7/26/14 Seattle Redhook Meet impressions
Jul 30, 2014 at 3:48 PM Post #46 of 78
Lol, I was thinking of throwing a Styrofoam cooler over my head for the next one. It'll be carbon fiber covered and custom molded for my shoulders though.
We just have to do our best at the meets. I'll stick with crawling under the table and covering my head with a quilt. That probably gives me at least a 20db improvement.:D
Jul 30, 2014 at 4:17 PM Post #47 of 78
Lol, I was thinking of throwing a Styrofoam cooler over my head for the next one. It'll be carbon fiber covered and custom molded for my shoulders though.

Design it to look similar to an oversized Jecklin Float.  We promise to not take any pictures of you while wearing it.  

Jul 30, 2014 at 9:08 PM Post #48 of 78
With regard to the power being "dirty" or "underpowered" at the end of a daisy chain, it is completely inconceivable that mains power was sufficiently distorted to cause an audible difference in a room with a 60-70db noise floor. If anything on the mains could cause distortion that competes with a 60-70db noise floor, the amp is not only absolute garbage, but is improperly engineered and extremely broken.
Jul 30, 2014 at 9:28 PM Post #49 of 78
So that's out. Only thing left is a difference in the chain although things look to be the same as previous meets on his setup. So that leaves us with... the music files.

Not sure what else. I highly doubt that amp is 'garbage' or known fact that headphone sounds high end when I tried it.
Jul 30, 2014 at 10:32 PM Post #52 of 78
Yeah the new pads brought the upper mid range more forward. I noticed I was listening to the HE-6 quieter than the old velour pads. Kinda took away some of the bass and treble. Seems a lot of people didn't like that
Jul 30, 2014 at 11:01 PM Post #55 of 78
Wow, that was an incredible meet! To start off, I want to thank BIG POPPA for making this event possible, Mike Diaz of Ultimate Ears for getting us in contact with the folks at Mt. Hood Hearing Aid Center, Vlad and Darien for representing Ultimate Ears from Mt. Hood, and Barra for getting in contact with 1964 Ears and bringing along their lineup of custom in-ear monitors.

To start off the day, breakfast at Brown Bag Cafe was absolutely delicious, and very filling. I got an order of their biscuits and gravy, and boy was that a rich meal; I couldn't finish all of it. The sausage patty had nice flavour, the thick homemade buttermilk biscuits and gravy were both extremely rich, and the hashbrowns were something out of this world (they were like thin potato sheets or chunks rather than the shredded ones that I'm used to having).

Moving along to the event itself, the size and arrangement of the room made it easy to get to others' rigs, or take someone else's headphone back to your own rig to listen to. As others mentioned though, noise could have been an issue. I set up camp in the corner on a short table next to the Ultimate Ears table, so I'm guessing not a lot of people came by to listen to my rig. Because of this, background noise wasn't a big problem for me at least, so I was okay with the environment. For people near the center of the room though, you all got the double whammy of having people next to you and behind you.

Barra's setup was right next to me, so I took the opportunity to listen to the 1964 Ears custom in-ear monitors while others were still getting setup. This was the first time I had ever tried putting CIEMs in my ear, so I was pretty excited to finally try a pair. During the whole meet, I was using a pair of Comply foam tips and I managed to get a good seal and fit with all of the CIEMs I tried. Of the 1964 Ears lineup, I only tried the V6 Stage and V8 CIEMs, but of the two, I greatly preferred the V6 Stage. If you know what the V-MODA Crossfade M-100 sounds like, the V6 Stage has a similar sound signature (deep, elevated bass response, laid-back midrange, sparkly treble with a slight treble roll-off). The V6 Stage does sound more refined overall though with a more coherent sound, more texture and detail retrieval, and a much more spacious soundstage (hence why it has Stage in its name). Although I usually like V8 beverages, I didn't like the V8 CIEM all that much. The bass seemed really bloated, the midrange recessed, and less sparkle in the highs compared to the V6 Stage.

After listening to the 1964 Ears lineup of CIEMs, I wanted to give the Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor a shot to see how they compared. After getting them in my ears with the help of Vlad, I turned on my music and...

Wow, just wow. I was expecting the UERM to sound good based on what I've read about it, but I never imagined I would like its sound so much. For the longest time, before UE was acquired by Logitech, I was always curious to hear the UERM since some of my favourite music artists (at the time) used them and I was first introduced to the custom in-ear monitor because of that. My mind was blown. What I heard was as slightly warm sound signature (although that could be due to the Comply tips, based on what others have said about the foam tips affecting the sound quality) with frequency roll-offs at either extreme of the sound spectrum, a slightly closed-in soundstage that was more deep than wide, and a very very very silky smooth sound across all frequencies while still maintaining a high level of instrument texture and detail retrieval. I genuinely almost cried when listening to them because they just sounded so good with any genre of music I threw at it. If I had the funds, I would definitely like to purchase one. Simply incredible.

^ the Ultimate Ears ambassadors doing their magic

Back at my table after being in awe, I decided to compare Barra's iBasso DX90 to my iPod 5G+JDS Labs C5D combo to see if I could justify purchasing one. I previously tried the previous DX50 and was less than impressed with its sound, let alone the user interface. Some X updates of the firmware later, I found the UI to be much more solid and usable, although I still couldn't quite get used to the scrolling; is there a way to quickly scroll between letters of the alphabet such that I don't have to scroll for a minute to get to the songs with the letter Z? Anyway, I was comparing the two portable media players with the FiiO HS2 A/B/C/D-er box and after volume-matching them by ear at 1 kHz, I found that they sounded pretty identical with the AKG K 240 Monitor. Maybe I would give a slight upper hand to the DX90 for having a blacker background, thus giving the impression of better instrument separation, but it didn't think it was a large enough difference to justify going out of my way to purchase one.

I quickly gave the FiiO X5 another listen since it was right next to the DX90 and my impressions were similar to what I heard with the touring X5 unit I tried earlier in the year, unfortunately. To me it has a coloured sound and I'm not a big fan of it since the upper-midrange seems bright and it can be a bit too much for me with certain songs.

By the time I finished giving the A/B comparison between the DX90 and the iPod 5G+C5D, it was time for the folks at Mt. Hood to give their hearing protection presentation. I thought it was a very informative presentation as a whole and for people like us music enthusiasts, it's always important to keep in mind of the effects of hearing loss and how to prevent it from happening. Hearing damage is permanent and it's not something you can easily get restored effectively like having LASIK surgery, contacts, or glasses for a loss of vision. These days, a lot of teenagers and young adults go out to their favourite band's concerts without proper hearing protection, or listen to their Apple earbuds at 90% maximum volume on the bus and it's a scary to think what will happen to their hearing in the future.

After the presentation, I decided to move out of the portable gear corner into the rest of the room and I stopped off at Doc B.'s station first. I was definitely impressed by how their new Quicksand amplifier looks; it's very unconventional and unique.

^ that Bottlehead Crack is so beautiful!

Unfortunately I'm not too experienced with the HE-500's sound, nor with the Doc's music being played, so I wasn't able to make accurate impressions based on what I heard.

The JPS Labs Abyss AB-1266 (what does the 1266 even mean?) was also setup at Doc's station, so I decided to give those a listen since they were surprisingly available. If you attended the meet, you would know that the Abyss was a very popular headphone on m2man's rig in the center of the room. On Doc's tape rig, I couldn't get an accurate impression of how the Abyss sounded so I moved it over to my corner table and gave it a listen on the Objective DAC/O2. I've got to say, the ODAC/O2 rig with the Abyss sounded pretty good. It had decent extension on both ends of the frequency spectrum with very good texture and detail. On the other hand, from the upper-midrange frequencies and beyond, it had a funky timbre to it that sounded weird to me and it was a bit too biting and aggressive to me. The treble seemed grainy as a result of this and comparing the STAX SRS-2170 to it, which was right next to me, 9 times out of 10 I would pick the SRS-2170. The Abyss does have a nice bass impact, not unlike a typical planar magnetic headphone, but the upper-midrange and above thing just didn't do it for me. For a planar magnetic headphone, it seemed pretty quick to my ears though, which is something I haven't heard in a planar magnetic before and I think it rivals the SRS-2170 in speed, if not slightly faster.

On m2man's rig, I heard much of the same with Abyss as on my ODAC/O2 except the bass was punchier and the upper-midrange and beyond frequencies more aggressive. I didn't really take note of the Abyss's soundstaging capabilities on the ODAC/O2, but I thought it was pretty small with the Eddie Current 2A3. AC/DC's "Back in Black" song did sound pretty dynamic with the Abyss on that setup, but I would have to compare that track on my own rig to give it a more accurate analysis; it still sounded quite aggressive to my ears.

Even if the Abyss sounded good though, the comfort was absolutely horrendous. When I first put them on my head, I thought something was wrong with the way they were on my head, but I guess it's normal. The frame is so rigid that it doesn't stretch; I literally had to slide on/off the headphone to get it on my head as opposed to 99% of all other headphones in the world where you can stretch it to fit over one's ears. I basically picked up the headphone, moved my head into them and let go of them. Once they were actually on my head and successfully over my ears, the earpads were so anti-ergonomic that I was able to stick 3 fingers up the bottom of the earpad because of the lack of any seal on my head. I had to press the whole frame of the headphone into my head to get a proper seal. Without the proper seal, the bass became bloated, fat, and flobby as if there was a bass speaker next to my ear. With the proper seal though, the bass was much more linear and tight.

By this time, the meet was nearly over and people were starting to pack up. I quickly gave the Fostex TH900 (m2man's), Beyerdynamic T1 (MKTRV6's), and HiFiMAN HE-560 production pads (ericr's(?)) a try on my rig. The TH900 still sounds weird to me; it has a warm sound overall, but it lacks articulation and focus and the midrange sounds off, to me at least. It's a fun-sounding headphone, but I don't know if I would pay $1000+ for such a headphone.

Likewise, the T1's midrange sounded hollow or metallic to me and I didn't like its sound signature after a minute's worth of listening.

The HE-560 was a bit interesting to me. When I first picked it up, I thought it was going to be much heavier than it was. I was kind of expecting the wood to make the headphone heavy, but it was the exact opposite to me. When I listened to it, it had a pretty smooth sound up until the treble region, which is an improvement from what I remember about the HE-500. The bass impact didn't quite have the punchy bass that I remember from the HE-500, but it did have nice extension. I recently signed up to be a part of the HeadAmp touring HE-560, so I'll have to give those a more careful listen. I can tell you that the pads are muuuuuch more comfortable on my head than any of the previous HiFiMAN headphones. I always found the earpads to be extremely stiff and they never fit very well on my head, but these pads are much improved.

The after meet was pretty fun too. I've never been to Red Hook before, nor have I had any of their beers. I had an "Audible Ale" in appreciation for this Head-Fi event and it was pretty good overall. I've only had a few beers in the past and this had a nice amber colour to it. Its taste was slightly malty, slightly sweet, and slightly bitter at the end. I think 16 oz. of beer is a tad bit too much for me though, hahaha. I had a sip of the Wise Cracker and I think I would have liked that one more in terms of flavour; it's less bitter and has a nice ginger taste.

Miscellaneous photos:

^ winner of the UE 900 raffle

^ winner of the Bottlehead Quicksand

^ alpha421 looks extremely satisfied with his UE purchase

^ Ultimate Ears' table with their lineup of CIEMs, UE900, and model of the ear

^ UE lineup

Good meet overall, good meet. I really enjoyed it and I look forward to the next meet!

Note to self: listen to blownaway's rig first thing at the next meet
Jul 31, 2014 at 1:16 AM Post #56 of 78
With regard to the power being "dirty" or "underpowered" at the end of a daisy chain, it is completely inconceivable that mains power was sufficiently distorted to cause an audible difference in a room with a 60-70db noise floor. If anything on the mains could cause distortion that competes with a 60-70db noise floor, the amp is not only absolute garbage, but is improperly engineered and extremely broken.

One issue we had at the meet. We normally have 1 maybe 2 tables per outlet. This meet had 3-4--5 tables at outlets. There was only 3 or 4 outlets for this room? But we managed.
Aug 1, 2014 at 4:35 AM Post #57 of 78
Looks like it was a great meet, really sucks that I had to miss it especially since I was in town!
The pics of all that food have my mouth watering, would've liked to have joined in for the pre- and post-meet especially.
Oh well, maybe next summer. At least I finally got to see the Blue Angels fly over the city while I was in town, being there for Fleet Week was an unexpected bonus (just got back home today).
Aug 2, 2014 at 2:18 AM Post #59 of 78
Aug 2, 2014 at 2:47 AM Post #60 of 78
  It is in the works as we speak.............

I can't wait.  Hammy just got himself a Liquid Fire.  It's soooo smoooooooth.  

Soooo smoooooth.  I'm in love.  The amp lets the music hug me.
Now I'm in need of a better DAC.  Hopefully I'll have that sorted by the next meet.

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