire, Eddie Current Balancing Act, Eddie Current Zana Deux Super (in it's own special flavor), some Singlepower amps, and a few others can do that style of headstage. My quest for that style of headstage is a big reason why I have the Liquid Fire. If I didn't already have the Liquid Fire I'd get a Taboo amp now. A Taboo and a Schiit Multibit would be a winning combo.
    Here I go. To me this was one of the coolest meets. Starting with Breakfast at Anderson School at The Tavern on the Square. Head-fier found me by my pic of a Bloody Mary.
    Then the Venue space, they had a row of comfy chairs for portable gear. Very Nice. The librarians loved us. The new faces. One guy came on the bus from Everett, one went to hell and back to get his rig sans headphones. The new gear at the meet was great with Andrew's Fostex, the Cavalli amps, all the Schiit gear. And those nice sounding KEF cans Curbfeeler brought. So nice to catch up with everybody and Seattle Head-fiers are leading the way on hot transporting gear and implementing new software as a necessary recommendations to have your rig sound great.    
    The aftermeet was an adventure, The place was just massive. Will update this post with pic's.
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