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Florida Again. Dec 5th 09.


NightWoundsTime
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I wrote one version of my gear impressions for HF here: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/6216594-post33.html

Below is another version for HC. (Though I might copy this to HF later at some point.)

HE5 orthos (amp: WA22, source: Ayre QB-9): So apparently I listened to Wayne's HE5s instead of Colin's. I wanted to check these out to find out if I could possibly toss my Qualia in favor of them, and I came away unsure. The HE5 sounded pretty dang good though, and was also really comfortable too (reminded me of the Beyer DT880 in that aspect), but compared to the Qualia it wasn't quite what I was hoping for. That said, the pros that jumped out at me: fast, clear-sounding, a very "separated" sound that wasn't overly separated (closer to the HD800 than the Qualia IMO) and overall a very very good sound that's really not bad for its projected $600. I might end up buying one anyway at some point just to try it. I liked it more than the HD800. It certainly had more bass quantity than the HD800, and more treble quantity too. However, the bass wasn't entirely to my liking though I can't really put into words why. All I can say is that it's not my preferential AT AD2K-type bass. Not that the HE5 lacked in bass extension though, it was actually really good in that aspect and didn't disappoint me on reference tracks by The Crystal Method and Massive Attack. But the HE5's treble was a bit grainy on a few tracks - as in, sometimes cymbal strikes (and other sorts of sounds, including vocals) literally sounded like they were being "granularized" like sand. The HE5 is still a promising headphone, and I'd like to check it out further in my own system.

JH13: As I said on HF, the JH13 is really useful in a meet environment - since it isolates really well it can easily be used to monitor amps and even sources, and it scales well enough that it's actually useful for that too. On the Luxman P-1 it sounded very good with a wider soundstage than I've heard before and good strong bass output. The Luxman's gain was a bit high for them though. It also sounded good on the WA22 but less so - not quite as clear-sounding but there was more mid-range and mid-bass that made it sound more engaging. The machine hum that the JH13 picked up on the WA22 was pretty quiet but definitely noticeable - but not a distraction once music was playing.

Luxman P-1 (source: Exemplar/Denon 2900): I also tried out this amp with the Grado HP1000/HP2 and Senn HD800, both of which it seemed to do a fine job driving. I don't know if it's an ideal amp for either headphone though, I'd need more amp experience with both headphones. And the HD800 sounded better than previous HD800s I've heard with improved dynamics, clarity, and bass/treble strength, so I suspect the P-1 does something right. ;)

Pico Slim: I did not listen to the Slim but I looked at it up-close and Justin has yet another outstanding product on his hands. SQ aside this thing is amazing - it's really thin and incredibly compact, more compact than a standard cell phone. I'm not sure I have an actual use for one myself since I have a Pico amp/DAC for my laptop and I prefer to listen from my MP3 player directly in ultraportable situations, but given the amp's digital attenuator I figured it couldn't hurt to try it when it comes out since my favorite headphones right now are all low-impedance.

Senn HD800 re-cabled w/ Crystal Cable (sources: Exemplar/Denon 2900 and Ayre QB-9): I tried this single-ended on Alex's setup (Exemplar + Luxman) and balanced on mine (Ayre + Woo WA22), with Crystal Cable on both (there was an extra Crystal balanced cable lying around). It sounded good on the Exemplar & Luxman setup and improved on the Ayre & Woo - the bass sounded more powerful and there was more body to the sound. There was a slight loss to the treble balance though. Between the two systems I preferred the Exemplar & Luxman. The more I listened to the HD800 it more it reminded me of my OII/BHSE in a few ways (I thought there were a few parallels between the two headphones) but at the same time it also pointed out to me how it wasn't the OII. In my experience at home, the OII more accurately depicts the size of a recording's soundstage, while the HD800 added an artificial soundstage to everything I played. The OII is also very smooth-sounding but at the same time exposes a surreal level of detail that's completely unforced - the HD800 wasn't quite as smooth-sounding and in a lot of ways it seemed to be forcing the detail that it's able to uncover instead of letting it naturally happen.

Woo WA22: This amp is proving to be quite a capable performer - it did justice to the HP1000 and K701 at ChiUniFi 3, and at this meet it did justice to the AD2000 (I have plenty of amp experience with my AD2K by now) and it also seemed to do an effective job with the HD800. With the AD2000 there was no obvious lack of speed and the amp delivered plenty of knock-out mid-range, mid-bass, and lower bass. It more than met my expectations as far as electronica/trip-hop, prog rock, and metal. This was all with the 7236 power tubes though, I have no idea yet how the stock 6AS7 tubes might perform. I suspect this amp may also pair very well with the HD800 for those who like the HD800, though it might take some tube-rolling to achieve one's ideal sound.

Zu Essence: Many speakers I heard at this year's RMAF were not great. I know that placement and room acoustics plays a big part in how speakers sound though, so not all speakers can be instantly written off at an audio show especially when those two issues are the biggest detriments in any hotel environment, the SoFla meet included. So just because I thought the Zu Essence were actually really good doesn't mean they'll necessarily be as good in all setups - well actually, they should be even better when properly set up inside a home, given the setup issues at the meet. That said, even in the less-than-ideal setting, the Essence still belted out plenty of sound. The listening chairs were about 7' from the speakers and the speakers were also maybe 7' from each other. They threw a convincing soundstage though to me they didn't "disappear" quite as well as a pair of Monitor Audio RS8 that I heard last year, though they still disappeared well enough. They sustained volume properly with no audible distortion, and they carried enough mid-range power for a confident & assertive portrayal of a variety of rock music from the 70s (Steely Dan) and the 90s (Pearl Jam). I did have a few minor nitpicks but instead of sharing them I'll just say that the Essence is a fine pair of speakers and my nitpicks could very well be rectified by a change in either placement/layout, room acoustics, amplification, or source components, or all 4. (Plus I'm not sure they're valid nitpicks anyway given that I didn't get to hear more music on the Essence, and they have a ribbon tweeter too.)

boomana's BHSE/OII (source: APL/Philips SACD 1000): I wanted to find out only one thing on this setup: since I also have an equivalent BHSE and OII, how much does the source really play into the setup? Answer: about as much as I expected, as I heard some interesting differences compared to my setup. Vicki's setup sounded very good in all respects and she too has a very fine system.

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boomana's BHSE/OII (source: APL/Philips SACD 1000): I wanted to find out only one thing on this setup: since I also have an equivalent BHSE and OII, how much does the source really play into the setup? Answer: about as much as I expected, as I heard some interesting differences compared to my setup. Vicki's setup sounded very good in all respects and she too has a very fine system.

Steve, I'm genuinely interested about the differences you heard between your rig and mine. As I'm pretty settled with my amp and headphone choices, sources now intrigue, and although I heard 909s with the BHSE and O2s, it was a while ago, and I also had no real sense of the BHSE or O2s then. Ever since, I've only heard it with my sources. I prefer the APL Phillips with the BHSE/O2, and it was hooked up to that only near the end of the meet. It has a slightly brighter feel than the Exemplar Denon, which I prefer with the SP Extreme/R10, though the Exemplar was doing double duty and feeding both rigs most of the meet. I'm curious about your impressions.

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Senn HD800 re-cabled w/ Crystal Cable (sources: Exemplar/Denon 2900 and Ayre QB-9): I tried this single-ended on Alex's setup (Exemplar + Luxman) and balanced on mine (Ayre + Woo WA22), with Crystal Cable on both (there was an extra Crystal balanced cable lying around). It sounded good on the Exemplar & Luxman setup and improved on the Ayre & Woo - the bass sounded more powerful and there was more body to the sound. There was a slight loss to the treble balance though. Between the two systems I preferred the Exemplar & Luxman. The more I listened to the HD800 it more it reminded me of my OII/BHSE in a few ways (I thought there were a few parallels between the two headphones) but at the same time it also pointed out to me how it wasn't the OII. In my experience at home, the OII more accurately depicts the size of a recording's soundstage, while the HD800 added an artificial soundstage to everything I played. The OII is also very smooth-sounding but at the same time exposes a surreal level of detail that's completely unforced - the HD800 wasn't quite as smooth-sounding and in a lot of ways it seemed to be forcing the detail that it's able to uncover instead of letting it naturally happen.

I'd say you description of HD-800 and the O2 is spot-on and the best summary I've read so far. Your description of the effects of the Crystal cable match my experiences with my DIY CryoParts copper cable, as well as that of other people with other cables. This makes me wonder if most re-cabling efforts don't have much the same effect with their tone. The two things that made me decide to keep the HD-800s (for now anyway) were that with a big amp improvement, the smoother presentation, especially in the treble region, makes them much more listenable, where as on my previous mid-range amp (the C2C) the inability of the amp to present the treble cleanly made them less comfortable to listen with. In that price range, I found the Elekit tube amp a better match, which to me explains the comments about good synergy with the WA6. The tonal alteration provided by the re-cable makes them more musical, but not so much that it interferes with their general presentation.

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I'm quickly pasting over my impressions from head-fi. Sorry about the lateness, I'm still being kept busy.

The Qualia actually turned out to be my favorite phone of the meet. Out of the exemplar modded 2900 and Vicki's extreme, the Qualia sounded great, I was enamored with that rig. I like the R10, but not in love with it. It sounds great, but I get caught on that IMO it hides some details.

I did some more testing with the HD800 mostly with an after-market cable. Out of 1117 (Alex's) Exemplar modded Denon 2900 and Luxman, I actually preferred the HD600. Its made songs sound fuller and the reverberation was there and more intoxicating. Out of the SP MPX3 using NightWoundsTime (Matt's) Denon turntable listening to Porcupine Tree (lightbulb sun album I think), the HD800 actually rocked, I mean rawked. Still not a phone I feel I "need-to-have", but it was awesome to see that it can get an attitude with the right equipment and I can see someone being really happy with that sound. Alex's HP series phones sounded great as well with the Luxman, I should have found more time with them.

HE-5 also could change its face pretty well. On the WA6 with power supply (forget what DAC, maybe Audio Aero Prima?), I did not find it to be all that great in highs or lows. On the Cayin, it became very romantic with a smooth lush bassy sound. On the SPUD and Adcom with cetoole's discrete output stage, it was balanced, fast and clean sounding. I didn't fall in love with them, though they were not bad phones.

Asr's Woo 22 setup with the AD2000 sounded good as well. I enjoyed listening to a few tracks, that is also a really nice looking amp.

I loved Gene's (agile_one) K1000 with the Accuphase sounded really great. Every time I hear these phones at meets, regardless of setup, I have really liked them. I need to get a pair. angry_face.gif

I've heard Vicki's BHSE with the O2 before, they sound great. Interesting the difference that I and some others seemed to hear between the O2 mk1 and the O2 mk1BL. I assume it has to do with differences in the pad. I ended up preferring the brown O2 mk1 more, but I may be biased. :P The SR-404LE! Finally got to hear these, Steve (ASR) was nice enough to swing by with them. They are really good. I will not be trading my O2 mk1 for them, but I did enjoy listening to them. If I could get the LNS and 404LE at the same price, it would be a hard decision.

I listened to many other phones, HF-2, Lambda pro, etc. It was a great meet, the people are what make it even more special then the phones. Thank you so much to Mike and to all of team SoFla that made my weekend. It was great seeing people again and meeting others for the first time and I hope to see you all again in the future.

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Steve, I'm genuinely interested about the differences you heard between your rig and mine. As I'm pretty settled with my amp and headphone choices, sources now intrigue, and although I heard 909s with the BHSE and O2s, it was a while ago, and I also had no real sense of the BHSE or O2s then. Ever since, I've only heard it with my sources. I prefer the APL Phillips with the BHSE/O2, and it was hooked up to that only near the end of the meet. It has a slightly brighter feel than the Exemplar Denon, which I prefer with the SP Extreme/R10, though the Exemplar was doing double duty and feeding both rigs most of the meet. I'm curious about your impressions.

The differences that jumped out at me the most were primarily in the aspects of speed, soundstage, and energy. The APL/Philips 1000 may be a teeny bit slower than I'm used to and the soundstage did not feel the same, though I couldn't pinpoint exactly what was different about it. There was also a bit less overall energy to the music - more than just simply dynamics, I felt there was marginally less reaction to individual instruments' volume surges to make them stick out from the rest of the mix more.

I'd say you description of HD-800 and the O2 is spot-on and the best summary I've read so far. Your description of the effects of the Crystal cable match my experiences with my DIY CryoParts copper cable, as well as that of other people with other cables. This makes me wonder if most re-cabling efforts don't have much the same effect with their tone. The two things that made me decide to keep the HD-800s (for now anyway) were that with a big amp improvement, the smoother presentation, especially in the treble region, makes them much more listenable, where as on my previous mid-range amp (the C2C) the inability of the amp to present the treble cleanly made them less comfortable to listen with. In that price range, I found the Elekit tube amp a better match, which to me explains the comments about good synergy with the WA6. The tonal alteration provided by the re-cable makes them more musical, but not so much that it interferes with their general presentation.

Please note that I didn't actually compare the Crystal Cable to a stock cable and I'm not sure exactly what any aftermarket cables offer over the stock cable (if anything) since I've never compared any. The improvements in the HD800 that I heard can be contributed to anything that was in the system (or the sum total of everything, more likely the case). I was moreso describing what I heard with the HD800 only with a Crystal Cable single-ended versus balanced in different systems, compared to what I've been listening to lately (OII/BHSE/Plinius CD-101).

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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...

maytagblue1.jpg

THE BLUE CHEESE IS GODLY!!!!

I'm Sorry. I Don't Do Impressions. My Training Is In Psychiatry

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I really don't do impressions either. =/

I can say "I like this but not that", however, that is not helpful much.

It's the same with art: I don't know what the terminology is that applies to my techniques, I just "do" them. I can't explain it.

I think people who don't do impressions often have the most helpful things to say. My dad loves wine, has a cellar full of it. But he's not at all a wine snob. He shares liberally. The only thing he asks is that people tell him what the think about it. And he tells people not to worry about a lack of terminology like "leathery" or "hints of black currents with mint." If it tastes like feet, say "feet."

Not exactly sure what my point is here anymore. Did any of the headphones sound like feet?

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Video as we were walking up to a group I BELIEVE was called "Blues Therapy & Jazz". Song should be "Watermelon Man", iirc.

Here's a vid of a full song, but I forget what it was called.

Again, I was recording with just a Flip Cam, so quality is so-so at best, but it's a little bit of what you missed if you were slackers and went home to your jobs or families or that non-sense. ;)

:cool:

**BRENT**

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