Fujiya Avic 2017 Autumn Headphone Festival

  1. Hifi Boy
    I've been at the latest Fujiya Avic headphone festival and here are some of my impressions on what I've seen and heard. My overall impression is that the show was a bit smaller, some brands that used to be present weren't and the number of people who showed up was not as big as the spring festival.

    You weren't even able to buy soft drinks on the 15th floor this time. :D

    Anyway, I like it anyway and here's what I saw:

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    The first thing I came across was this KuraDa/ReLeafAurender/Chord setup. This thing pretty much consists of the most expensive and well regarded equipment you can find, and it was pretty much unlistenable, at least coming from the Blu mk2.

    The headphones are airy, which you could guess from the fact that they are literally open headphones, but there is no bass at all. I also tried my HE-1000 with this amp, which I believe comes in at $50K and the listening volume was too low even at max volume, at which point the bass produced such distortions that I had to get up and leave.

    I believe the headphones are good, but this is not the amp to drive them.

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    Next up was this new AMP/DAC which I liked a lot. Not sure about the name of the brand but there was some foot tapping present there, so I can say that I liked what I heard. I listened with the Hifiman Susvara and the sound was quite warm and quite forward. Overall, good stuff.

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    Right next to the amp was Luxman P750-U which was connected to this cca. $20.000 Light Harmonic Da Vinci DAC. I expected a lot, at least from the DAC, but wasn't impressed. Had someone connected any other average priced DAC I would not have been able to tell the difference.

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    These NOS tubes were the ones plugged into the amp above. I bet this made it sound so pleasing.

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    Next up, is my long awaited desire. :D

    The Elekit TU-8600. I've been dying to hear this amp and my expectations were high because I fell in love with the TU-8200 on first listen and bought it not long after. Well, as you might imagine, I tried the TU-8600, and unfortunately, I can't really say much.

    Now, don't get me wrong, the amp does sound good, but I haven't heard enough to actually be able to judge it! The volume was so low, that when I maxed it out, I started hearing distortions. This particular amp has 4 gain settings which are on the inside of the amp.

    The gentleman at the booth told me it was set to 2, so obviously, this was not enough for the HE-1000, thus I wasn't able to hear much. Also, the DAC used in the presentation was not visible to me so I don't know how it was fed.

    The only thing I can say is that I agree with everyone who said that if anything, it sounds natural. Yes, from what I've heard, at least at these low volumes, it certainly does sound nice and natural. But no, I can't say anything about the bass slam, or the much expected 300B sweet midrange.

    1. My suggestion to Elekit crew for the next time, please bring a proper DAC next time, preferably something from Chord, either Hugo 2/Hugo TT/Dave.
    2. Set the gain to 4 and bring proper headphones, HE-1000/LCD-4/Utopia.
    3. Last but not least, please use the best 300B tubes you can find, currently these should be the Takatsuki 300B.

    Yes, they are more expensive than the amp itself, but the point is to present your gear in the best way possible. This amp is worthy of high end headphones so there is no need to come with lower end ones and present the amp like its mid-fi. :D

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    I really liked this amp. There was some foot tapping involved so I can say that I liked it. The gentleman at the booth said it was made in Taiwan and the pricing has not yet been set for Japan, nor the release date. Oh well, let's wait and see.

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    Next, one of my favorite brands, Mutec. I own Mutec MC-3+USB so I was dying to hear what this Ref 10, which I waited for a while now would sound like. Again, unfortunately, there was not much to hear, owning to the mismatched gear which was involved. The player and the DAC involved were from a company called Hegel, in particular DAC was Hegel HD12 and from what I could gather in 2015 it went for 900 GBP.

    Again, the sheer mismanagement here is unfathomable. You are selling a 10Mhz clock which goes for around 3500 EUR and you plug it into a 900 GBP DAC, which was released in 2015, so it was released either then or before that. In any case, there was not much to judge, the only thing I can say is that the sound was nice and soft, that's it.

    Ref10 is supposed to provide an unbelievable amount of detail and natural sound, and due to the choice of the accompanying gear, none of that was heard that day. Same suggestions go for Mutec as for Elekit in my opinion.

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    Next I walked up to the Re Leaf booth to listen to their, I believe $50K AMP/DAC. As before, HE-1000 were not driven properly, so not much could be done. I tried the HD800 which was initially plugged in and the sound was good. That's pretty much all I can say. I'm not sure why a $50K amp exists if it can't drive any high end headphones which are not more than 2 or 3 years old. Seems like a waste of money to buy such an expensive amp, and then listen to it with HD800.

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    Here, we have something completely different to behold. Brise Audio is a company which produces expensive, and by expensive, I mean really expensive cables. I believe they go for 1 million yen or so. I really liked the fact that they brought the biggest Oji Special amp they could find and connected it to a full sfz system, which you can see in the background.

    Not seen on this pic, but they also had the Utopia present as well, which is what I listened to along side HE-1000. There was also a custom PC which was optimized for audio and everything was nicely connected with an iPad which was running Roon. I must say, this is my first experience with Roon and I liked it a lot. Very nice interface and I wound not mind having it at home. :D

    As far as the sound goes, yes, by far, this was the best system at the show. The slam with the Utopias was incredible and the immediacy of the vocals was startling and very much enjoyable. Very natural sounding.

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    Next, we come to the long awaited, and very well known, at least in Japan, Mass Kobo amps. As some of you may know, I said that Mass Kobo 394 was the 2nd best amp I ever heard behind Goldmund Telos HDA 2. Currently, the model 394 goes for 600K yen and is still a very good choice. I highly recommend it.

    This new model, called Mass Kobo 406, is the newest creation from Masuda-san and it goes for 1,650,000 yen and I will proclaim it here and now, that this is unequivocally THE BEST amp I have ever heard. Period.

    I started listening to some bass heavy music and the slam was just incredible. But the most incredible thing, is that the vocals and the hand claps, heard in the Santa Esmeralda - Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood were actually placed right on my shoulders. I kid you not, I actually felt like the performers were right there and then playing on my shoulders. Incredible performance which brings you as close to live music as I've yet experienced.

    Also, this is not a tube amp. But the sound is beautifully soft and natural, so that no tubes are necessary. One side note with respect to the Goldmund amp I mentioned earlier. I have listened to it this year as well, and I currently think that the DAC section is its limiting factor. I clearly don't consider it the best amp ever anymore, this honor goes to the model 406 now. The digital nature of the Telos DAC is now obvious to me and I believe its due for an update.

    Sure, I still think its slam is incredible and its holographic sound as well, but the model 406 is on another level. If you're ever at this show, I highly recommend you listen to this incredible masterpiece. Oh, and by the way, Masuda-san builds these amps by himself.:D

    Currently, Masuda-san is working on model 405, which is going to be the accompanying preamp for the model 406. If the 406 by itself, and simply fed from a CD player sounds like this, I'm scared to even imagine what it will sound with the 405 preamp. Yes, and also with Chord Dave as its source. :D

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    Next, I walked up to this Octave amp, which wasn't really of much interest to me, since I actually came to listen to the PS Audio gear. Specifically, their DAC, because I wanted to hear the new Huron version of their OS. Unfortunately, as you might have guessed it, they did not update to Huron, but had the Torreys version of the OS.

    In any case, the setup sounded quite nice. I liked the overall warm sound due to the tubes, which were KT120, from, to me an unknown brand. In any case, being an owner of the PS Audio P5, I can at least highly recommend their P5 power supply. It made a big difference in my system.

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    I'm not really aware of this brand but I can say that their system sounds quite good. I believe the initial price for the silver DAC will be around 300K yen. Pretty good deal if you ask me.

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    Here we have a company called Audio Design and their newest OCDAC-200. Keep in mind this DAC actually houses 2 different DACS which you can switch on the fly. They also have an amp, which is a pretty old model and I recommended that when they update it, they should use this nice new design which I quite liked.

    The performance, when the amp is set to 15db gain is pretty good with the HE-1000, so I quite liked what I heard. Very powerful sound is the impression that most stuck with me. The amp retails for around 246K yen, while the DAC goes for 500K yen. If they update the amp and give it the same look as this DAC, they will have a pretty nice looking system to sell.

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    Ladies and gentlemen, here is something I was not expecting. :D

    As you might have noticed, I am not into portable audio, at least judging by the lack of any earphones or DAPs on my photos. But being a big fan of Chord Dave, I wanted to also hear Hugo 2 since I thought to myself that going on vacations and being without my system for a week isn't all that fun. :D

    Anyway, what I heard at the Chord booth was amazing to say the least. I could never have thought that this small thing can actually drive the HE-1000 and the amount of slam it presents is just fabulous. The signature natural Chord presentation of the music is all there. I went back to the booth to listen to it several times.

    At no point did I think that something is lacking. Of course, don't think that you will get the full blown Dave level of presentation. No you will not, but for the money, around 270K yen, you will get really close. By far, the best portable amp/dac on the show, highly recommended.

    Does this thing match even my system, which I paid a lot more? Well, yes in certain aspects it does, which is by far the most amazing fact I came away with while walking away from the booth. I wish now I could replace my Mutec, Cybershaft clock and M2Tech DAC with this amazing thing and hear it through my Elekit TU-8200. The sound of the Hugo 2 is not as warm as Elekit's, clearly its not supposed to be, but for tube lovers on the budget, Elekit TU-8200 + Chord Hugo 2 would be a dream setup.

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    Last but not least, the Lyra DAC/AMP which is actually a piece of pro audio gear. I liked what I heard and would recommend you to have a listen if you can. They also have a larger model as well, but it was not connected.

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    The end.

    To sum up, the show was pretty good, but not as exciting as the previous one. Surely, there were great products to behold, even if the presentation could have been done better. The best of the show, in my opinion is as follows:

    Best System: Oji Special + sfz + Focal Utopia + Brise Audio + Roon
    Best AMP: Mass Kobo 406
    Best DAC: Chord Dave
    Best portable AMP/DAC: Chord Hugo 2
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2017
    Pokemonn, ToroFiestaSol and Level5 like this.
  2. ToroFiestaSol
    Wonderful report, really liked the honesty!
  3. Pokemonn
    Nice report! i am tempted to try Elekit TU-8200 then!
  4. Hifi Boy
    Thanks, I always try to write exactly how I feel and say what I like and don't like right away. Feel free to ask any questions.

    I believe that the first Fujiya Avic show I came to in spring of 2016 was the most incredible one of the bunch. Not to exaggerate but I made well over 60 photos, compared to 18 I made now. They actually had one whole room set up with all Luxman gear, with their flagship pre amp, power amp and turntable connected to a pair of speakers.

    For example, we used to have this...

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    None of that was present this time.

    Quite an amazing experience to say the least. Also, many other turntable brands were laid on the table one next to another and you could just come up to any of them and pick a record to play by yourself. Hearing vinyl version of Prince - Purple Rain on a pair of Grados for the first time was a revelation to me. That was when I understood what vinyl has to offer. :)
    Pokemonn likes this.
  5. Hifi Boy
    Please do, they will surely be present at the next Potafes.

    Assembled version cost me around 87k yen. But you will not hear what this thing has to offer unless you do 2 things exactly right.

    1. Set the amp to triode mode using the internal jumper.
    2. Get rid of stock tubes and use either KT66 or KT88.

    Then, the amp starts singing and is beautifully soft, lush and warm. :)
    Pokemonn likes this.
  6. Pokemonn
    IMO best pairing with Luxman headphone amp was Fostex TH900. It sounds unbelievable euphonic.
    Next good pairing may be with HD800. I have never impressed with Luxman + HE1000 combo. maybe its synergy effects.
  7. Hifi Boy
    Ha ha, this is exactly what I said about the new p750u on the Luxman thread recently. I heard it at the show for the first time and liked it, probably due to the dac. But when I went for the audition at the store, I was not impressed, but then again, it was fed from a cd player. All this was with HE-1000.

    My first listen of p700u and DA-06 with HD800 on the other hand, blew me away instantly.
    Pokemonn likes this.
  8. VisceriousZERO
    I only spent a few hours on the last day but great to see your impressions. Loved the show, it was my first in a long time.
  9. Hifi Boy
    Thanks, drop by next time for the Spring Festival as well. Hope there will be more going on at the next show!

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