Impressions from The Home Entertainment (THE) Show, Long Beach, June 10-12, 2022
Jun 11, 2022 at 1:24 PM Post #2 of 11

BoyNamedSue

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Attended yesterday, and they had a small headphone section but enjoyed my time there. My favorite sound was from the Ampsandsound table. Loved the 3-d sound of the Atticus, and the HD800S Gold with tubes and classical music was sublime.

For headphones, while this event fell very short compared to our canjams, I was pleasantly surprised and mightily impressed by a newcomer to the headphone world, Juan Ovalle of Auribus Acoustics. Juan, who shared is a college student at an industrial design school, developed a headphone using off-the-shelf dynamic drivers (peerless 50mm) with industrial aesthetics. It sounded very good, with deep impactful bass, full-bodied mids, linear/neutral, and large soundstage.

Very good tuning. I googled the drivers afterwards, and they are quite affordable, which made me wonder how important tuning is relative to the actual driver. It also had these resisters in the cup that Juan said extended the lows and highs. When these go into production, I think it can shake up mid-fi section. Also, I love the story of a grass-roots headphone designer taking on bigs boys of the industry.

If you can make it out to the SHOW today or tomorrow, I highly recommended checking out Juan's creation.

p.s. My favorite speaker was Tonian Labs. The sound they produced in a small and narrow hotel room, with non audiophile components (denon amplifier), is black magic. I made up my mind that I WILL get a pair at some point.
 

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Jun 11, 2022 at 7:22 PM Post #3 of 11

Odin412

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For headphones, while this event fell very short compared to our canjams, I was pleasantly surprised and mightily impressed by a newcomer to the headphone world, Juan Ovalle of Auribus Acoustics. Juan, who shared is a college student at an industrial design school, developed a headphone using off-the-shelf dynamic drivers (peerless 50mm) with industrial aesthetics. It sounded very good, with deep impactful bass, full-bodied mids, linear/neutral, and large soundstage.

Very good tuning. I googled the drivers afterwards, and they are quite affordable, which made me wonder how important tuning is relative to the actual driver. It also had these resisters in the cup that Juan said extended the lows and highs. When these go into production, I think it can shake up mid-fi section. Also, I love the story of a grass-roots headphone designer taking on bigs boys of the industry.
Very cool! I went today, but somehow I missed this exciting new headphone. Best of luck to Juan and hopefully we'll get to hear this at CanJam SoCal later this year!
 
Jun 12, 2022 at 4:24 PM Post #4 of 11

Grunt66

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Went yesterday and had a great time. Having recently entered into headphone listening with the purchase of the Denon AH-D9200 back in March of this year. Prior to the Denon headphones my listening to headphones were my gaming Astro A50, Apple AirPods Max, and Bose QC35’s used for air travel over the years.

First stop was the headphone area on the second floor to seek advise on a DAC and amp setup for my Denon’s. I spoke with the great people at the Ecoustics table. Then I made the mistake and went to the Amp and Sound tube amp table. I listened to all of the tube amps and the one I liked was the Kenzie Ovation and I was using their ZMF headphones I believe it was the Atticus. What a mistake that was, because it sounded so good. Speaking with the owner Justin Weber we discovered I like a more fun sounding experience. The only downfall with the tube amps is the heat they produce and the static sound heard at low volumes. It was explained to me the power they were receiving from the hotel (Hilton) was the issue with the noise the amps produced.

I had a chance to listen to the Topping DAC and amp, Singxer SA-1, IfI Zen Dac and amp. The Topping DAC and Amp and Singxer SA-1 was over at the Ecoustics table and I used my Iphone 13 streaming Tidal to listen to the Topping DAC and amp and Singxer SA-1 using the Hifiman open back headphones. I preferred the sound quality of the Singxer SA-1 over the Topping. Across from the Ecoustics table I believe it was Beach Audio. I had a chance to listen to the Focal Celestee using a Apple laptop and the IfI Zen DAC and amp. I also listened to the Meze Liric using the Apple laptop and IfI Zen Dac and amp. The wife of over 36 years preferred the Focal Celestee over the Meze Liric and I preferred the Meze Liric. Just goes to show sound quality is very subjective to the listener. I was hoping they had the Focal Stellia at the SHOW but they were not present.

Did I mention how good the ZMF headphones and the Amp and sound tube amp combination sounded.
 
Jun 13, 2022 at 11:16 AM Post #6 of 11

Odin412

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Although the headphone section was on the smaller side at this show there were a few gems to be found:
  • ampsandsound had a number of their excellent tube amps on display. I listened to the Forge (a collaboration with headphones.com) with the DCA Stealth and it's a very nice combo. The sound of the Stealth headphone somehow reminds me of listening to speakers. It may be a result of the metamaterial they use to control the sound, but the result is very good. I also listened to a ZMF Atticus with another tube amp (not sure about the model) and that combo was very enjoyable too.
  • After reading @BoyNamedSue description of the Auribus Acoustics prototype headphone I went back yesterday to listen to it and I came away very impressed. This is a very good headphone! I was especially impressed with the punchy and dynamic bass. Also, the treble was nicely balanced and not bright or sibilant. Well done!
Of course, there were a number of speaker systems on display too. More about them later.
 
Jun 14, 2022 at 12:38 PM Post #7 of 11

bigjako

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You guys are much more charitable than I. I bought a 2-day pass, and since ZMF was listed as an Exhibitor I was really excited to hear the Atrium first-hand. I showed up Friday and things were in a bit of disarray with power/internet/half-empty boxes, etc. Cool, no problem - I spent a lot of time at the ampsandsound booth (proud Kenzie Encore owner here, impressed by the Forge) and had a good chance to listen to the Auribus, which I came away really impressed by at it's $685 price. Juan recommended it on solid states (and it sounded great off the iFi Diablo) and he even let me take it over to the ampsandsound booth to hear it on the Forge. It sounded fine on tubes, nothing was 'off', but I think it really sang on the solid state Diablo. Auribus had a very natural tone, and good extension with bass and in the treble. Really great headphone that competes with kilobuck offerings. I think they may have also had the new MM500 at the Beach Hifi booth but I'd heard it the previous weekend at NAMM on multiple devices and was kind of wowed by it, btw.

But what really grinds my gears is the Exhibitor List - I see DCA, ZMF, Schiit, Meze, Focal, ampsandsound and many others on the "partial list" and was really disappointed on Saturday when the only true exhibitors were ampsandsound, Beach Hifi (with Auribus), Awedyo, and 1 or 2 more. ZMF and Schiit were nowhere to be found. I asked at the front desk and they just said that some exhibitors may have had last minute cancelations. Ok, understandable. I ended up speaking to one of the organizers, who was very nice about it, and who went to investigate my report of 'missing' exhibitors. She came back and told me there was nothing the matter, that ZMF was an "Exhibitor" because their products were 'on exhibit' (ie, there was an Atticus on the A&S table). I pointed out that it was a false equivalency to say that both ZMF and ampsandsound were Exhibitors, because clearly one had materially more of a presence than the other. She told me that A&S was a "Presenter" while ZMF was an "exhibitor".

In any case, I want to be clear - she was very professional and nice about it, even if I disagreed with her findings. She also gave me a full refund, so I have no issues with the organizers, just with the clarity of their communication and creation of expectations. And to be extra clear, I have absolutely no issues towards ZMF, Ampsandsound or any other other exhibitors (in fact, I think those companies have the most credible complaints of all).
 

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Jun 14, 2022 at 5:27 PM Post #8 of 11
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Atticus off the A&S amp was my favorite from the show. Makes me want to jump back on the ZMF bandwagon. Was hoping to hear the atrium but no show. Cant wait for socal canjam!

Although the headphone section was on the smaller side at this show there were a few gems to be found:
  • ampsandsound had a number of their excellent tube amps on display. I listened to the Forge (a collaboration with headphones.com) with the DCA Stealth and it's a very nice combo. The sound of the Stealth headphone somehow reminds me of listening to speakers. It may be a result of the metamaterial they use to control the sound, but the result is very good. I also listened to a ZMF Atticus with another tube amp (not sure about the model) and that combo was very enjoyable too.
  • After reading @BoyNamedSue description of the Auribus Acoustics prototype headphone I went back yesterday to listen to it and I came away very impressed. This is a very good headphone! I was especially impressed with the punchy and dynamic bass. Also, the treble was nicely balanced and not bright or sibilant. Well done!
Of course, there were a number of speaker systems on display too. More about them later.

You guys are much more charitable than I. I bought a 2-day pass, and since ZMF was listed as an Exhibitor I was really excited to hear the Atrium first-hand. I showed up Friday and things were in a bit of disarray with power/internet/half-empty boxes, etc. Cool, no problem - I spent a lot of time at the ampsandsound booth (proud Kenzie Encore owner here, impressed by the Forge) and had a good chance to listen to the Auribus, which I came away really impressed by at it's $685 price. Juan recommended it on solid states (and it sounded great off the iFi Diablo) and he even let me take it over to the ampsandsound booth to hear it on the Forge. It sounded fine on tubes, nothing was 'off', but I think it really sang on the solid state Diablo. Auribus had a very natural tone, and good extension with bass and in the treble. Really great headphone that competes with kilobuck offerings. I think they may have also had the new MM500 at the Beach Hifi booth but I'd heard it the previous weekend at NAMM on multiple devices and was kind of wowed by it, btw.

But what really grinds my gears is the Exhibitor List - I see DCA, ZMF, Schiit, Meze, Focal, ampsandsound and many others on the "partial list" and was really disappointed on Saturday when the only true exhibitors were ampsandsound, Beach Hifi (with Auribus), Awedyo, and 1 or 2 more. ZMF and Schiit were nowhere to be found. I asked at the front desk and they just said that some exhibitors may have had last minute cancelations. Ok, understandable. I ended up speaking to one of the organizers, who was very nice about it, and who went to investigate my report of 'missing' exhibitors. She came back and told me there was nothing the matter, that ZMF was an "Exhibitor" because their products were 'on exhibit' (ie, there was an Atticus on the A&S table). I pointed out that it was a false equivalency to say that both ZMF and ampsandsound were Exhibitors, because clearly one had materially more of a presence than the other. She told me that A&S was a "Presenter" while ZMF was an "exhibitor".

In any case, I want to be clear - she was very professional and nice about it, even if I disagreed with her findings. She also gave me a full refund, so I have no issues with the organizers, just with the clarity of their communication and creation of expectations. And to be extra clear, I have absolutely no issues towards ZMF, Ampsandsound or any other other exhibitors (in fact, I think those companies have the most credible complaints of all).

Hi guys,

Just wanted to chime in here and say thanks for attending the ampsandsound booth. So glad to hear that it was a highlight of the show.

I'll forward your kind words along to Justin!
 
Jun 14, 2022 at 5:46 PM Post #9 of 11

bigjako

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Thanks Sebastian, it was good to talk to you and to Alon. I hope you guys had enough foot traffic to make it worth your while, but ampsandsound made the whole thing worthwhile for me. Please say thanks to Justin from me, I love my Kenzie and was happy to get a chance to hear more of his models.
 
Jun 15, 2022 at 11:13 AM Post #10 of 11

Odin412

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The majority of the rooms at THE Show were dedicated to speaker systems. I didn’t spend a lot of time in many of the rooms since they had the typical ‘audiophile’ sound – the bright, ultra-detailed, incisive sound that audiophiles seem to love. Or that they’re told by most reviewers that they are supposed to love, I’m not sure which. Here are some notable rooms that I visited:

  • Gryphon Audio makes some of the coolest looking amps around, and this room had a beast of a class A amp. However, I was a bit disappointed in the sound – it had too much emphasis on the upper midrange/lower treble region. I’ve heard other Gryphon systems in the past that sounded wonderful, so I’m not sure about the cause of this.
  • Jim Suhre (sorry, never heard of him or the brand before) showed a system using a Schiit Freya S preamp, a NAD power amp and his own speakers, which were partially hidden behind the curtains. A fairly modest setup in THE Show terms, but it sounded good – open and detailed without being bright. One of the tracks had a saxophone solo that sounded amazingly lifelike.
  • SVS had by far the most fun room of the show with a 5.2.2 surround system that sounded excellent. Great demo tracks from both music and movies and a lot of fun to listen to. I have a SVS sub in my speaker system, but I clearly need to add another one. Deep, juicy bass just adds to the enjoyment of a speaker system.
  • Audio Note UK had a system that didn’t look very impressive, but it sounded superb. This was my first experience listening to Audio Note, and now I get what all the fuss is about. Simple 2-way speakers (placed in the corners, no less!) powered by a 300B tube amp and a record player. This was a system that invited you to sit down and just enjoy the music. The lady who ran the demo had brought a lot of LPs that she liked herself and invited guests to choose which record to play. That’s a great way to run a demo! I listened to a violin sonata that one of my fellow guests picked and it sounded wonderful.
  • On a Higher Note always puts on great demos, and this time they had a Graham LS 5/5f speaker that won’t win any beauty contests, but sounded wonderful. It was powered by a Swedish Moonriver amp. Philip O’Hanlon is great at running demos and he mentioned that audio systems let you listen to either the music or the recording, and his systems are designed to let you listen to the music. I love it! He played a harp piece that just sounded so beautiful. I could sit and enjoy the music from this system for hours.
 

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