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Florida Again. Dec 5th 09.


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Another awesome meet in the books for Team FL!

Though the fog is still clearing up in my head, I'd like to thank Mike for arranging this epic event. Thanks Matt and Mike for the excellent array of alcoholic beverages; thanks also to Colin, Scott, Brent, Steve and anyone else who flew in from miles away to make the meet. It was nice seeing old faces and meeting new peeps as well.

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Though I had attended a previous Mike meet earlier this year, I didn't really participate as I didn't know anyone and was more interested in listening to gear than anything else.

However, learning from that past experience, I now know that gear listening takes a back seat to listening to people. I'm still getting used to everyone, so I was not as loose as I can be (though with Brent, Colin, and Scott I got along great from the start, as I expected). Nonetheless, I had a good time talking with everyone and just being introduced to some real drinking for once.

I am not a drinker at all. I have drunk before, but never like this, and I have a rousing suspicion that even this was light drinking for most of you. Of special interest was the Sazerac. A damn nice surprise. The vapors reaching out from my borrowed Glencairn glass (thanks Brent) literally made my contact lens burn a bit. That was crazy good.

Thanks to everyone for such a great time, especially the crew who flew in. I can finally place faces on the names I see online. Thanks to Mike who goes out of his way as a host for everyone, and I definitely took notes in case I ever need to do the same.

Al, Matt, Vicky, Carl, Gene, well, everyone in other words, I had a hell of a good time; no regrets about renting out a room even though I practically had a place to stay 40 mins away from the hotel. It was well worth it (consider it a bargain, actually).

Oh, and Dom? If I close my eyes, I can still smell that hallway...


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Friday 12/4 Recap: got in at the hotel right around 5 PM and who did I see first but point man himself JP, and raffy. Quickly ran into a bunch more guys who were milling around and we all headed out to Brother Tucker's, which turned out to be a cool place. We were going to jump over to some live music but heard from VPI the show wasn't as promising as expected so we went back to the hotel instead to hang out. I tried out a sazerac that was way too strong for me that I had to dilute a bit with water.

Saturday 12/5 Recap: The meet itself went off without a hitch and there was plenty to ogle and listen to. I managed to bring my camera (space came down to either 1 more headphone or my camera and I chose the latter) so I took plenty of pics of both gear and people. When it came time for lunch we assembled a small group of Dom, Justin, Raffy, Al, Ari, Gene, and for some reason I'm drawing a blank on 1 other guy and we went to Kiko's Japanese for some sushi that was really good. 4 of us ordered our own entrees but the other 4 ordered a "boat" which turned out to be literally a boat (maybe about 3' long?) stacked with sushi from bow from stern. It was awesome and someone took pics of it. There was so much sushi on it, it took all 8 of us to eat it up (though the restaurant claimed it was a 4-person meal). Back at the meet we listened to more gear and I checked out the Zu speakers. For dinner we went to Padrino's Cuban which was also really good with a group that included just about every HC-er on the travel team and in SoFla. Their mojitos were good too, I had two of them. And the waitress was hot, I think someone got a pic of her. Then it was back to the hotel where we wound down and packed everything up in record time (the hotel staff told us they had to prepare for another event the next day) and then we all converged into Al's and NWT's room for schmoozing and drinks. The drinks especially were flowing and I sampled almost everything and got drunk to the point where I was laughing at nearly everything, including the bad jokes. :P By the time people finally wanted to sleep I think I was semi-conscious.

Sunday 12/6 Recap: Al, Jeff (VPI), JP, and I all got into Jeff's rental to head back to FLL and I was sad, because it was over (well I was also still a little buzzed). These meets are always way too short!

I also have to add a cool story at FLL: when I was at the gate waiting for the plane, a somewhat elderly man (in his 50s maybe, 60s at most) and his wife sat down next to me. I had my JH13s on and was jamming out and the man indicated he had something to say so I took them off and he was really curious about them. He mentioned he had UE11s and wanted to know what I had, so I told him all about them and their 6 drivers which blew him away. I figured not just anyone owns UE11s so I asked him if he knew about Head-Fi and he did. I suspect JHA will have a new customer now.

People Impressions:

Well it was great to see Team SoFla again, that's for certain - Mike, Dom, Raffy, Matt, Gene, Vicki, and others I'm sure I'm forgetting. Familiar faces too - JP, Al, Ari, Colin, Scott, Justin, Jeff, etc. There were new faces too of course and I have to say that Alex (screaming oranges) is a really cool guy and is the nicest Mexican I've ever met. :) Followed by Brent (MexicanDragon), who's the 2nd nicest Mexican I've ever met. :P I was utterly disappointed to not see a fight between them though, it was a total let-down after the weeks we were building that up. :(

All in all everyone was really cool and it was just a blast hanging out with everyone for two short days. I wish it was still going on dammit. I want moar beer! MOAR BEER!!!

(Pics and gear impressions to come tonight, probably. Will post some on Head-Fi. Will also leave some just for Head-Case though.) :)

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Steve, you were everything I had expected you to be. Though we didn't talk much, watching you get wasted was entertaining. :D

Also, Brent is still #1 nicest Mexican (and 8th tallest in the world), because I am from Nicaragua. But hey, who cares anyway.

As for the fight, Brent and I were gonna scrap it out by Ft Lauderdale beach on Sunday, but he dolled up and looked so adorable that everyone agreed he was the prettiest Mexican Elvis ever, and we were all lil schoolgirls swooning over him.

So I didn't have the heart to hit him, and believe this Sunday stunt was part of his plans. I thought about running him over when I dropped him off at the terminal, but there were too many witnesses, and also it wouldn't be a fair substitute to fighting anyway.

I swear though, if either at Mexicanjam or at Canjam next year there is a boxing ring we can go to, I'll pay to rent that for a couple of hours and get it done. You have my word on that!

Also, Steve, you don't like the way Brent drives? :P

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Big thanks to Mike for hosting yet again another great South Florida meet, and mostly for getting a bunch of good friends together again. It was, as usual, too short.


Quailas: I'd heard these a few times, but only really had a chance to listen to them at last year's CanJam when Dreadhead was kind enough to let me walk around with his size small pair (the others are waaaay too large for me). I was impressed with the detail, but they didn't really do anything for me. Got a chance to hear the same pair (new owner) again, but in my rig (Exemplar modded Denon 2900/SP Extreme Platinum) this time, and was pretty blown away. Though I'm set as far as headphones go, these are the only dynamic headphones that I'm seriously interesting in acquiring. Absolutely wonderful!


Sounded like you finally got the proper fit with the Qualia. I remember it took me over 30 mins to play around with Mike's (Mulveling) Qualia until had the right fit. They were absolutely amazing with the right fit. I tried his pair with SACDs and was floored by the sound quality.

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Alex, I'll hold you to this fight next time we meet, then. I also still think you could totally take down Brent too btw. It's the agility that counts, right?

Brent is a madman behind the wheel. I feared for my life. I think I won't be getting into a car that he's driving again.

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What a great time!

It was wonderful seeing this bunch of people again and meeting some folks in person for the first time.

Big thank yous to ... well, everybody really... especially Mike for throwing the party, to Gene, who graciously shared his source with me when my lashed-together portable hard drive failed to work (as I suspected it would, actually. I've got to work on my "meet-craft". Colin successfully carried a whole rig in carry-on luggage. I was kind of wobbly just dragging stuff from across town).

And the Zu guys! They worked their butts off to come all the way across the south to a headphone meet. While we were kicking back with great beer and whiskey, they were toiling to get good sound in an acoustic chamber of horrors of a hotel room. All for us. Thank you Zu guys!

I was most interested to hear the He5s, which I had very much liked at CanJam. I thought they sounded nice on Gene's WA6SE (another thank-you Gene) but the whole show didn't hang together. Midrange and treble were excellent, but the bass didn't quite keep up. Dynamics weren't everything they could be. On Colin's Spud, however, it was a different story. The HE5s just sang on that amp. Midrange was palpable, the treble smooth and extended, dynamics and inner detail were spot on and the bass was coherent and PRAT-y. Colins says they're among the best headphones he has heard, and on his amp, I tend to agree. If only they could play that well my my amp. They sounded very nice indeed on Oz's Cayin hybrid, though, and that's a readily available, not terribly expensive product. My 10 watt push-pull speaker amp did a credible job with the He5s in the bass and on OK job in the rest of the band, but overall, it wasn't really in the game with the Spud and the Cayin.

The Zu speakers were impressive. I have high-efficiency full-rangers in my den system and ribbons in the living room. So, I supposed I was pre-disposed to like what the Zus might have to offer, and they delivered. The midrange transparency, detail and sense of, I don't know, "tactile presence" for lack of a better word, were all present and accounted for. But the Zus took those qualities all the way through the range. I heard really excellent coherence from top to bottom, no shout or glare and microdynamics to die for. Everything was bigger and better than it is in my den. It was as if my Metronomes are a slice. These things served up the whole pie. On three watts, I might add. Very nice three watt amps, but still three watts. That's cool in its own right. I think the Zus played to my tastes, both musically and sonically. If giant scale music is your thing, these might not be your speakers. Speaking of which, more props to Ron from Zu, who explained that their products weren't for everybody - they were what they were and you'd either like them, or not. Wow. How's that compare to the pretentious, defensive bullshit you hear from reps at speaker demos way too often! These speakers are worth a listen if you get the chance. And for a whole lot of people, they could be just the ticket.

I better go. Something about work.

Speaking of. On Sunday a group of us went to "Jazz brunch on the Riverwalk", which was surprisingly cool, actually. Ari bought a CD from a band playing in one of the gazebos. The frontman on the home-made CD looked awful familiar. He turned out to be our medical reporter, who was with the rest of his band in the next gazebo down. Very strange.

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click the picture of my dinner at the Cuban resturant to see the whole album.


I had an all around great time at the meet.

Friday was cool, with the usual pre-game festivities. Perhaps a little too heavy on the pregaming for me, as I was still a little tipsy when the fire alarm went off saturday morning. Toast is the food of the devil.

Saturday was cool as expected. I had a GREAT time listening to the Zu speakers, and chatting with the Zu guys. Thanks a bunch for them coming down and sharing this with us.

I listened to a little other stuff, and was quiete impressed with the DIY dinamite. Very nice stuff.

Sunday was fun, altough quite scaled down from saturday. We drove around a bit, went to the jazz festival and Mike's house. It was a great time.

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Ahoy mateys!


It's sad that De Niro wanders around jazz brunches in his Taxi Driver costume looking crazy. I think doing Meet the Little Fockers just sapped out his last remaining self-respect.


I love that Ari has 6 pictures of that guy and 9 total pictures of gear. :P

Edited by Voltron
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It was nice seeing everyone again, however briefly.

The highlight for me was my chat about music and life and such with Rob from Zu, as well as listening to the fine system they had set up in a not so fine listening environment. It seemed pretty neutral in terms of tone, with nothing over or under emphasized, yet it still imparted a certain energy in very familiar music (Steely Dan, mostly) that made for a great listening session.

I could hear all sorts of potential, but for some reason couldn't get the room limitations out of my mind. Maybe I needed a couple of beers or something, or just more time with them to better identify what I liked most about them. One thought that kept running through my mind was that these speakers shouldn't necessarily be limited to use as near field monitors in a small room environment. They seemed full range to me.

I've always been intrigued by the Zu brand from the days the Druids came out and had such widespread praise at Audiogon and Audio Asylum. I mean, what a concept: produce extremely efficient and reasonably priced speakers that sound amazing and can be driven by anything! I'm thankful to have finally had a chance to give them a quick listen and meet a couple of the people from the company.

I wish I could have spent more time at the meet (and the before and after parties), but there were logistical problems in finding a place to park my rig and I didn't quite have the courage to try to pull it into the hotel parking lot. I'm pretty sure I could have gotten in, but am 100% convinced that there was no way in hell I'd ever get out! That stupid cement plaza in the entrance area has just gotta go! Oh well, it was still fun while it lasted.

I had done a long drive to get there (900+ miles from Virginia), and then decided mid-afternoon on Friday (while still driving) to opt for the Trans Siberian Orchestra concert on Friday night. Long story, but I wanted to take a couple of good friends (who just got engaged) to the show. It was a good time, but my guess is that 80% of the music was piped in and that 99% of the audience had no clue that it wasn't 100% live. I guess if you would like to see an extremely well orchestrated laser light show along with all sorts of jumping/running around air guitar battles (and even air violins) that come through giant speakers with note perfect, pitch perfect brilliance each and every note for 3 hours, then I'd recommend it highly. You'll just need to suspend your sense of reality a bit.

Oh ya, headphones. I didn't listen to much but did get a chance to A/B two pairs of HD800, one stock and one Picadillo'ed (I know, wrong word, but whatever). There was definitely an improvement in sound with the after market cable. I'd say about $200 to $300 worth of improvement, unless I was missing something.

About the HE-5. One of those pairs was mine, and it had exactly 46 minutes of break-in time. I've listened to all of one CD with them. So if that was the pair you were listening to, and if break in is even remotely important for these headphones, then you didn't hear them at their best. Can't speak for Colin's pair, and unfortunately, I didn't think to compare my pair to his to see if there were noticeable differences.

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Carl, interesting that we have different impressions of the HE5s, but I listened on different rigs. I'm intrigued. Too bad I missed them on Colin's rig. It seems from what others are saying, that was the one.

I think I was listening to Colin's pair of headphones in all cases, too. I don't know if there was a difference between them and Wayne's brand new pair.

I also liked the Qualias. They were delightful on Vicki's rig and on Gene's WA6SE as well. I was amazed at how light they are. I guess that's down to the excellent physical properties of unobtainium.

I talked to Lamendola. He says he doesn't play with the bluesy band whose CD Ari bought anymore because they always wanted to take gigs too early in the evening. Now he has the outfit with the trumpet player. He said he didn't see the book spiking, wasn't even aware of his big fan. ;D

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Gear pics to follow on Head-Fi tomorrow night. The below are all only for HC.

Dom (HighLife) and his portable rig


The group while listening to the Zu Essence speakers


Alex (screaming oranges)


Ari (nikongod) listening to SRH840


Colin w/ someone's MPX3


Inside the MPX3


Inside Vicki's SP Extreme Platinum


me downing some beer


The top of Ari's head


Brent (MexicanDragon) and Alex


Raffy, Dom, & Justin


Scott (manaox) while on Head-Case


And this 3-frame animated GIF doesn't do justice to Colin's cake-eating abilities


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Friday night @ Brother Tucker's

Friday night @ the hotel

redacted - please take this down from youtube :)

Sunday @ the Jazz Brunch

The end is where the guy threw the book, but I JUST missed it, it was JUST out of frame right before I turned to grab the crowd. :(

Sunday @ Mike's Patio


P.S. If I need to edit anything out for the guilty to seem innocent, lmk.

Edited by grawk
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I am so sorry you were not able to follow my meaning, Dusty. As it turns out, both constructions are accurate.

And, yes, I was mocking the way Dom pronounced Norah Jones, although I probably wouldn't have done so if I knew the 8th Tallest Mexican in the World was filming me.

Edited by Voltron
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