South Florida Summer 2005 meet
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tyrion

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Joe, nice pics. Keep them coming if you have more.
 
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PsychoZX

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Raaj listening to the orpheus hooked up to the stax amp


JMT Audio M3 (top) Rockhopper Audio M3 (bottom)


My modest little setup at the meet. Thanks for letting me use that samsung mike.


Mike's Music Hall MMF-5


A shot of the back of Ray's table


Mike's brother listening to the orpheus with Gene in the background listening to the AT L3000's (I think)


My dad comparing the HD-650/Zu with the RS1s (I think he liked the RS1's better)


Gene adjusting something in the back of the Grace m902 while listening to the qualias.
 
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PsychoZX

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Dynahi


Wayne enjoying Mikhail's balanced setup




Boy do I love those r10s


Gene Enjoying the r10s off of my modest setup


Guru, Ray, and Raaj Having a discussion about something








Guru listening to the r10s on the vinyl setup


Wayne's cd player again


 
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post-1413408
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gsferrari

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What an awesome meet...The best FL meet so far...by far!!


I didnt sleep a wink last night tryingt to decide on whether to walk home with the Cyrus CD6 or not...I didnt take it with me but I am buying one before the end of this week...

My drive home was quite eventful...sleeping less than 6 hours over 3 days is not the best preparation for a 3 hour drive in the Texas sun...in a POS car...


At one point, just after entering 290W, I decided that it was too risky to continue and spent 20 minutes trying to find a cool and shady place to rest. I ended up behind a barn with a nice cool breeze...and I dozed off for 3 hours before GoRedWings19 woke me up on the phone


After that it was MUCH better...a 3 hour drive from Houston to Austin turned into a 6 hour drive but all expenses and effort were totally worth it. This was the most expensive meet by far for me (new calculations show $700.00 spent on attending this meet...not including the Cyrus price
)

I could have gone one way back to India



ha ha!

Im gonna sleep for a few days now...will let out the impressions when I wake up.

gs
 
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PsychoZX

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Tyrion seems to be having trouble seeing some of my pics. Is anyone else having problems?
 
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tyrion

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Everything is working now. I had to close my browser and re-open.
 
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Thaddy

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They are working fine for me! Good pictures by the way, looks like there was some serious gear in attendance. Man, I can't wait for the 'Burgh meet at the end of this month
 
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tyrion

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Some more of Ray's pics:

















 
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Thaddy

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What's this guy?

 
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tyrion

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That is the holder for the cd cover when you are changing discs. I think it lights up when you put the cover down on the holder. Very cool.
 
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Thaddy

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Quote:

Originally Posted by tyrion
That is the holder for the cd cover when you are changing discs. I think it lights up when you put the cover down on the holder. Very cool.


Ahh that's slick, I thought it was a lid that opened up, I didn't know that cover just pops right off


VERY cool Wayne!
 
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post-1413600
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Wmcmanus

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Whoa! Where to begin?

A General Comment:


As I've read through this thread, it occurred to me that "meet impression" threads are sort of strange animals. There are essentially 3 separate things going on, all of which are at least somewhat interesting to nearly anyone who might be reading:

1) There are the comments about the event itself, the people, the place, the activities, the interaction, and appropriately so, the thank yous.

2) There are comments about the gear (and sometimes the music itself), or I guess what you would call "impressions", and

3) There are pictures!!!

Before this thread winds down over the course of the next several days, I can assure you that there will be plenty of ALL OF THE ABOVE!!! So as not to disappoint everyone, let me tell you from the onset that I didn't take any pictures myself, and anyone who claims to have taken a picture of me must be a liar!!! As Shaggy says, "Say it wasn't me!"

Thank you section:

The thankyou's, for which this (long) section will now be dedicated, and a VERY important element of any good "meet impressions" thread. But we do realize that not everyone may be interested in reading 2nd hand accounts of all of the happenings... so for those of you who are looking only for "gear" impressions, you can safely skip down to that section below.

---

Mike, I can honestly say that of the 7 head-fi meets I've attended, this was the best one yet in terms of organization. Having lots of great gear is always nice (and this takes time and money to arrange), but having the room to roam is the key. The last meet that you hosted was great too, but oddly enough it can actually be more comfortable when you're not in someone else's home. As welcome as you and Gail made us feel at your beautiful home, the point is there were still a bunch of big lugs lumbering around, and I'm sure, leaving a mess behind. The turnkey operation with a big room (I'd guess about 40' x 30'), lobby space, public restrooms, etc., allows for more of a "trade show" environment and eliminates all personal risk, which is also a good thing. Anyway, well done, and thanks!

Oz, if you are reading, thank you so much for allowing a bunch of thugs you didn't know to wander around your store. I'll have to get your email address to learn more about your favorite concert DVD titles. Your 2 channel system sounded incredible. Amazing how $600 speakers can produce such glorious, holographic sound, with a $10k analog system and what must have been top dog amps pushing them. The Ella and Louis duet was breathtaking, and really made me more determined than ever to build a dedicated listening room! It would be nice if you joined as a member at head-fi, and kept us abreast of what is happening at Let There Be Sound (big props!) from time to time!

Ray and Mikhail, thanks again for your continued commitment and support, even to our small market South Florida group, where your presence, as well as the wonderful company that you both provide, is always enormously appreciated! It must be difficult to find the time to do so much business traveling. I know from personal experience that high end audio gear and air travel don't mix well at all!!! As a hobbyist, I've pretty much given up on traveling with big items such as sources and amps. The risk of damage is too great, and it's a complete pain in the butt!!! The fact that you have both made the effort to attend our little South Florida meets on several occasions speaks highly of both of you as professionals. More about your products later.

Ray, I wanted to give you a special thanks for making it a point to ensure that we all chipped in to help cover some of Mike's expenses. As generous as he is, it wouldn't have been appropriate to allow him to shoulder all of the costs.

Now for the "not so much thank you, but good to see you again" comments:

Gene, the "ice man" (George Gervin reference) as always, you came through with a lot of great gear, pleasant conversation, and an overall smooth as ice head-fi game. You always manage to make it around the room to meet and greet newcomers, and to listen to ALL of the gear that is present. You're as smooth as ice. The fact that you take the time to listen to everything that is in the room allows you to provide insight to others who were not able to be in attendance. I wish I had your discipline! Nah, not really. If I did, what would we need YOU for? Oh ya, the gear... how soon we forget!

Guru, thanks for not stealing the HE90's. I'm glad you liked them, but I'm also glad that they are still in their case! You'll have to help me to organize a Cayman meet this fall so that we can spend more time catching up. I'm glad that you're working now and enjoying that wonderful city called Austin, Texas, where the girls sure are pretty!

Stevieo, the "crazy one" you're always a blast to hang to with. I sure hope you buy a T300, so that I don't have to feel guilty about not wanting to drag mine to the next South Florida meet! And slow down, man. The reason they put a "governor" on your truck was so that you COULDN'T drive more than 99 mph. Why ever would you want to? Oh, never mind. I know why...

Raaj, the "quiet one", good to see you again. You must get a kick out of Ray and I. No time for anyone else to talk when we're both around...

Matthew, you're another quiet one. Or is it that Ray and I talk too much?

Now for some of the new dudes:

Gary, it was a pleasure meeting you and hearing the SCD-1 for the first time. Good luck with your amp quest.

AKG 501 dude, sorry I didn't catch your name, but thanks for giving me a chance to listen to them, and for offering a cigar. Would do it, but I don't think you would appreciate watching me puke my guts out like the last time I had a cigar...

Who else? Lots of new dudes. Hope you enjoyed yourselves. I'm sure Gene got to know everyone. Gene's like that, ice man.

Gear impressions section:

Stevieo had me laughing so hard in the lobby, I didn't even want to go back inside at times. But I did do some listening...

It all started in not knowing how to set up my new Shanling T300. This was the first time it made it's way out of the box, although it has been waiting for me here in Florida for almost 2 months now. We couldn't figure out how to even turn it on, until I finally broke down and read the manual. Typical guy thing, you know. Sure enough, it can be turned on, and in the coolest way possible. It's a secret handshake kind of thing, but suffice it to say that the on/off switch is non-obvious.

From the first note with Stevieo's little EarMax Anniversary Edition and my trusty (neutral) Grado HP-2 headphones, my heart was put at ease. Having dropped a considerable chunk of dough on this state of the art piece of art, I've been anxiously wondering whether its sonic performance would come anywhere near to its cosmetic appeal (or at least I like the way that it looks). In a word, I was relieved! Not spellbound, not blown away, but certainly quite happy with what I was hearing. It was probably quite close to the best I've ever heard the HP-2's perform, and that was right out of the box, with a very nice (but certainly not a HEV90 or Angstrom two box type of amp), standard interconnects, stock power cord, no additional isolation devices, no line conditioner, etc. I'll let others comment, and reserve a more complete description for later. This piece of gear will definitely be with me for a long time to come!

The T100 and T200 were also unpacked, but stayed motionless for at least an hour before Guru grabbed one of them, and then the other, and moved them into his listening position. I didn't have a chance to listen to either one of them, and wonder what it will be like to do so for the first time knowing that, 1) they are not virgins anymore, and that 2) Guru was the man to break them in.
Ewwww!!! I wonder if it's too late to return them?

Next stop, Singlepower SDS-XLR:

Mikhail's SDS-XRL has to be seen to be believed! Pictures don't do it justice in terms of its size, scale, weight, presence, and sheer beauty. If ever I've seen an over-the-top headphone amp, this would be it. It dwarfs the Angstrom two box amp that Nik had custom made for him, and that I now own. The Angstrom power supply weighs in at 65 pounds, and the Angstrom amp 50 pounds. Mikhail's creation for Hirsch is a combined 150 pounds and measures 18" x 18" x 9" (I'm just guessing about the 9" height).

With the amp stacked directly on top of the power supply, and the "perfect square" length and width dimensions, you get a really cool looking effect if you walk up to this enormous "combo" from either the left or the right. The symmetrical look is especially appealing because of the rounded corners that you can see in the pics. It really is quite the sight to behold, and you find yourself studying it for some time before sitting down for a listening session.

To hear Mikhail say, "This is the base model" just blew me away! The what? Can there be something more? Well, of course he explained about the LED display readout that can be put in, and the "this part and that part" that means absolutely nothing to me other than it will make it sound 'better' (if that is possible) but at a price. There are those who can, and will, go for an all-out version, as I'm told Alex (ayt999) and a couple of other people already have.

So what did the balanced HD650's sound like? Hirsch, I'm just telling it like it is here... this is the best I've ever heard the HD650's sound. The Blockhead, IMO, doesn't even come close. Of course, I didn't listen to them side by side, and it has been about a year since I last heard the balanced HD650's with the Blockhead, different sources, cables, music, etc. But to be quite honest, I've never heard anything like it out of the HD650's before. Now I can see why you're thinking about putting balanced cables on your R10's. The depth and realism of images was more than "speaker-like", it WAS speakers! Or at least (that is) you will completely forget that you are listening to headphones and drift off effortlessly into the music.

Out of curiosity, I thought I'd compare the SDS-XRL in balanced mode to what it would sound like in single ended. There happened to be another pair of HD650's at the meet with the same Zu Mobius cable. Hummmm... should be interesting to see if "balanced output" makes such a big difference as folks like gplamer and aty999 have been claiming it does. I've never really taken the time to experiment with it myself, so here is my chance. Same everything, just pull out the XRL connectors, and plug in the 1/4" plug. But let's see what Steveio has to say about it first... so I pass him the balanced HD650's and press play. Little Feat, Waiting for Columbus, I think it was, but my memory on that is not 100% clear.

So now Stevieo listens to the HD650's single ended, same amp, but now using only half of its topology (ooooow, big word, does it mean what I think it does?). I'm watching Stevieo and he's saying "Oh, balanced all the way... no doubt" and suddenly it's my turn. Folks, this was one of the biggest eye opening experiences I've ever had in audio. It was like hearing the SACD layer of a hybrid disc for the first time and comparing it to the redbook layer on the same disc. Night and day. In single ended mode, suddenly the SDS-XRL becomes a "normal great" amp... still a great amp, but normal, and squarely within the realm of the "known" for an experienced headphone listener.

To be fair, I didn't give it much time. The A/B comparison is not "on the fly" because you do have to change the headphone plugs, and put on a different (but for all intents and purposes identical) pair of headphones. But there is MOST DEFINITELY something about this "balanced" thing. I didn't believe it until now, but the improvements in terms of realism and having a "speaker-like" presentation, at least at the high level with an excellent source such as Gary's Sony SCD-1, are impossible to miss. It sounded like a different amp, and in fact it was: it was only half of the amp! Ahhhhh, but in single ended, one could swap different headphones in and out, on the fly, OR BETTER YET, invite the girlfriend over to share some couch space for a wonderful dual listening session. Quite nice, and quite remarkable, to have all of this represented in one BIG amp!

To say "Well done, Mikhail" would be a terrible understatement. I'm in awe... but also suffering from sticker shock. As they say, "If you have to ask, then you can't afford it." Put me in that camp, unless I were to sell a whole bunch of stuff... interesting possibility. For the first time, I've now realized that my "old fashioned" SDS and Maestro ZR, both of which I love, are not the final statement. Balanced output is the way to go if you can.

Next stop, Singlepower SLAM-PPX3 and Sony Qualia 010:

Here, I must confess that I was listening mostly for the Qualia sound, and was using Stevieo's "Small" pair on my "Large" head. But it worked, or at least I made it work. The top of the earpads were lifted well away from my ears, but by holding them on with gentle pressure applied to the outer casing, I was able to get a pretty good "seal" that I've been reading about for all of these months. Yet, despite these efforts, they did not in any way, shape, or form, "fit" me in the proper sense. I felt like I was hearing what they were intended to deliver, although perhaps pressed a millimeter or two tighter to my skull than would be the case with a natural fit.

The sound? Detailed, transparent, full, competent, but not as involving as the R10's, or especially the HE90's, IMO. I do realize that this is a limited impression based on the time I had to spend with them and should be heavily qualified as such. Also, pressing them down (gently, Stevieo, I swear) as I had to do undoubtedly be distracted from the enjoyment that they may otherwise be able to provide... I'll still say that there is something special about them, and they definitely warrant further investigation. It is clear from their sight, feel and sound, that they are an extremely well designed product, and I now more fully understand what all of the fuss is about. They blow away nearly all "mortal" headphones but I'd have to spend a lot of time with a well fitting pair in a well matched system to learn if their flavor suits my interests. My first blush impression is that they are more HE90-like than R10-like in terms of the signature, but are missing something in terms of the HE90 sparkle (or magic) that gets me so involved in the music.

While at the SLAM-PPX3 station, I listened to the HD650's as well, and on the same track as compared to the Qualia 010's, they sounded downright muddy! Then I tried the SA5000's (also my first experience with them) and the bottom end seemed to disappear. By comparison, the Qualia 010 were "just right" and ahhhhhh inducing. They gave me the speed of attack that the SA5000's also have in spades, and still had a clear and present bottom end like the HD650's. In comparison, both the HD650's and SA5000's sounded BROKEN!!! Ok, so by now I'm starting to "get" the Qualias. I hope to have another chance with them soon.

The SLAM-PPX3 was being run off of Mikhail's Meridian 508, which is quite a competent player, and I really wish that I had been able to compare to other amps at the meet. Unfortunately, I was so fascinated with the Qualia at this station that I didn't focus enough on the SLAM. Mikhail did point out the tuning knob (I forget what it is labeled) which affectively allows you to crank up the bass, and the HD650's responded incredibly well to this. What position this knob is set at will make a huge difference to the overall sound achieved by this amp, which is an excellent feature considering that we all enjoy different aspects of sound, and it can be used to fine tune the amp to different types of headphones. This is an amp that I'd need a couple of days with to fully appreciate and evaluate, but it definitely sounded great with the Qualia 010.

Next up, Ray Samuels and vinyl: Do they mix?

Oh yeah!!! Do they ever!!! Now I'm jamming out to the same Little Feat "Waiting for Columbus" material, but now on an analog rig. Confession time: "Father forgive me, for I have sinned. It has been WAY too long since I've listened to vinyl!!!" This vinyl thing is scary, because it is so smooth, so refined, so effortless. No glare. I understand what Tuberoller tried so hard to tell me now. But will I rush out and "just do it!"? I sure hope not, for my wallet's sake. As it is, with HT, 2 channel, and headphone systems, I've already got 6 audio racks with a total of 24 shelves filled, plus more stuff on my desk! Is there no end to this madness?

Returning to Ray's setup, I must say that AGAIN, I totally forgot that I was wearing headphones, and I don't think a higher compliment can be paid to a guy who prides himself on developing products that are completely neutral. I've got no real experience with phono stages and thus don't have any valid comparison points to work from, but I do know that the Mike's MMF-5 from Music Hall and the cartridge he was using are considered to be "entry level high end" whatever that means. All I know is that it sounded stunningly good in every way. Depth, realism, full bodied. It was all present, where it was supposed to be, and I got swept away in the music.

The product is called Emmeline XR-10B and it has every feature in a phono preamp known to man. Like Mikhail began to do with his amazing SDS-XRL, Ray wanted to explain the various parts and connectors and functions and inner workings of this most gorgeous looking and sounding product, and I'm thinking that neither one of these guys fully appreciates how "technically challenged" I really am. It's like talking to a parakeet! Sure, I'm into gadgets as much (or more) than the next guy, but all I really understand is the SOUND. And this I can say about Ray's XR-10B - after hearing it later that evening in it's full glory with a $10k turntable, equally impressive speakers and amplification, in a dedicated listening room... if ever I give in to the vinyl temptation, Ray will absolutely be the first person I call, with a "What's the name of that phono stage thingie you sell again?" type of question. As with ALL of Ray's products, the design and workmanship is totally perfect in every sense of the word, and I'd want mine to also have a plexiglass cover so that I could learn about all of the various parts and impress my friends with my advanced electronics knowledge! That, and it looks cool...

End of story. I was so busy chatting, checking out my T300, Mikhail's SDS-XRL and the Qualia 010 headphones with the SLAM-PPX3, plus Ray's analog setup, that I didn't get much further into all of the other great gear that was there. Next time, I'm just going to follow Gene around and make sure I meet everyone and listen to everything.

Thanks once more to Mike for hosting and to Mikhail and Ray for bringing themselves, their enthusiasm for the hobby, and their excellent products to the meet.

Good to see everyone again.
 
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post-1413698
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sacd lover

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Hey Wayne, are you sure that amp you used with the Qualias was a MPX3 SLAM... or was it a PPX3 SLAM ? I have only seen a PPX3 SLAM in the meet pics. Not that it matters... but the PPX3 SLAM is an amazingly musical amp. I have found it doesnt matter what I pair my SLAM with its always sounds sooooo good.
 
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tyrion

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Quote:

Originally Posted by sacd lover
Hey Wayne, are you sure that amp you used with the Qualias was a MPX3 SLAM... or was it a PPX3 SLAM ? I have only seen a PPX3 SLAM in the meet pics. Not that it matters... but the PPX3 SLAM is an amazingly musical amp. I have found it doesnt matter what I pair my SLAM with its always sounds sooooo good.



It was the PPX3 SLAM.
 
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