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Tokyo Headphone Festival presented by FUJIYA AVIC, October 25-26, 2014 (PICTORIAL)

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  1. Mkubota1 Contributor
    ・ヘッドフォン・祭
    (Fall ∙ Headphone ∙ Festival)​
     ​
    October 25-26, 2014
     ​
    ____________________________​
     
     
    Here we are again with the Fall 2014 edition of the Headphone Festival put on by Fujiya AVIC of Nakano, Tokyo.  Just like the last show in May, this one was held at Nakano Sun Plaza which is located just a few minutes walk from the Fujiya AVIC store itself.
     
     
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    Nakano Sun Plaza (tall building, middle) houses large meeting facilities, a concert hall, as well as a hotel; so there are often crowds around the plaza for more than one event.  On the weekend of the Headphone Festival there was a region-promoting event for northeastern Japan (Tohoku), and they had various musical groups and exhibitions in front of the building.
     
     
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    Here are some taiko drummers in the front plaza.  There were some real dynamics there!​
     ​
     ​
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    But we all know what we came here for.​
    [​IMG] ​
     
     
    Similar to last time, the show was spread across four floors so there was plenty of space with some rooms being more crowded than others.  These snaps were taken right at the time of opening, so there aren't as many people seen here.
     
    As with just about all of the previous seven shows that I've attended, our good friend Yoshihiro Sasaki gave us early access in the morning so we could get a quick peak before the crowds arrived and not have to wait in line to get in.  Thank you Sasaki-san!!!
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    THE USUAL DISCLAIMER:  I generally refrain from giving listening impressions- especially from such brief listens.  In addition, my impressions are often inconsistent even to myself between various listens, moods, etc.  So just think of this as one big photo dump with a few comments thrown in.  Enjoy!

     
     

     
    SONY
     
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    Sony definitely brought out the 'wares to this show- namely their much anticipated flagship headphone.  And they made sure everybody got a chance to hear them.

     
    The MDR-Z7 is comfortable, well-made (in Japan), and pretty sharp looking.  And they sound great!​
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    Sources included Sony's own HAP-Z1ES player, their NWZ-ZX1 DAP, and their new balanced portable PHA-3 amp.  They also had some Z7s wired with their own cable upgrade that is made in collaboration with Ray Kimber.
     
     

     
    FITEAR
     
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    Perhaps one of Japan's most popular custom IEM makers and maybe the first (?) to mass-produce universal IEMs based heavily on custom technology and assembly methods, FitEar showed their latest model simply named 'fitear'.
     
     
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    Similar in size to the Parterre, these are shaped differently and definitely sound different too.  I never get tired of looking at those titanium nozzles on these IEMs.
     
     

     
    JUST EAR
     
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    And we're back to Sony... sort of.  The 'Just Ear' company is actually a partnership with Sony so you probably won't find this in any Sony Store or catalog.  It's a new brand that was launched using a team of engineers that already does research and development for Sony.  Think of it as sort of a skunkworks division from outside.
     
     
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    There is already quite a bit of information out on these already, so here is the quick recap:  Custom IEM, hybrid BA/dynamic, proprietary heat-activated resin shell, possible custom sound tuning, MMCX connectors, and prices starting at around $1650 at todays rather excellent exchange rate (for the U.S.).
     
     
    As you can see, they pretty much let anyone into these shows. [​IMG]
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    AUDIO TECHNICA
     
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    A.T. has really been busy these past few years because they always seem to have something new at these shows.  We all know they're not afraid to release a few "Limited Editions" here and there, but they also had some new items.​

     
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    I'm a sucker for woodies!  The ATH-W1000z is apparently the replacement for the W1000x.  The wood is now a bit lighter in color- natural teak.
     
     
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    In addition, there is a limited version of the already excellent ATH-ESW9- appropriately named the ESW9LTD.  Not only does it share a similar teak finish as that of the W1000Z, but it also has a few technical changes or improvements.

     
     
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    Also new was the ATH-PHA100 DSD-capable portable amp and the ATH-MSR7.  I am very bummed that I didn't get to hear the later, but that's how it goes at these shows!
     
     

     
    ULTRASONE
     
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    I want to like Ultrasone- I really do.  I can't think of a headphone that has better build quality than their Editions.  But I never really 'got' their sound.  So I'm pretty happy to say that the new Performance 840/860/880 headphones are on my 'Like' list- particularly the 880.

     
     
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    You can see the S-Logic driver mounting though the grills.  These headphones come with both protein leather and velour pads.  I only got to hear the former, but was told that both pads were designed to sound as close to each other as possible.  Therefore the only choice is one of comfort preference.
     
     
    Also playing was the new Edition 5 Unlimited- which looks to be a Ruthenium (vs. wood) version of the Edition 5 Limited.
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    KURADA
     
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    This is the headphone that is on the cover of this show's program guide and promo material.  They are a small company who's handmade (carved > machined > painted > polished) KD-FP10 take two months to produce.  They are each made to order with your choice of finishes via their "TaylorMade Program".
     
     
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    Having heard earlier versions at previous shows, it's been nice to see the evolution of this headphone (prototypes) over time.  The sound this time around seemed tuned more towards neutral compared to the last time I heard them where they sounded a bit on the 'vintage audio' side of things.
     
     
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    The handmade craftsmanship of these is unlike anything I've ever seen.  It has the clean finish of something manufactured with modern techniques; but there are also displays of skill and precision such as the hand-drilled notches for the headband adjustment.
     
     

     
    DENON
     
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    Let's face it- most will agree that this company took a step back in terms of looks when they went from the much loved D7000 to the newer D7100.  Well I hope that their new AH-MM400EM is a sign of things to come.  This is an absolutely gorgeous headphone!!!
     
     
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    Even though the metal parts on this headphone remind me of the Terminator and even though it is clearly designed for portable use, I'm not sure I'd want to take something this beautiful out of the house.
     
     
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    Like I said, just like the Terminator.  Except this is just aluminum and not 'hyper-alloy'.
     
     
    Denon also had their new DA-10 portable amp on display.  It has pretty much what you'd expect from a device like this these days: 24/192, DSD, iDevice compatibility, and a Li-ion battery.  The footprint is more along the lines of the iPhone 5; so it's a bit more narrow and thicker than similar competing devices.​
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    MH AUDIO
     
    Every time I visit their table I envision the crafts area at Pike Place Market in Seattle rather than an audio show in Tokyo.
     
     
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    This mounting bracket for the HA-11 amp looks a bit like a torture device for the iPod Classic.  You can customize the appearance of their amps as well as choose from any number of different connectors and LODs that they make.
     
     

     
    ASTELL & KERN
     
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    As if having the AK240 wasn't exclusive enough, here is the Blue Note Limited Edition for $6000.  Of course here you are getting more than just a DAP.
     
     
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    It's an intriguing package: 75 Blue Note albums remastered to 24bit/192kHz are pre-loaded onto an AK240 of a special blue color with a matching blue case.  You also get each album on a microSD card in its own CD jewel case- all stored on a vertical display stand.
     
     

     
    LINKMAN
     
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    At most of these shows there is that one vendor that I come across where I say to myself, "Oh, this is an interesting product."  This is one of those.  Linkman is one of a few electronic parts wholesalers in Japan (much like Jameco or DigiKey here in the U.S.) that sells audio gear as well.
     
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    The LV-10 and LV-20 are basically DIY kits that require minimal assembly- mostly mounting modules to the chassis and soldering a few wires to them.  The modules include: USB DAC, volume control, speaker protection circuit, preamp, headphone amp, OLED display, and speaker amp.  You can even order that clear acrylic cover pictured above for the chassis so you can see your work.  At the show they also had an outboard phono preamp connected.​

     
     

     
    VINTAGE AND DIY
     
    At each of these shows there is a contingent of DIY people as well as vintage collectors.  This is a great chance to try some rare and sometimes bizarre headphones from the past.
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    These sort of look like Panasonic's version of the Sony MDR-F1.
     
     
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    Finally got to listen to the Precide Ergo 1 (left).
     
     
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    These Yamaha YH-5Ms look like some sort of medical device.  They are actually orthodynamics.  But to me the most impressive part about them was the build quality and adjusting mechanisms.  They reminded me of a cross between the Sony PFR-V1 and my soldering station 'helping hands':
     
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    DIY can get really creative in Tokyo- especially when you have a resource like the Akihabara electronics district at your disposal.
     
     
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    Along with the playful creativity there is also a sense of nostalgia and love for things from the past here.
     
     

     
    OCHARAKU
     
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    (Photo courtesy of Ocharaku 音茶楽)
    New this time around was the second coming of the Flat4-Maple, the KAEDE Type II.  Being a limited edition like the previous KAEDE, I believe the Type II is already sold out as I write this.  The tiny laquered maple housings can only be made in batches- understandably.  The 'Type II' designation means that it has the additional dampening material on the phase correction tube.​

     
     
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    Also new from the 'Surround TTR' division of Ocharaku was a new color for the Donguri RAKU- 'Koicha' or Dark Green.  But perhaps more interesting was the new Donguri SYOU.  A brief listen had me preferring the SYOU over the RAKU.  Both have a mid-centric sound but the SYOU offered a bit more clarity throughout.  
     
     
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    While the RAKU has a colored plastic housing and the KEYAKI has the zelkova wood housing, the SYOU brings an aluminum housing to the otherwise familiar looking Donguri lineup.  The early prototype of the Donguri (right) also had an aluminum rear housing.
     
     

     
    IN2UIT
     
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    This line of headphones is billed as having 'Electrostatz' technology.  But rather than being like STAX and requiring hefty amounts of voltage, these are more like the permanently charged panels found on the classic AKG K340.  And like those headphones, these are also a hybrid (+ dynamic driver) design.​

     
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    The hybrid configuration is easily visible through the grills.  The 'Electrostatz' driver is located above the 40mm dynamic driver.  They have a few models with this configuration that all have slightly different sound signatures.  The build quality on these headphones is very nice.
     
     

     
    SENNHEISER
     
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    In addition to the usual, Sennheiser also had the new Urbanite and Urbanite XL.  Sadly I didn't get the chance to hear them.
     
     

     
    DITA AUDIO
     
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    DITA had a balanced (TRRS) version of their 'Answer' Truth Edition that sounded wonderful out of the AK240.  That is one very elegant (and pricey!) portable setup.​

     
     

     
    VENTURECRAFT
     
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    At the time of the show the SounDroid Vantam, which is smaller and lighter than its predecessor the Typhoon, was still in late prototype form.  There is very little this thing won't do:  iDevice, DSD 2.8/5.6, Toslink input, upsampling, switchable filters, rollable preamp opamp, and balanced output.  The compact and lightweight nature of this needs to be felt in person- it's quite amazing!
     
     

     
    FINAL AUDIO
     
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    Similar looking to the LAB I, the Heaven VII and VIII are now in production.  I love how smooth these single BA driver IEMs sound and am always amazed at how much can be done with a single driver.
     
     

     
    AURENDER
     
    There was a lot of buzz going around the show about the FLOW.  I'm not sure what to call this device because I'm not sure what to call something that basically has all of the features of a portable music player (amp, DAC, storage, display, UI), but isn't a player?  And it's a bit large to be a portable DAC/amp.
     
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    But it sure is a beautifully made piece of equipment that seems to be built around a very specific application.  I can see using it as a desktop rig, sort of like the old Apogee Duet.  Perhaps to make more sense out of this, check out Anakchan's review.
     
     

     
    TAKET
     
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    I got to hear the latest version of Taket's piezo-electric headphone- the H2(N)+.  The one thing I discovered this time around was how to wear them: When I listened to them a few years back I think had them too high on my head.  So this time I wore them pretty low where the lower corner of the pads touched my jawbone.  And now I think I'm beginning to see what all the excitement is about from people who own these.  It's definitely a unique sound that I still need to grasp and play with.  But color me intrigued!
     
     

     
    YAXI
     
    Having recently rediscovered the still great MDR-V6/7506, this earpad manufacturer caught my eye at the last show I went to.  But I never got around to trying and buying so I was looking forward to seeing them this time.
     
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    They make pads for the V6 and CD900st variants since they are both still widely used in the professional monitoring world.  They also make pads for the Sennheiser HD25.  The pads are made of protein leather and are far more comfortable than the Sony stock pads for me.  In the next post on this thread I have some photos of the pads and compare them to the stock pads of the MDR-7506 and MDR-CD900st.
     
     

     
    FUJIYA AVIC
     
    I'm going to wrap this up by showing some picture of the store that brings us this bi-annual event.  I did this about four years ago when I first started posting about this show.  But they have since done a major remodel of their shop (last year) and I thought it would be nice to show you what it now looks like.
     
     
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    Located on the 3rd floor of Nakano Broadway, the store is one of several stores under the Fujiya AVIC name.  Others include a pro audio shop (which is in the same building a few stores down) a huge camera shop, and a so-called junk shop/ boneyard which I actually like!  Nakano Broadway is a well-known mall that actually specializes in a lot of manga, collectibles, and other otaku stuff.  In an otherwise ultra-modern city like Tokyo it's a bit of a throwback that is nice and refreshing to see.  The mall is just a short walk from Nakano Station which is a couple of stops away from one of Tokyo's busiest stations (Shinjuku).
     
     
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    One of the things Fujiya AVIC specializes in is used gear.  It is not uncommon to find multiple copies of whatever you are looking for; so you can choose depending upon their condition and price.  Most items are in excellent to mint condition- most having their original boxes, etc.
     
     
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    For headphone listening, they pretty much have everything for you to try out with your choice of amp and source.
     
     
    Somewhat oddly, when I was over there I also picked up a set of Bose QC-25s next to some sucker who was getting something a little bit different.  I was just going to get them (the QC-25s) on Amazon when I got back home.  But I managed to score this set that barely looked opened at an amazing price.​
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    Well, that's it!  I will leave it here with some basic information about this and the next upcoming show which will be held
    on May 16-17, 2015 at the same location.
     
    Basic info:
     
    These shows are held twice a year- once in May (usually the 1st or 2nd weekend, the one after Golden Week) and once in October (usually the last weekend).  In terms of climate and weather it's generally in the 60°F range.  The event is free of charge for all to attend.  The show hours might vary each day; but generally it will open at around 10am and close at around 6pm- maybe earlier on the second day.  Some English is spoken by most almost all of the vendors.  But in any case it's not hard to get around.  They know what you're there for.  :wink:
     
    This show is generally for looking and listening- and meeting!  Items for sale are generally limited to accessories such as cables, LODs, and those kinds of things.  Fujiya AVIC will likely have a selection of pre-owned and new gear specially marked down for the event on a first come, first served basis.  They will usually hand out a flyer with a list of these special items as you walk in.  But if you are interested in these items, be warned that people arrive early (a few hours before the show opens) and wait in line so they can have first dibs on these sale items.
     
    If you really want to stay on top of this, you can go to Fujiya AVIC's website as the show draws near.  They will post the latest promotional poster similar to the ones below on their homepage, and you'll be able to read the date and time of the event.  And of course keep an eye open here on Head-Fi because there will usually be a thread that starts a few weeks before the show- sort of an interest check to see who will be flying in, possible mini-meets, etc.
     
    Here are a few posters from past Headphone Festivals:

     
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    jude, Mortalcoil, Currawong and 6 others like this.
  2. Mkubota1 Contributor
    After picking up the YAXI pads along with an MDR-CD900st from Tokyo, I proceeded to do the swap right after a brief listen to each headphone with their stock pads.
     
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    The YAXI pad is made of protein leather and is pictured on the right cup (above).  On the MDR-7506 the thickness of the two pads is close, with the YAXI appearing a bit more supple and definitely feeling such.
     
     
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    Another difference between the two pads on the MDR-7506 is the stock pad has what looks like your typical open-cell foam grill.  Whereas the YAXI's grill is transparent allowing you to see the driver.  Despite this, I did not hear any dramatic differences between the two.  If I had the two side-by-side or had owned/used one for a while it might be different.
     
     
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    As for the MDR-CD900st, the stock pads (left in both photos) are quite a bit more shallow compared to the YAXIs.  This is where the comfort of the later really pays off, as the drivers on the MDR-CD900st tend to touch my ears with the stock pads.  Given the difference in driver-to-ear distance between the two pads, I really did expect the thicker YAXI pads to make a difference in sound-  for better or for worse.  But as with the 7506, I didn't detect any dramatic differences.
     
     
    Though made specifically for the Sony MDRs, they also say that these pads will work with other headphones including the Audio Technica ATH-M50 and Yamaha HPH-MT220.​
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  3. AnakChan Moderator
    I keep missing your reports!! This is awesome. Despite being there I'm still finding you revealing things I didn't see or find! Nice one MKubota!
     
  4. jude Administrator
    Mike, another amazing report! I'll feature it now, and then will post some of my photos from the show (that I haven't yet uploaded anywhere else) in this thread later.
     
  5. acain
    Great coverage and pictures, I would have loved to have been there.
     
  6. sgbwill2
    I would love to go to Japan someday for this very reason. Here in Wales there aren't any hifi stores within about 100 miles and ones further afield still have nowhere near that much variety. richersounds is about as good as it gets for me unfortunately :frowning2:.
     
  7. Aradea
    Wow I would love to visit the event and the Fujiya AVIC store when I have the chance to go to Tokyo. How's the price there in Japan? is it more expensive than in the US?
     
  8. Sko0byDoo
    Thanks for the informative reporting...The future show dates are the huge plus for arranging an airline ticket from State-side. 
     
  9. acain
    People in Tokyo love hi end audio equipment, I wish I had a headphone store like that near me.
     
  10. AnakChan Moderator
    For local Japanese stuff? Cheaper. For overseas products, astronomical!
     
  11. Aradea

    I am sure we can find a quality japanese stuff that is on-par with US or european made gears
     
  12. Mortalcoil
    Good stuff Mkubota1.......nice report.  [​IMG]
     
  13. vincent215

    AnakChan any chance that you know how much a use Sony Z7 cost in Japan atm?
     
  14. louis9
    Wow!!!! Look at that headphone store!! The headphone store itself worth a trip....
     
  15. AnakChan Moderator
     
    Y47800 (USD$400?).
     
    http://www.fujiya-avic.jp/products/detail69974.html
     
    2nd hands go for Y44,900 (USD$376?). Bear in mind that it's new Japanese owners (usually) look after their stuff very well. Probably looks like new :-
     
    http://www.e-earphone.jp/shop/shopdetail.html?brandcode=000000054320&search=MDR-Z7&sort=brandname
    http://www.e-earphone.jp/shop/shopdetail.html?brandcode=000000054085&search=MDR-Z7&sort=brandname
     
     
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