Detroit Meet at Wadia...and Stop #1 for HeadRoom!!
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elrod-tom

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Well, I know that I speak for everyone who was in attendance at this meet when I say that a great time was had by all!!

We had an abundance of equipement, thanks in no small part to the latest HeadRoom travelling road show. It was great to meet Tyll, Jamie, and Joe, and my personal thanks goes out to all of you.

Hats off to Wadia, for once again hosting a meet to remember. As usual, we had great Wadia equipment for headphone and "other" listening (more on this later). Thanks so much to John and the rest of the crew from Wadia for playing such a big part in making the meet a success.

Big thanks to jefemeister, who organized the whole thing...it was great, in no small part due to your efforts!!


It's late, and I'm pretty beat, so I'm not going to do much of anything more until tomorrow morning. But I thought I'd at least get this thread started.
 
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ayt999

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sounds like it was a great way to kick off The HeadRoom Tours Head-Fi Meets Tour.


cannot wait to read impressions on the new HeadRoom lineup, especially those balanced amplifiers.


thanks for starting the thread elrod-tom. I was wondering when that would happen.
 
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elrod-tom

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I really like the new HeadRoom products...they're innovative and well designed. They also sound DAMN nice!!


OK...it's bed time for me. See y'all tomorrow AM
 
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I really enjoyed myself. Thanks to everyone that came and made it a big success. I don't have any pics this time, but I saw a bunch of cameras so be patient.

I only listened to a few rigs this time; mostly the headroom stuff. The Micro DAC and amp stack sounds great. I don't have a lot of personal experience in the portable amp market but the Micro Amp & DAC trounces my bithead. Juding the SQ of the uAmp by itself, I prefer the SR-71; but, I like HeadRoom's inclusion of crossfeed, filter, and gain settings, and it’s $100 cheaper. (I'm a big fan of crossfeed as I sometimes listen for 4+ hours straight while at the computer.) The Micro DAC sounds great and the two units combined are awesome. I used the optical output from a Coby portable DVD player playing redbook. Both units were powered externally. The amp had batteries in it though and I couldn't hear a difference flipping between power sources.

I spent a fair amount of time with the Desktop Amp w/ power supply. Man, this amp is fantastic. I was using the digital out from my Squeezebox II. The sound is reminiscent of my old Home amp but is more refined and detailed overall with very noticeable improvement in bass impact and definition. It seemed a little quicker sounding too. I don't really know the price of this amp, Tyll mentioned it was pretty tricked out. $600 for the amp, $400 for the power supply, $500 for the max module option, $200 for stepped attenuator option, and up to $400 for the DAC option = $1700 to $2100. I could be happy with the $600 Micro stack but I should have compared it to the un-optioned amp since they're the same price.

The Maxes (I just realized there is a Home Balanced amp too--I'm pretty sure these were Maxes, but I might be wrong) were just beautiful. The chasse look much nicer in person. At first I wasn't sure the design worked on this size amp but it does. I owned an old Max for awhile. The change in the new version is similar to what I said for the Desktop above. The balanced version was stunning. It sounded similar to what I remember the old Blockhead being, with a little more refinement overall. The internal DAC in the Max Bal is very nice. I can't really compare it with the Micro DAC or the one in the Desktop because I'm not sure what to attribute to DAC and what to attribute to the Amp. The Max Bal definitely sounded more natural, dynamic, and just plain beautiful when fed by the 861s analog outputs, but one would expect that from an $8,500 CD player's DAC.

I listened briefly to the Singlepower Slam. It's a great amp, the inclusion of the feedback control (dubbed Texture) is fun and useful. I prefer the original model PPX3 and MPX3 though over it. But it's hard to tell in different setups.

I was surprised by the quality if Philodox's Eastsound CD player and Dynahi amp. Just absolutely ridiculous good sound for around $1300 total. I wanted to put the E5 up against the 861 but never got around to it. The external build quality is great on both units, but especially the E5. I really like the look, feel, and weight of the player. The remote is cool to boot. I listened to the same setup with a modded Ack Dack placed inbetween. I preferred the sound straight from the E5. The high-freq on the Ack was a little edgy but the mids were really fluid. I know this sounds dumb, but I really liked the volume knob on the Veda Dynahi--looks, feel, and operation.

I've lived with the SA-5000 for a few weeks now and I think they work really well on classical music (especially piano) and light jazz. The midrange is really, really good. However, I think the high-freq can get bright and eventually very fatiguing. I also notice a sharp resonance in the upper-bass region that really seems to manifest itself on the trailing edges of notes. That normally means there’s something amiss with the harmonic structure of the notes.

I enjoyed hearing Ray's turntable setup in the soundroom. I admittedly don't know much about vinyl setups but his new phono stage sounds great. We listened to it for awhile through a stealth and then straight to amp on balanced Cardas GR. His phono stage has limited volume-control capability built in. Ultimately, I think I preferred it through the Stealth but I think a more accurate/detailed sound was had my going straight into the Alephs.

Thanks again to everyone who came. Especially Headroom, Ray Samuels, and Mikhail who flew in from Colorado. A special thanks to Headroom for the coffee mugs and other goodies.
 
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Tyll Hertsens

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Hi Guys! Wow! What a great time! First, big thanks to Jeff and John at Wadia for hosting the meet and providing the pizza. I never knew barbeque pork pizza could be so good.

I was absolutely AMAZED at the enthusiastic hardware participation of members here; people were hauling in computers and amps and cans and all sorts of stuff. When I get back to Bozeman I'll post some pix, but you guys really know how to haul out the hardware. I was really impressed.

It was a blast saying hi to Ray and meeting Mikhail, it's nice to be in business with such fun competitors. Mikhail said he'll be meeting up with me a few times more on the tour.

Well...I'd love to sit and chat, but every minute here is a minute less in Chicago and I'll already be showing up an hour late. Looking forward to a meet coming soon to your neighborhood.
 
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Ah...much better!!


Picking up where others left off, this really was a great meet. I think the thing that I enjoy the most is seeing so many folks. We had a lot of the local regulars, with some of our better known amp manufacturers (Tyll, Ray, Mikhail). What was particularly neat about this meet is that we had a few folks who came quite a distance...from deep in the heart of Canada (philodox, where was that place again?
), to Virginia, to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Of course, who could resist such a gathering of headphone amp manufacturers, at the HQ of what is for my money THE manufacturer of high-end digital??

When I first got there, HeadRoom had already set up in one area, and much of the table in the second area was already covered with gear. I managed to carve out some space between Ray Samuels gear and member chosen1's uber PPA and such. We really had a TON of gear in there, but we made it work very well (note to other meet attendees - BRING EXTENSION CORDS AND POWER STRIPS!!!). I met Tyll, Jamie and Joe from HeadRoom within the first few minutes, and of course had to show off my work rig (Coda/Overture/iHP-140/K501) for a few minutes.


Ray Samuels was in attendance, along with his beautiful wife Grace, fresh from the weekend of their daughter's wedding. As usual, his equipment was a joy to behold. He had his new Raptor set up, along with some of his other equipment, with his Meridian G08. Of course, it sounded great. I kept trying to get the Raptor hooked to my home soure (wanting to know how much of what I was hearing was Raptor, and how much Meridian!!), but my cables were a bit too short (note to self - bring longer cables to the next meet). The Raptor was lush, liquid, and sweet-sounding...without sounding overly tubey. A very nice product, which has me scrambling to figure out whether I can work one into my own system (the good news, as discusssed in the thread about our last impromptu meet, is that it definately drives the K1000
)

Speaking of cables, for any of you who don't believe that cables make a difference, all you had to do was run down any one of several Sennheiser cabled cans and compare them to the recabled (typically with Cardas) models of same. If that didn't convince you, all it would have taken was a comparison of philodox's rig (Eastsound CD player and Dynahi amp) with the silver cables he brought (brighter than I care for), with the switched-out Dimarzio cables on loan from HeadRoom (ahh...much better!!)

BTW - I really enjoyed listening to philodox's rig. You really can't go wrong at all for what amounts to $1,500 in amp and source. I especially liked listening with his modified AKG K340's...someone remind me why I sold mine again.
A nice listen.


Of course, the big news coming out of this meet was the kick-off of the new HeadRoom gear. It's completely redesigned, and I have to tell you that they've done their homework here. I'm completely impressed by what I've seen. I've already spent a LOT of time with the country cousin of the Micro DAC and AMP (my own Coda and Overture), so I wanted to spend some time with the new amp to see whether there were any big differences in the two. Well, there were...the Micro amp module is very nice (though I'm perfectly happy with my Overture's module), and I noticed a difference right away. I can't wait to upgrade my own amp with the DESKTOP module...that will make for some awesome office listening!!
I don't mind saying that they've done an EXCELLENT job designing these amps for portability. The strap is a very nice and very handy addition...but it doesn't fit my Coda/Overture stack. SIGH...the pitfalls of being an early adaptor.


I next spent significant time with the Desktop line...after all, that's where my Coda is heading!! I wasn't sure what I thought of this line when I saw the pictures, but it looks pretty nice to me. Again, the usefullness of the design features built into the housing is apparent...you really did a job on that, guys, and I tip my hat to you.

There are three primary amps in the Desktop line...the Desktop, Desktop Portable, the Desktop Millet Hybrid. The Millet Hybrid is an interesting listen, as the tubes are present but not overpowering. I never have been able to get my #@$% Millet Hybrid DIY project working right, so this was a particularly interesting listen. It presented as less forward, a bit like what one might imagine an X-Cans V2 with crossfeed (and without the more forward presentation in the treble region) might sound like. An interesting product, to be sure...I liked it. I'll be curious to see how they sell, as it's a step off the reservation of sorts for SS manufacturer HeadRoom.


The Desktop Portable is a nice amp...very nice. It seems like it's the replacement for the Cosmic, and it also appears to be well designed for it's intended use (hybrid portable and desktop model)

The Desktop amp is an impressive amp indeed. I spent much of the night listening to the jumped up model with stepped attenuator, max module, dedicated power supply, and DAC. I regret that I had hardly a moment with the DAC, as I was most interested to give that a listen. Most of my time was spent listening to the analog outs from a Wadia 861 (for my money, the best redbook CD player I've heard)...this has the effect of making one wonder whether one is hearing the excellent amp, or the excellent source...SIGH!!. Hopefully I can get a listen with my home rig when HeadRoom comes BACK to Detroit in a few months (that's right you jealous bastards...we get them again!!!
).

I found what I was hearing in this barely street-legal Desktop to be significantly different from my experience with the HeadRoom line...including the more recent reference module. I made a point to listen with a number of different headphones - including the AKG K501 and K271S - and was very happy with what I heard. The bass was tight, accurate, and decayed with what I thought was a particularly accurate pacing. The highs were definately right, airy and detailed without the harshness that one sometimes hears with solid state gear. The thing that reached out and grabbed me (as usual) with the HeadRoom products, was the midrange. This is what I've always appreciated about the HeadRoom products...including my original vintage MAX that I sold almost two years ago (and have often missed). I'm a midrange listener. A source or amp might have the hot-damned-en-est bass and treble in the world, but if they can't get the midrange right, I don't need it. IMHO, that's where the music really lives, and thus it's critical to get that right. Suffice to say, the HeadRoom products have always done a nice job with that IMHO, and they seem to have stayed true to that philosophy with this series of amps. I really enjoyed my listen to the new Desktop, and strongly encourage any of you who will be in attendance at future meets to make sure that you can give it the listen it deserves.

Then there was the new MAX line...but OOH!! That will have to wait for later


More to come...
 
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tyrion

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Nice impressions so far. I am sorry the Headroom Tour is going to miss South Florida. On a more important note, where are the pics people? You know this is what we live for after a meet.
 
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I am at my parents house in Michigan so there is so much family stuff too do so I will be brief.
You guys are all great there are too many to thank, but Wadia thank you for being such great hosts and the pizza and drinks what a treat.

Tyll thanks for putting a CD. In the player turning it on, and plugging in a set of cans setting the volume and handing them too me! and getting me started LOL, I may still be looking at the products instead of listening! I can’t wait untill the DC. Meet to give the Headroom stuff another listen.

I have to say my coffee never tasted so good as this morning in my new headroom coffee cup.

The headroom stuff is all very nice I am quite impressed.

Ray and his wife were so nice .

I have to say Mikails amps are some of my favorite I am drawn to the sound of his great amps.

OK I got too go someone wants to use the phone (dialup here too) more later.

Thanks again every one was so nice and it is always nice to put a face to all you fellow Head Fiers.

Jude more an Hal Douglas and my job later LOL maybe a pic. Of the farm in full bloom!

GS????? you need my phone # you could of come with me sorry you missed this one I didn't get your PM. untill I got to Michigan.
Your amp. sounded great!
 
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markmaxx

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Quote:

Originally Posted by tyrion
Nice impressions so far. I am sorry the Headroom Tour is going to miss South Florida. On a more important note, where are the pics people? You know this is what we live for after a meet.


There were a lot of flashes so there has to be alot of pictures somewhere!

And I almost forgot Ray made a new meet rule, If you stop and get a good coffee on the way to a head fi meet bring more than one! Sorry Ray. The really bad part is they closed at 4:00 so I could not go back too get more for all the other but Team Waida made Ray coffee, but I don't think Tyll saw Ray taking 6 headroom coffee cups!
What a nice evening.
 
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Sure appreciate you guys driving the rest of us down-the-food-chain Head-Fidos just a little bit more nuts.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by markmaxx
And I almost forgot Ray made a new meet rule, If you stop and get a good coffee on the way to a head fi meet bring more than one! Sorry Ray. The really bad part is they closed at 4:00 so I could not go back too get more for all the other but Team Waida made Ray coffee, but I don't think Tyll saw Ray taking 6 headroom coffee cups!
What a nice evening.



Ray, never fear, I will have some of the best coffee you've tasted at the meet on 6/4. I am working on a different roast for some Sumatra beans at my local microroastery. I will have a coffee makers set up at the meet. Sorry, the eggs will have to wait for Sunday morning.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by markmaxx
Ray and his wife were so nice and Ray had a little a very little amp. That sounded just great something new! I cant wait.



Was the little amp an SR-71 or was it something totally new, this could be very interesting indeed. Or are you just referring to the Raptor.
 
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tyrion

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Quote:

Originally Posted by kunwar
Was the little amp an SR-71 or was it something totally new, this could be very interesting indeed. Or are you just referring to the Raptor.


I didn't catch that it was something new. Alright, we need pics da**it.
 
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elrod-tom

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OK, I'll probably be doing this for much of the day...

So, when we last left off, I was raving about what a great amp the souped-up desktop was. Well now, let's not forget that the desktop is not the top of the HeadRoom line...there were TWO prototypes of the new MAX line, including the new Balanced MAX...that I'm told takes either TWO sets of balanced cans, or as many as FOUR sets of standard 1/4" stereo cans (interesting feature, but wouldn't you just fire up the speakers at that point?
)

I spent as much time as I could with these two amps, and I'd have to conclude that the Balanced MAX driven by a Wadia source keeps the title "My Favorite Headphone Rig" in the HeadRoom camp. As usual, it's really the only amp I've heard that does soundstaging quite so well...the only word that I can use to describe it is BIG!! It does it without increasing harshness in the upper range (which is what I typically associate with most amps that have bigger soundstage). I'm not sure if this has more to do with superior power, or the balanced nature of the amp, or active cross-feed, or what exactly. All I know is that the BlockHead/Wadia combos were the best I've heard yet...and without putting them side by side, I'd say that this was at least its equal...and might be the overall winner before it's all over.

One thing that I think folks will like about the new Balanced MAX is that there is only ONE volume knob...not the two that was so familiar to users of the BlockHead. I've also become convinced of the benefits of the stepped attenuator in general...it does a very nice job smoothing things out. However, I occasionally run into trouble with it, as I tend to listen at a very low volume compared to most other folks. This is why the gain switching is so very important. Whereas I typically listen at somewhere between the 8:00 and 9:00 positions at high gain, the medium gain takes that up to 12:00...which makes a BIG difference for incremental volume control for me. Typically I have a LOT of problems going between one setting (just a bit too quiet) and the next (just a bit too loud). Now, one way to solve this is to ratchet down the output volume on your Wadia source (
), the other is to ratchet down the gain, such that your incremental changes are less so. A minor thing, but important IMHO...shows appropriate attention to detail.

At any rate, the Balanced MAX is a damn fine amp. One of these days, I'd so like to own one. Maybe when I retire...


The Standard MAX was very nice as well...very similar to the Balanced MAX, but just a bit less soundstage, a bit less resolution, a tiny bit less of anything. The message I'm trying to convey is that you could do just fine with a Standare MAX, thank you, if you didn't have the Balanced MAX to aspire to.


I spent most of my listening time with the Standard MAX with recabled Sennheiser HD650's and AKG K501's. Then Jude came by with the Qualia, and I decided that I needed to give them a spin. This headphone has stirred up a bit of controversy here in Detroit. There seem to be a lot of folks who have decided that they just plain don't care for them. I've decided that I do in fact like them...which sets me up as a fan of the K501 for even MORE abuse. I think I've stumbled onto why I like them: as I've already mentioned, I tend to like to listen to my music at low volume...significantly lower than most folks at the meet, and a LOT lower then SOME folks (cough...Ray Samuels...cough!!
). I've listened to these cans now for two fairly lengthy sessions, and I've decided that they do MUCH better at lower volumes. When the volume goes up, they seem to get echoey...which most folks really don't care for. I'd also add that I like the way that they sound...but I'm not sure that they sound RIGHT (if that makes sense). At any rate, they have huge soundstage, and I think that at lower volume, when driven appropriately (e.g. - the new HeadRoom MAX), they are a nice set of cans. That said, they are VERY pricey for what I've heard. Maybe they grow on you...

Speaking of the new Sony cans, I got a chance to listen to the SA5000 as well, on about 3 or 4 different amps (including in my home rig, tubed and solid state). I don't know if these were not well burned-in, but I don't care for them at all. WAY too bright, and WAY over-emphasized in the upper reaches. They are, however, VERY comfortable...as were the Qualias, for that matter. I have to say that, honestly, I'm not sure where Sony is going with these new headphones. I was never crazy about the CD-3000's, but I could understand why some folks liked them. This I can't understand at all. Might just be me, but my opinions were backed up by a couple of other folks taking part in this listening. I honestly don't understand what all the fuss is about these cans, and I'm thinking that maybe it really is that they just aren't completely burned in yet....at least I HOPE that's all it is.

More later....
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by kunwar
Was the little amp an SR-71 or was it something totally new, this could be very interesting indeed. Or are you just referring to the Raptor.


nope. just a regular old SR-71...unless I somehow missed something.
 
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