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AuraJam - 9/11/09


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Bah, even us young guys need to sleep once in a while. I hand all picture responsibility to Tyler. His camera kicks ass, mine sucks it. I only took like 9-10 pics anyway.

The rundown:

4:30-4:45 PM yesterday afternoon, I finished cleaning up and making everything look all nice and sparkly for the micro gathering. The Cicadas naturally looked really good compared to how they usually do; I sensed them trying to give me some last-minute regret over the imminent sale (more on this later). I missed Falkon's call/text right before 5PM and noticed like five minutes later that he had arrived outside the apartment. I help him unload his car; the gear list includes his HF2 #1xx, Omega subwoofer (unsure which model), Buffalo DAC (was already sold lol), Trafomatic Head One amp, and a shitload of cables/power stuff.

We decided to dig right in to the speaker rig and found an interesting way of getting the Omega paired with the Cicadas. The path was:

Marantz CD5001 transport + Parasound DAC 1100 + Trafomatic Head One running sub out to the Omega and pre/loop-out to the Moth EC2A3 (must have been pre), which was powering the Cicadas.

As it turns out, the Trafomatic is the fucking swiss army knife of headphone amps. Without it we would have not really had a way to run the sub, and for that I am very glad it made the trip. All the inputs/outputs we had running to and from it confused me quite a bit, but Falkon had it under control :).

Cicadas sound good with a sub, no doubt. I had wanted to try this ever since I first bought them, and it was nice to finally see that realized. I have no reference for anything at the Omega's level, so I have no comparisons to make. What it did in the rig last night was add a ton of flexibility to the sound; Falkon tuned it to kick in @ 80HZ was just about the sweet spot and it helped every song we listened to (was a little variance amongst them for settings).

As for the Cicadas' performance, they tried to make me feel guilty. I mean, REALLY guilty. Right before Tyler showed up we put in Kind Of Blue followed by Ella and Louis Sing Gershwin, and between these two albums it was the best I had heard the Cicadas in months. The midrange was absolutely nuts.

We also did some HF2 listening, comparing both of ours to one another and the two head amps. The Trafomatic is good. I'm not sure I'd pay ~ $900, but for the sound it has (it's a SET, so make of it what you will) and the flexibility of the outputs/inputs it definitely is worthy. The Moth EC2A3 won outright for me mainly because of impact (Falkon agreed and noted speed as well). My reference "bronze" ears for headphone listening are shot so getting solid impressions was difficult, but the Moth was definitely performing very well with HF2. We did notice (and Tyler later agreed) that the Trafo has some odd sort of advantage with low-bass detail in a few of the songs we heard. Bizarre imo, but there you have it.

At about 8, Falkon and I went over to a nice restaurant on the edge of Bradley's campus, One World. I had not been there yet this semester, so I figured it was perfect timing to show Falkon one of my favorite places to eat in Peoria. He got a pork sandwhich, I got quesadillas, both rocked the shit, 'nuff said.

We got back to the apartment and very briefly tried Buffalo v. Parasound, but the Marantz would not agree with the Buffalo and was making it clip for some reason. Hope you got it diagnosed Falkon.

Tyler showed up just after 10PM iirc. The man drove 14+ hours for this, so I was a little nervous about his initial impressions of the gear he was about to own. We helped him bring stuff up and right away threw Kind Of Blue back in and had him sit in the sweet spot. It must have went well, because he drove away with the gear this morning ;). Tyler brought 2x AKG K1000 (one stock cable, one Enigma Oracle cable), vintage RS-1's (which I'm dumb and forgot to listen to), Peachtree Audio Nova, my soon-to-own PSB Platinum M2 monitors, and some cable stuff.

After I confirmed that Tyler was happy with the Moth gear, we ran through a bit of headphone comparison. We did K1K v. K1K, one on the Trafo, one on the Moth. The stock cable K1K was on the Trafo and beat the other one rather easily. I don't know what it was (certainly not the amp), but the stock K1K sounded far better in lows/low mids. The other one sounded very tinny to me and I knew which one I preferred within seconds. Both Tyler and Falkon concurred. Tyler did more listening with the HF2, which he has heard before and enjoyed once again. Falkon went HF2 v. vintage RS1. I'm not sure which he preferred, but he did not that the RS1 had more impact overall.

Oh yeah, we did do some alcohol. Tyler had about 4 Jack Daniels & Squirt's (a family tradition I'm told), Falkon bought a 6 pack of Dogfish (thanks for the leftovers :)), and I had my usual Gin & Tonic. I only have one more meet left before I'm legal to drink this goddamn stuff :D.

Falkon had to take off at about 1AM to get some sleep before work in the morning. Tyler and I disconnected the Cicadas, powered down the Moth, and hooked up the Peachtree + PSB M2's. It was time to hear my new lovelies :). And yes, I like them a lot. Last night they sounded pretty good, but today they sound excellent. I don't believe either of us downgraded in this trade/sale, we just sidestepped to an entirely different sort of sound. I'm running on new speaker-high, but I am quite sure I prefer the M2's. They fit my genres much better than the Cicadas did. But, Cicadas still rape for specific genres, so no worries for Tyler.

I recall that we put in Killswitch Engage followed by All That Remains right around 3 AM. By "put in" I mean we blasted the shit. It was pretty sweet. I hooked up my Nak integrated to get a feeling for what sort of sound I'd have for a while. So far, so good. The night finished off with the M2's rocking some Hootie and the Blowfish followed by Josh Groban. Good shit.


The best part of last night was a break of non-listening for a solid half hour/45 minutes when all three of us just talked about a variety of things, , and not all of it audio. This is what the hobby is about; ultimately I don't care all that much about gear at times like these. It is just awesome to be able to hang out with fellas that you otherwise would never have known, talked to, nor met. I am grateful for audio in this respect.

Tyler and Falkon, thanks. Hope you enjoyed yourselves. There will be an AuraJam II.

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Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words.

What should I expect from DanJam impressions, pictures of Brent's ass?

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i knew i would regret letting that K1K go :( seems you had a fn time..would've been interesting to see how that buffallo sized up against the para...oh well..the last part of your account is what really matters Aura.

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Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words. Words.

Less words moar pix

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I think Aura summed it all up pretty well so I won't go too much details.

I was engrossed by the Cicadas as I knew I would be. Midrange presentation is just phenomenal and I much prefer it to my memory of Hornshoppe Horns and even Abbys. Both of those speakers, though, do a better job in the low end than the Cicadas. I wasn't entirely happy with how the Omega Deephemp worked with the Cicadas at first because the crossover was a bit difficult to adjust but once we figured that out, it was a decent fit. The upper bass from the deephemp was a bit more flabby than I was used to mostly because it is a downfiring sub on carpet instead of a hard surface. I think both these guys really benefited from this exchange quite a lot. Both of them got something that was better suited for them and I'm sure they'll happy for quite a while.

I'm actually quite impressed by the performance of the Trafomatic. It was definitely a lot closer than I thought it would be. I think in the end, the Moth was punchier and more organic and the Trafomatic had much more texture. I want to say that the Trafo is actually a faster amp. And the fact that it drove the K1Ks was pretty impressive (albeit not well). We couldn't compare the Buffalo to the Parasound due to the clipping, sadly. I ran it from my SB Duet and USB immediately when I got home and it was fine so I don't know what was wrong exactly.

As expected, I found the vintage RS-1 to be very aggressive compared to the HF-2. Similar to a newer RS-1 with tamed highs. All in all, it just comes down to personal preference between the 2 phones. I think for acoustic stuff, I prefer the sparkle in the high end of the RS-1s. But for anything with midbass, I tend to prefer HF-2s.

But overall, it was more about the people than the gear. Aura and Sherwood are both great guys and I had a great time. Thanks to Aura and his hospitality. The food was great. And of course, thanks for Sherwood for making the 14 hour drive.

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No one better claim those K1K's sound thin with those drivers angled out so much. I like mine closer to the cage. Much better tonal balance ;)

That's my preferred angle. One pair sounds a little thin, but the other sounds ideal with that angle. Seems easier to just sell the thin pair, as I rather like the soundstage.

Jesus, did it really?!?!?

It reminds me of how the wii occasionally informs you that, hey, maybe you shouldn't play Zelda *all* day. Maybe take a walk, huh?

In any case, I continued to drive the remaining 20 minutes home, and it seemed okay with that decision. May I never see that light again.

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As mentioned, AuraJam was sparsely attended.

It was myself:




And Aura, who was kind enough to host this motley crew and buy me strange drink fixings:


The reason for the meet was to exchange my monitors for Aura's moth gear (and some Colombian heroin), but that was certainly not the purpose of the meet. I brought my 2x pair of K1Ks and my vintage RS1, and Falkon and Aura each had a pair of HF-2:




Falkon also brought his Trafomatic Head One and an Omega DeepHemp sub:



And, of course, there were the speakers (gasp):



Since we didn't get to the point where gear was actually set up and we had a good swerve on until about 11:30, this "listening" portion of the meet was short.

We all compared the different pairs of k1000s:



I had my own impressions before i came, but I let the gentlemen listen for themselves. Their impressions confirmed my own: the stock pair is considerably more linear, with much better midbass. They're unique, the best pair i've ever heard. Thanks, NoNoNoNoNoNo, and thanks Smeggy for letting them go in the first place. They're home now in Colorado.

We also did a little comparison between the Trafomatic and the EC2A3, and my impressions echoed those of Aura and Falkon (who did their listening and discussion before I arrived).


The EC2A3 has considerably crisper attack, and a different midbass presentation. The trafomatic came across as more textured to me, but I'd really have to do some cross-genre listening to figure out which presentation is closer to the recording. Great amps, in any case, and I'm glad for the chance to hear the Trafomatic.

Having exhausted the comparisons, we poured some drinks and talked for a while before Falkon had to make the two-hour trek back to U of I for work the next day.

Having just the pair of us left, we unhooked the Cicadas, hooked up the peachtree, and put Aura's new PSB M2 monitors in place:


Aura seemed very pleased, as he should be. The PSBs suited his tastes better than the Cicadas, especially in his room, and the cicadas far outperform the PSBs in my room here.

All in all, one of my favorite ever meets. It inspires me all the more to attend next year's HC gathering -- this is clearly rich soil.

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Sounds like it was a cool mini-meet, and if there had been some advance notice, I might have made it out there too! Well maybe next time for AuraJam II, but if not, definitely for CanJam 2010. I look forward to checking out the Cicadas sometime too. :D

zomg, you almost gave me a heart attack with that pic, with that unexpected facial expression of shock and.....facial & chest hair? Are you shirtless in that pic and why? :eek:

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