SuperBAF Can'tJam Big Write Up

Discussion in 'The Meeting Place' started by HitmanFluffy, Nov 14, 2016.

  1. HitmanFluffy

    HitmanFluffy I like free handies! - Friend

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    I’ve done the meet rodeo a fair few times before, but this is the first time I’ve taken a redeye cross-country flight just for one. Of course the SBAF Can’tJam is a bit more than just your average meet. I would not have come all this way just for the gear (fabulous as the gear here was). This visit was about getting to meet the guys that have been a huge help in directing me in the perilous journey up the audio ladder face-to-face, and more importantly, been the best kind of friend with everything else in life.


    The LAX Hilton was far from the swankiest Hilton out there, and finding my way to the ballroom felt a bit like going down a secret passage, with some corridors looking more asylum than luxury hotel. Getting to the ballroom, I did not realize I was right in front of the meet venue till I received a hearty slap on the back from my pal Jason (@ohhgourami), who led me to the high end room to finally introduce me in person to the rest of the old regulars.


    The High-End Room

    Stepping into the high-end room, I’m greeted with a barrage of smiles and handshakes from a crowd of familiar faces (Hi Jeff, Pierre, Milos, Ed). There really is a thing to be said about meeting people in the flesh, so much personality is lost even with the best of telecommunication methods. Jeff brought his A-game with the rice farmer hat, Milos was understated as usual, Pierre is much more animated than I expected, and Ed is an absolute wild animal in person.

    Stat Sanctuary

    After putting my bags aside, I sit myself down at the mighty impressive E-stat table with Pierre and Milos. Milos’s gear has something of a crowd around it, so I get my eyes and ears ears onto Pierre’s rig. With all the sharing going on at the table, I wasn’t sure which headphones belonged to who (a 007 and 009), but I did know that Pierre had brought his own Sennheiser HE60s and a commissioned SRX+ amp build, along with a humble GOV2 (Non-A). I was especially excited about the SRX+, as I have a set of the boards to build one myself in the near future, and it showed promise as a terrific value item in the pricey e-stat amp environment.

    I decided to go with the 007 to first try out his rig, as I am more partial to its smoother midrange compared to the 009. Immediately from the get go, it was clear that the SRX+ is on the warmer side of things tonally, but the biggest difference compared to my prior experiences with the Stax amps and the BHSE was a much more forward and aggressive presentation, something I was not used to hearing from the 007. It also helped them convey a greater sense of body than I expected from them, with a good amount of slam. With the tonal characteristics of the SRX+ being on the warmer side, I suspected they may work better with the 009s, which I swapped to shortly after. What was interesting here was that with the 009s, the general tonal synergy was substantially better, and the impressive clarity and resolving ability of the amp were more apparent. What the SRX+ did not do with the 009s, however, was tame the upper mid shoutiness inherent to them, something I know the BHSE does quite well. Still, by all accounts, this was an amp that was closer to my preferred sound profile than the previous offerings I had heard, and I am excited to be able to try it for myself (if and when I bother to get into e-stats).

    The Monolith

    Knowing my time was limited, I thanked Pierre and made a beeline for one of the other highlights of the meet, Jason’s infamous mammoth Krell rig. With all the hyperbole floating around about it, I was almost disappointed to see the Krell Evo amp was kind of reasonably sized, but it was indisputably the most physically imposing rig of the meet, especially with the Yggy/Rednet and preamp stack serving as the source next to it.

    I have a particular affection for the older Hifiman series of headphones, having collected several and listened to them on a wide variety of rigs. Going up to this rig, I was expecting to hear the typical Hifiman quirks alongside their qualities: terrific low end, upper mid range hash, and somewhat zingy treble. What I heard instead was all of the good bits and then some, and more surprisingly almost none of the bad. The sense of physicality in the low end with drums was astounding, and the excellent clarity of it was not marred by roughness in the upper mids as I expected. If anything, the HE-6 on this rig came off as smooth and well-controlled, with excellent separation and no compromise on its trademark slam.

    Much has been said of how much work went into dialing in the sound on this rig, and it definitely shows. A lot of the other guys and I have made fun of Jason at times about his screw count obsession with the HE6, but after A/B’ing with the different HE6s brought to the meet, it was not difficult to hear the difference made by his meticulous modding.

    Towards the end of the day when we were wrapping up, we went ahead and did more A/B’ing, swapping out various parts of his source chain to figure out where exactly the magic was coming from, with very interesting findings. However I will leave that towards the end, for reasons that will be clear when you get there.

    Part Deux

    After vacating Jason’s rig to let some others have a try, I moved to the other corner of the room, where @bazelio and @rkml007 set up camp. Their testament to the craziness of the hobby was two near identical setups side by side, the Yggdrasil feeding a Zana Deux Super, with the only difference being the choice of digital transport. @bazelio had a Lynx card in his rig, and @rkml007 was using the Rednet. Another difference was that @bazelio brought his Torpedo 3, configuring the ZDS as a pre to use it if he wanted. Here, I borrowed Ron’s HD800S pair.

    Most of the gear here was intimately familiar to me, except for the ZDS, so I jumped at the chance to get ears on it, especially with the Torpedo 3 (my home rig) on hand to use as a reference point. The ZDS definitely imparts its own character to the music, with a very laid back presentation and a definite warmth to it, though not as warm as a 300B Balancing Act. The sense of refinement is marred only by a bit of treble sharpness that I believe is characteristic to the Russian power tube (I’ve heard something similar on an Almarro amp which also uses it.) In comparison to the T3, it is substantially less aggressive with the transients and softens the edges somewhat.. What impressed me most was the excellent cleanliness and separation, especially for an OTL amp.

    Also present at the table were addition reclocking devices for more transport madness, though when I was there we were unable to get them to work in the chain, let alone test the difference. I was able to briefly jump between the Rednet and the Lynx, and while my time with them was limited, I felt the Rednet sounded a bit more old-school analog than the Lynx.

    Clone Wars

    At last, space opened up at Milos’ table, and I was able to get some time in with the man himself. His homemade HE90 clones have caused a stir every time they made a public appearance, and I was incredibly excited to finally get to able to listen to them. I have managed to listen to the original HE90 on a couple of occasions, as well as a brief session with Sennheiser’s revised HE1, and was impressed in different ways on both occasions. Here, Milos had an Accuphase CD player serving as a source, as well as the BHSE as the amp. I am not familiar with how the CD player sounds as a source, though I have extensive experience with the BHSE sound, so coupled with meet conditions, my impressions here are limited in that respect.

    Much like the original HE90, the clones convey a terrific sense of body in the music that you do not typically expect from e-stat headphones, with HD650-esque tone. I often find myself a bit distracted with the way note sustain is rendered on most e-stats, but I found the clones to be more satisfying in this regard. The bass is meaty and textured, and more cleanly rendered than I remember in the originals out of the HEV90 amp. The only bugbear I would bring up is a bit of upper midrange glare that a handful of tracks spotlight (around 3k maybe?). Many people I talked to about this did not hear it, and it is very far from a real sticking point with the clones. Out of curiousity, I swapped amps to run them out of Pierre’s SRX+, which had the expected effect of making the end result warmer (a tad too much for my own liking), though I did enjoy the more forward presentation.

    Rough cosmetics aside, the ergonomics and solidity of the clones were extremely impressive, not to mention their spectacular sound quality. I am still amazed at how reserved and understated Milos is in person, despite the incredible work he has done with these clones, and wish I could have hung out more with him.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2016
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  2. HitmanFluffy

    HitmanFluffy I like free handies! - Friend

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    The MOT Parade

    Finally moving into the main ballroom, I was wowed by the bustling crowd, and struggled to get a bearing on who was where in the room. With my mind on trying as much as I could, I moved to the nearest tables and began my route through the vendor circuit.

    LH Labs

    As luck would have it, I landed at the table with Ravi and Larry Ho of LH Labs, a vendor I’ve patronised on several occasions and have yet to disappoint me with sound quality. On display here was the Vi DAC with a new NOS mode, plugged into the latest version of the Eddie Current Black Widow. The headphones used here were a pair of the new Focal Utopias, generously loaned from one of the other attendees to try on this rig. I have heard all the gear here in some form or another, but I was genuinely intrigued by the NOS mode on the Vi DAC. Larry spoke briefly about the need to implement custom firmware to run the Sabre DAC chips in NOS, something that I had not thought possible. I have been consistently amazed by his previous work with Sabre, and this was something of a new frontier for me to try.

    The Utopia out of this gear sounded tight and engaging out of this rig, with a good tonal synergy between the slightly lean Utopia and the warm-ish Black Widow. The strengths of dynamic headphones come through here, with great slam and low level information retrieval. The staging qualities were extremely impressive, a good amount of which I would attribute to the NOS mode. This rig still reveals a number of the Utopia’s problem spots, but that speaks to the relative honesty of the amp up top, and most importantly, there was a remarkable lack of digital nasties here. This did not end up as my favorite Utopia experience of the day, but I can definitely say the newer iterations of the Black Widow and the Vi DAC are very worthwhile.

    While the Vi DAC is a fine piece of gear, my interest in LH Labs lies primarily with their line of portable gear, which I have followed and bought since the original Geek Out 450 hit the old leaderboard of yore. For a time they served as my primary listening rig, and more recently, I have found them hugely useful as good sounding test rigs when I am out travelling. On display here was the whole range of Geek Out products, going from the original Geek Out Signature Edition to the latest Geek Out 2A line. There were even some chassis prototypes for the long-awaited Geek Wave, which looks to be a killer product when it comes to fruition. The new cases for the 2A line are absolutely stunning, an enhanced version of the original Geek Out chassis, which I preferred to the 2nd generation 3D printed ones. At this point, I would talk about how they sound, but going there would take me to the next table, where I found the transducers to do it with.

    Campfire Audio

    Conveniently for me, Ken Ball of Campfire Audio had situated himself directly next to the LH Labs table, meaning I had the perfect IEM candidates to try the new Geek Outs with. While I was not sold on the original Lyra and Jupiter, the Andromedas were a revelation, and after a couple of listening sessions with them I added them to my “Things to Buy” list. In hindsight, I was grateful I did not pull the trigger immediately back then, as news of new dynamic driver/hybrid IEMs from Campfire Audio hit the forums.

    Using my laptop with the Geek Out 2A, I first listened to the cheaper of the new offerings, the Dorado, a hybrid solution. It was incredibly bassy, too much so for my liking, but looking past that, the treble rendering was excellent and extended, with good air in line with the Andromeda. The absence of glaring coherency issues was also laudable. However, I could not bring myself to like it, given my preference to a more mid-forward sound, which this did not satisfy.

    The Vega, the priciest of the line up with Campfire Audio’s own diamond coated drivers, did come closer to the mark by comparison. Speaking with Ken about the drivers, I was hugely excited to see if we would have the reference sounding dynamic driver IEM we have been waiting for, and Campfire Audio seemed like the company most likely to pull it off. Unfortunately, the Vega also possessed an overbearing emphasis on bass for my liking, eliminating it from contention for my next IEM purchase, should it remain broadly similar when it launches. However, the rest of the spectrum showed real promise from what I heard, clarity in the same league as the Andromeda married to the more natural timbre of a dynamic driver. Perhaps their next release will be closer to my kind of headphone.

    Leaving the gear aside, I’ve appreciated Ken’s forthrightness in joining our forum and directly engaging with us, and he lived up to that positive impression in person with his approachability and friendliness. There wasn’t the distance between vendor and buyer that often happens at the non-official CanJamsTM as our conversation went into talking about the audio shows and market conditions overseas. While I ended up disappointed with the new gear, the overall experience was extremely positive, and given the right product I would be more than happy to buy from Campfire Audio.

    Donald North Audio

    When I set eyes on the unmistakable blue paint, I knew I had to make a stop at the table with the amp with it, and made the educated guess that the gentleman behind it was none other than the eponymous Donald North. Old-school DHT tube amps with big (and expensive) magnetics are a more recent fixation in my audio life, but they have been an incredibly absorbing one, so I was excited to meet Donald in person, as well as listen to the current iteration of his newest Stellaris 2A3 amp.

    For this audition, the source used was a venerable vintage Sonic Frontiers SFCD-1, feeding the aforementioned Stellaris. I had heard after the meet that he had rolled the tubes out to let people compare the differences, but I was only fortunate enough to hear them with one pair. The headphones I used to listen were the Focal Utopias, my personal cost-no-object headphone pick that were at the table.

    While the Black Widow was a decent pairing with the Utopias, the Stellaris was much better at smoothing out the Utopia where it needed it, and turned the listening session into pure pleasure. The tone was just slightly warm, less so than the Stratus, without reaching the point of bloat or congestion, with a lovely refined top end. It also helped that the Stellaris was on a different level technically from the amps I heard earlier, with much greater resolving ability and clarity. Staging was generous and precise, though not as wide and spacious as the higher end Eddie Current gear, a quality I can see many people enjoying. The most notable difference from the Stratus however, was how much more authoritative it was in the bass, with a palpable sense of control and slam.While the Stratus fell quite firmly into the “relaxed listening” camp of amp choices (in contrast to the more neutral Eddie Current gear), the Stellaris straddles a happy middle ground, and is easily a big step up in pure technical quality over the Stratus. I cannot recommend this amp enough.

    Donald was an absolute ball of energy, and was more than happy to discuss his design philosophy and part choices in constructing the Stellaris as a step up from the Stratus, as well as the CD booklet he brought with him. Talking about his sentimentality for the K1000, and why his amps have been built around that particular unicorn, was a treat on its own, as I got to see Donald’s passion for the hobby, and how much it animates him. Amidst the hyper-commercial show environment we see these days, this was a great reminder of a time before we held meets for money instead of fun.

    Eddie Current

    As a longtime Changstar/SBAF resident, I would be remiss to not hit the Eddie Current table after years of threads and discussions about their products. Manning the table in a solitary corner was Craig Uthus, who seemed quite reserved as I asked to listen to the setup he brought.

    In front of me was the Studio of forum lore, resplendent with its Comic Sans faceplate font, and a vintage Moth DAC as the source. Ever since the rave (and more recently, less enthused) reviews have been landing, this was the equipment I was most excited to try of them all. Listening with a pair of HD800s, I was blown away by the sheer clarity of the sound, and the gobs of resolution popping up effortlessly in my head. While the Stellaris was a step up from what I was accustomed to, this was an entirely different proposition in technical prowess. The staging was seemingly endless with both width and depth, and instrument separation was laser precise. Tonality here for me was spot on, an almost solid state type of sound without the top end deficiencies or the staging weaknesses of solid state. The bass was tight and grippy and fully extended, and the airiness it could convey was stunning. As someone who prioritizes dynamics and get-out-of-the-way characteristics, this amp came closest of anything I had heard to my ideal, and it was hard for me to put the headphones down. I could see how some might find it lean sounding for a tube amp, but the Studio checked all of my personal boxes.

    As I got visibly excited by the music, Craig seemed to notice, and became more animated observing my expressions of wonderment. When I finally managed to yank off the headphones and compliment him on the gear, the floodgates opened, and my initial impression of him as a reticent recluse quickly faded. Chatting with him about transformers and amplifier design was a delight, and I probed more about the Moth DAC, which I had not seen before. It supposedly imparted a bit of warmth, which might have helped with the supposed complaints of leanness about the Studio.

    I am hugely grateful for the opportunity to meet Craig and listen to his finest work thus far, and would strongly encourage people at the next meet or in the general area of Calabasas to drop by and experience this boutique institution.

    MrSpeakers

    Next to Craig’s table was Dan Clarke of MrSpeakers fame, which was highly popular throughout the duration of the meet. Unlike with most of the people at the meet, this was not the first time we had met, as I had seen him and spent a good amount of time sitting down with him and @mrweirdude at the Hong Kong AV Show earlier this year. As he was back then, he was exceptionally approachable and friendly about his gear; eager to receive feedback about the sound and discuss his modding and tuning process.

    This time, he had rather less humble gear to try his headphones with, namely a Cavalli Liquid Crimson, a Mojo Audio DAC, and notably an Ether Flow fitted with the Ether Electrostat earpads. These earpads put the driver closer to the ear, and made a pretty significant difference with regard to the overall character of the headphone. Where I previously categorized the Ether Flow as a fuller, more V-shaped sounding headphone compared to the original Ether, the pad rolling pushed them further into warmer territory while also filling out the midrange somewhat, a weakness of the Ether Flow with the usual pads. The net impact on the sound was making it much more agreeable, easily surpassing his T50RP products in smoothness and cleanliness. However, compared to some of the other rigs present, it still came off sounding somewhat compressed and lacking in dynamism, and ultimately left me wanting.

    I make no bones about not being a fan of the Ether C, both the original and the Flow variant, and even with the better upstream gear here I found it thin sounding in the lower mids. This is something I’ve discussed with Dan in Hong Kong, and is a characteristic of the tuning he opted for with the limitations of a closed-back headphone. While I was not enamored with it, a number of others at the show clearly were, and they fill a niche in the sparse high-end closed back market that people are exploring.

    ECP Audio

    Where Craig’s marvelous equipment had always been a bit out of reach for a relative latecomer like me, Doug Savitsky of ECP Audio’s products gave me the opportunity to have a taste of proper tube sound at a very approachable price. I first interacted with Doug when I was looking for a suitable contender for my first tube amp build, and emailed him about his L-2 amplifier build. He advised me to keep my powder dry for his yet-to-be released Torpedo 3 instead, and save a substantial amount of money. I ended up buying the Torpedo 3 kit, alongside the other happy users on SBAF, and I am endlessly grateful for the tip.

    Here, Doug brought an updated DHSA, as well as a new design, a solid state triode topology amp tentatively named the DSST. Doug is all about interesting new topologies, and I am always interested to hear what he has cooked up next. Talking about this latest design, Doug gave a shoutout to my friend Jon (@peef), who contributed to the DSST’s conception. The amps came with Doug’s trademark casework: a gorgeous wood/aluminium case with clean lines and a slick general aesthetic. They were easily the best looking amps in the room, and caught a lot of attention from people who had not previously seen them before.

    Unfortunately, by the time I got to the ECP gear, the DHSA had left the building, so I only managed to listen to the DSST. Doug did not bring any DACs with him, so I would like to thank Hyono, who was kind enough to park his Chord DAVE there for use with it. Even with the DAVE as the source, however, I found the DSST excessively warm sounding, veering into the territory of sounding slow and syrupy at times. While not otherwise tonally offensive, it was not engaging to me in the way Doug’s other amps were.

    Schiit

    Walking around with all the Yggdrasils, Ragnaroks, and Gungnir Multibits that people brought, not to mention Jason Stoddard roaming around the room frequently, I had a really hard time figuring out where the actual official Schiit table was. Little did I know that the unassuming Magni variant/Modi Multibit rig near the middle of the room was it.

    Sitting at the table, a couple of things about the stack seemed out of the ordinary. First, it was connected to a laptop’s USB output, but the input being used was one of the SPDIF options, and there seemed to be an additional Modi/Wyrd next to the stack. Second, all the units seemed to be plugged into this rather industrial looking power supply rather than the usual wall warts. Curious as I was, Jason was absent from the table to answer questions about it when I was there, so I went right ahead with listening.

    Using a pair of HD800s, I was pleasantly surprised by the punchy, organic sound that emerged. “This doesn’t sound like the usual Magni/Modibit rig” I thought, as it did not exhibit the slight steeliness in the treble that I was expecting, and the staging quality was remarkably good for such a modest rig. With so many unknowns, I am not sure what to attribute the improvements to, though I can imagine how the power supply and input could be influencing the sound.

    Talking to Jason later as the meet was wrapping up, there was little forthcoming about the new mystery boxes, but whatever he has done should be a worthwhile pickup for the many Schiit owners out there. Jason also brought a more-or-less production version of the Saga single-ended preamp, and a prototype of the Vidar power amp, neither of which I could make use of at the Schiit table, but I did hear in other interesting configurations here.

    Assorted Experiences

    Aside from the vendors in the main room, there was a sizable member presence with a huge array of cool gear, and I would be leaving out a lot of the meet experience if I did not mention them in this report.

    One setup I eyeballed and made a note to visit was Kevin and David’s table, with the Gungnir Multibit hooked up to a couple of marquee tube amps, the Ampsandsound Kenzie and the Eddie Current 4-45. They were more than happy to let me listen in, and were very accommodating with my back and forth comparisons between the amps. Once again using HD800s, I started with the 4-45, an amp I have been extremely keen to try for some time. I had heard a great deal about how the 45 tube has a particularly sweet rendering of treble, and here it lived up to that reputation with an amazingly clear but smooth top end. The 4-45 also possessed the other good characteristics of the transformer coupled Eddie Current amps, such as large, holographic staging and tightly controlled bass. The slight leanness of the amp synergized perfectly with the Gungnir’s tonal characteristics, and was definitely one of the highlights of the show.

    By comparison (arguably slightly unfair), the Kenzie was distinctly less impressive. I heard a bit of sibilance in the treble, and the bass was definitely fatter sounding and less clear. Coupled with the contrast between the 4-45’s terrific staging and significant technical superiority, I did not find myself enjoying the Kenzie very much.

    With the meet nearing an end, I bumped into Marv again, who was carrying the Vidar prototype. This reminded me of the need to visit speaker room, and Marv kindly obliged to put the Vidar back into his speaker rig for me to listen to. He had brought his Altec Lansing back loaded horn speakers, using the Vidar for power and the Saga for volume control. Given the competitive price point of the Vidar, I was extremely impressed with how capable it was in terms of resolving ability and drive characteristics. Tonally the rig was coherent, and its best quality was the sense of immediacy and dynamism it was able to convey. The only sore spot was a bit of upper midrange grain, part of which can be attributed to the Vidar.

    The big surprise of this session was how excellent the Saga performed as a pre-amp, especially at the price it is going for. As a purely passive volume control, it was definitely in the ballpark for good transparency, and the remote control at that price was a huge quality of life perk. The active hybrid buffer stage which also comes included was also impressive in compromising little of the transparency, while notably smoothing out a bit of that upper midrange trouble I heard. I will definitely be picking one of them up when they launch, and I anticipate I won’t be alone in that.

    While I wasn’t able to listen to Gaurav and Adam’s setup in the room, it was great to meet them at last, and ogle the gorgeous EAR gear they had brought. As someone looking to get started in the world of speakers, this listening experience was a great piece of education, and helped me narrow down my choices on which direction to take while going down that cavernous rabbit hole.

    Shenanigans

    With many of the attendees having cleared out, it was time for us to try some less serious experiments with the gear. The big event here was hauling the Vidar over to Jason’s HE-6 table for a shootout between it and his Krell as HE-6 amps. With such a yawning divide between them in price, we wondered how stark the audible differences would be in this rather unusual role for the amps. As it turns out, the Krell had a clear edge in bass authority and control, and sounded notably more refined in the upper mids, whereas the Vidar struggled at times to maintain that kind of grip, and exhibited some of the Schiit characteristic upper midrange glare. Still, all things considered, the Vidar performed admirably in the role, easily outperforming several other similarly priced power amps and even some higher priced headphone amps as a HE-6 amp, and should be considered by those wishing to follow Jason’s (insane) approach to driving it.

    I also got to hang out with Bill (@Bill-P), the resident Audio Deity around these parts for his online demeanor. He is a huge headphone modding buff, and we discuss the topic regularly. At his request, I brought my (formerly his) mostly stock HE-5 headphones to compare with his other heavily modded pair on his rig. Trying them out of his GOV2 and Jotunheim, his pair were definitely better behaved in the upper mids and a bit punchier in the bass. More surprisingly though, his pair were discernibly more efficient, which gave me some insight into what exactly he had done with them. However, Bill does not share his secrets so easily, so I will patiently wait till the mood strikes him to mod my HE-5s.

    Regrets

    With so little time and so many setups, there were always going to be things I would miss out on. Here I will list them along with a brief set of thoughts:

    1. The LH Labs Revive: I had heard many good things about this USB solution, and with them being so scarce out in the wild, I deeply regret not being able to try it for myself here.

    2. Audio Zenith Audio: Alex and I have traded forum barbs, but his headphones are well-regarded by the community, and I only managed a brief listen on them before rushing elsewhere. The PMX-2 was a tremendous improvement over the original Oppos, with a smoothness across the spectrum that I had not expected from a planar. They had clean bass and a good sense of air, and my only complaint would be the slightly warm tilt to them and a lack of dynamism (which was far from deal-breaking). A great pair of cans to relax to.

    3. Socializing: While I did get to hang out with many of you guys, I could not get substantial time with everyone, especially the guys back in the speaker room. Hopefully we can get that done the next time I am in town. It was also unfortunate that Nick and Justin could not make it to the event, as I was really excited to be able to meet them.

    4. Booze: I was so busy, by the time I got myself to the bourbon bottle, it was completely drained. Dammit guys! At least I got my drink on post-election.
    Conclusion

    By all accounts, this was a roaring success of a meet. Beyond the gear, which was at an excellent level, what really made it work was the sense of friendship that filled the room. Unlike at other meets, we were not like strangers sheepishly asking to try each other’s gear, and happily helped each other out when problems arose, such as with the dud Gungnir and manning tables. This was a throwback to a different time with audio meets, before getting inundated with sales solicitations and crowds of strangers were the norm, and we all enjoyed it so much more for that fact.

    With the landscape changes over at some other forums, I feel like the art of community building had withered away somewhat, with the forum turning into either an incoherent mob or a highly exclusive inner circle that did not do much outreach. With the mix of the attendees at this event, I feel like we are on the right track with being just welcoming enough with new people to ease them in, while retaining our distinct personality.

    There really is a thing to be said about being able to interact with each other in person, and this event gave credence to that. I would like to thank Marv and the other organizers for putting in the massive effort to make this event happen, and giving us the opportunity to be part of it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2016
  3. HitmanFluffy

    HitmanFluffy I like free handies! - Friend

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    Pics incoming.
     
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  4. HitmanFluffy

    HitmanFluffy I like free handies! - Friend

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    Addendum

    To the randos who came but just crowded with one another in the middle of the room: For guys in your position in the hobby, the purpose of these meets is to get to know us regulars, as well as try things you normally would not be able to afford right now. While it might seem uncomfortable to socialize outside of your circles, we don't bite. Also, by trying gear that is ostensibly close to or at the top of the pile, you will understand what exactly we are paying for, and know just how much mileage you can get out of the next one, two, three, or even four grand you might throw into this hobby. I was in your shoes not too long ago, and comforting as it is to think your HD650 and value DAC/Amp are the pinnacle, you will be better off and less likely to pay over the odds for upgrades if you try the products of our experience.
     
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  5. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    Impressive review! Great work! :bow:
     
  6. BrettMatthews

    BrettMatthews Friend

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    Excellent write up, really makes me sad that I wasn't able to make it out to the meet. Here's to hoping that there is another one next year!
     
  7. uncola

    uncola Friend

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    Couple of corrections.. you call the saga the freya once and you call audio zenith zmf. Otherwise fantastic write up. Good to know the dsst sounds like that. Maybe I dodged a bullet when I changed my mind about pf building me an amp ;)
     
    AustinValentine likes this.
  8. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Unpaid LH Labs volunteer - Admin

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    Thanks for taking the time to fly out to the meet and write this up. This is GREAT content :)
     
    Wilson likes this.
  9. dsavitsk

    dsavitsk Friend

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    The SST I brought was designed around the HD800's. But having just picked up some Elears, I agree that it is not a great combination with the Focals in the same way as the DSHA2&3 are. However, a few operating point changes should fix that.
     
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  10. Out Of Your Head

    Out Of Your Head Friend

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    What no Out Of Your Head mentioned? That's OK, we get no respect. :p
     
  11. HitmanFluffy

    HitmanFluffy I like free handies! - Friend

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    Ah that does make sense. Had I known that the perspective would have been a bit different, and I would have tried them with HD800s.

    My bad man, I'll write that in tomorrow.
     

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