In the Happy Place
- Nov 27, 2010
(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.
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.
Here are some taiko drummers in the front plaza. There were some real dynamics there!
But we all know what we came here for.
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!!!
|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 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!
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.
As you can see, they pretty much let anyone into these shows.
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.
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.
|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.|
|Also playing was the new Edition 5 Unlimited- which looks to be a Ruthenium (vs. wood) version of the Edition 5 Limited.|
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.
Every time I visit their table I envision the crafts area at Pike Place Market in Seattle rather than an audio show in Tokyo.
ASTELL & KERN
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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: