Winnipeg meets' thread (Ongoing)
Oct 21, 2016 at 6:59 PM Post #2,581 of 4,134
Ugh, got a parking ticket today in front of Advance. You can't park on the street at 3:30pm and they nailed me literally just minutes after

All that just to bring you guys these impressions...
(in brief for now; I'll write more later)
Focal Elear: good tonal balance, smooth, airy but not as much as HD800, gentle rolloff at both ends
Focal Utopia - brighter than Elear, slightly tizzy?, ever so slightly more resolving but that could be due to tonal balance rather than technicalities; not worth the huge price difference in my opinion; when you're into that kind of money you're better off chasing planars or stax
- the above were run off a Naim dac/amp which I wonder if it was holding them back
Audioquest Nighthawk - better than last time since I could get a proper seal now, and they have extra pads to try, darker than Elear, there's also a really good sale on these that you can only get in store (I promised not to say online, but it's a really good price guys)
Audioquest Nightowl - closed version of the Nighthawk, kinda similar tonality but obviously it's has the typical closed sound; I preferred the suede pads over the leather by a good margin; leather was really congested
Stax 009 - well this was the standout winner for me; it's not without it's flaws and a certain paperiness in the upper mids, but if I ever give up the HE-6 it might be for something similar to this
Grado whatever - can't remember the numbers, but I tried the latest metal and wooden ones. Eh, I'm not a grado fan, they all kinda sound the same to me with varying degrees of honk. I don't feel the upper end models are even remotely worth the premiums. Stick with the low/mid range if you're going Grado
Hifiman HE-1000v2 - keeping in mind my bias for the HE-6, there 1000v2 definitely has the Hifiman house sound and it's certainly good, but I don't think it's a significant step up from the Edition X, which brings us to...
Hifiman Edition X - ... which I don't think is a significant step up from the 560 which is a fraction of the price
Hifiman Edition S - surprisingly decent/not fantastic/not bad, mid centric bubble? good price though, kinda odd fit on my head (probably better for narrow heads), converts between open and closed but it doesn't actually sound that different in either mode, build quality is odd: it feels solid yet kinda kludgy at the same time
Oct 21, 2016 at 7:06 PM Post #2,582 of 4,134
Also, yes we are still planning on the meet for Nov 11th. But other than that we don't have any solid details.
Oct 21, 2016 at 7:12 PM Post #2,583 of 4,134
Thanks for the impressions. What were the 009's run off of? FWIW, I'm really happy with my HE-1000v2's. I haven't taken them off since getting them. It's one reason I'm not really bothered by the Elears falling through.
And thanks for the contribution to the city's coffers.
Oct 21, 2016 at 7:20 PM Post #2,584 of 4,134
The Stax 009 was run off one of their own amps, I forget the number (maybe the 007 amp? it gets confusing when the numbers are all the same).
I liked the 1000v2, and they are super comfy. I felt they had an airier sound compared to the HE-6, but the HE-6 carries more grunt in the lower end. I had my HE-6 in the car but didn't want to haul the whole thing out. At least they were running them out of the 430HA so there was good amping behind it.
I really wish they had a different amp for the Focals. The NAIM unit is a complete unknown to me.
Oct 21, 2016 at 7:40 PM Post #2,585 of 4,134
p.s. for anyone going to Advance tonight/tomorrow, if you meet other keen people feel free to tell them about our upcoming meet and collect an email address for me. The more the merrier!
Oct 21, 2016 at 8:04 PM Post #2,586 of 4,134
  Thanks for the impressions. What were the 009's run off of? FWIW, I'm really happy with my HE-1000v2's. I haven't taken them off since getting them. It's one reason I'm not really bothered by the Elears falling through.
And thanks for the contribution to the city's coffers.

I'm sure Armaegis would agree with me that the HE-1000v2 sounds better than the Elear. I also found the Elear's earpads exceedingly uncomfortable, squishing my head really hard. You're definitely not missing out.
Oct 21, 2016 at 10:03 PM Post #2,587 of 4,134
After exchanging a few PM's with Armaegis, I quickly got my butt down to Advance. I didn't mind the Elear, not uncomfortable to me, and a pleasing sound. The Utopia sounded pretty good too, but certainly not 5 grand good. The same could be said for the 009's. I think I'll just settle for my HE-6's and HE1000v2 for now. I did pick up a pair of the Nighthawks. I'm hoping to keep these at work to plug into my QP1R DAP. I'm listening to them as I write this. A closer soundstage than either Hifimans and a more prominent bottom end. Of course, this is with 15 minutes of listening, so much too early to say how they'll fit it in with my preferred sound.
Ri-fi was there too. Had a bit of a chat.
Oct 21, 2016 at 10:30 PM Post #2,588 of 4,134
yes I made my way down. It was nice to see Velomane, someone to bounce impressions off of. I went to hear the Stax. I really likes the L-500s. I went looking for mid-level fun open cans and thought the R2e sounded really good with jazz but a little aggressive on female vocals. it felt like a great headphone if you knew exactly what you wanted to use them for. I went hoping to be able to compare some planars of the same price, but they only had HIFIMAN 400is in my price range. I thought they sounded pretty good, but they didn't wow enough for me to pull out my wallet. they are nice cans, but just didn't pull me in. I'm sure everyone knows all this, but hopefully that helps people at least know what is there to listen to.
Oct 21, 2016 at 10:36 PM Post #2,589 of 4,134
Nighthawks too! Nice haha
Was it packed there? I was hoping to bring my gear to either swap me to keep or try to change up my HD800SD + speedball. Maybe even take a few pics with my cables - if i feel like making one right now heh
Guess the Elear's not living up to the hype 
Oct 22, 2016 at 1:43 AM Post #2,590 of 4,134
Geez, seems I missed a bunch of you guys today. I did wind up chatting with a few random guys and telling them about our meet Nov 11th, so hopefully we'll get some new faces.
I actually thought both Focal headphones were quite comfortable. My brief impressions would indeed put the 1000v2 above the Elear, though while my above post said the Elear was airy sounding, I think the 1000v2 is even moreso. Not necessarily in a bad way, just simply is.
The Focals strike me as headphones that take a bit of time to get into. The Hifimans can give you an immediate sense of how they play, but I felt like the Focals need some ear settling time. I could see myself getting into the Elear (maybe at reduced pricing *ahem*), but not the Utopia at that price or even discounted. At $5k that's stax territory, and even then I'm not sure I would ever chase that high. I used to have the SR-007 and I think that's as high as I'm willing to go with where Stax technology currently is. I liked the L-500's too (forgot to mention them earlier), but I heard them next to the 009 and there was no contest save for the massive price difference.
As for whether the Elear lives up to the hype... well I think given where the headphone market is right now, they're about right. Good performance at the $1k bracket, though in my opinion it's not going to dethrone the HD800 for technique, but for general consumer sound appeal and aesthetics it's definitely higher. If the Utopia were maybe in the $2k bracket I wouldn't blink, but $4k is just ridiculous.
Out of the headphones I heard today, I'm still gonna give the nod to the Nighthawk (on sale) for the price/performance win this weekend. If you find the Senn HD600/650 not lively enough and want some more kick, the Nighthawk is a good sidestep. I'd still give the midrange resolution point to the Senn, though bass goes to the Nighthawk.
Oct 22, 2016 at 6:30 PM Post #2,591 of 4,134
Hey! I'm another Winnipegger and just wanted to check in  as someone who can come to meets. Was just at Advance for their show and it seems like they're interested in hosting meets and contributing to the headphone community which is pretty cool.
If you went to the meet up, could you give me any indication of who you were so I know who is who? I was the guy in the turtleneck/black jeans.
Will write up some impressions after I eat some food and open a beer.
Some words about what I heard:
I should start by saying I have a pair of Lambda pro, an older headphone that the rep said sat somewhere between the L500 and 009 they had. Which I would agree with, but that's a wide gap. I can also say that I own these headphone and use them as a reference, and they are likely my favorite headphone I own, but I'm also interested in getting something I can bring with me on trips without having to lug around a voltage thinger and such.
I started with Hifiman :
The 400i was good, and is definitely in a league of the HD600 and 650. I find it similiar to the 650 without rolled off treble. It's a bit too congested to me, and wasn't really my think. My favorite headphones are the AKG K7-- line and the Stax, so I like an open airy sound, though I liked the 400i, it didn't deliver on that.  For the price, it's not bad, but a hard sell against the Hd600 which is cheaper.
The Edition X- Very open, airy, and detailed compared to Sennhesier HD600, and 650, it's somewhere around the 800. I didn't directly compare, but it's close I think. The treble seemed a bit peaky, which could be fun if you like treble like I do, but I could see it being a problem for a lot of people.
He1k  : Basically the Edition X with flatter highs and a slight bit more detail. 
I moved to STAX --
A 2170 system is under $1000, and if you're not a basshead, to me this was  the best deal there. It was airy, open, very detailed in the treble, comfortable , and just exactly what I want out of a headphone, with a bit lacking in the bass. I would make this trade if I had 1000$ budget. Same build as my lambda pro-- ****ty.
L500: Repairs the bass, adds a bit of detail, and smooths out the sound sig a bit. Great headphone. Same build as my lambda pro, ****ty. 
009: Probably my dream headphone. Only slightly better in terms of sound than my Lambda Pro, but with a way better build quality. I tried the 007 headphone amp and the solid state amp. To my ears the solid state, previously being used to drive the L500 is much better. The extension and both ends while remaining non sibilant and not feeling overpowering in the bass was just perfect.
It's expensive. Too expensive. I liked their amps though.
I then went to the Focal room and spent a great deal of time there.  I want something new and different in my system and I've been considering the HD800.
I really liked the build and comfort of both elear and utopia.
The Elear was not as comfortable as the HD800 and the drivers seemed to sit closer to your ear which I think is where I noticed the biggest difference in sound.
That said, the Elear was pretty similar tonally to the HD800, but didn't do staging as well. The HD800 I found placed instruments slightly better, and created a large soundstage further from my ears. The HD800 is great for people who like a wide, open and airy soundstage, and was closer to the presentation of HE X than Elear(in terms of presentation only).  The Utopia offered a great upgrade, and really was as fantastic headphone, but was expensive as hell. I'm not sure what made them decide it was worth so much more than the Elear, or where these numbers come from. 
If I didn't already own a Stax, the best value would be the 2170 and L500, followed by the HD800 slightly ahead of the Elear. I think I liked the HE X more than the Elear, but it's more expensive and the treble isn't for everyone, however,  I think the HE560 was left out almost on purpose. That headphone comes close to beating the HE X, and many other headphones. I think it would have been a game changer to have around.
I didn't listen to the Nighthawk at the meet but I had for a week awhile back. It's a fun headphone, super detailed and fun texture in the bass. Good only as compliment to other headphones that are more analytical imo.
Oct 24, 2016 at 11:26 AM Post #2,592 of 4,134
Hey @LeftBehind! I hung out with you and another young dude at the Focal room! I'm the dude who lugged his HD800SD and TH-X00 lol
I didnt have too much time so i tried to just listen to the big boys. Unfortunately when I got there I spent way too much time at the Nighthawk table...and not that big of fan of the Nighthawks, sounded really dark & congested..and liked the closed version even less. 
Then went and checked out the Hifiman setup, and really really liked the HE-1000 v2s..just played some Classical, and I think some Adele and it just sounded so clean and layered..probably edged out the Utopia for me.
The Utopia looked amazing compared to the HE1000, the styling looked better in person than in pics imo - preferred its build and looks to the HD800..its too bad it was a bit noisy on the floor, they sounded really good but i think its price tag made me expect something more. Could tell a pretty noticeable difference between the Elears, in terms of seperation/clarity/soundstage. 
$5999CAD tho :frowning2: 

Maybe my only upgrade right now is a used HE-1000 v2..maybe...and just run it off my Audio-gd NBF15...sell my HD800 and Speedball for it.  Just really wish it looked more premium :p 
We spoke with the Advance Electronics dude and he said he could definitely setup more meets, and easily fit around 12-15 people.
I'll try and reach out to him and get regular meets going!
Oct 24, 2016 at 12:28 PM Post #2,593 of 4,134
I'm new to this group and have yet to attend a meet so I'd defer everything to the long-time participants of the meets. I wasn't sure if people are keen on having Advance sponsor the meets. I know American Hi-Fi carries Oppo PM1/PM3 and MrSpeakers Ether C headphones and Chord DAC/amp and the owner also probably wouldn't mind sponsoring meets but he thought he doesn't want to intrude. It also brings up the issue of whether Advance would be okay if people bring in say DACs and headphones they don't carry to the meets they sponsor. If they are okay, I suspect most of us would be okay? I guess the main advantage of having a dealer sponsored event is that the dealer would have stuff that none of us have that we can try. And there is a physical space with lots power sources to setup multiple gears.
Oct 24, 2016 at 12:32 PM Post #2,594 of 4,134
@q2klepto did you try both pads with the Nighthawks? I didn't like the leather ones, but the "ultrasuede" were much better
It's interesting that you guys spoke with some Advance guys that said they'd be open to hosting meets. I mentioned a couple times that I'm the local meet organizer and nobody mentioned anything about collaborating. Or maybe I was just talking with the wrong guys.
Oct 24, 2016 at 12:43 PM Post #2,595 of 4,134
It's interesting that you guys spoke with some Advance guys that said they'd be open to hosting meets. I mentioned a couple times that I'm the local meet organizer and nobody mentioned anything about collaborating. Or maybe I was just talking with the wrong guys.

Personally, I wonder if the issue was that until recently, Advance never really carried a lot of decent quality >$200 headphones. So for them, they may have had less incentive to host meets. Now that they started carrying Sennheiser HD650, HD800S, Audioquest Nighthawk and Simaudio 430HA, Naim UnitiQute 2, Audioquest Dragonfly, they may be more keen on using the meets as a means to sell their current product line. I think hosting meets are tricky for dealers. What if a member brings a product that people like better than the products you carry. You've just hosted a meet that promoted your competitors' products. Personally, I think that is a bit short-sighted because if you have a full complement of products in stock as a dealer, I think you should be able to offer something, even if it's not DAC/headphones, it could be cable or sources, etc. That said, with online competition being very strong and a tendency for most of us to ask for discounts, it's very hard for dealers to keep things in stock for customers to demo. Not sure what the answer is. Regardless, not our problem.

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