Headphone Festival 2011 in Tokyo May 7th, 2011 PHOTOS (BANDWIDTH WARNING)
May 13, 2011 at 4:41 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 76


In the Happy Place
Nov 27, 2010
Okay- I finally got over my jet-lag, brewed some strong tea, launched iPhoto/Photoshop, pushed my W4s into my head, threw on some Brothers Johnson, and began to weed through my photos. 
First, let me apologize (make excuses) for the photo quality.  A lot of these were one-handed, over-someone's-shoulder snaps while trying not to drop my DAP and brochures and be polite- all at the same time.  Also, as for listening impressions I did as much listening as I could.  However, the sheer amount of stuff meant either pick 3-4 things to concentrate on while trying not to annoy others by sitting at one station too long, or get to as much stuff that I've never listened to before within those few hours and soak it all in.  I chose the later.  So if you’re looking for in-depth SQ impressions I might disappoint you.  What was interesting though was going through |joker|’s monster IEM thread afterwards and being able to verify what I heard.

Anyway- enjoy!


Here is a dummy head for binaural recordings. 
The outer ear is apparently interchangeable.  You can buy a similar set-up here in the U.S.: http://binauralears.com/

He is giving a demonstration by clapping around the dummy head while the other guy listens through headphones.

Taket H2 Heil driver headphones with external ‘super-tweeters’.  The theory is that you ‘feel’ the ultra-high frequencies through your skin.

Here is a portable version of that 'super-tweeter' that plays in parallel with your DAP.  I think I've seen an ad for this on Head-Fi.  Moving on…
Audio Technica W5000’s sounded good and were really comfortable.  (Note: ALO has a really good deal on these now- I am very tempted!)

Fostex: Write your own caption. 


Did not get to hear the Fostex HP-P1 iPod DAC/Amp.  Darn... maybe next time.
Colorful’s Colorfly DAP (Colorful is the name of the company):  Think HiFiMAN.  It can be used as a DAP as well as a DAC.  It’s a very solid piece.  I particularly liked its clear display and volume slider control which felt like one on a nice mixing board.  It upsamples and sounded really good from my brief demo.  (Personal side note: The rep for this, who also represented EarSonics, was really nice and helpful.  Unfortunately during the course of the day I lost his card and didn’t have time to return to his table.  If by chance he is reading this, please PM me!)

They are also coming out with a new, slimmer touch-screen unit (CK4) as well.  It looks very promising!
EarSonics revamped their SM3s- now called the SM3 v2.

The outer shell is very Westone-like and it has removable cables.  I was told that the
drivers are exactly the same as the old SM3, so the sound should be very similar.

I thought it was interesting how Tascam, better known for pro audio, is putting iPod docks on some of their gear.

First time I ever got to listen to the KOSS PortaPro!  Now I know why people like these so much.

This guy is really into his portable sound... no?
Networked DAPs made a good showing.  This one uses an iPod app as a remote interface.
I can’t help not to look inside of the Chord DAC everytime I pass by one.

Fiio was moving some product at the show!
Their upcoming E3/E5 DACs, as well as the new E11 amp only.
The E11 is small and much lighter than I thought.  The volume knob is nice and solid and is also the power switch.

The new dual-driver JVC HA-FXT90 sounded okay.  For around $100, it’s right there with the competition.

I guess I wasn’t as impressed by the T90 because I had just listened to the HA-FX700s.  OMG.  I almost bought these.  I still might.
Zero Audio: One of a few claiming to be the ‘smallest IEM’ in the world.  They are quite small- reminded me of the UE700’s form factor.
Another ‘smallest earphone’.  q-JAYS do sound quite nice.  I can see why people like these.  (In a lot of these photos, you don't see the IEMs because I'm wearing them.)
  Radius HP-TWF11:  Lots o’ bass.
  Radius HP-TWF21:  Not as much bass, but still a lot.

Nice little DAC/headphone amp/speaker amp by Venetor Sound.  It seems like these are gaining popularity.  Everytime I see one of these combo boxes, I think how nice it would be to run my K1000s and ‘regular’ headphones off of one.


The attenuator on this Audio Design amp was a joy to play with: The center knob (blue) has about 6-7 clicks while the outer knob has many finer indents.  It might have been the most solid volume knob I’ve turned in a while.
Fanny Wang was there, and did not skimp on their source.

This RME reminds me of the Apogee Duet.
  Conisis Gizmo DAC & Amp
ORB Jade-1 and Jade-2

This Phase Tech headphone amp ran ice cold (pushing HD-800s)…
…while these Phasemation MA-1 amps could easily melt candles (running the Edition 10s). 
And I thought Doc B's dual-monos running K1000s was extreme.

  Ultrasone Edition 10
I don’t have an iPhone4, but this Go-Dap is a sweet little device.  Build quality is first rate!

The CEC HP-53FBs (balanced) sounded quite nice running off of CEC electronics.

Blossom BLO-0299

Blossom BLO-0299 and BLO-0169EW

This was a local headphone club.  I think they could’ve used a few more tables.

Suddenly I feel a wee bit more sane.

This guy takes one IEM, the A.T. ATH-CKM55, and mods them by putting in this corkscrew-like filter/core inside of them.  According to him this changes the path that the sound has to travel to your ear drums.  This tuning comes in nine flavors: A combination of “long/short”, “clear/mild”, and “neutral”.  Here is a translated link to read up on the methodology: http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=ja&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Focharaku.jp%2Fsound%2Ftechnology-1%2F

Here is an enlarged model of the filter that goes into the tip of the IEM...

... and these are the different 'flavors' that you can order.  It's roughly $50 for the stock IEM and $60 for the mod.
  Grado PS1000 for 2011

The guy polished these for me just so I could take the picture! 

Canal Works Custom IEMs

Interestingly, although Westone and Ultimate Ears were at the show, they were only showing their universals.  I guess it’s too much of a pain to deal with custom IEMs overseas.

STAX  Just so you know what you're listening to.

For Stax impressions, please read arnaud's post:  http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/548917/headphone-festival-2011-in-tokyo-may-7th-2011#post_7457238
And finally (pun intended): Final Audio

Oh yes.  The Final Audio Piano Fortes VIII (I think).  If you’re wondering how you’re supposed to wear these, so am I.  Still.  I always thought you were supposed to put tips on them (and I suppose you can?).  But nope.  You wear them just like that.  And they fit just like you imagine they would.  Which means they don’t.  Not me anyway.  For reference, I fit medium tips on every IEM I’ve ever tried.  So it’s not like I have freakishly small ears.  Looking at their website it seems like you’re supposed jam the whole thing into your ear within the confines of the auditory canal.  Ouch!

The Piano Forte X-CC (Chrome Copper) is definitely the prettiest of them all.  If only they would fit me.
Additional Coverage:
Due to the sheer size of this show I was missed a lot of things.  In fact, about half-way through the show (time-wise) I realized that I had only covered 1/3 of the exhibitors.  So I ended up rushing through much of the rest.  And quite embarrassingly I missed our very own Sasaki's booth! ごめんなさい!!!  Here are his notes from the show:  http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/555379/headphone-festival-2011-spring-in-tokyo#post_7492499
There is also video coverage of the show here.  It's mostly in Japanese, but you can still see some new products and it's just like being there!  It is proceeded by the promotional video of the Headphone Festival, and you can even catch an interview with Sasaki.  (He appears at about 4:40 into the video.)
In summary:
It was quite an amazing show!  These last photos were taken towards the end of the day.  During most of the show it was packed shoulder to shoulder and the relative humidity got pretty high- maybe not ideal conditions to do any critical listening.  But there are few other places to see so much in one location and talk with so many passionate people.  It’s a shame it was only for one day.  But apparently they hold these bi-annually, so I may consider going to the one in the fall.


Fujiya AVIC:

Fujiya Avic is the store that sponsors the Headphone Festival.  This is a promo video they put up on YouTube
for this show.  The store (in Nakano) deals quite a bit with used gear.  All of their goods seem well cared for and
you can get some pretty nice stuff at significant savings.
Special thanks to Arnaud for giving me headphone tourist tips before my trip, meeting me there and having a burger with me!
May 13, 2011 at 4:41 AM Post #2 of 76


In the Happy Place
Nov 27, 2010
It's not really related to the Headphone Festival, but here was a store in Tokyo (Akihabara) that I visited during my trip that had a rather extensive selection of headphones compared to anything I've seen in the U.S.  They are also very accommodating for demos as you can somewhat see from the photos.  In fact, even the large department/ electronics stores in Japan (think Best Buy or Fry's) have most of their headphones and IEMs on display to listen to.  They even have alcohol wipes at every listening station for your sanitized IEM listening protection.



Dynamic Audio is primarily a high-end home audio shop, so I would be remiss not to include a few shots of their listening rooms:



I can't wait to visit there again!
May 17, 2011 at 9:32 AM Post #8 of 76


Stax and Sushi
Nov 26, 2002
Mike, very nice pictures, it's a pretty cool report you made here! You should be paid for this man :wink:. I hope to see you again in the fall!
cheers, arnaud
May 17, 2011 at 10:38 AM Post #9 of 76


100+ Head-Fier
Dec 26, 2010
that looks epic
May 17, 2011 at 11:36 PM Post #10 of 76


In the Happy Place
Nov 27, 2010

Mike, very nice pictures, it's a pretty cool report you made here! You should be paid for this man :wink:. I hope to see you again in the fall!

Thanks!  And on the contrary, I would pay to attend something like this again!  I hope to make the fall show too- or at the very, very least next year.  Hopefully as I attend more of these I'll be able to focus on a few select items.  Cheers!
May 18, 2011 at 2:26 PM Post #11 of 76


1000+ Head-Fier
May 13, 2009
wow, thanks for these pics! I'd be pretty overwhelmed with such an eclectic array of audio products. If there is one in the fall, there's a good chance I might be able to attend.
May 18, 2011 at 3:47 PM Post #12 of 76


Headphoneus Supremus
Mar 4, 2010
San Francisco Bay Area
Japan is ALWAYS mind-blowing.
  1. Your Photos/Editing
  2. Your Coverage
  3. Your Captions
  4. Your Sense of Humor
Just made me do what I DID NOT WANT TO DO...I was at Post #777 and wanted to keep it there for a while.
(But, I just had to post how awesome this thread is.)
It's like we have our own Engadget Reporting Staffer covering headphones for us!
BIG thanks!

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