If you are referring to the QP1, no, we wanted to keep the unit under $1000, and balanced out require 4 amplifiers as opposed to 2. I believe you will find the unit has sufficient output without balance output. Our approach to the desktop amplifiers is a bit different in that we use 2 of the CMA800Rs in a dual mono configuration for balanced output.
Thanks for the heads up on a contingency outboard amplifier purchase, in case I happen to land a used STAX® headset (my Asus® XONAR® can drive most dynamic and PM headsets unaided thanks to the onboard Texas Instruments® TPA6120A2). Concerning the HeadAmp® Blue Hawaii SE™, what PO tubes does this model use? what full-wave rectifier tube, if any?
Always fun meeting and talking to the local crowd.
Noble Savant - Their earphones are always tuned to please, I thought the Savant was a pretty slick sounding IEM.
Creative - The current line up of products they offer are all spot on with the priceerformance ratio. A wide array of their products can appeal to general tech consumers as well as audiophiles. They've got some neat stuff in the works that I'm really excited for.
Final Audio Design - Ugh... that Sonorous X. Do want. But $5,000. Can't afford. I have a fair opinion of the Pandora (now Sonorous VI), but the X is much more to my tastes.
Eddie Current - It's not really a surprise since they're pretty well known in the amplifier game, but the Studio was superb. Heard lots of praise for the Black Widow and want to give it a go with my own music and stuff sometime soon if the stars align.
Woo Audio WA8 - Kudos to Woo. I gave them a hard time about the old WA8, but they've changed DAC stuff up and it sounds a lot better now.
On the Massdrop thingy, I don't want to build expectations up too early on, but I'm really glad that people who got a turn at the headphone gave us positive feedback on both sound and pricing.
It's not too far off now, so I guess a sneak peek of an early prototype couldn't hurt.
First, many thanks to Warren Chi, Third Eye and everyone else involved for a great meet. I arrived around 9:30 and my first stop was to Frank Cooter’s table. He is more than a DIY’er, he’s an artist. (I am not worthy!) He builds everything from scratch. I asked him if the amp on his table was the same one he made for Jude. He said it was and told me to go ahead and listen to it.
Frank said it would sound better once it had warmed up so I decided to wait and went instead to STJJ89’s table. (I apologize but I’ve forgotten STJJ89’s name.) He had a modded Fostex TH900 and wanted to compare it with a stock pair so I brought mine. He inserted a foam damping material he got from one of the creators of the mod in Finland and also reduced the thickness of the pads so the drivers will be a little closer to the ears. (You can find the mod in the Fostex TH900 Mod thread.) The goal of the mod is to bring the mids forward as the stock TH900 has a “U” shaped signature. I thought the mod was very successful and also brought more air to the presentation. STJJ89 also brought a pair of Hifiman HE-560’s that he also modded. I own these phones too. He changed the outer grill, opening up the grill holes so it resembled the grill on a Mr. Speakers Ether. The source of the grill was a metal mesh trash can. He also inserted a plastic grill on the inside of the drivers. I can’t remember the source of the interior grill but it was as equally unlikely as the outer grill. The effect was the same as the TH900, air and neutrality. (Another success to my ears as I lean toward neutral to bright phones. Probably because I’m 61 years old and my hearing has been dulled from 50 plus years of listening to loud music.)
Returning to Frank Cooter’s table, I stood in line to listen to his amp and Stax SR009. I HAVE NEVER HEARD A MORE BREATHTAKING SOUND COME OUT OF A HEADPHONE!!! The SR009 is everything they say it is! Detailed, extended, on and on and on! No one else was standing in line behind me so I hogged them for a while. While listening I noticed Jude standing next to Frank’s table. I’ve never met Jude before and this isn’t probably the best way to introduce myself but I said to him, “You know, you are one lucky bastard to have this amp!” He laughed and agreed.
My next stop was Zashoomin’s table (his name is Ben) which was right next to Frank’s. Ben is another DIY’er and brought his Krell and Beta amps. I only listened to the Beta with both my TH900 and Ben’s Audeze LCD3 (balanced). STJJ89 was listening to his modded TH900’s using the Krell. The Beta seems to present the music as the headphones do. The TH900 has forward treble and bass with slightly recessed mids and that’s how it sounded with the Beta. The LCD3 lush and detailed though not a very wide soundstage for a phone with open cans.
You can see interviews with Frank and Ben at Can Jam Socal on Tyll Herstens You Tube channel
I was more interested in the members showcase than the venders but I did visit the Woo table. I listened to the WA22 using a Sennheiser HD800 single ended. I guess analytical headphones aren’t my cup of tea. This is the 4th time I’ve listened to an HD800 and it just doesn’t move me. I listened to a variety of music from Daft Punk to Diana Krall. To my ears the TH900 sounds more expansive, my HE-560 sounds as detailed and my Beyerdynamic T1 sounds better than any of them. Particularly good with the WA22 was the Mr. Speakers Ether single ended. This was the 2nd time I’ve heard the Ether and I’ve been very impressed both times.
I had to leave early so the only other vendor I visited was Astell & Kern. I listened briefly to the AK380 but what I really wanted to hear was the Beyerdynamic/Astell & Kern T5p. This was the only time I was able to listen to a headphone using my own music. I used an AK120 (first generation) coupled with a Glove Audio A1. My favorite song for auditioning headphones is BB King’s “Why I Sing the Blues” which was recorded at Madison Square Garden in 1969. It’s a 24/192 download. The T5p is terminated with a balanced TRRS connector. It sounded a little darker than the T1 and also a little hollow, like listening in an empty room. Still, it was detailed with good extension and a tight bass. The T5p is now on my wish list.
Spending some time with Head-Fi members, particularly the do it yourself members, made me want to give building an amp a try even though I have no electronics experience. I told Ben maybe a Bottlehead Crack. Ben encouraged me to do so, saying the “Crack” could be done in a couple of afternoons. I told him with his skills it may take a couple of afternoons but it would probably take me a couple a months. If I don’t burn the house down first.
Nice volume control. I wouldn't consider another amp that didn't have a remote and that implementation is cool. I had old amp that used gain cells for the volume, which is probably another method that would work well via remote.