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2017 UK Head-Fi meet (02/Apr/2017 - Milton Keynes) - Impressions Thread

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  1. pedalhead Contributor
    [first bit cross-posted from the original meet thread]
    A few weeks ago I was concerned the meet would be a washout this year as there was very little activity on the meet thread and I had received only a handful of PMs about it...so concerned that I contacted the sponsors to tell them it may not be worth their while financially and they were welcome to have an honorable discharge from the meet if they wished. 
    Well, top respect to both @RHA and @V1pers (Paul & Wendy @ Highendheadphones.co.uk) because they were determined to stick with it, both explaining how they wanted to support the enthusiast scene and meet the people involved in it. So, I want to say a HUGE thanks to Paul, Wendy, Calum and also Mark @ElectroMod for their determined support of the enthusiast scene. THANK YOU!! I'm also happy to say that the feedback I've received from the sponsors is that, not only was it very enjoyable for them, but it was also excellent from an orders point of view, no doubt helped by the generous discounts provided. Thanks also to the attendees who supported the sponsors by placing orders with them, great to see people supporting the sponsors in return.
    Finally on this topic, Paul, Wendy, Calum and Mark have all expressed a strong desire to be involved in future events, whatever shape they may take, which bodes well for the enthusiast scene in the UK and is something we should all celebrate! I think many of us will agree that, despite the plethora of commercial meets throughout the year with headphone sections attached (which can be a lot of fun as well), the real enthusiast meets like ours are a valuable thing that would be a great shame to lose.
    So, in the end, I think this was probably my favourite meet of them all, despite the lower turnout from previous years. It felt like we had the core enthusiasts this year, a bunch of excellent geeks showing off a wide range of gear. Excellent!
    On to impressions. A few things stuck out in my brain/ears...
    1. The Hifiman HE1000 v2 is still my favourite headphone out there. It sounds great on most rigs with enough power, but absolutely shines on some special rigs....
    2. ...like @dill3000 's upgraded First Watt F7 build. Powerful, clean, impactful and the imaging was just stunning. The HEK v2 is silly expensive, but ticks most of my boxes for a headphone.
    3. The SJS Acoustics tube headamp was gorgeous. Definitely a tubey sound, paired well with my modded HD800 even without the usual EQ I insist on using with them.
    4. The MrSpeakers electrostatic prototype was the surprise of the day for me. Superb sound, very dynamic with excellent extension at both ends, without that overtly detailed sound of the 009 and frankly with tons more bass, although perhaps not the most nuanced of bass. I'm definitely keen to see how the production version turns out. It certainly kicks the Ether [all models] into touch...in another league.
    5. The Beyerdynamic T1.2 - I really disliked the T1 in the past, but the T1.2 sounds a lot more balanced to me (ie - no longer a treble cannon). Super comfortable too. 
    6. The iFi pro iCAN seemed very capable. I enjoyed the Beyer T1.2 through it using the tube+ mode, which definitely colours the sound but then I like a bit of warmth so that worked for me. The other two settings were too harsh for me with those headphones. The iCAN looks and feels a bit cheap for the price though. 
    7. The Beyerdynamic A2 amp was (unsurprisingly) an excellent pairing with the T1.2. I only had a brief listen, but I didn't hear any harshness that I heard with two of the settings on the iCAN.
    8. The Angstrom Stella was certainly impressive to behold, and beautifully built and wired inside. I did enjoy the amp with @smial1966's HD800S, but it ran out of steam with the HEK v2, generating a ton of bass distortion. For such an expensive amp I would hope it could drive more than a subset of popular headphones. Perhaps a tube change somewhere inside (20 of 'em!) may increase the power output.
    As is now traditional, a few of us got together in the hotel the night before for dinner and a mini-meet, which resulted in some excellent tunes, banter and of course whisky.
    [Apologies for my crappy camera!] 
    @dill3000 's wonderful sounding exotic amp build...
    K1000 "deep love"...
    K1000 "better than last time I heard one"...
    Meet Day...
    Unpacking the Angstrom Stella...
    Stella internals. TWENTY tubes!!
    Highendheadphones.co.uk table, jam packed with excellent gear...
    Mark D and Callum having a chat...
    The SJS Arcadia headamp...
    Swann36, raoultrifan and AndrewH13 like this.
  2. Takeanidea
    I've got no photos just much post meet afterglow
    I didn't get too much chance for a great deal of listening because of guard duties in the Quiet Room. I thought the Quiet Room worked really well. I apologise about the confusion surrounding who went where both at the start involving Richard aka @TheAttorney and later involving my neighbour the great Geoff aka @headinclouds . I should have got it sorted better and the for sale section really needed a full table and it just pipped Richard arriving in the quiet room and I had way too much stuff for one table which didn't help. We felt for Mattheus and as it was getting quieter out in the main hall we decided to put him in the quiet room but we couldn't find Geoff to check that was going to be ok to have someone squashed in beside him. And poor Wendy , our Sponsor! The @V1persheadphone guru wanted a chance at the Stella and it was in it's crate by the time Wendy could make it into the quiet room. 
    People seemed to enjoy the Quiet Room , there was an atmosphere of peace and tranquility in there. It became a chill out zone and a listening zone for a few purchases and some more serious listening. Ironically the only noisy things in there were the AKG K1000s
    Not sure how we shall get round that one if we ever had a quiet room again. These are the least sensitive headphones of them all. They are completely open esp with the flaps fully out. It's like having a radio on in another room in terms of the leakage. So we almost need a Quiet Room and a K1000 Room.....
    Onto impressions...
    Richard has an endgame setup. We were privileged to hear what can be achieved with patience and diligence. I would love for @TheAttorney to give us some more insight as to what was in between the Chord Dave and the Laptop and the HiFiMan HE1000s but this is how I remember in crude terms. There is a switching box. The box is there to reduce as much noise from the laptop as possible. It feeds an ethernet cable from the Dave and the female end has a USB which goes to the laptop. It could even be the other way round. Richard comes from a background of analogue ; he , like many Audiophiles, is seeking the human touch of a Vinyl sound together with the ultra low noise floor of a Digital Source. I had a few listens, using Mussorgsky

    and Rodrigo Y Gabriela's Stairway to Heaven

    I'm convinced he is onto something. The Chord Dave is something special. For those wanting to hear what Digital can sound like and with serious money to spend this could be what they are looking for. The Chord Blu2 may even add to the experience, if such a thing is possible. @TheAttorney uses crossfeed on the Dave which widens the sound without lending it the artificiality of many other implementations.
    Geoff @headinclouds had a KGST Electrostat Headamp and a Stax SR L700 on display. He is known by many of us as a builder of Kevin Gilmore Electrostat Amps par excellence. This one was no disappointment either. When time allowed I shuffled across to Geoff's Stax Headphones and had a decent listen to them. It was difficult to fault anything here and an enjoyable musical experience. Both with Richard's setup and with Geoff's it did feel like there was no need to really worry about things like soundstage bass response linearity forwardness of mids etc. It was simply a case of , I have precious little time here , I'm going to sit back and listen to some wonderful music. 
    It was great to meet up with Stefan (@Ra97oR) . He  he had a also took up residence in the Quiet Room. You'll notice a pattern appearing here. I thought Stefan had thought through the space needed and was much better prepared with his setups. He had a Stax SR 404 SE setup and was able to play that simultaneously with his ATs W1000 ,W3000 & Fostex TX R00 Massdrop Purple Hearts. A Rupert Neve Headphone Amp and a  Stax Energiser were fed by the ubiquitous Chord Mojo.The AT W3000 headphones were able to complement my AT W1000Zs. There was a little more warmth with his than from mine. I got a chance to use them on my Mini Beast which was quite special. The Fostex Purple Hearts were also a good test against my loaner TH-610s(with thanks to Matt Esau of SCV Distribution). I preferred the Purple Hearts to the TH900s which is quite something. They have a legendary status, and remember the base model has been considered so good it launched Mr speakers with their various mods of the T50 $100 affair.
    Ultimately I preferred the tighter bass of the TH-610 and the more airy top end. The Purple Hearts were no slouches and the glossy finish on them was wonderful. 
    I took a turn on Micah's (@glassmonkey) setups. I listened to a pair of Focal Utopias through the Questyle CM600 and Aurist Audio Heron being fed by the Aune M1s. A track from David Bowie's Blackstar recorded in a lowfi style or deliberately chaotic. The CM600 gave it the roughness the Heron smoothed it out a bit more. Both were great. 
    One of the highlights for me was listening to Damien Rice through Micah's ALO Continental V5 Tube Headphone Amp fed by the Aune M1S. I plugged my HD800s into it and was taken. It was a simple setup but the magic was there nevertheless. Sometimes the music is all you need

    pedalhead, apmusson and AndrewH13 like this.
  3. Middy
    2 words: Thank you.
    A chance to meet lovely like minded people in a great atmospheric environment.
    Thank you for making myself and Sarah feel so welcome. Just excuse us for being so tired. Meeting and chatting was more of a high point than the headphones.
    Great that I got to pass on the little knowledge I had and gained so much more.
    Mark Dolbear, such a lovely bloke and giggling with my fellow scouser Wendy when her husband was busy being the perfect host, telling rude jokes....

    A privileged experience meeting the Headfi guys. Cheers for making my first experience a great one.

    I hope to make the next one baby depending.

    Take care all
    Dave and Sarah
    Swann36, hypnos1 and pedalhead like this.
  4. Middy
    pedalhead likes this.
  5. headinclouds
    Start in the time-honoured way of thanking Mark and Andy for putting so much effort into organising and co-ordinating the meet.  And Highendheadphones and Electromod for bringing so much super gear for the enthusiast.  There is a lot more choice in the high end now and some of the combinations are really lovely.  I am thinking of the HE-6 and HE1000 and similar driven by powerful amps such as those of Takeanidea and Dillan. Incidentally both built by Dillan and I am pleased to see someone also putting a lot of enthusiasm and care into building amplifiers.   The HD800 driven by the beautiful Angstrom Audiolab Stella was another example.
    Nearby was a smaller but nicely built Beyerdynamic A2 which although SS had orange LEDs and a clear top to give a valve-like ambience. Suggesting a warm cosy sound?  I noticed this detail because I sometimes build amps. 
    The MrSpeakers prototype ES made a very favourable impression on me, perhaps because I do lean towards the ES sound. The headphone market now has so much interesting and good gear it seems possible to find a system very much to your taste at a number of levels. 
    I spent much time chatting to old friends and I’m so pleased they were at the meet.
    Incidentally the quiet room might have put off some visitors as it seemed a bit shut off but some great sounds were available in there.  Takeanidea’s power amp driving HE-6 and AKG K1000 an example and TheAttorney’s Chord Dave producing very fine music.
    I am so glad to see the sponsors want to continue their involvement.  Already looking forward to the next meet!
    Stella in all her glory
    And the sweet Beyerdynamic
    pedalhead and smial1966 like this.
  6. TheAttorney
    Thank you. I'll post more about the tweaks and litte boxes when I have a bit more time.
    But in meantime, some initial impressions:
    Firstly, the event was very well organised, as you'd expect by now.
    The tiny mixup about tables in the Quiet room was sorted in 2 minutes
    I liked the location and the fact it was a shorter journey for me compared to Cambridge. Apart from a Starbucks coffee, I didn't try the bar/restaurant, but nice to have the option.
    I think the Quiet Room was generally successful. Yes, it's hard for people to resist talking to each other sometimes :)
    Yes, the lower noise background made the other headphones noise leakage more obvious - I'm pretty sure the cardboard policeman (nice touch btw) was close to slapping an ASBO on those K1000's - goodness did they make a racket when pushed. But overall, it was considerably quieter than the main room, so great for those of us who listen at moderate volumes. 
    Courtesy of HighEndHeadphones, Eletromod and fellow headfiers, there was a very wide selection of headphones/amps to try.  As I don't do iems, I didn't try the RHA desk.
    This was the first time ever I tried the K1000s. I though they sounded very good - could do with some EQing but that didn't stop them from producing a very engaging sound.  Considering that they were designed to be used by power amps, I was surprised that my Dave drove them with room to spare (for my moderate listening levels).
    I tried the Utopias with posh Nordost Heimdal (sp?) cables. Sounded better than I remember them from last time - and they were pretty good even then. Still prefer my HEK V2s though. Not surprisingly, Utopia's smaller soundstage didn't benefit as much with cross-feed as the HEK V2's much wider soundstage.
    The Stello amp looked lovely inside and it drove my HEK V2s rather nicely with no issues, but maybe I just don't go as loud as pedalhead. However, with its size, weight and price, it doesn't quite fit into my downsizing strategy - I'll stick with Dave's direct output. At the end of the day, after it had been packed up, I tried lifting one end of the wooden crate an inch off the floor... and wondered how 2 burly men would ever get that thing back to the car. So I was amazed when a few minutes later I saw the (not particularly burly) owner carrying it all on his own. How on earth did he get that thing off the floor without breaking his back?   
    Swann36 and pedalhead like this.
  7. hypnos1
    Hi guys.
    Am now about to crash and try to catch up after all the excitement of the meet, and a further mini-mini one this morning with Acapella11 and his friend Alex (and which threw up something very interesting - for me, anyway! - and which I'll expand on later).
    Anyway, most importantly I want to thank Mark and Andy especially for organising yet another great meet...shame about the lower turnout lol ( in one way...). And thanks also, of course, to the sponsors - thank goodness they agreed to still go ahead with the venture!
    And it was great to meet new faces - Phil, Trevor, Tom, Dave, Neville and others my failing memory can't quite recall at the moment....apologies...all great guys (as were all there, of course!!).
    What is churning through my mind at the moment, however, is....should I take advantage of the 10% discount offer extended 'til tomorrow and go for the Hugo 2 - it sure sounded good to me??!!! [​IMG] [​IMG]...ah well, shall sleep on it...(with sweet dreams)...CHEERS! guys.
    pedalhead likes this.
  8. RHA Team
    We were thrilled to be involved and help support our home community! Thanks to everyone that came by the stand. It was great to meet everyone, Hopefully, see you all again soon! 
    RHA Stay updated on RHA at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    https://www.facebook.com/rhaaudio https://twitter.com/rha https://www.rha-audio.com/uk/?utm_source=Head%20Fi&utm_campaign=Website_Hyperlink&utm_medium=link
    pedalhead likes this.
  9. Takeanidea
    Thanks Geoff Richard and Colin. You were great people to e involved with at the Meet and it's sad now it's over and we're back to real life now[​IMG]
  10. pedalhead Contributor
    Geoff, you are the definition of "modesty" [​IMG]
  11. pedalhead Contributor
    Yes I did crank it up to test it, but the distortion kicked in with a vengeance well before dangerous listening levels...more like rocking out level :).  At lower levels it's not noticeable at all.
  12. headinclouds
    Ha.. English don't you know....
  13. headinclouds

    Ha.. English don't you know
    PS I wish I was as good at this posting lark as I am at making things.  Didn't intend to post twice
    pedalhead likes this.
  14. miketlse
    You know that you want the Hugo 2, so go for it.
    But remember that there must already be several hundred (thousands?) of us ahead of you in the queue, eagerly awaiting ours to be shipped.
    So you have a few weeks to decide your test tracks etc. [​IMG] 
  15. hypnos1
    Hi miketlse.
    Had semi-revived from my crash - in the hope that someone might just have talked me out of my daydream - and what do you do?....the opposite!!...(why am I so weak?...my wallet is shedding tears already - but my heart thanks you...and my dreams shall indeed be honeyed this night...[​IMG]...ps already have the test tracks sorted lol! [​IMG]).
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