2017 Paris SBAF private meeting impressions thread

Discussion in 'The Meeting Place' started by sorrodje, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    Meeting in Paris tuesday 10th and wednesday 11th of January 2017 .


    @frenchbat
    @Ali-Pacha
    @MrButchi
    @Flying baboon
    @Ony
    @sorrodje
    Arkhs
    Burndav
    @straightrope


    Headphones (mainly) :

    Audeze LCD2.2
    Stax SR009
    Stax SR007
    Hifiman HE-6 (X4)
    Sennheiser HD800 ( X2)
    Sennheiser HE60
    @n3rdling''s HE90 Clone
    Sennheiser HD650
    Focal Utopia

    Amplifiers :

    EC 445, 2A3 mkIV, Black Widow and Super 7
    Schitt Jotunheim
    Meier Audio Classic
    Headamp BHSE
    Stax SRM- 727 II modded
    DIY SRX+ Electrostatic amplifier

    DACs and Sources

    Schiit Yggdrasil ( X2)
    AMR DP777SE
    Geek Out V2
    MSB Transport
    Soundaware A280C


    Food :

    IMG_6993.JPG

    Wine :

    IMG_7002.JPG

    Friends :

    IMG_7004.JPG

    Toobz !

    IMG_6997.JPG


    Special wink to our Californian Friends :

    IMG_7001.JPG

    Impressions from everybody will follow later but it was really a great meeting. Friendly and insightful !:)

    @frenchbat's impressions : http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...-meeting-impressions-thread.3706/#post-110916
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2017
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  2. frenchbat

    frenchbat BritishBat's arch enemy - Friend

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    Many thanks to our host Ali-pacha, really cool place to have a meet. As familiar as it's going to sound to those who went to good meets, just too much damn gear and too few time, unfortunately.

    Ongoing redaction.


    List of what I heard properly :

    EC 445 (neutral tube config)

    I really enjoyed my time with the 445, not so surprisingly given I own its sibling 2A3 mkIV. And it really shows in the sound rendition, as it was like stepping into a known place. Only to realize someone had change the paintings on the wall and the furniture. When I got the MKIV, I received a lot of help from the previous owner for the tube selection. Despite its reputation, the MKIV can be tuned to be rather neutral, and that's what I have decided to do. The result is a very punchy amp that is not very forgiving with peaky transducers.

    What stroke me with the 445 was the midrange presentation, which seemed more forward to me, not in a bad way, mind you. Just a little emphasis in different places. Where I think the mkIV (in my admittedly brightish tube config) has more extension and more dynamics, the 445 was more gentle which might be right up the alley of some people, depending on what they listen. I heard the words "more subtil" and "less dynamic" thrown away during the meet, and that's exactly what it is, depending on what you are looking for in terms of sound.

    Moreover I didn't feel the 445 was that much different from the mkIV. Which goes to show that trying to describe the sound of a tube amp based on topology alone is pointless. Lastly, I felt that the 445 is likely a more technical amp compared to the mkIV, however it doesn't have the versatility of the mkIV in terms of tube selection. Pushing the enveloppe on the 445 the way I did with the MKIV is likely to make it too bright, not exactly what we need with the acclaimed flagships headphones already being bright.


    Utopia

    Utopia was one of the highlights of this show for me, as it is not so often we get a new totl headphone, and from a newcomer on top of that.

    I'll be brief and say the utopia was a let down. I wasn't expecting anything in particular, but soundstage and timbre were disappointing at that level of price. Soundstage, while coherent, was closed in and way too much in my head. As to timbre, midrange and percussions didn't sound natural to me. I will quote Ali-pacha who nailed the feeling, by describing it as "sounding like it's been processed, think vocoder". I suppose it is linked to the beryllium construction, and I heard here and there that this is quite common in speaker world with focal tweeters.

    On the plus side, the information retrieval seems quite good within the somewhat limited soundstage.However it didn't make me want to spend more head time than necessary.


    Disclaimer : it was a meet and as with every meet, the noise floor was higher than what I would have wished to properly test DACs and sources.


    AMR DAC

    The AMR dac is part of that "more expensive than Yggy, not as expensive as the crazies" category. That is why I was interested in hearing it. Not surprisingly, the tube output stage of the AMR is quite competent.I felt it was bringing back to the 445,some of the qualities it was missing on its own with the Yggy. In particular it helped with the soundstage, bringing back some space and extending it. At this point I felt it was very close or on par with my MKIV on the Yggy. What it also brough to the table, is some very nice and delicate handling of string harmonics. A real delight with guitars.

    Soundaware source

    The Soundaware dlna streamer was a good surprise, and one I wasn't expecting. It feels well made and pretty well priced at the (discounted) 600€ our friend paid. Sound wise, I felt it was quite close to my MSB streamer, though noticeably softer and rounder. I'm suspecting less dynamics here also. Biggest minus is the absence of AES/EBU output. Not the best ergonomics either but acceptable.

    List of other things I heard :

    Hd650

    Not much to say here. I just re listened it to reassert my impressions. I don't like when snare drums sound like a plastic lid.

    N3rdling clones

    My biggest disappointment for this meet was I lacked time to relisten the Clones properly as I was intending. It was my second encounter, after hearing them on Arnaud's rig in Tokyo.I liked it better this time, but I think the soundstage is too wide. Upstream gear and seal/clamp is key here. It has the potential to be one of the best headphones in the world right now, and has its own personality. In a nut shell it's a true flagship with its quirks. I do think it wasn't at its best in the noisy environment, and it sounded way more technical at Arnaud's. I don't like softish sound, but I would order one of those without a single afterthought.

    Sennheiser he60

    I only had a few minutes with those but they sounded quite bright to me. Probably some peaks in the wrong place for my ears.

    Bw

    Hard to listen to the BW after all the great gear. Obviously a soft and round amp that will please a certain crowd.The hd800 unmodded was kind of muffled and closed in. I'm not exactly well placed to judge of its placement within the price bracket, and I think it would have scaled up with a better source, so I'll leave it at that.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
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  3. fishski13

    fishski13 Friend

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    My in-laws are conservative Christians and their favorite wine is Menage a Trois. I asked if they knew what it meant - "nope, it must mean something in French?" I kept silent.
     
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  4. jexby

    jexby Raised by Carthusian Monks - Friend

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    wait. just. a. minute. this is a SBAF (high quality) meet in Paris, and THAT'S the bottle of wine chosen for the event?
    my oh my oh my.
    looking for the dislike button for the wine photo alone....
    ;)
    :drunk:
     
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  5. frenchbat

    frenchbat BritishBat's arch enemy - Friend

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    We have no comment to do on the wine quality ...
     
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  6. MrButchi

    MrButchi Gear Master Europe

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    |\/|
    @Ali-Pacha : can't thank you enough. Huge props to you.
    @rest : thanks for dealing with me and my Utopia disease.
     
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  7. Ony

    Ony Acquaintance

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    Many thanks to @Ali-Pacha to have a meet at your place! Was nice to see you all guy's and it was a really interresting meet, maybe the best I had in terms of gear and discussion.

    I will start writing my impression during my lunch break!
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
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  8. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    Positive discrimination policy. There will always be a place in the team for people like you mate.
     
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  9. cocolinho

    cocolinho Acquaintance

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    "petits cachotiers" :)
    hope you enjoyed the food/wine as much as the audio stuffs!
     
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  10. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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  11. Habano

    Habano Rando

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    Events like this make me want to move back to Paris ;)
     
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  12. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    Audio meet and wine? Add Tool and it would be legendary...
     
  13. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    A few pics :

    Intro : I just want to apologize to @Ali-Pacha. All the dust you see was brought by the pigs we are and @Ali-Pacha's is definitely not responsible. Readers will carefully notice how the BHSE is by far the cleanest amp of the show.

    EC 2A3 vs EC Super 7
    IMG_6953.JPG

    The bunch of HE-6
    IMG_6962.JPG

    Headamp BHSE
    IMG_6963.JPG

    HD800 & Utopia

    IMG_6970.JPG

    EC Black Widow
    IMG_6971.JPG

    EC 445 & 2A3MkIV
    IMG_6982.JPG

    IMG_6990.JPG

    SRX+ and SR009
    IMG_6991.JPG

    @n3rdling's Clone
    IMG_6996.JPG

    Pile of Amplifiers
    IMG_7008.JPG
     
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  14. Ali-Pacha

    Ali-Pacha Friend

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    Yep, the OCD is strong with me |\/|
    BTW, I'll wait a bit for my impressions since I've to listen more carefully to the clones... They're at home for a few days, thanks to their creator, Herr Doktor @n3rdling :D
    And many thanks to all, that was a hell of a meet :punk:

    Ali
     
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  15. Ony

    Ony Acquaintance

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    Eddie Current 4-45 vs. Eddie Current 2A3 MkIV

    This comparison was my main objective of this meeting. I bought my 4-45 when Craig released it without any chance to listen it before purchase (I previously own a Super 7).
    I pick the 4-45 because tube rolling was more limited and less expensive than 2A3 (yes, I had a Super 7 and anly people who owned Super 7 can understand why I wanted to limit tube rolling :D) and on the paper, he was presented as less warm and more refined. I owned a LCD3 at this time and I always prefer to have a neutral Dac/amp rig with a coloured headphone!

    I sold my LCD3-F (after 2 SAV issue...) and currently owned a 6 screws modded HE-6 (Without grill, damping, blue tack, velour pads) which I use for this comparison.

    Tube set-up :
    - 4-45 : 2xWestern Electric WE417A / 4xSylvania 45 Bottle Shape
    - 2A3 : 2x(don't remember the driver) / 4xKrons 2A3

    Dac : Schiit Yggdrasil

    Does this two amps are close enough to be brother or more like cousin?

    Definitly brother, I was expecting much more difference between those two amps (tubes selected on each amp help to push them close in term of sound sig).

    Mains differences (which represent for me around 10% of the sound produced by those amps):
    - 2A3 hit stronger, offer more physical feeling of texture/density
    - 4-45 a bit more neutral/airy, a more distante presentation with a really strong an effortless mids section

    I was really surprise how those amps can be close, in a way of the same change than using an other tube set-up.

    I'm not a hugh fan of Yggi + 4-45 with my tube set-up, a bit picky and a smaller soundstage than I really like. My AMR DP777 are a really strong match with the 4-45 and my tube set-up. If you want an Yggi with your 4-45, I recommend to use Amperex Jep Golden Pins driver instead of WE417a to add some warm without loosing too much resolution.

    Personnaly, I will prefer HD800 on 2A3MkIV and HE-6 on 4-45 (HD800 will excel in classical music with 4-45 but less multipurpose; HE-6 are really dense and hard hitting on 2A3 so just perfect for electronic music but also less multipurpose)
    You will never go wrong with one of those beauty :bow:
     
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  16. Ali-Pacha

    Ali-Pacha Friend

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    Ok, let's go for it |\/|

    First of all, the usual worn-out disclaimer : meet, noisefloor even if little crowd (but appartment..), too much gears, grain of salt, bla, bla
    Second : there's no such thing as the best thing. There are differences, some of them music tastes, and also paths in this hobby. But sometimes, several people do agree on differences and what is the best rendition for this or that. I think our snails-eaters group is fairly homogenous on that, even if we have different tastes in music, and sometimes very different gears !
    Third : I'm no source guy. I've bought an Yggy to be done with the source thing, I use RCA SPDIF from my PC's mobo because I've the feeling it sounds better than USB, other choices are conveniency in my system (PS3 through toslink, CD player through BNC), and that's it. I was on the verge of buying some used Esoteric P2S (ultimate CD Transport from the 90's) to fit both form factor and my drive at the time to feed my Yggy through AES, but I don't think I'll have this itch to scratch again (never say never ?)
    Fourth : I'm very sensitive about cables. Just joking, monoprice-likes will do;)
    And last but not least : I'm a Stax zealot, so you can say I like it soft...but depends :p And I'm a bit n00b regarding dynamic gears.


    Focal Utopia

    Let me quote myself on the dedicated thread for those ones :
    Couple of days with the Utopia. EC BW2 amp and Yggy source (thanks @MrButchi !). Keep in mind I'm formatted to something (BHSE + 009 in that case), and like all of us with a short time review, I'm focusing on what's different / far from I'm used to. It's harder to look for strengths your rig doesn't have !

    + Very good looking, comfy, well built. Maybe not $4k feeling, but serious business. A bit heavy maybe ?
    + Fast. VERY fast. Maybe too fast !
    + Very good impact. It kicks hard
    + Crispy clear sound
    + Everything's very well separated, you don't have to push up the volume to hear all the things in the mix
    + Well layered soundstage. Not that large, but great instruments separation helps a lot
    + Detail retrieval is very good. Maybe not HD800's level (I've soon to compare), but not that far

    - Too bright for my tastes. Any tape noise has too much presence / level
    - Something "dzingy" in the highs, think strange resonance on cymbals
    - Crispiness + speed = something robotic in the sound, think square signals from chiptune / vocoder
    - Bass too shy. Very tight, but lacks volume / grandeur / texture
    - Dynamic a bit restricted. They kick hard but the gradation beetween soft and impactful music is not that large

    All around very proficient headphones, it sounds impressive at first, like most of 2-channels demos I've encountered...but definitely too bright for me. I've the feeling a larger driver (only 40 mm right now) would be my perfect balance : less speed, warmer tuning, more volume, more dynamic.

    2 cents.

    Some other things to add :
    - the image @sorrodje shared with me is sooo right, they're like a go-kart with a 2-stroke engine among Ferraris. They may be faster in some corners, they'll scream in high revs, but they're limited everywhere else
    - they do benefit from serious amping. 445 would be my choice if someone did force me to have those headphones, because it opens the soundstage and calm down their too bright coloration.

    All around, Utopia is one of the two things I clearly dislike in this meet...with my ex SRM-727II modded :D


    Sennheiser HD800 (SD)

    Haaaaa...the ones I love. I've written above this hobby is mainly a matter of path / route, and yesterday, I confirmed I could have taken another start and finish with an SD modded HD800 + EC 2A3 mk4. There's not so much to say about them, except that they have to be modded IMO, unless amp is seriously warm, like the Black Widow we had.
    Of course they have downsides, like this warm-ish Sennheiser bump around 100 hz (I like it), this too much cathedral-like soundstage (it doesn't bother me, and I love it when listening to live venues), something blurry in the mids + lack of meat on the bones + 6 khz sibilance + bit shy in the bass (get a real amp and a SD mod, dude ! :rolleyes:), but they are still the king of the hill regarding details, they're fast and clean (remember you're reading a stat-head statement), and all around something that can't be beaten it this headphones realm of ever-inflating prices. Think about it, you can get one used for 650 €, SD mod is worth a big mac menu maximum, and there are cheap ways to amp them right like a Vali 2 (I trust @sorrodje on this one).
    Ok, stop jizzing, next :oops:


    HiFiMAN HE6

    My contact was pretty fast, and I wanted to listen to the stock ones only. They're really fun, with a lot of substance but the grain is very pleasant. And they never fail to render complex messages. I do understand the ever-moaar-powaa path to level up this kind of tactility which sounds pretty unique to me, but I've the feeling they're a specialty headphones, unbeatable for metal and/or rock. My tastes do explain why I did prefer them on the 445 vs. 2A3.


    Fostex TH-X00

    Ok, just a quick listen. MidFi loudness and fun, very sensitive...headphones for commuting ?


    Eddie Current 445 and 2A3 mk4 (amps)

    Like I wrote, I'm n00b in this area, and I was somehow happy to see that my BHSE was kinda childish toy compared to those heavy monsters with toobz everywhere and MiG-like construction. They taught me serious amping is important too for electrodynamic phones, and that was very instructive for me.
    All around, 2A3 is punchier, 445 more refined, but they are definitely brothers. I've already written the best pairings of the day for me, so let's not repeat myself again.


    Eddie Current Black Widow 2 (amp)

    A very warm good SS friend. SS is important there, because although it's warm, and besides technicality, it doesn't have what I feel are the toobz mids. Definitely from the same family as the two other monsters, but a good step under. Love the industrial brick design, and the switch is awesome :cool:


    Schiit Jotunheim and Meier Audio Corda Classic (amps)

    Both in the same section because I've made some comparisons. Joti was fed in SE, I think it's worth mentioning it.
    Joti is powerful but raw, almost unpleasant with HD600 I used for this comparison. Maybe with balanced and other headphones they sound better, but it's somehow disappointing to see this reference doesn't sound very good on a homogenous rig (source was a modi multibit). Let's say it was the third disappointment of the meet.
    Corda Classic sounds way more refined, larger soundstage, but obviously with less punch. I like this sound, but I hate the feeling of the volume control, relay-clicking and progressivity.

    And now, back to my world \/

    Stax SRM-727II modded (amp)

    It used to be my main amp before the coming of the BHSE. Yeah, you may say "coming", I was prepared, but I had the complete ride with two years waiting o_O
    And "non, rien de rien, je ne regrette rien". BHSE is THE amp to have for every Stax lover, cosmetically and soundwise. Tell me I'm partial, I don't care. Go fuck yourself :headbang:
    Anyway, 727 sold to @MrButchi who fell in love with 007 and has a black finish OCD (it's a black unit), it came back to its old house for a few days.
    To make it short, it was cruel. 727 is not a bad amp, but my god it's flat and congested compared to the two contenders of the day. @n3rdling's clones are maybe the only one that sounded very good on it (see below), but even if the mafia is often rude on its conclusions, I've to agree, Stax amps are far too shy for their TOTL phones...another story for Lambdas and old round drivers (SR-1 to 5, SR-X, Gamma, pro or NB).


    DIY SRX+ (amp)

    The fun and energetic one. Depends on headphones, but not that far from BHSE, and shoulders above 727.
    It may be the best choice for 007 though. Ok, it doesn't dig as deep and as far as a BHSE, soundstage is a step below, but there is something energetic is the low mids, like a Sennheiser bump, and it wakes up 007 fat ass...foot tapping with them, who could have believed it ?


    Sennheiser HE60

    I already knew I like them (texture, imaging, separation), but imagine my feeling when I realized how much they scale on the BHSE :eek: From this scaling ability point of view, 007 and 009 are not that far behind, but if you never listened to HE60 on this kind of very serious amping, you can't say you know them, especially in the bass area and regarding dynamics. Some flaws are still there, like a brightish balance which may be unpleasant and screechy on some recordings, or a soundstage which isn't completely on HD800 / clones' (****spoiler alert****) level, but I could be stupid enough to buy ones...except I already love my 009, HE60 are used, fragile, expensive, and HD800s (or something else with the same tuning but better ? :rolleyes:) are not at home.


    @n3rdling 's HE90 clones

    Warning : get a good clamping and a good seal...you may say lots of BS if not carefully looking at these two settings (and I did the first day).
    Let's face it, they're a real deal. Maybe a slight bump in the bass which masks sub-bass, maybe a lack of high mids for presence / voices (remember : stax zealot, 1-2 khz in da place :oops:), a pinch of sibilance on some tracks, something euphonic terribly pleasing but maybe not 100% accurate...stop : tonally speaking, I've to say they are the best stat I've ever heard. They just sound right. Try some acoustic / live / classical / jazz, you'll immediately know.
    Detail level is also impressive. I mean right, one more time. HE60 and even more HD800 are kinda detail whores, 009 sounds faster and conveys other kind of details that are most of the time recordings flaws, but the clones brings you separation and details that sound real.
    Soundstage is very wide, symphonic, they're Senn's for sure, with a more L/R presentation than the small HE60 sphere and large HD800 sphere. I've the feeling pads' material and depth (they have HE90's original pads) + tonal balance are the key there.

    So, do they have flaws ? Yes, but one is also a real strength, and the other one may be adressed :
    - they do not scale that much with amping. Disappointing maybe when you hear what a BHSE can do with 009 or HE60, but good news eventually if @n3rdling decides to make a commercial batch
    - they lack impact and are not the fastest stats out there. Not a problem for most of stat lovers who listen to jazz / classical (you want impact ? Get some HE6 dude !), but I suspect there's room for improvement with stiffer enclosures (3D printing right now) and maybe reinforced stators à la 009
    Oh, and maybe angled drivers to please @frenchbat and get a more volumic soundstage :p

    I have to make more comparisons and tests before sending them to the next happy reviewer, and maybe what I'll post on milos' thread will be more complete. One more time, kudos and many thanks to him, they're quite an achievement. No one did question they were legit among the bests, they're already the best for some genres IMO, and have the potential to be even better :bow:

    Ok, that was a hell of a post, sorry for the tl;dr :drunk:

    Ali
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2017
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  17. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    Part One : Eddie Current amplifiers Shootout

    At first, when we thought about this meeting organization, our first goal was to bring our "best" rigs and compare how is the sound. Not really to see who's the best but more to discover and understand what system did each of us build. Another goal was (at least for me and @frenchbat ) to compare our EC 2A3 mkIV , DNA Stratus and see how they compete against each other and how both compare to @Ony's 445. In our mind, those amps are all top notch amplifiers often discussed here or there and to make our opinion about them was a strong motivation. Unfortunately, Fedex fucked up things due to Xmas Rush and bad weather on North America and my Stratus is still stuck in Indianapolis so I couldn't bring it with me. Shit Happens.

    By the way a few other friends joined us and especially MrButchi and Arkhs who own two other EC amplifiers : A Black Widow and a Super 7. It allowed us to compare finally four Eddie Current amps. Let's say it's not precisely common in France so this comparison was very interesting for me. No Dog in the fight, no headphone to discover, I had just to put my HD800SD ( black colorwared two years ago.. that was somewhat premonitory right ? ) on my ears and listen. All impressions below are coming from a HD800 nut and are meet impressions. Usual grain of salt blablabla. Yggy was the DAC I used with my Laptop connected through USB.

    EC 2A3 mkIV :

    IMG_6967_modifiée.JPG


    Obviously a great synergy with the Senn. At first glance, it made me miss my Stratus even more. I felt at home and I was really pissed I weren't able to bring my DNA with me. The 2A3 mkIV convey a great sense of power, fullness and still that very special mix of warmth and clarity in the mids. I think bat did a great job to select the best tube combination ( 4 X KR 2A4 + 2 rectifiers I don't remember the brand) that make the 2A3 mkIV sounds lively, slightly euphonic but still very clear and crisp without obvious technical sacrifice. Definitely a great pairing with the HD800. I took a serious time to listen to Bat's Modded 4 screws HE-6 and do some A/B comparison with the HD800SD on the 2A3 mkIV. Both sounded great in my opinion but I still think EC 2A3mkIV/HD800 synergy is more special whereas the HE-6 sounds even better with a big Solid State amplifier. That's an opinion I'd be happy to valid (or not) with a direct comparison though. @frenchbat proposed me to try different drivers and swapped for a pair of Amperexes. i was like "lol wut".. the sound turned really warm and I asked quicly to go back to the first pair of drivers.

    EC 445

    IMG_6982_modifiée.JPG

    @Ony's Amplifier. Like bat who selected the appropriate tubes to make his 2A3 mkiV shine at its best, Ony carefully did the same job to make his 445 more to his likings. And guess what ? that's a win. Honestly I was expecting something lean and bright with the HD800, even modded and the 445 surprised me. No excessive brightness I could hear (Reminder : I'm 46 and not treble sensitive... hey HD800 nut spotted ! ) and not the lean sound I was expecting. I'd say that both amplifiers ( 2A3 and 445) are much closer than what I was thinking. It definitely makes sense for me because what I compared at the meet was two amplifiers well prepared and tubed by some people with good ears that live for REAL with their amps. I mean, what I heard is choices validates by hours and hours of listening to music in real conditions and the fact they achieved a similar sound makes sense in my opinion. Nevertheless the two amps still convey some differences. To my ears , the 445 sounds colder and cleaner, more neutral/uncolored whereas the 2A3 is a tad more lush/euphonic. Presentation is more forward with the 2A3 that offers as well maybe a more punchy sound. I definitely thought both amplifiers were 100% legit with the HD800SD but pushed the Senn in two different directions. Want a vanilla HD800 and push it at its best ? 445 is your choice. Your reward will be transparency , technical abilities, resolution. Want to make your HD800 more an allrounder without to sacrifice much technicalities? 2A3 amplifier is the way to go. I honestly estimated the 445 is probably the "best" for the HD800 but i'd probably choose the 2A3 considering the HD800 is my main and go to headphone for daily use. I didn't try any HE-6 with the 445. By the way, both are great amplifiers.

    EC Black Widow.

    IMG_6972_modifiée.JPG


    I went to the meeting with a good amount of preconceived ideas about this amplifier : "wtf why EC choosed to make a Solid State amp ?" " Ugh. warmish amp. Likely not my thing" blablabla. So this amp was a huge suprise and I Liked it a lot. To sum it up, it's an absolute great choice for people who want to sit back and relax and don't want to deal with tube madness. IMO it's not that warm ( i always associate warmth to mud and the BW is not muddy at all) . I'd say it's kinda bassy with a great sense of bass slam and extension but still conveys a very good clarity. No mud or blur or whatever syrup added in my black cofee. It won't be the amplifier you'll choose to push the Senn to the max but the BW is absolutely spot on for HD800 owners who want to have a good balance of forgiveness AND cleanness . Choose a BW instead of buying warmish NOS gooey tubes to put on super expensive bloomy amplifier. For my HD800, I'd probably personaly choose a BW over any OTL amp I heard.

    EC Super 7 :

    IMG_6954_modifiée.JPG

    Arkhs brought this one . No mistery here, arkhs is a warmth whore : his reference headphone is a Modded HD650 and he choosed a set of tubes that makes his S7 sounds warm. It was too much for me and I preferred the BW. I can't comment more on this one considering the tuning isn't my thing . :)

    To Come : E-Stats Amplifier Shoutout.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2017
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  18. kevnin

    kevnin #facetweeting - Friend

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    Sounds like a great meet, and very nice writeups!

    I really enjoyed reading the 445 vs 2A3 mkIV comparisons. It's not often you see both of those in the same place. I love my 445 but have not been able to hear a 2A3 mkIV.

    I've found EML 45s are more aggressive and hit harder than NOS 45s, which might bring the two amps even closer together. Mixing EMLs and NOS gives a nice blend of the two signatures. I settled on a mix of 2 EML/2 NOS and Amperex JAN 5842 drivers, which is giving me exactly the sound I want with Utopia. Great with HD800(SDR) also.
     
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  19. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    Part two : BHSE vs SR+ vs SRM-727 (modded)

    I commissionned the SRX + a few month ago after @n3rdling told me this amplifier was maybe offering one of the better value in Electrostatic amplifiers market. I wasn't hot for a Pure KG design (KGSS/HV/ST) and most other amplifiers was really expensive, so I took the plunge and ordered this SRX+. It's an old Stax design ( 100% tube based) that Kevin Gilmore and James Lin made come from oblivion and improved recently and very few of those SRX+ are currently running so Nobody really know how it performs against well established contenders. I brought it with me during my US trip last year and comments where really positive . I didn't take the time to do some more comparison myself though so I came to the Paris Meeting absolutely determined to take the time to make serious A/B comparison with @Ali-Pacha's BHSE and @MrButchi's SRM727 (actually ali-pacha sold the amplifier to mrbutchi after he received his BHSE.. the usual feedback mod was applied a few month before) . Moreover, @JimL (James Lin) Asked me a few days ago what I was thinking from his amplifier. So I was the man on a mission :)

    We used my HE60 and the two Stax Omega (007mkI and 009) to do our listening sessions. During the first sessions i was unable to detect any difference between amplifiers and it was the sign my ears wood... too tired and I had a 2nd sessions during Day 2 of our meet.


    SRX+.JPG




    Let's go straight to the conclusion : the SRM-727 is not in the same league than the two others and the SRX+ is a true bargain in E-stat world.

    First Session was with my HE60 I know well and at least much better than the two Staxes. HE60/BHSE is truly a match made in heaven. I love my HE60 but I know well his flaws : it's kinda brightish and sometimes, with a few recordings, it's borderline unbearable. Bass can be punchy but still too diffuse/soft by today standards, mids are wonderful but compared to Milos clone, they're undoubtly a tad colored ( in a good way but still) and overally the HE60 show a bit his age with a kind of slight "vintage" soft sound. It's really obvious when compared to modern headphones. Nevertheless, it's a superb headphone I love to use for a few genre and when I want a change of pace from my HD800SD.

    The BHSE with its kinda cold uber-technical abilities and its slam/power makes the Senn sounds younger that it really is. The low end expecially is clearly improved with much more tightness down low and an overally cleaner, more controlled, more focused sound. The Baby Orpheus gains some 009 qualities but still with the typical Senn Stat sound and still that extremely good staging that offers both a good sense of focus and a lot of air hence the feeling of cohesive but endless staging. In one word, BHSE/HE60 is still HE60 but better everywhere. Think to a hand (the HE60) and its glove (the BHSE).

    Considering how BHSE and HE60 works well together, there's no surprise here : my SRX+ (I bought it especially for my HE60 . I've no Stax at home) can't compete and the Senn sounds noticeably more blurry and kinda soft/ limp dick on the SRX+. Let's be honest, it's still good enough for me but compared to the BHSE, the loss is significant. No surprise here. For my personal use it's not that bothersome because I use mostly my HE60 when i'm listening to intimate vocals, chamber music and that kind of music. For Orchestral, EDMs I always choose my HD800.

    HE60/SRM 727 . No need of long comparison here. the 727 does not play in the same league. The immediate feeling of congestion struck me immediately. Something broken/dead in the sound as well whereas the two other amplifiers let the headphone breath naturally. Maybe something warmish but still steely/grainy in the treble in the tonality was a showstopper as well. I didn't expect so much difference to be honest, even more if we consider I already heard the 727/HE60 combination and it sounded OK to my ears. But compared to the SRX+ and even more the BHSE, the story wasn't the same ...

    Summary for HE60 : BHSE >>> SRX+ >>>>>>>>> 727. if the HE60 was my main headphone, I'd order a BHSE right now.

    Second session with the SR009.

    OK , BHSE/009 is a known association and I won't be long . Sounded really good , clean , a tad cold , very technical to the point of maybe some sharpness but I see how performing is the combo. Seems the Midrange shout that usually bothers me with all Stax headphones is well controlled though. Good pairing but not as special as the HE60/BHSE one imo.

    Surprise came from the SRX+ there... Honestly I think I'd choose the SRX+ over the BHSE for the 009, especially if I wanted to use a 009 on daily basis as my allrounder. Whereas the SRX+ made the HE60 a bit too blurry, it made the excess of sharpness disappear here and the 009 sounded a tad more rounded , more "human". SRX+ / 009 offered to my ears a very balanced sound with a hint of forwardness/intimacy , A touch of warmth and overally a kinda relaxed yet fun/pleasurable presentation.

    Probably a very very good choice for those who listen a lot of modern music with their 009. I liked it a lot and definitely made me think more to add a 009 to my stable. I still think the BHSE is "better" in almost all point but the Synergy goes to the SRX+

    One more time, the 727 sounded much less good than the two others with the same flaws than with the 009. Both BHSE and SRX+ made the 009 sound more clear and crisp , more focused, tighter in all register. the main issues are congestion and Kinda loose low end I'd say. This and some grain in the treble...

    With the 009 I'd see the ranking as this : BHSE>SRX+>>>>>>>>>>>>> 727 . the experience made me want a 009 to associate to my SRX+ ...more than a BHSE ;)

    We tried as well the 007 but I'm not familiar with this headphone. Moreover it's not my signature of choice (too mellow for me) so I prefer to let you read what @Ali-Pacha wrote about it.


    Overally I Still think the little and kinda cheap SRX+ is a great option for people who want a very competitive amplifier without to spend an arm and a leg.

    To come : Part Three : Headphones, Jotunheim/Meier Classic and Friends
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2017
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  20. MrButchi

    MrButchi Gear Master Europe

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    This is a modest feedback from the Paris SBAF meet. Please use the perusual grain of salt as 1) it's a meet, 2) I was very stressed that day, and 3) under a steady dose of cortisone.
    One thing worth noting though: for some reason, I tend to have crushes at meets. And they've always been the real deal. I know it's not rational, but statistically works for me.
    The setups where the same as the guys who posted before me and who gave awesome reports (props to you guys, I'll try and learn for the future).

    Staxia

    I finally had the chance to try out the famed HE60. Let down for me. I can't live with this bass, even on the BHSE. Call me crazy, but it is what it is.

    The Clones, however, were another story. Wowser first experience. Wobly/DIY build, but who cares when it sounds that good. I can see where @frenchbat is coming from when he says that the soundstage is too wide.
    What really struck me however was how natural they sound. I know natural gets thrown around a lot, but there is just an effortlessness to them that just amazed me.
    I'm getting them for a week starting next Monday, so I'll try to get more serious with them.

    SR-X didn't put me on my ass with SR007MkI, at least not as much as the BHSE does. Yeah, it bests quite easily my SRM727MkII, but not enough that I would care to get it for my living room rig (and risk toobz around my 4 years old).

    EC Wonderland


    I'm the only one of the French group who likes the Utopia, so I'm sort of an outcast. But it's ok, I'm learning to live with it one day at a time. My main goal for this meet was to see how my BW2 fared with Utopia when faced with 445 and 2A3MkIV.

    My first encounter with 2A3 MkIV was borderline painful. Way too punchy and bright. Later on, @frenchbat changed the toobz, and it was better, but still way too punchy for my tastes. I think it's probably Utopia related.

    On the other end, 445 was downright love at first sight. I compared it face to face with BW2, and it was amazing to see the EC sound put in practice in different manners and at a different level.
    The 445 acts like a veil is taken off the BW2. The scene expands (not that Utopia becomes HD800 in anyway, but the scene is markedly bigger), the resolution becomes finer, like all got tighter and more controlled... more refined.

    I had met @Ony 's 445 earlier and it already had been a revelation. This just confirms it. Now, all the French group warns me that Yggy and 445 can be a little too rough together, so I'm gonna give it time. I also need to hear the Stratus, and some truly TotL SS solutions. But I can definitely see a 445 in my future...

    In the end, BW2 fared quite well, and I won't be sorry to turn it back on when I come back from my ski trip. In that regards, I totally second @sorrodje 's analysis of the BW2. If there was a way to produce it steadily and at the same pricepoint, BW2 would be THE SS reference at its price point IMHO.

    Musings

    I finally got some time with HE6, and on very good rigs. I can see the reason why so much love is thrown at it. In the end, I don't think they're my cans. Too visceral for me, I guess I'm more analytical. But then I'm still learning, having been in the headphones game for only a year (I don't count iem experience). So who knows what the future will be made of.

    I also got to try the Jot, and came away fairly unimpressed. I mean, it's probably awesome for the price, but I'm not in the price game at that point. And it is just brutal. But hey, if you're after something that will drive anything for 400 bucks, I guess it's good.

    Once again, huge props to @Ali-Pacha for the organization. I want to thank all members for their efforts to bring stuff (@frenchbat, burndav, Arkhs, @Ony made really big efforts), and for the food. Ofc, the best part is the friendship that flowed all the way through. Meets are a complicated place to experience gear, but an awesome place to learn from those who have more experience than you, and this was no exception.
     
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