World of Headphones Tour: Washington
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BDA_ABAT

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The World of Headphones Tour passed through Washington DC this evening. My, what a show!

First, the stories about Tyll are true. He's a very nice guy, VERY enthusiastic/passionate about headphone audio, and quite a character.

The setups were excellent! For someone like myself who has not had an opportunity to see or hear many different headphones or amps, this show was just amazing! So much variety, so many combinations to explore, so much information... just wonderful.

Layout.... Beautifully organized and conceived show with four cabinets full of headphones and related gear:

The initial cabinet was basically a wall o' headphones with everything from the AKG to Beyer to Sony to Grado to Senn. What a fabulous way to compare and contrast! All powered by separate Headroom amps (Supreme?). Just drop in a CD and start listening.

The next wall had a variety of different amps and headphones with everything from a JMT Altoids to a Wheatfield HA2.

The third cabinet had a combination of portable equipment, MP3 players, and the like.

The fourth cabinet was the high end. There was much attention of showgoers at this cabinet. Included were the Orpheus, Stax Omega, , AKG 1000, Senn 600 along with a variety of amps (e.g., Holmes-Powell, EAR, Wheatfield, etc).

I don't have my notes with me right now... but there are a couple things worth mentioning.

1.) The fellow headfi-ers are a terrific bunch. Very helpful, very nice, and awfully accomidating.

2.) I like the Max. A LOT!

3.) Yes there ARE women who are into headphones.

4.) Although technically not part of the show, Hirsch brought along his R10 and let folks listen. It's a REALLY sweet sounding can. Thanks Hirsch!!!

Those are my initial impressions from the show. Thanks Tyll and the rest of the DC area headfi-ers!!!!

Bruce
 
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Hirsch

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First off, a big thanks to Tyll and Headroom for putting this together. There are no other venues where most people can hear such a wide variety of heaphones and amps (besides some of our living rooms
)


1. Warmup is real. The show went from 5 to 9. Some of the amps changed their sound radically during that time. I got there at 5, and both the Holmes Powell and the HP-4 were greatly disappointing. The Wheatfield sounded best of the amps with the R10. By 9, the HP-4 was the star tube amp, the Holmes Powell had found its voice, and the Wheatfield was relatively undistinguished.

2. The Orpheus is gorgeous and sounds as good as it looks.

3. The Max is a damn fine amplifier. My current ranking with the R10: HP-4 > Max > Holmes-Powell...ZOTL?

4. Stax Omega's...smooth sound and fantastic bottom

5. The Blockhead is as good as its hype.

6. The Cary was dead. No sound. I really wanted to hear that.

7. I've never even thought to see so many HD-600's in so many configurations in one place...and they all sounded great.

8. I really liked the AKG-1000 driven by the EAR V20, although some didn't agree with me.

9. Tyll finally got a chance to hear the R10. After hearing the R10 with the Max, and comparing to the HD-600, he had to admit that he has a new favorite headphone. It hurt him to have to say it, as Sony has been a real pain to him. I agree with him about Sony completely, BTW. As a corporation, they're asses. Still, they made a great headphone.

A great evening. I believe almost everyone who was there went away with a better appreciation of how headphones could sound, and how to listen to them.

I've edited this post to put a question mark by the ZOTL, rather than a rank. My sources aren't as good as the BAT CD player that was at the show...and my new tubes are breaking in even better than I had hoped. I really wish I had taken the ZOTL as well as the R10 with me. That would have been a bit much to carry around, though. As it is, my coworkers who saw the contents of the strange case I had with me today think I'm crazy...
 
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bootman

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Thanks for the report.
So even Tyll liked the R10?
Don't let Team Sony hear that.
It might go to their head.


You really liked the Omega's?
I was very disappointed with all of the Staxes.
I felt that they had no bottom what so ever and I could hear that electrostatic "krinkle" in the midrange that really distracted from the sound.
I wonder if we head-fiers really have a different perception of what is good or does the sound of the tour dramatically change from place to place for whatever reason?
(IMHO, a bit of both.)

It’s a shame the Cary was out of order.

It was one of my favorites at the show and I'm sure you would have fallen in love with the sound with it and the R10s. It sounded great regardless of the phones used with it. I tried it with a HP-2, Ety4S, and the 600.

BTW, did you think the Max helped with the R10's lowest octaves?
(I know a show isn't the ideal place but I was curious)
 
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Kubernetes

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I have to agree with everything (or almost everything) Hirsch said. Some of my own observations:

1) The Cardas cable beats Clou Red hands down.

2) Blockhead was a disappointment to me. I much prefered the Max. The bass in the former seemed bloated and the sound in general was dull.

3) Stax Omega was overrated IMO. I thought the Orpheus killed it. The former had a certain "airiness," but it seemed fake to me.

4) AKG K1000 w/ the EAR V20--wow. If they could only figure out a way to get decent bass out of those things (without a sub in the room), I would buy that setup without hesitation.

5) The Cary was dead. Damn!

6) I agree w/ Hirsch that the Wheatfield HA2 was one of my favorites at the first run-through, but by the end of the evening it dropped pretty low on my list.

7) The EAR HP4 was, IMO, the best performer in the high-end rack. Every headphone plugged in sounded just right, from the RS-1 to the HD600/Cardas to Hirsch's R-10. On the other hand, the Holmes Powell was lacking in comparison. Closed in, less detail, slower.

Final judgment:

HP4/R-10 > Orpheus > HP4/HD600 or RS-1 > Max/HD600

I wish I had brought my EMP. I'm convinced it's still up there with the big boys.
 
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BDA_ABAT

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Notes on the WOH Tour DC...

Before getting into it, remember that I'm a newb... I'd never even heard a tube amp before this show!

From the Wall O' Cans:

AKG 401: Decent, little dark on the low end. Not bad.

AKG 501: Nice, lovely highs and mids. Light on bass (or, just in comparison to the other cans on the rack, seemed light to my ears).

Sony CD2000: good comfort, overall acceptable sound but somewhat dark/muddled. Don't know if this is the character of closed headphones in general or the CD2K in particular.

Sony CD3000: Big pleather pads. Sounded pretty good, decent highs, nice midrange, lots o' bass. Dark character... again don't know if this is just true for all closed cans or the if it's just THIS can.

Beyer DT 250-80: Nice fit, decent sound but dark character. Again, is this the sound to expect from a closed can?

Guess I'm not a major fan in general of the closed design... but wait... there is ONE closed can that was at the show that was amazing! Will get to it in a bit.

Ultrasone 2000: initial impression was YUK! After sticking with them a while, my impressions softened. It grew on me. But even after listening for a while and getting more used to the sound, I still didn't go crazy over it. Sounded dark to my ears.

Grado 225: First, I have to note that I like the Grado sound for rock. To my ears, the 225 are very good for rock.

Grado 325: Great presence, great punch, lovely if somewhat bright sound. Very fast, almost a brittle, biting edge.

Grado RS1: VEERRRYY nice! After hearing the 325, going to the RS1 is a revelation. That brittle edge from the 325 is softened... everything just seemed more, well, comfortable. My notes said, "nice, nice, nice!".

Senn 600: my first experience with Senns. A much different character from the Grado sound. Very nice, very well behaved. I get it now when people say they have a laid back sound. Lush, comfortable, all around a very pleasant experience. Will probably be adding these to the collection sometime soon.

Fairly early in the show, Hirsch brought out the R10 and had tried several amps. His initial impression was that the Wheatfield worked best. Then he asked if I wanted to listen to the R10 on the Wheatfield. Well, SHORE!

First, they truly are lovely looking headphones. They just exude quality. And the listening experience was wonderful. I can't adequately describe it, but it felt very realistic to me. They did not have the same dark coloration of the other closed hps from the wall o' cans. Extrordinary!

From the High End cabiniet: I'm not even gonna try to do a review of the stuff there. All I can say is that there is quite a difference in style for each of the phones that were there. The Stax has a particular sound, the Orpheus has a particular sound, etc. There were no obvious problems per say with any of these cans. Any differences in sound seems (to my tin ears anyway) to reflect different design philosophies of the companies making the product. Whether or not that translates into something that people like is very much an individual kind of thing. The sound will also depend upon what type of music that you prefer... different systems are better for different types of music. Overall, was just a fabulous opportunity to hear the different top notch headphones and amps.

What a terrific experience Thanks Tyll and all the headfi-ers that made the show!!!

Bruce
 
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Hirsch

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Quote:

Originally posted by bootman
Thanks for the report.
So even Tyll liked the R10?
Don't let Team Sony hear that.
It might go to their head.



Hmmm...I've got the R10, the 9000ES, a Sony 53" projection TV, an older 27" Sony, a Sony Discman, Sony Boombox, Sony alarm clock...good thing I'm not on Team Sony


Quote:


You really liked the Omega's?
I was very disappointed with all of the Staxes.
I felt that they had no bottom what so ever and I could hear that electrostatic "krinkle" in the midrange that really distracted from the sound.
I wonder if we head-fiers really have a different perception of what is good or does the sound of the tour dramatically change from place to place for whatever reason?
(IMHO, a bit of both.)


Interesting. It was the bottom of the Staxes that hit me right off. Lots of it, and fairly well defined. I didn't spend a lot of time with them though. Based on initial impressions, I'd need some serious listening time with the Omega's to pick out their flaws.

Quote:


It’s a shame the Cary was out of order.

It was one of my favorites at the show and I'm sure you would have fallen in love with the sound with it and the R10s. It sounded great regardless of the phones used with it. I tried it with a HP-2, Ety4S, and the 600.

BTW, did you think the Max helped with the R10's lowest octaves?
(I know a show isn't the ideal place but I was curious)


There were several amps that brought out the lower end of the R10. Max, Wheatfield, HP-4, Holmes-Powell, Corda, among others. The R10 isn't going to be a bass monster like the HD-600 can be, or even the HP-1. However, with good source and amplification, the bass is very good, and very well balanced with the rest of the music. Heck, I'm even starting to get a decent bass response with the R10 out of the MicroZOTL


I really wish I had heard the Cary. If I had known it was hurting, I would have brought my tube tester. I couldn't do much if one of the Westinghouse tubes was down, but the Cary also uses three 6SN7's. I only have a couple of hundred spares for those...
 
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bootman

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Quote:

Hmmm...I've got the R10, the 9000ES, a Sony 53" projection TV, an older 27" Sony, a Sony Discman, Sony Boombox, Sony alarm clock...good thing I'm not on Team Sony


Heh, I have a 43" sony TV, a sony boombox, alarm clock, a discman (2) and an AM/FM sports headphone radio that I've been listening to for about 8 years now.
 
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Driftwood

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It was really great getting to meet a few of the head-fi members in person. Hirsch, Dusty,
Kubernetes, and BDA_ABAT just to name a few. geom_tol and I were the volunteers for the show, and I am very glad that I was selected because having a chance to talk to Tyll and geom_tol before and after the show was a great pleasure.

Anyway, my impressions:
Orpheus is the king. I'm sorry R-10 owners, the title goes to the orpheus. However, the R-10 was extremely good. Hirsch was kind enough to let me listen to it extensively, and at one point I just had to hand it back, my ears were liking it so much I found myself trying to calculate how I could get my hands on one. I had to stop listening else things would have gotten out of hand.
The Blockhead was the big surprise to me. The sound was amazing! In my opinion, it was a noticable improvement over the max. Next amp I get is going to be the blockhead, methinks.
The HP4 was awesome but ugly. I don't think that I would have given it a chance if it weren't for the show. Definately a superior amp. Amongst the top three. The Holmes Powell amp was a piece of work. Beautiful, and I thought the best match for the R-10. Otherwise though, I preferred the HP4 though, I believe.
The Stax Omega II sounded really nice, but not quite the Orpheus. However, I really don't like the way it fits. That ruins it for me. It feels to me like it is always trying to shrink back to it's original size, and thus always pulling upwards on your head. Plus it is really really ugly. That brown color of the leather and the cord is awful. It is such a shame because I always thought it to be quite beautiful from the pictures I had seen. Still, I think I am being to harsh. It was a fantastic headphone, surely one of the best, however, for the price of the 007 I would save a bit longer and just get the orpheus, or, save quite a bit, and get the blockhead.
I guess I am the one to disagree with Hirsch about the V20 and the K1000. I really don't think the K1000 is for me. The V20 sure is an impressive looking amp though!
What else? As mentioned, the Cary was dead, and thus a huge disapointment. I played with the knobs still to get a feel for the construction. Seems solid, though the Blockhead was way more rugged feeling. Still, is a beautiful amp, and worth looking into in the future.

Also had a chance to hear the Stefan AudioArt cable. It was nice looking and seemed rugged enough. However, I think I made the right choice in getting the cardas. Without having a chance to make any detailed comparisons, I preferred the cardas, and besides the cardas is by far the smallest cable and as a result much more managable. On this note, the cardas cable for the blockhead seems worlds better than the Clou. The Clou seems almost like one of those HUGE power cords. It is really rediculous. The cardas sounds much better too.

I also have to say that the ASL MG Head OTL is a really great amp! Even with Sovtek tubes, it really sounded great! I would definately recommend that amp to anyone, seems like a real bang for the buck to me!

Sorry kelly, I didn't have a chance to listen to the Corda HA-1. The 3.5mm jacks make that a hard amp to listen to. Still, I would like the opportunity to listen to it. Also, there was a MID there, it is a lot bigger than I would have thought, definately not as portable as the Corda. Sounded ok, but a bit thin, overall not on the list of finalists.

So how does the SHA-1 stack up? Well, lets say that I am still pleased with it. I can see its limitations now, but for what I paid, I can't say that anything short of the high-end rack came close. I still need to hear the ZOTL though...

Future purchases:
Etymotic ER-4S
Beyerdynamic 831
Blockhead
Orpheus
Entire Headroom Headphone Collection
 
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DarkAngel

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You guys are killing me and my wallet!

Everyone likes:
-EAR HP4 $3600 (gulp)
-Headroom Blockhead $33-3800 (gulp)

Sounds like best for our pocketbooks to get Max/Senn 600 and don't taste the forbidden fruits that Tyll presents...........

(at least till Nasdaq stock market come back with all my money
)
 
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bootman

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Quote:

Originally posted by DarkAngel
You guys are killing me and my wallet!

Everyone likes:
-EAR HP4 $3600 (gulp)
-Headroom Blockhead $33-3800 (gulp)

Sounds like best for our pocketbooks to get Max/Senn 600 and don't taste the forbidden fruits that Tyll presents...........

(at least till Nasdaq stock market come back with all my money
)


In NY the ear had this terrible hiss.
For the money, the best buy would have to be the Cary since it is so much more than just a headphone amp.
But it was broken in DC.

A Max > 600 > cardias now seems like a bargain!
 
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markl

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"Tyll finally got a chance to hear the R10. After hearing the R10 with the Max, and comparing to the HD-600, he had to admit that he has a new favorite headphone."

OMG I feel faint....


Cold water, cold water....

OK, I'm back. I was upset that Tyll was not going to make it to the CA shows because I wanted him to hear my R10s. I'm glad he got the chance to hear them, and appreciated their sound.

Well I guess that about wraps it up for the HD600
. Gloat gloat gloat gloat gloat gloat gloat....


markl
 
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Hirsch

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Quote:

Originally posted by markl
Well I guess that about wraps it up for the HD600
. Gloat gloat gloat gloat gloat gloat gloat....


The Orpheus sounds better than the HD-600, IMO, but the HD-600 seems to have survived that. It gets 90% or more of the performance of the R10 at 10% of the price. If anybody is gloating, it should be Sennheiser.

The R10 is a great headphone, which I'm appreciating more and more as I adjust to it. However, that takes NOTHING away from the HD-600, which remains a great headphone in its own right.

The real asses are Sony. Their corporate structure makes it difficult for Headroom to sell their products. Sad, because IMO if Headroom continues on its present course, they'll have the market to support new production of the R10, but until Sony figures out that it would be good idea to sell through Headroom, that market will remain untapped.
 
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markl

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I was just joking. I thought people might find it funny since they'd expect me to post something like that.


I do certainly think the HD600 is a fine headphone, but I'd say it gives closer to 70% of the performance of the r10.

markl
 
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