Chicago Head-fi meet impressions
post-198925
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Tuberoller

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Well,It was the usual suspects and a few new guys/ladies and we had a stinkin' ball.

I gotta offer huge thanks to Todd at Headroom and Jeremy,Mike and Adam(even though I had to pay him)at Decibel Audio for the gear,time and space.Another big thanks to my Dad for allowing us to use his very expensive Revox player and cables to use with the Blockhead.Also thanks to Acidtripwow and ChenaynayC for helping me set-up and to Reynman for hanging around to tear down.

the gear list is long and the impressions many,I will allow some other members to post some thoughts first and I will post the pics and my own impressions later.

thanks to everybody that came and enjoyed and lets remember the two companies that made this all happenDecibel Audio and Headroom when we need gear.This whole thing would not have been possible without them.
 
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post-198930
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Tuberoller

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Here a few pics to fuel the fires of envy for the Chicago Head-fi Meet .yeah baby,this is how it gets done in Da Chi-Town.
 
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post-198941
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markl

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We want impressions, man!!!!
What did you think????

Mark
 
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post-198979
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ChenaynayC

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Ah! Anytime I can spend with the Blockhead is time well spent. Tubroller had it connected to an ungodly expensive Revox CD player via some ungodly expensive Synergistic cables, and we had the Senn and RS1 balanced headphones to try. It was the first time I heard the RS1s via the Blockhead ... yeah, here's the party! I think I need both sets of cans, cause I can't decide which I like best. That mood thing again
I'll never to able to afford it and the proper accoutrements - but I can dream can't I? On to the rest of the show:

Table #1
MG Head w/Modern Audio Design - Pearl ICs
Headroom Maxed Out Home w/DiMarzio ICs
Headroom Max w/DiMazio ICs
Grado RA-1 w/Grado ICs
Corda Blue/Unmodded Art DI/O w/Outlaw ICs
Fisher 400 Receiver w/AKG K1000s
Super Meta42 - missed the hook-up on this one
Porta Corda

These amps were driven by 2 Sony DVP-NS500Vs. We also had a Sony D25 PCDP for the portable amps. Headphones in the area consisted of SennHD600s with Red Clou, Beyer DT-831, Sony 1700, AKG401s and 501s. Headphones kept moving! Imagine that! AcidTripWow also share his Fix-up Mini with those that were interested. I saw an Altoid CHA-47 on the premises too.

Table #2
Sonic Adventure w/Synergistic ICs
AudioValve RKV Mark II w/Synergistic ICs
ASL Twin Head w/Synergistic ICs
Wheatfield HA-2 (oops, I missed the ICs - prob Synergistics)

These amps were driven by a Cambridge 500, Roksan (Kandy) KC-1?, MMF-CD25, and for the later half of the gathering a Sony CE555ES SACD player. Headphones hanging about included Grado HP1s, Senn HD600s with Stephan Equinox, Pioneer 10R, and Beyer 931. I hear there were some Beyer DT-770s in the house - but I missed 'em.

BLOCKHEAD[/]


I probably missed a lot of stuff - so help me out guys! I'm pretty sure another CD player was set up on Table 1. There was a lot of stuff and some folks had their own. My favorites outside the Blockhead were:

Headphones: Grado HP1s
Amp: RKV and Wheatfield HA-2 (need closer listening to pick). And by the way, the Wheatfield was not 'tricked out'. It was stock and very smooth and accurate.

I enjoyed meeting you all! Good listening!
 
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post-198983
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markl

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Oh....My....God!!!!!!!


Please tell us more about the Twin Head.

Please!!!!


Mark
 
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post-199052
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JMT

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Impressions, more pics, tell us who is who!!!!!
 
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post-199062
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gloco

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Quote:

Originally posted by KR...
That link doesn't work



worked for me, just needed to sign in to imagestation to view the pics.
 
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post-199064
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Tuberoller

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There were not many big suprises as far as the gear on hand but the quality of the gear was first rate.I will offer my impressions based on what I thought sounded best first.Some of these impressions were formed during my extended time with the gear earlier this week.

#1-with a bullet


Headroom Blockhead - $3,300
Revox E-46 CD player-$5,900 with upsampling and upgraded power supply.
Synergistic Research Designer's Reference Intereconnect w/active shielding-$2,000
Custom Grado RS1 Headphones with balanced cables -Price unknown

This stole the show.Everyone came away in awe(I think?).This system is clearly the best I have ever heard.The Senn HD600 and Cardas balanced cable sounded great but the Blockhead/Grado combo is magic.This is the closet thing to true soundstage replication yet in a headphone system.There is nothing for the music to hide behind with this system.I love this and must own it.I have heard the Blockhead on four different occasions with three players(the Meridian,a Krell DAC and transport,and the Revox) the Revox is the real deal.The Revox seems the perfect match for the Blockhead and the Synergistic research cables made this system sing.When I first connected this system at home I was just speechless.There is bass in all the right places.there is detail everywhere it belongs and like I said there is a true soundstage that can be compared with the best loudspeaker systems.This is just incredible.If any of this gear is in your price range,do it.

#2
Roksan Kandy CDP -$900.00
Antique Sound labs Twinhead -$1,250
Synergistic Research kaleidoscope Interconnect w/active shielding-$1,300
Senn HD600 -$250.00
Stefan Audio Art Equinox replacement cable for HD600 -$189.00

I loved this sytem.It was so right.The midrange and vocals of this system was the best in the show.It did'nt have the dimensional soundstage of the Blockhead system but came close in some ways.This system has few shortcomings and does so many things right.The bass is fantastic and the treble is focused and detailed in the very best kind of way.This Twinhead is the new King of Tube Headphone Amps in my book.Yep,it beat out my beloved tube-rolled Wheatfield HA2,but not by a bunch.There are some major and fatal problems with the quality control at ASL, however.I had to go through three Twinheads to get one that was not dead or humming terribly and the one I purchased for use at the meet suffered from various quality control problems such as loose RCA jacks,a non-working remote volume control,a loose tube socket,and a wavvy and poorly chromed case.I would not recommend the twinhead at this point and would go so far as to strongly discourage purchase of this amp/preamp until these problems are fixed.This was very frustrating for me and I hate this cause I really like Joe Lau and Tash Goka.This is inexcusable.

#3
Headroom Max -$1,599.00
Senn HD600
Equinox

This was connected to the Sony DVP-NS500V and sounded great.The Dimarzio M-path interconnect was used most of the day.I think I listened to this at home with the Acoutic Zen WOW! interconnect but the sound at the meet was a bit less detailed,possibly due to the interconnect but I'm not sure so I didn't list an Interconnect.Bass is the name of the game with the Max.Treble detail and midrange are the best of the current solid-state crowd but give up a lot to the Blockhead.The Max is clearly the best Solid-sate amp right now(short of the Blockhead) and all others are still playing catch-up.Some solid states can do the treble as well but not the midrange and most certainly not the bass.I knew the Max was interconnect sensitve but it has never been more obvious than now.I have a large number of really good interconnects on hand and swapping them through the Max is really fun,the differences jump right out at you.The Max is source sensitve as well and really brings out the best in a good source.I tried it with the the Revox at home and it just rocked.this is an amp that woud survive your worst cases of upgraditis.Note that the Maxed Out Home is a mere breathe away from the Max and both are at the top.

I was also very,very suprised by the AKG K-1000 with the Fisher 400 as were many others.I first got an opportunity to listen to these at length when I was replacing the tubes in the Fisher and grounding the chassis .I was impressed then and thought the combo would sound good at the meet.The AKG are on top of my "must have" list now.They have great bass and unreal imaging.This is a very good offering of a realistic soundstage.The big beef with the AKG remains comfort,they just stinkin' hurt man.I still gotta have them.

The Wheatfield held it's own and handed the RKV it's ass.I will admit the RKV is more versitile but Wheatfield has much better detail and frequency extension.I think I referred to the RKV as "vintage" sounding.I mean that it sounds like the classic tube-amp stereotype:nice fat bass,sweet midrange and vocals and rolled off treble.The Wheatfield(with the Tuberoller special tube complement) has bass that is less impactful but more defined and focused than the RKV.Treble resolution is where the HA2 is most evidently superior to the RKV.The Wheatfield has treble detail that reaches to the edges of the recording without hanging over or falling off.Frequency extension is wide,controlled and precise.It's just too bad the Wheatfield is no longer being produced.I don't think the RKV is a bad amp but it stands in the shadows of the Twinhead and HA2.Put on an SACD and the RKV's shortcomings step to the forefront.

I am so impressed with JMT's META42.this little amp does the hard jobs right.It has bass that is near the Headroom amps in terms of impact but not tautness or accuracy.The midrange is so nice,voices sound natural and articulate.I think this is one of the the best small amps around.No,It won't touch the frequency extension of the Headroom Cosmic and crossfeed ain't ever a bad thing,but it is very good and represents the top of the game in DIY amps.These will only get better and that is a great thing.

As fas as headphones,I gotta say I don't remember the Beyer 931 sounding this good the last four times I heard them.The Twinhead and the RKV just make these phones jam.The bass is deep and powerful.These are the rock headphones of choice.I'm sorry I sold mine,I must have more.The 831 are not far behind but the midrange sounds a bit dry.The AKG 501 was a huge disappointment for me.I borrowed a set of these a while back and was looking forward to wringing them out.The midrange is nice but everything else is just OK.

the Sources were all great,but again the Revox is a monster.When my dad bought this thing I thought he was crazy.He auditioned a few players including the Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 3 and a few other Meridian,Krell,Cary and BAT players.He decided on the Revox as soon as he heard it.His complaints about British Cd players have never been more evident than this past few days while I had this player in my system.He argues that all British players are designed to compensate for the poor speaker placement(close to walls) of the British Audio consumer and lack proper imaging.He is right.Even my much loved Musical Fidelity 324 DAC pales in comparison to the Revox.This player has the truest and most honest soundstage and instrument and voice placement I have ever heard.Close your eyes and I declare you are there.

The Roksan and the NAD were both really good but the Cambridge and Music Hall were better in most ways.I only got a chance to hear the NAD with the solid state amps but I head the Max and the Maxed out Home with the D500SE and MMF-CD25 earlier in the week.Both these CDPs are incredible for the cash.The Sonys were still impressive and SACD seals the deal.The thing that makes the Sony such a giant killer is the SACD format,it just kills redbook in all but the best players.If you seek a big bargain and great player check out the Cambridge or the Music hall.

I had been bad-mouthing the Synergistic cables for long while but my Dad swears by them and uses them exclusively.I regress and now understand why.I think that the lower priced Looking Glass($400.00) is the best of the bunch but that is no small thing.These cables with the really cool looking blue and pink LEDs sound great with the active shielding.This is one of those gimmicks that really works.The shielding does indeed offer the reduced backround noise claimed and all the cables seem very neutral.

The Kurt W modded Corda was a revelation.I hated the two Cordas I previously owned.The Mods must make a bigger difference than some owners realize or maybe I'm unable to quantify the changes,but this amp sounds really,really nice.I still don't know what the big deal ever was with the ART DI/O.I think this this is one of those cases of run-away word of mouth.I am not now or never have been impressed with the Art.It's Ok but low level detail suffers.the one ChenaynayC was using sounded the same.


These are my initial thoughts,I will ad some later and will add some comments to the pics as well.The spring meet,at my house, will be better,I promise.Sorry about the lack of refreshments,I was running way behind and simply overlooked them.When we do this again I will have some good stuff and we will really have a good time.This is how Chicago does it!!!!!!!!!

BTW,sorry I forgot the box with the Harmonic Tech cables,Musical Fidelity DAC and the Grado RS1.

Edit:
I hate to piss anybody off,but as soon as some as you guys left Mike (the Co-owner)gave away Decibel Audio T-shirts,these are the same shirt worn by John Cusak in the Movie "High Fidelity".I was verbally reprimanded by Mike after everybody left because he did tell me before-hand to give everyone a shirt and I forgot.Anybody who was there and did not get a shirt please let me know via Pm or email and I'll send it out to you.please state your size and what color(grey or Black) you would like.
 
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post-199110
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darkclouds

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Tuberoller,
that sounded like one heck of a day. Makes me want to get flight tickets for the next bash.

I'm a bit dissappointed about your take on ASL's QC. But that's alrite. It'll give me some time to recover from my recent spending while they get QC up to par.

(By the way, I picked up a Nitty Gritty to get some of that static out of my LPs.)

Thanks for the impressions.
 
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tanfenton

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HeadRoom Blockhead



From left to right, top to bottom: AudioValve RKV Mark II, Cambridge Audio D-500SE, Roksan Kandy, Music Hall MMF CD-25, Monster HTS-3500 (?), ASL TwinHead, and Wheatfield HA-2



ASL TwinHead and Wheatfield HA-2



The motherload



ART DI/O, Meier Audio Corda (Blue), The Fisher 400



Revox E-46
 
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post-199143
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Tuberoller

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It was good to meet and greet all the head-fier's.We had a nice crowd and I think everybody had fun.I am gonna buy a stinkin' Blockhead.I gotta have it.My wish list is as follows

Blockhead
Revox E-46 CDP with Upsampling
AKG K-1000
Beyer 931
Headroom Bag

A few words about that Headroom bag.This is one of the nicest audio accessories around.This bag is top notch.This is another one of those things that I have seen many times but overlooked.Todd sent the Cosmic in the Traveller bag and this thing is extremly well constructed.It seems to be made from Ballistic Nylon which will outlast me,you and anything else we own.I ride motorcycles and any cycle gear made from this stuff is considered the best and is never cheap.The pockets and compartments are all very well concieved and executed.This bag is super-duty and is very useful.The cord pass-throughs are actually heavily reinforced and placed in the perfect position.The side pockets offer perfect balance and objects placed in them do not cause the bag to offset due to weight distribution.The Zippers are the very best and will last forever.The padding is thick,but most importantly is actually capable of absorbing an impact or the hazards of daily travels.The padding is also well placed and does not shift and is not bulky in the least bit.The only complaint is that there is no provision for placement of a set of large phones.I know this is asking a lot but something like a velcro strap would do nicely for external storage of phones and would not distract from the performance of this bag at all.This bag is seriously over built in the best kind of way.the pics on the hearoom site don't do it justice,you must feel and use it.The traveller bag gets my very strongest recommendation.Not cheap but very well worth it.


About the Twinhead:I am truly frustrated with this preamp/headamp.It sounds so great.My wife commented that this thing sounded great in my system,she never does that.She came into my room as I was attempting to burn the first unit in and she asked what changes I made to the system,noting that it sounded a bit better.It is truly outstanding as a preamp and is near the very best as a headamp but the QC issues must be address.I can't offer any type of recommendation at this point.Things must get better at ASL.There is a Tulip amp at a local dealer that has an LED bias meter that stays lit for about a minute after the unit is turned off.That same unit has poor chrome and and very poorly fitting RCA jacks.The faceplate on my unit has allen-head screws that have been stripped.I won't be buying anything else ASL until the QC picks up.
 
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PC Corp

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Drool..


What a meeting!!!!!

Quote:

The spring meet,at my house, will be better,I promise.


hm.. Spring break, spring break.
Do you mean there will be some hot chicks?
If the answer is a yes then please reserve a seat for me now.


Anyway, it seems you still have a lot to learn from your old man.

wow, the Revox CD player looks so sweet.

You're a really nice guy Tuberoller.
 
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post-199159
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Nick Dangerous

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Looks like the meet was held in an audio shop. What's with all those speakers along the wall?

Wish I could have been there.

By the way, I also had QC issues with the Twin Head. Excessive hum was an issue, as was an intermittently functioning remote. I expected this would have been worked out by now. As good as Joe's stuff is for the money, careful assembly is a non-negotiable requirement. I'd pay an extra 10% for an "elite build" of an ASL component. It would still be a killer deal.

Soundwise, the Twin Head rules. Does it not? I'd still like to hear one with TJ meshplate 2A3's.
 
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