Washington, DC./Maryland/Virginia Head-Fi Meet - May 18, 2019 - Gaithersburg, MD
Mar 29, 2019 at 4:01 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 20


100+ Head-Fier
Dec 28, 2016
Wuhan, China
This is the IMPRESSIONS discussion thread, we welcome you to post your evaluations and comments now that the meet is done!


ORIGINAL EVENT DISCUSSION LINK - https://www.head-fi.org/threads/was...mber-meet-may-18-2019-gaithersburg-md.903470/


Washington, DC./Maryland/Virginia Head-Fi Members Meet - May 18, 2019 - Gaithersburg, MD

Saturday, May 18, 2019 - 1:00 - 5:00 p.m., optional happy hour and dinner follows


Come join Washington DC/Maryland/Virginia members of HeadFi.org and local headphone and audio enthusiasts for an afternoon of auditioning and friendly conversation.

This event is open to all who have an interest in headphone and portable audio. No equipment is required but, as always, participants are welcome and encouraged to bring their sources, headphones, amps, DACs, and other accessories to demo and to try out in some unique combinations. Bring and demo your home-engineered equipment as well!

The auditioning session will feature not only our own members' gear but quite a few new and improved products that are being presented by audiophile product manufacturers -

IFi Audio has sent us a selection of their portable X Series, including the xCAN balanced headphone amp and an xDSD Bluetooth/USB DAC, along with the popular micro iDSD DAC Headamp - https://ifi-audio.com

Will and Nicholas will be demoing Linear Tube Audio's MZ3 headphone amp and a Z10e electrostatic headphone amp, so bring your electrostatic headphones - https://www.lineartubeaudio.com

20/20 Evolution Systems will demo the brand new Conrad Johnson HVA1 headphone amp - https://conradjohnson.com/

AGPtek will be demoing their popular portable digital audio players including the audiophile H3 and newly updated ROCKER with Rockbox compatibility.

Let us know what gear you are bringing by posting in the thread comments below!

What is Head-Fi?

Head-Fi.org is a website where the community covers, reviews and discusses headphones, earphones, earbuds, in-ear monitors (IEMs), headphone amplifiers, and all other kinds of high-end audio gear and music. The heart of Head-Fi is its discussion forums, where, on average, 3000+ posts covering the above topics are made each and every day.

After the meet, participants are invited to join us for a happy hour and dinner at a local restaurant - Thai Tanium in the Kentlands.

We encourage you to RSVP so that we have a better idea of how many will be coming.

You can RSVP at this link:


Here are the details…

UPDATED Location:

Kentlands Clubhouse
485 Tschiffely Square Rd.
Gaithersburg, MD 20878

The Kentlands Clubhouse is wheelchair accessible and has male and female restrooms that are also wheelchair accessible. The building is smoke-free, please dispose of any trash you might have in the provided bins. While we will have a number of really comfortable chairs and sofas available for attendees, this is a standing event where you will want to move around the meeting room to experience all of the equipment on display.

UPDATED Directions:

KENTLANDS CLUBHOUSE – 485 Tschiffely Square Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20878



Parking: Plenty of free street parking is available in the immediate area, please don't park in any spot that has Reserved signage - those spots are for residents only and you might be ticketed/towed if you park there.

Internet Access: Free wireless Internet access is available. Speed should be sufficient for everyone's moderate/email use but not for multiple concurrent streaming video applications.

Electricity: Twelve (12) double outlets are available in the meeting room itself. If you are bringing A/C powered devices, please bring your own power strips.

Tables and Chairs: The room is stocked with a number of heavy load bearing tables and we expect to also have two - four heavy duty 8-foot folding tables and 30 folding wooden chairs. If you have heavier or bulkier equipment consider that the coffee tables will have the most comfortable lounge seating.

UPDATED Event Schedule:

1:00 - 1:30 p.m. - Equipment setup. Bring your favorite audio devices to display and to offer attendees a chance to try out with their own headphones! If you need A/C power, please bring your own power strips!

You can park for a few minutes in front of the Clubhouse entrance to unload equipment but once equipment is unloaded, please park in either the parking lot or in one of the many street parking spots in the neighborhood.

1:30 - 4:30 p.m - Opening remarks, self-introduction of attendees (you are encouraged to describe the equipment you brought to the meet!) Open listening sessions, walk around, chat and try out the available equipment.

4:30 - 5:00 p.m. - Pack up your equipment and help us clean the meeting space. Please keep in mind that we have a hard stop at 5:00 p.m.

After Event Happy Hour and Dinner (at your own cost): 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Location: Thai Tanium Restaurant, 657 Center Point Way (Kentlands Market Square, next to movie theater,) Gaithersburg, MD 20878


Don't forget to RSVP with a thread comment below AND at Eventbrite so that we know you are coming!

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May 18, 2019 at 8:54 PM Post #2 of 20
Really enjoyed seeing new and old friends today and getting the chance to try some of the best audio gear on the planet!

Highlight for me was the chance to try out the new HiFiMan Shangri-La electrostatic headphones. These are highly detailed and airy in their presentation but, like any piece of equipment at their rarified price point, require exquisite source material and a very capable DAC and amp to do it justice. HeadAmp's Blue Hawaii amp, designed for electrostatics, was a good match up to introduce these cans to everyone who came.

Got the chance to audition quite a few tube and hybrid components, I still like the reliability and sheer headroom of solid state but can't argue with the refinement of what we were listening to today!

00000IMG_00000_BURST20190518155121580_COVER.jpg 00100lPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20190518160036929_COVER.jpg IMG_20190518_133904.jpg IMG_20190518_133916.jpg IMG_20190518_142646.jpg IMG_20190518_142707.jpg IMG_20190518_142721.jpg IMG_20190518_142938.jpg IMG_20190518_142952.jpg IMG_20190518_143331.jpg IMG_20190518_143338.jpg IMG_20190518_143352.jpg IMG_20190518_143441.jpg IMG_20190518_143450.jpg IMG_20190518_143509.jpg IMG_20190518_143516.jpg IMG_20190518_143535.jpg IMG_20190518_143834.jpg IMG_20190518_153424.jpg IMG_20190518_170049.jpg
May 18, 2019 at 9:29 PM Post #3 of 20
Fantastic meet-up for this first-timer. Glad to meet everyone. There wasn't enough time to listen to all of the awesome setups, but everything was impressive. The highlight component at the show for me was the Conrad Johnson HVA1 amplifier and the custom-made headphones by the gentleman at the table next to mine.

Many thanks to @PJABBER for organizing the event.
May 18, 2019 at 9:45 PM Post #4 of 20
Great show! Thanks to @PJABBER for his hard work in getting this set up!


Only have this shot on my cell but I'll upload more pics from the DSLR here shortly!

And it was awesome to meet all of you and I'm looking forward to continuing our discussions here in the morning!!
May 18, 2019 at 11:35 PM Post #5 of 20
It feels like a long time since I've been at a meet or around a bunch of great audio gear, and it was nice to see everyone again and see what has and hasn't changed in a year.

I mostly wandered around with my HD650s listening to things and enjoying most of it, wanting to spend more time analyzing but also losing focus. Eager to see the new headphones by @gandhisfist hit production, and the Apex Sangaku he brought, sourced by the Soekris 1541, was an excellent system through my Senns, and also (unfortunately) dismissed any hopes that I'd be happy with the straight headphone output of the Soekris in lieu of a standalone amp. Wasn't very excited by those Quad headphones, which was a bit of a letdown, and found that the Campfire Cascade was the most comfortable on-ear that I've tried, though I didn't get a good sense of how it sounded. Limited impressions also because I was chatting a lot.

Special thanks to @PJABBER for hosting and @Ken Davis for ringing the quiet bell, even as it gradually lost effectiveness as time went on. Also thank you to @justin w. for lugging the HeadAmp gear all the way up - they always have an aspirational setup - and to Conrad Johnson and 20/20 Evolution for showing up with open minds and great gear to let us hear the new CJ headphone amp and talk to them about headphone concerns.

It was great to bring some new, production LTA gear to a meet and accompany Nicholas ( @jtnt ) to his first Head-fi meet as a recently added member of LTA. I strongly suggest you that you give him long-term loans of your favorite gear to make sure that LTA continues heading in the right direction.

Always a friendly atmosphere, always good to see all the new people.
May 19, 2019 at 10:12 AM Post #6 of 20
Awesome turnout at this meet and nice to see lots of new faces joining the local community. Big thanks to @PJABBER for organizing/hosting and to Headamp and Conrad Johnson for coming out as well.

I very much enjoyed the C&J HVA1 and look forward to hearing it on a more familiar source. Headamp brought many of the new headphones I have been wanting to hear including the Ether 2 and the Focal Stellia, which were exciting to get a chance to listen to. Also special shoutout to @Mshenay for driving 7 hours each way to join us and for giving me the opportunity to hear the HE6SE, which was another headphone I was curious about hearing.

Looking forward to the next one!
May 19, 2019 at 10:33 AM Post #7 of 20
Thanks to @PJABBER for organizing. I wasn't supposed to make it but got to show up and I'm glad i did. Super equipment at this meet. Better than any shop in london! Thanks again to the vendors who helped make this show memorable with such fantastic new gear to try out.
May 19, 2019 at 11:38 AM Post #8 of 20
Thanks to @PJABBER for organizing. I wasn't supposed to make it but got to show up and I'm glad i did. Super equipment at this meet. Better than any shop in london! Thanks again to the vendors who helped make this show memorable with such fantastic new gear to try out.

It is the people and not just the variety of equipment that keeps me coming to these meets, however intermittently. Yes, where else can you sample such a diverse array of gear in as many combinations as you can fit in three or four hours? The high street stores and our local equivalents have their selection and, often enough, knowledgeable staff. But Head-Fi members are often true amateurs (from the French word meaning "lover of") with a passion that is shared. If you come once, it is the gear that might be the draw. Come twice and it will be the friends that you will have made.
May 19, 2019 at 2:17 PM Post #9 of 20
Many thanks, @justin w. Headamp, bringing susvara, 009s, shangri la junior to the meet. What a great treat! I do wish I could listen to these longer time to have a review/impression in depth. is there anywhere near Gaithersburg I can come to listen to these? It can be fantastic if there is HE1000SE as well.
May 20, 2019 at 12:49 AM Post #10 of 20
Yay more pics time!

I apologize I didn't get as much of a chance to get some shots around the room, though I very much appreciate every one who had a chance to stop by my tables and listen!

IMG_0941.jpg IMG_0942.jpg IMG_0943.jpg IMG_0945.jpg

Personally I enjoyed getting to hear the empy with the Euterpe, also for those that maybe want more time with it I am hosting a review tour for the Auris Euterpe!

Still though the traffic and short time were no fun! Hopefully next time we can get a bit more time
May 20, 2019 at 10:27 AM Post #11 of 20
Thanks to @PJABBER for organizing and to all who brought gear. Being out of the "auditioning gear" game for a couple of years, there was a ton of stuff I hadn't heard.

The Bottlehead Mainline has been around for a few years but I had not previously encountered one in the wild, so that was a good listen.
Someday I will get my act together and bring my Crack again, and hopefully listen more directly against the Mainline so I can get a better idea of what the extra ~$900 would buy me.

Got to listen to a HE90 Orpheus rig for the first time in [I don't know how many] years. Almost 20 years probably. Still sounds friggin fantastic.
The Head Amp table was great. Blue Hawaii is just a tough amp to beat and sounded great with everything I heard out of it.

Amar's setup was sounding darn good. Going to these meets keeps reminding me I need to up my DAC game and my general impression has been that the various R2R designs tend to pull a better disappearing act, so I'll be having a look at the Soekris stuff again. I don't need a DAC with a headphone output, however. Actually the next DAC upgrade I buy will likely go into my loudspeaker system anyway. But I digress.

Great to hear HE6SE and compare to the HE6. The HE6 was a touch less congested, which one could reasonably chalk up to break-in given that the SEs are fairly new and there's probably not a set of HE6 on the planet that don't have >1000 hours on them by this point. I wouldn't kick either of them out of bed. The price on HE6SE is kinda almost within spitting distance of used Utopias so that would be a major confounder for me, and one thing I am not lacking is indecision.

There was plenty of gear that I didn't have time to audition in 3+ hours. Great meet, good seeing everyone again and I'll catch y'all next time.
May 20, 2019 at 11:46 AM Post #12 of 20
Thank you @PJABBER for organizing and to the several vendors who brought exciting gear. Truthfully I come more to schmooze than to listen... I'm pretty happy with my home setup (for the moment), though there are one or two things I still covet. Several people told me that the "quiet times" were helpful (at least for the first few minutes while they were still pretty quite). We'll be experimenting and refining these for future meets. Suggestions are welcome.

Anyway it was great to see everyone as I (very) gradually learn people's names. I enjoyed the mood both during the meet and at the dinner afterwards.
May 20, 2019 at 1:04 PM Post #13 of 20
I'm pretty happy with my home setup (for the moment), though there are one or two things I still covet.


And how do we begin to covet, Ken? Do we seek out things to covet? No. We begin by coveting what we see at head-fi meets.

Several people told me that the "quiet times" were helpful (at least for the first few minutes while they were still pretty quite). We'll be experimenting and refining these for future meets. Suggestions are welcome.
I seem to recall electro-shock collars being brought up during the dinner conversation. Not sure if it was in this context or otherwise. :smiling_imp:

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