I'm in the kingsound room, listening to the h-04 on a portable electrostatic amp. Sounds really good. No distortion, bass hits low, mids clear, highs extended and clear. The cans are really light and comfortable. The cups are deep and large, so ears don't touch anything. 04 with 1 meter detachable cable is 900. Portable amp m03 is 450. Amp can drive conventional headphones too with 3.5mm output. 6200mAh batter, and can charge other devices. 2.5mm cable available for $200ish. Amp available in many colors.better ears than mine need to test this portable electrostatic system for less than many cans.
Today I spent a lot of time with Mr Speakers Ether and Ether C headphones. I really liked these a lot, and maybe they were the hit of the show? I tried them on a few amps at the Mr Speakers table, but they paired best with the Woo WA-5.
The closed Ether C sounded more like an open electrostatic headphone (fast, tight, controlled, instantaneous response, spacious, detailed, and transparent), and the open Ether sounded a little bit like a modified/upgraded closed D7000 headphone (fun, bassy and punchy, warm more forward mids, crisp treble and good detail), making them a step up from the Alpha Dog or Alpha Prime in the micro-detail department without losing the fun sound of the Alphas.
It's a paradox that the sound characteristics are swapped from what we've been taught all these years regarding the house sound of open vs closed headphones. Or, should I call these phones an enigma? Nope, can't describe them that way because someone else took both of those descriptions as names for their headphones.
I was soooo tempted to buy a pair and ask SWMBO for forgiveness later, but I really couldn't decide which, because in reality if you bought both models then you wouldn't need many others, if at all. I'm not saying they're better than anything else at RMAF, but they got me more excited today than many other new headphones did. I have to say I preferred these over the LCD-4, which were a little too laid back sounding in tone while at the same time having super fast decay (dead quiet "black" between the notes) and strong punchy bass. I'd pick the LCD-4 over the LCD-2 of course, but I'm not feeling it at $4K yet. I should have tried them on other amps other than the Audeze amp, including my HiFi-M8 but I hated to spend the time on a headphone that costs about 1/10 of the tuition for my daughter at Duke University.
Properly amped, I likely still enjoy my HiFiMan HE-1000 or HE-6 more, but without bringing home a pair I can't do those comparisons. I'd also have to hear a properly amp'd LCD-3 or LCD-4 side by side with the others to know whether they belong in the club too. With the right amp, the HE-560 are on the playing field as well, but with the wrong amp the HE-560 mids can get a little recessed at times. It's easy to forgive the 560's because they do so much else well, like out of head sound-stage, tight punchy bass, depth of soundstage and micro-detail galore. With the HiFiMan EF-100 amp the HE-560 take a step up in cohesion and balance, with richer more inviting midrange than with the EF-6 amp.
That brings up the issue of SYNERGY which is vitally important, and in writing and reading impressions and reviews please take the results with a grain of salt, and note the gear that was being used as a complete set.
I tried to go to the Unique Melody booth before 3PM but they were already gone. Sigh... I'd dropped off my ear impressions earlier for some RE-1000 custom IEM from UM and HiFiman, but was called away for an hour. When I returned they had left early.
And a big thumbs up for V-MODA customer service! My son's M-100 headband was starting to separate after heavy use (thousands of hours) and they replaced the phones at the end of the show for him under warranty, and to show my gratification I bought a pair of wireless M-100 demos and some accessories for myself.
I may add more later, but here are my notes from the big stars of the show (in my opinion).
Full Sized Headphones:
Audeze LCD-4 + Audeze King amp Game. Over.
- - This might be the best headphone I’ve ever heard.
- - Preferred it over SR-009 and Abyss by a pretty wide margin.
- - Not your typical Audeze. Not super dark and rolled off like most of the others.
- - Wonderful sense of air and gorgeous treble.
- - The mids! The bass! Perfection across every frequency spectrum!
- - An absolute detail monster, yet a supremely musical headphone. Unicorn!
- - Pulls out all the acoustic and ambient detail you get with an HD800.
- - Monster dynamics and impact. Explosive sound!
- - Sounds nearly as impressive with mp3s as it does with FLAC.
- - Really more comparable to a high-end two channel system than a headphone.
- - Tremendous soundstage and imaging.
- - Organic realism to the music and rich timbre.
Enigma Acoustics Dharma It was worth the wait.
- - Huge improvement from preproduction version.
- - Really can’t hear the crossover anymore.
- - Not as dry as the version I heard in Chicago.
- - Lush, pretty, and satisfying bass.
- - HUGE HD800-like soundstage- equal or more width, but not as much depth.
- - The gentleman’s HD800 – that big airy sound with more bass and smoother, non-sibilant treble.
ETHER-C Meet the new king of closed-backs.
- - Easily the best closed back headphone on the market today. Makes the other top competitors look rather silly.
- - Clarity level and blackground are unheard of in a closed back.
- - FAST bass – so rare in a closed back, no boom.
- - Probably the most neutral and reference-worthy closed back. I wouldn’t hesitate to mix with it, which is something I can’t/wouldn’t say about any other closed headphone.
- - Isolation is very good.
- - Attack and decay properties, like its open counterpart, are absolutely unparalleled. Perfectly clean rise and fall into a deep, deep blackness.
- - Amazing comfort.
Beyerdynamic T1 Mk2 It’s not the T1 you know.
- - Huge improvement in every way (over the original T1)
- - No more huge treble spike!!!
- - There’s bass!
- - It’s actually musical!
- - FR is completely different from the original T1, and that’s a very, very good thing. I hated the original, but I like this one A LOT.
- - Still true to the dry Beyer trademark “house timbre” if you’re a fan of it. Lots of recording pros find it useful.
- - Certainly rocks with the right amp.
Cavalli Liquid Crimson So good, I’m getting sad writing about it.
- - Good God.
- - I… I don’t…. I can’t
- - Okay. Seriously, this thing is incredible. There is just this dynamic musicality about it that just makes the headphones disappear off of your head and the music come alive in your soul. The impact hits hard. The mids make you cry. The treble reveals detail you’ve never even imagined in your favorite tracks.
- - Oh, and it rocks hard as hell!!
- - This is a total endgame for me (for headphones aren’t the HE-6). Probably my favorite desktop amp ever. I’m just in love with this thing.
- - I can’t say anymore. I’m just getting sad that my current financial state is incompatible with a Liquid Crimson purchase at this moment. I will miss it every second until I’m reunited with it again.
NEW Cavalli Portable (Name TBD) Holy smokes. The portable that changes everything.
- - Probably the best sounding portable amp ever made. I’m serious. Keep reading…
- - Drives the HE1000 with AUTHORITY. I’m going to catch hell for this, but I think it makes the HE1000 sound better than the Oppo HA-1 and the Schiit Ragnarok. This is not even remotely hyperbolic post show hype. It flat-out sounds better on this PORTABLE amp. I’m fully aware that this sounds crazy. It is really THAT good.
- - Bigger, beefier, more dynamic, resolving and impactful sound than most full size amps, including some $1k plus flagships. Seriously, this can be an end-game desktop AND portable unit for most Head-fi’ers. It really might be the only amp you ever need.
- - This is a true game changer in the portable category. The Cavalli house sound in your pocket.
- - 15ish hours or so of battery life.
- - Not sure what the final price will be, but Alex gave me a range, and at that price, this is probably the biggest no-brainer hi-fi purchase you can make.
- - Due out in early 2016
iFi Professional Get out your pitchforks, Ragnarok owners. You’re gonna hate me.
- - Okay, this thing is REALLY cool.
- - IMHO, sounds much better than the Ragnarok at the same price. YMMV, of course, but the difference seemed pretty clear to me.
- - MASSIVE power. 10W, I believe. Drives the HE-6 with ease.
- - Switchable from tube to solid state to hybrid.
- - Two adjustable filters for soundstage and bass allow you to tune the amp to your headphone. You can also turn this feature off, if you like. I preferred the +1 setting for both.
- - Compatible with 6922/7308-type tubes!!
- - Impressively clean and articulate, I fed this amp difficult high-speed music and it handled it all with aplomb.
Questyle CMR800R Monoblocks Why, oh why did I listen to this?!?!?
- - High power endgame. Makes my HE-6 sound better than the SR-009 and the Abyss. IMHO, YMMV, etc.
- - Tight control. I mean TIGHT!
- - Explosive dynamics. Best bass evar.
- - Really does nothing wrong. This would be my preferred endgame for my beloved HE-6 (or other hard-to-drive orthos).