World of Headphones Tour New York
Jun 16, 2002 at 10:36 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 120
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Greetings to one and all, just came back from the World of Headphones Tour New York Stop and it was a lot of fun.

I will write up a big bad report of everything that I heard.

Everyone who was there, please post your thoughts in this thread.

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Jun 16, 2002 at 11:47 PM Post #2 of 120

dhwilkin

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I wasn't there, but I DEMAND inital impressions... please.
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Jun 17, 2002 at 12:28 AM Post #3 of 120

grinch

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orpheus: EVERYTHING I DREAMT IT WOULD BE

max: amazing amp. i would kill for one of these, just gorgeous and drives everything so superbly..

blockhead: a step-up from the max.. sounds amazing as well

cary 300sei: boy does this badboy have some BASS. the hd600's were booming like crazy from this thing, really fun amp to listen to.. even on the etymotics! no harshness at all and fully rounded sound.

ear hp4: sounded pretty darn good.. but just not as "fun" as the cary (in my opinion)

tyll: all the good rumors you've heard about him are true. he was a really really cool/funny/nice guy. he even gave me a free t-shirt! doesn't like portishead too much though.
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i'll make a more detailed post later this week i imagine, since then i'll be at work (i.e. bored)
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 3:56 AM Post #4 of 120

nec

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"Hi-end" crate:
Liked HP4/HD600/Stefan. They played any music delightfully. Even badly recorded music. Any style I offered them.

Didn't like Blockhead/Max/MOH - too "edgy" and unrefined to my taste.

Preferred Stax over Orpheus. Wouldn't buy either - they are good only with some styles of music IMHO. And these styles are played good enough by HP4.

Liked Wheatfield HA-2. To my ears it sounded like cheap version of HP4. Sadly they are not manufactured anymore as Tyll explained.

I wish it was possible to listen to Wheatfield-1 with a decent source (HA-2 with Marantz sounded absolutely nowhere even close to HA2+BAT so I was not able to really audition HA-1).

Now where can I buy HP4 for the price of Wheatfield-2?
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Jun 17, 2002 at 4:21 AM Post #5 of 120

skippy

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i'm just a bit upset that the new york show wasn't in NYC. the guy that was supposed to drive me there backed out, so it was a bummer that i had to miss the show.
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 5:32 AM Post #6 of 120

mezzman

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Quote:

Originally posted by skippy
i'm just a bit upset that the new york show wasn't in NYC. the guy that was supposed to drive me there backed out, so it was a bummer that i had to miss the show.


same with me!
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 5:45 AM Post #7 of 120
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This show was a real eye opener for me, and it really goes to show that reviews MUST be taken with a massive grain of salt, since there were so many shockers at the show that went totally against the stereotypes that have developed over them on these boards, magazines and other places. I must now call these (stereotypes) myths, since they were proven to be totally untrue! I went to the show with Bootman, so he can give his thoughts on these as a follow up. I listen to more headphones than just these, but I forgot which ones they were, but these stood out the most.

The Beyerdynamic 831 and 931. They both sounded bright and had weak bass. The 931 were the best one out of the two, but it still was too bright. One the plus side, they are exceptionally comfortable, but who cares if they sound so bad?

The Sony MDR-CD2000 and MDR-CD3000. Holy crap, these sounded extremely awful, and as bad as the 3000 was, the 2000 was even worst! One the plus side, the MDR-CD3000 was remarkably comfortable and also it was a lot smaller than I thought it was going to be, you guys sure love to exaggerate about size, huh?

The AKG K270S and the AKG K1000. The AKG K270S sounded like utter ****, it was like something out of the early 80’s, except this is a new design! I didn’t like the K1000 with the Antique Sound Labs AQ1005DTI, but I thought they sounded much better with the E.A.R. V20. Nice Bass with the E.A.R. V20, that’s right I said nice bass! Sure it wasn’t all that deep but it was there, just like the 501. AKG K1000 are a very good headphone but they were just missing too much on top and bottom to be reference quality by my standards, they are also not very musical at all, in other words they are a bit boring, and they didn’t sound natural enough, this was very noticeable with my Telarc classical guitar CD, since the Guitar didn’t sound realistic to me, it had a plastic sound to it that turn me off.

The EGO AMT, it didn’t sound bad, but it wasn’t all that great either, it was however, the ugliest headphone there, it made the AKG K1000 look normal. They are huge and hideous! But, at least they sound ok.

The Grado SR325, RS-2, and RS-1. The SR325 and RS-2 sounded a lot a like, with the RS-2 sounding a bit warmer, oh and they both sound like ****! I hated them both, the MS2 are so much better than the 325! I didn’t think it would be that big of a difference between them, honestly. The RS-1 was a true shocker, in that they were so damn neutral! They sounded great! The soundstage is not as big as with the Sennheiser 600’s and Orpheus, or my HP-2 (which I had with me) but if you want truly uncolored sound and want to get up close and personal with your music, these are the only headphones for the job. This made me wonder how the MSP must sound like, if they are suppose to be even more neutral. I really loved these headphones, they are the most comfortable Grado headphones as well.

The Etymotic. The most impressive thing about these headphones is the amazing amount of sound that they block out. The sound is super clear but where’s the bass? They would be right up there with the very best sounding headphones if only they had better bass. They were however, the most uncomfortable headphones I have ever worn, just brutal to wear.

The Wheatfield HA-1 and HA-2. They both sounded really good, but I wasn’t blown away by them either. I also didn’t think that the Wheatfield HA-2 deserved to be anywhere near the high-end set-up.

The Antique Sound Labs MG-Head DT, this is a sweet little amp! It was extremely musical, great for Jazz! But, it’s also very colored. I didn’t think I was going to like this amp going in, yet I enjoyed it. It’s not neutral at all, but it’s a fun, cute little amp.

The Headroom Little. With the power upgrade it is shocking how sweet this little guy can sound! It’s no Max, since it missing the awesome bass of Headroom’s big boys, but it was very enjoyable! Perfect for anyone who thinks that the two big guys have too much bass.

Ok, kiddies now it’s time for the big boys!

But, first…

Sennheiser Baby O. These headphones looked so cool, the violet and black looked fantastic, and it was extremely comfortable, but it sounded bright with very weak bass. I didn’t like the sound at all. I really wish that Sennheiser would make a version of the 600’s that looked like the Baby O and was as comfortable. I really hope that the upcoming 600 SE is just that, but who knows.

Stax 4040 Signature headphones with SRM-006t Tube Amp. If I could use only two words to describe this combo it would be putrid ****. I really, really, really, really hated these, they felt , looked, and sound so bloody awful that it was almost traumatizing, since I really thought that the Stax were good headphones going in, oh boy was I ever wrong.

Headroom Max and Blockhead. I tried the Blockhead with the two different cables, the Clou and the Cardas. 1st of all, the special Blockhead Clou cable is completely absurd. It is the heaviest, most impractical headphone cable ever made. What the hell were they thinking, and remember that I have the Red Clou at home and I am very much used to it, but this thing was just too much even for me. At one point, Bootman started working out with this massive cable, DO NOT purchase this cable if you plan on getting the Blockhead. The new Cardas cables for the Blockhead is the complete opposite, light, thin and practical just like the stock (in it’s practicality) only it sounds a million times better and looks better as well, and it has superior built quality. It’s the only way to go if you plan on getting a Blockhead. I did an A/B test with the two Headroom big boys, and the Blockhead was clearly better, it was just the most neutral amp in the whole show. The bass was the best of the show as well. The Max was really great, but the Blockhead was even better. It is hands down the best Solid State Headphone Amp ever, only the Max comes close. So close that I would say that the Max will get you 90% there. The drawback with the Blockhead is that you can only use two different headphones with it, well they are the 600’s and the RS-1 which just so happen to be the best headphones that you can get, but still, you are pretty much stuck with them. You also can only used it with a balanced source. The Max on the other hand, can be use with all normal headphones and they all sound great with the Max, plus you don’t need a balanced source, and it also cost a lot less.

The Homes-Powell Amp. I used the Grado RS-1 and HP-2 with this amp. Can you say overpriced piece of ****? Other than the price and rarity, it didn’t belong on the high end rack, as far as the sound goes. What a waste of money.

The Stax Omega. I really, really wanted to like the Omega 2, I so badly wanted to like it, but it just sounded so ****ing awful! What a heartbreaker. As bad as the Homes-Powell Amp was, this was worst! I used to lust over this combo so bad, before I heard it, but not anymore. It was a horrid piece of ****. Other than the price, this shouldn’t had been anywhere near the high end rack.

The E.A.R. HP4 sounded great for rock, but once I started listening to my audiophile quality CDs, its limitations became clear. There was a bad hiss problem with this amp, and the bass was too sloppy, which seem to be a problem with every tube amp in the place, but it was peculiarity bad with this one. I tried this amp with the 600’s with the Cardas and the 600’s with the black replacement cable and the HP-2. BTW, the black replacement cable is the worst replacement cable that you can get, since it is so rolled off in the highs and lows.

The Cary Audio 300 SEI. I tried this amp with the 600’s with the Cardas, the Grado RS-1, Etymotics, and Grado HP-2. This was hands down the best Tube Amp at the show, it sounded very good with the RS-1, it sounded great with the 600’s, and it sounded the best with the HP-2. I really wish it wasn’t true, due to the price, but it was a match made in heaven with my HP-2. This was the best amp for these headphones, it was a perfect match. Awesome amp!

The Sennheiser Orpheus. With rock it was a toss up between this combo and the Blockhead since they sounded so much alike, but with my CDs, the difference became clearer. The Orpheus had a bigger soundstage, it had a sweeter highs and a super sweet midrange, but the bass was still sloppy, it was the least sloppy bass of all the tube amps, but the bass just can’t compare to the blockhead. It was also colored, it wasn’t as colored as the Cary, but it wasn’t no where near as neutral as the Blockhead. The headphones were the most comfortable headphones ever made! The Blockhead’s sound was pure and neutral, it allowed you listen to every last detail of the recording with authority. The Orpheus on the other hand is sweet and seductive. It would be extremely hard to choose between these two setups if the cost was the same. However, it’s not, the Orpheus cost three times as much as the Blockhead and it doesn’t sound better, just different.

In closing, the best amps were the Max, Blockhead, Cary Audio 300 SEI, and the Sennheiser Orpheus. The best Headphones were the Sennheiser HD600 w/ Cardas, Grado RS-1, and my own HP-2. All of these are true reference headphone audiophile equipment.
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 6:21 AM Post #8 of 120

Eagle_Driver

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KR..., your judgment on the headphones almost matched mine when I was at the Chicago stop on the WOH tour. I got to listen to both Sonys, too -- only to find out how overrated they really are! Honestly, I wouldn't pay even $150 on the CD3000, let alone its $400 discounted price or its $700 MSRP. And the Beyer 831 and 931 sounded too thin for my tastes. And your judgment on the Etymotics is almost in line with mine -- but I thought the ER-4P had too much bass, and my newly-purchased ER-4S sounded a little thin. But my judgment of the ER-4S may change with a good amp.

And at the show, I compared the Sennheiser 580, 590 and 600 -- only to find out that the 590 is noticeably brighter than the other two. But at least the 590 isn't anywhere near as crappy as the Sony CD2000 -- and I thought the 590 still sounds better than the Sony CD3000, as well.

And since I hardly listen to music at home anymore, I concentrated on the portable section. Too bad I couldn't get to hear the Porta Corda or the JMT Altoids amp at their full potential, but the "plain" Airhead to me sounds light years ahead of the built-in headphone jack of any portable player.

Finally, who says the HD 580 or HD 600 is too quiet for unamped portable use?
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I tried the 580 directly from the headphone jack of my Sony D-EJ1000 PCDP. That combo isn't quite full-sounding, but it's certainly loud enough for me to listen to while walking down a residential neighborhood street -- and an amp will really make the 580/600 sing.
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 6:27 AM Post #9 of 120

Audio-Me

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KR... Some of the stuff you have said completely disagrees with my findings, yet a lot of other opinions seem to be similar. This is quite amusing. I think it's great how different people hear things and have variety of different preferences.
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 7:13 AM Post #10 of 120
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Quote:

Originally posted by Audio&Me
KR... Some of the stuff you have said completely disagrees with my findings, yet a lot of other opinions seem to be similar. This is quite amusing. I think it's great how different people hear things and have variety of different preferences.


That's the beauty of these meets and reviews, everyone has different ears and a lot of people hear things differently. I was playing nothing but Telarc, Reference Recording and Naxos CDs, since I wanted to push these system to their limit.

Some more thoughts :

I am still is a state of shock on how bad all the Stax systems sounded.

Oh, and I must say that Tyll was super friendly and an extremely nice guy. He is also extremely honest, no BS kind of guy, which I loved. Everyone else was extremely nice and friendly as well.

I liked the EAR HP4 at 1st, but once I started playing more demanding music, it fell apart. When I 1st heard the Omega 2 I was in disbelief on just has dreadful it sounded, at 1st I dismissed the god awful sound I was hearing, since there was a pop/rock cd playing, so I figured I was just hearing how bad the CD was recorded. My audiophile CDs didn't make it sound any better, if anything it sounded worst, while all the other systems truly began to show off their stuff.
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 11:59 AM Post #11 of 120

DarkAngel

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KR
Tells it like it is....I love it.

Regarding the Sony 3000, I wonder if headroom is purposely trying to make them sound bad
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They will not sound good on the same amp/setting that sounds good with Senn 600 since they are on opposite ends of tonal spectrum. You can adjust filters on Max amps to make 3000 sound very good with most material.

The same comment applies to Grado 325, but actually I prefer the Grado RA1 amp when using 325. I would like to try a pair of Allessandro MS2 and see if I like them as much as you did vs 325.
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 2:51 PM Post #13 of 120

grinch

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okay, i'm here and ready to give a better review (if i can remember everything i tried out..) so here it goes:

hd600 cables: i have to give my vote to cardas here, they made a really great sounding and flexible cable. after listening to it, i feel that the cardas cable really stays true to the laid-back sound of the stock cable, only increasing the dynamics and beauty of it. after listening to the clou red again, i feel it is almost too bright to be in the hd600. really really "brings you up a few rows". plus, the flexibility is just killer. very very nice cable. the steffan gets my vote for best looking cable (no heterosexual male should ever be caught wearing that cardas color blue). what can i say, i like black and i like simplicity and the steffan cable looks great. sounds the poorest of those cables though, in my opinion. i can't really describe why exactly, i just recall that i preferred the cardas.

max vs. blockhead: i agree with kr that the max is 90% of the way towards the blockhead. the max is so close, in my opinion, that's it's pretty damn silly to spend $3k on the blockhead. the max is just so much more versatile and sounds so close to it, i have to prefer the max. the max does get my vote for most neutral amp there as well, it is THE amp if you want neutrality. and it drove everything i through at it with perfect splendor. just a really great and versatile amp. i would love to have one of those puppies on my audio rack. also, a last added note: i really loved the stepped attenuators. they sounded better than the pots, if i can believe that or not. and it was much easier to level out the right/left channels on the blockhead with them. worth the extra money in my opinion, but that's just me and i'm really getting sick of that warn-out-pot feeling.

cary 300sei vs. ear hp4: i have to say, i was really looking forward to hearing the hp4. i was going in thinking that it would be one of my favorites there and i have to say it just didn't live up to what i thought. sure it was smooth, but it was noisy and it seemed to have the rolled-off tube sound to me. however, i plugged the hd600/cardas into the 300sei and BOOM! it was glorgious! it had to be the most fun amp there. the bass was booming like crazy from the hd600 and sounded awesome. i could really feel myself getting into that. i then plugged my 4s's into it and it drove them beautifully as well. totally smoothed out the harshness/edge of the recording and the bass was still there as well. a gorgeous amp. a total victory for cary in my opinion.

stax omega: the only two words that came to my mind when i first put the omegas on my head were "comfortable" and "suck." the omegas just sucked. so airy i felt like i was skydiving. it gave me the feel of instead of sitting in the audience (sennheiser sound) or standing on the stage (grado sound) i was hanging from the rafters of the auditorium by my toes. why anybody would pay $8k or whatever for these is beyond me.

stax signatures: i did like these though. i didn't spend very much time with them, but they sounded much less airy and down to earth but without losing detail. a little quiet in the bottom end, but i have k501's so i'm used to that.
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i think these sounded closer to the orpheus than the omegas did.

k1000 and ear v20: the main feeling i had on these was shock. i was shocked and amazed that these sounded as good as they do. the imaging is so many leaps and bounds better than any other headphone i've ever heard. however, due to the fact that they are the most dumb looking invention ever, i wouldn't be caught dead owning them. they are supreme lunacy in a completely moronic manner. they're not funny, they're just dumb. but they sounded pretty damn good. i don't see why somebody wouldn't just buy a decent set of speakers instead though. they're noisy as all hell, you might as well have a pair of speakers in the room that you're listening in.

orpheus: *queue 2001 theme* i have to say, they impressed me. but for $20,000 (between that and the source), they should. near the end of the show when everybody was leaving, i threw on a couple of personaly favorite albums (the kind that nobody else at the show would care to hear) and i got to hear both my favorite tori amos album (boys for pele) and radiohead's classic ok computer. just a dream of mine, tastefully fulfilled. that and i put my portishead live at roseland cd in halfway through the show and i was shocked and amazed to find that it stayed in the high-end rack for a good two hours! i was amazed that nobody changed the disc out for something more classical.. but it did sound damn good.

these were the amps that i was really interested in. i got bored and messed around with some of the others: the jmt sounded awesome (and so cute too, my girlfriend even thought so) and the ra-1 turned out to be a bit of a shocker as a very clean and driving amp. the rest of them i didn't care about.. i already have a zotl and a sugden, so i don't really care to downstep my setup.
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however, i was interested in hearing the beyerdynamic headphones (considering i own all of the other companies stuff) and trying out the sonys.

beyerdynamic headphones: i threw the 931's on to see how i liked them and found them to be extremely comfortable and sounded pretty great. decent isolation but nothing compared to the 4s of course. didn't really spend much time with them, was too busy shmoozing the high-end rack.

sony cd-2000: when i put these on, i felt like somebody just draped a pillow case over my head. so utterly crappy feeling, i bet my ears would've started sweating in under two minutes. like why not just wear wool ear muffs in the summer. just silly.

sony cd-3000: didn't sound too bad, in my opinion, but there's no way in hell i'd pay $700 for them. the highs sparkled a bit much for me. midrange didn't sound very there either. tyll also told me that the r10's are just the 3000's in a wood casing which doesn't particularly impress me either. he didn't like them, but i suppose there is a chance he's a tad biased against sony.

that pretty much wraps up my equipment review. my review of tyll shows just what a swell guy he is. he gave me a free t-shirt too and bought/traded a mountain bike off one of the attendees for a mohr and some cash. i was really wishing i had a bike right then.. the only bad side of this show was coming home to my current setup. i still haven't fired it up since yesterday, i'm just too afraid of what it's going to NOT sound like..
 
Jun 17, 2002 at 3:11 PM Post #14 of 120

dhwilkin

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Interesting comments. The only one that really puzzles me is the noisy HP4 comment. From KR...'s comments, I guess the noise was very prominent. I don't remember any comments from previous threads about it making any noise at all, and you'd think such noise would've been mentioned in earlier threads. Maybe one of the tubes is dying?
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Jun 17, 2002 at 5:30 PM Post #15 of 120

nec

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Quote:

Originally posted by KR...
K1000 <...> Nice Bass with the E.A.R. V20, that’s right I said nice bass!


I second that - was a nice surprise.
Quote:

Originally posted by KR...
The Wheatfield HA-1 and HA-2. They both sounded really good, but I wasn’t blown away by them either. I also didn’t think that the Wheatfield HA-2 deserved to be anywhere near the high-end set-up.


(For those who didn't attend: we were able to listen to HA-2 from BAT and from Marantz 67SE. HA-1 was connected only to Marantz.) In my opinion both amps sounded awful from Marantz. So I'm not sure if it's possible to compare HA-1 with HA-2 based on this setup?..

Quote:

Originally posted by KR...
The Stax Omega <...> a horrid piece of ****.


I wouldn't dismiss any audio equipment based on only one listen in sub-optimal conditions (noise, unfamiliar source, distractions, too many pieces of equipment to listen to at one shot...). But that's just me...

Quote:

Originally posted by KR...
The E.A.R. HP4 sounded great for rock, but once I started listening to my audiophile quality CDs, its limitations became clear. There was a bad hiss problem with this amp, and the bass was too sloppy, which seem to be a problem with every tube amp in the place, but it was peculiarity bad with this one.


Did you guys plug 600s into the right jack??? By "right" I mean marked with "High Z" (impedance). I didn't notice any hiss (or anything bad for that matter) with HP4... Maybe that's because I fell in love with it from the first listen
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Or maybe you're right... I need to listen to it again to verify...
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When is the Phili stop?
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