2015 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest Impressions

Discussion in 'The Meeting Place' started by velvetx, Sep 28, 2015.

  1. audiofrk

    audiofrk Guest


    Tyll how do they compare against the paradox?

    Hands feel free to chime in.
     
  2. velvetx

    velvetx Gear Master West/Vendor Spotlight Moderator

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    I think I saw hands and jexby over there testing it out yesterday. I'll hit up the booth after lunch.
     
  3. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    Some fails.................

    Sennheiser HD 630VB congested, plasticy construction and ..............just yuk

    Pioneer SE Master 1 headphones - okay they are pretty good sounding, but do we really need another pretty good sounding $2500 headphone?

    Mytek Manhattan- still too bright of a dac or is that the Abyss

    Wilson Audio Sabrina speakers- I never heard a speaker make a cymbal sound so fake or maybe it was the VTL

    And in the I was expecting worse department, the Beyerdynamic DT-1770 pro- no treble peak, bassy, not as open in the mids nor as resolving as I would like but not nearly as bad as some might make them out to be. Still not worth $600.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2015
  4. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    Re; Soekris portable

    I liked it, smooth as silk, weird volume though, it is continuously variable and I had to turn it several times around the clock to get it turned up.
     
  5. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    Guess they won't be listening to Garbage then..............................

    hahahaha, the band ......Shirley Manson..........

    Reminds me of the days when hifi companies used Direct to Disk vinyl and all others were crap

    how many times can you hear Thelma Houston or Harry James.............. without barfing..hey what happened to that smilie?
     
  6. Maxvla

    Maxvla Friend

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    Main reason I like my customs is they go in instantly, and once in, I never have to futz with them like I do constantly with universals. Also, I don't have to buy and replace comply tips all the time.
     
  7. Colgin

    Colgin Friend

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    Please tell us how you really feel. Seriously though, nice impressions on everything and appreciate you telling it like it is with respect to something you didn't like. Definitely in the spirit of this site (not to slam, but to be forthright and, if necessary, brutal). You should post your impressions over on Head-Fi as well. Not to be inflammatory but to be a necessary corrective to the inevitable hype train that will invariably leave the station for anything new from Audeze. And I say this as someone who generally enjoys their cans.
     
  8. insidious meme

    insidious meme Ambivalent Kumquat

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    Tell them to go suck [​IMG] . There isn't enough native DSD stuff out there, and most everything else is upsampled. For me, not worth the effort to be on the lookout for a piece of equipment that absolutely must have DSD ability.
     
  9. velvetx

    velvetx Gear Master West/Vendor Spotlight Moderator

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    I am about to write my day three impressions as I just got back. I swear I didn't mean to be at the show this long but there were some booths I had to revisit and some things I had to relisten to.

    In regards to head-fi yah I have read about people ordering and the hype train is definitely present regarding the LCD-4. I rather write for people that appreciate what I say and can be constructive rather than just completely dump your opinion because it's not like theirs. I will probably write some things on there but if you have seen any opinions from the meet on their website they have definitely been different from how I write on here.
     
  10. insidious meme

    insidious meme Ambivalent Kumquat

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    What's sad is I've already identified the main LCD-4 fluffer over there. [​IMG]
     
  11. velvetx

    velvetx Gear Master West/Vendor Spotlight Moderator

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    Day Three Impressions:

    The final frontier has arrived. I am glad that you liked my impressions of the show so far. I know it was a big wall of text and I will have a short excerpt after the final impressions of what I thought was best in show. A few interesting personalities I ran into while I was at the show was Michael Mercer and one of the reviewers from headphone guru who looked like he was walking with a harem of asian girls (don't ask you had to see the interaction between him, the girls, and Bruce Ball from Questyle). I also ran into Mike Moffat who is hilarious if you had never met him in person.

    I wanted to compare the Audio Zenith PMx2 and the Enigmacoustics Dharma (there was no rep for the Dharma so I don't know and forgot to ask if it was the production model :( ). So I stopped by the Audio Zenith booth and spoke with Alex again. Had a good time the one thing I thought was odd that he had mentioned was the for the PMx2 he created his own listening curve. I would be really interested to hear what others think because he had mentioned that he might be doing something that implements his curve for all headphones (maybe computer software or through DSP) I listened to his curve with the HD800 and they sounded fantastic. I had the same impressions as I did yesterday on the higher end systems he was running (Yggdrasil rag then his custom setup). Then I listened through the USB Geek Out (unknown version) and I noticed some things that didn't sound correct to me. It was sounded like some noticable distortion in the midrange to high range. One thing to note was that after further speaking with Alex the pricepoint seems to make sense in the aspect that he has an interesting earcup concept which was implemented into the PMx2. I wouldn't do it justice trying to explain it but basically this ear cup enhances the listening experience.

    I finally got around to the JDS Labs booth and tried out the Element dac/amp. I liked the element more than the "legendary" o2 dac/amp. From my impressions it was able to drive the headphones at the table (wish i remembered the name of the phones I listened to but I don't off the top of my head). They didn't have the HD800 on hand at the table because I would have really like to tested their power implementation with them to see if they could drive them. One of the things I noticed was that the noise floor is pretty low. Keep in mind it may have been because it wasn't driving more power demanding headphones but I couldn't detect any extra noise added to the system. It sounded quite neutral actually but a more overall enjoyable listen than the o2 dac/amp.

    Next stop was the Hifiman booth. Now I know that people wanted to know the difference between the HE 560 and the HEX. I will say this in my opinion I found the HEX to bring out more details of the music and to be more tonally accurate than the 560. The HEX also had what I thought was the proper bass slam and sound stage for the types of music I listen to. The detailing of the instruments was excellent and the vocals sounded great. I hope this helps I found the same impressions between the HE1K and the HEX as I wrote yesterday. HEX is fun has good bass extension while the HE1K sounded more focused on tonal balance of vocals and instruments on things like classical music and jazz.

    Again IEMs are going to one place I only listened to a few so this will be much shorter. I went to 1964 Ears booth and listened to their new Adel product. I started with their 8 driver which I didn't like. I felt that there was too much going on and everything was too together for my tastes (meaning the instruments sometime overlapped the natural vocals and the sometimes the vocals blared out the instruments. I think tried their 6 driver model. This one sounded much better when I compare then to the 6 driver Noble I found that the Noble pulled out a bit more of the details from the track and had a little better bass slam than the Adel. The guy there said listen to the 12 driver model I told him about my experience with the 10 driver Noble and explained that there is too much going on for me to really enjoy the music. I ended up listening to them anyway and I was not disappointed. For a 12 driver IEM this thing sounded amazing. It pulled out details and the bass was dialed very well but the thing that shocked me the most is how well the sound stage was put together. Now that was subjectively speaking. Objectively speaking the price for those IEMs was $1600 so those are definitely a no go for me. I relistened to the Noble 6 after hearing the 12 driver 1964 and still felt that the music for me was more enjoyable with the Noble 6 ($1000 unforunately still a no go for me). My final destination on the IEM highway was Final Design Audio (yes they make a $2K+ headphone and a $4K+ titanium housing headphone I did not listen to it). Being honest I don't know how they are in business since the last two iterations the Heaven VI and VII were absolutely to me unlistenable. The Heaven VI had a treble problem (way too high) while the VII had a bass problem (not present). I listened to the FI-BA-SS don't get me wrong I like bass but this had too much bass which to me was also unlistenable. Finally I tried the new Heaven VIII. I thought this sounded great at first because I was using my DX90 (doesn't create a good sound stage) but luckily the guys at Questyle let me use one of their QP1Rs to test out the VII's and what I noticed was a more muddled sound. I listened ot the tracks and it just seem that the music was a bit distorted and the music wasn't as accurate as when I listened through my DX90. I learned for the first time that the DX90 seems to color the music to make it more enjoyable I guess. To me that is pretty disappointing with how much smooth it adds. Anyway thanks to Questyle I didn't purchase the Final Audio Design Heaven VIII's and for good reason.

    Then I had some lunch at the Marriot Bar in the hotel.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2015
  12. velvetx

    velvetx Gear Master West/Vendor Spotlight Moderator

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    After lunch my first stop by request was the Soekris booth. They are designed in Denmark and claim thier product is portable. It's not pocket portable I assure you as it's very wide but thin. They are a R2R Discreet Dac and actually is USB powered (so you can power it through your laptop). I didn't really get to listen to what I wanted but it did sound good. I used the setup powered by the HD-650 and they sounded really good. Bass was punchy, vocals were on point. I mean it's the HD-650 so I expected it to sound good. I believe the price was $650.

    Since I hadn't had a chance to listen to the portable by Cavalli I went over there again and I was impressed once again by the music quality. I don't know maybe it's just the sound signature but with the songs I listened to on it I felt at times like I was listening to an ortho. To confirm this I listened to Megadeth Symphony of Destruction and wow it was fast on point. The bass was punchy and the vocals just gave you a slap in the face. Hands I hope you had the opportunity to listen if not man I will probably get one as Alex said he thinks the product will be under $700. This product is what I called portable may be a little heavy but it's the more of the right size than the Soekris. One thing I wanted to mention was that at the Cavali table I saw some modded HE-560s by Stillhart from the head-fi community (I swear he was on Changstar maybe I am wrong). I thought they much better (better bass extension not as boring sounding as I found the HE-560s to be compared to the HEX). The outer housing had been changed out and there was some type of foam in the cups.

    Listened to the LCD-4s again today my impression stands.

    I went to the Questyle booth again because I am really interested in their QP1R and listened to them with the Dharma. I revert my statement about Audio Zenith possibly being my next can after listening to these I have to say they sounded magnificent. Great open sound stage, good bass, good natural vocal and instrumental tones. I felt these were also slightly faster in sound production with the faster tracks like Judas Priest Breaking the Law. The shootout for me might be the Dharma (production model) vs the HEX. I also listened to the QP1R and will be making the purchase (they claim that you should not amp the player and it will drive any headphone. I will test this later in Torrance at A/V solutions event).

    I went back to the Fostex booth and just wanted to give everyone the scoop on the MK3 series. The T50RP is a semi open back headphone, the T40RP is a closed back headphone, while the T20RP is an open back headphone. You can purchase any one of these fine devices for $160-$170. My favorite was the T20RP because I like open back headphones better. I felt the sound stage and bass slam for me were more apparent in this model and made me wanting to just sit there forever and jam out. In regards to the T50RP vs the T40RP. That is honestly preference but I prefered the sound quality and imaging of the T50RP better than the T40RP. I just think for me to closed back is too constricting on the sound stage and sometimes causes the bass to be over or underwhelming.

    Finally as I know a lot of people lost faith in Beyerdynamics (for good reason) they never can seem to make a good headphone that resonates well with non Beyer lovers. I don't know maybe there are some here but personally I don't like them as they either have too much of one thing and not enough of another. Anyway onto the DT-1770 Pro. I listened to them and was actually impressed. Gone was the booming bass and replaced was something that was much tighter and more punchy. I would say a lot more accurate sounding. The sound stage was excellent and handled multiple instruments surprisingly well. Whatever they did to the Tesla 2 they did right in my opinion. Next I listened to their flagship model the T1 with the new Tesla driver and it sounded also pleasing. It didn't sound to me as good as the DT 1770 partially because it was to neutral for me but I played Money by Pink Floyd and the sound separation and vocal quality was very well done. I felt listening to other tracks that the highs might be either a tad too high or a little exaggerated but overall for me it lacked the bass signature I enjoy in listening to rock and roll tracks so it definitely was a no for me. Is the DT-1770 priced correctly between $600-700 bucks maybe when comparing to the price of T1 but not what their standard line consists of. The DT 1770 I listend to was 250 ohms.

    Thanks again for reading and again I will say these were just my impressions go out and find some yourself and report back. I hope you find this helpful and now onto the best in show post.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2015
  13. velvetx

    velvetx Gear Master West/Vendor Spotlight Moderator

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    I wanted to give everyone a fair shake as to what I thought was good and not. There will also be a worst of show which I will list. Thanks again for reading and I hope more people post their impressions.

    Best of Show Headphones
    #1 Abyss
    #2 HEX and Enigmacoustics Dharma (I really need to listen to these side to side as I think they are very close but if you force me to choose I think Dharma wins because of the pricepoint).
    #3 Audio Zenith PMx2 (with proper amp/dac setup this was a winner)

    Best of Show IEMs
    #1 Noble Audio 6
    #2 1964 Ears Adel Universal 12 driver Model
    #3 UM Pro 20 (I thought this was a great value and might pick up a pair in the future)

    Best of Show DAC
    #1 Yggdrasil/Gungnir Multibit (Schiit is the undisputed winner here and I will tell you why at thier price point I think they are excellent values as well as can be upgraded call me a fanboy here but honestly how many other high end DACS do you know that are upgradable)
    #2 Vi Dac (this DAC sounded reallly good paired with the HE1Ks)

    Best of Show Amplifiers
    #1 Cavalli Audio Liquid Gold Balanced SS (I listened to music through the Abyss with this amp in a way I hadn't heard it before which for me was a positive it picked up things that I had never heard before in certain recordings)
    #2 Schiit Ragnarok (listening to the HE1K, HD800 and Audio Zenith PMX2 this amp sounded great and gave me new hope with the HD800 being an option)
    #3 Cavalli Audio Carbon (at this price point I don't think there is a better solid state amp maybe I am wrong but for me at the show this was my pick)

    Best of Show Portable Amps
    #1 Cavalli Audio Portable (sorry I forgot the name but this thing sounded amazing)
    #2 ALO Audio Dual Mono Continental
    #3 Soekris (another great pick was close but Cavalli I thought sounded superior in every way bass, tonal balance, speed, soundstage, and detail)

    Best of Show DAP
    #1 Questyle QP1R (to me this is the DAP to beat for $899 I liked it better than anything on the AK table)
    #2 AK Jr (I felt that this little badass though has limited capabilities sounded better than both 120 and 240)

    Best of Show Budget (I added this section in because though I didn't think certain things might have sounded as good as much more expensive items I wanted to mention them because they deserved their proper kudos).
    #1 Fostex MK3 Series Headphones (I wanted to add this in a special place because to me for the $170 price point they should be mentioned. In fact they are so cheap I would suggest people who listened to them at the show buy them and bring them to the next meet and see the reactions).
    #2 Schiit Multibit Bifrost (no question about it for a DAC with multibit it deserves to be here at that pricepoint)

    Worst of Show (yes we had to have this)
    #1 Audeze (LCD-4)
    #2 Kennerton Audio (Odin and Magister)
    #3 Audioquest (Nighthawk)
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2015
  14. Maxvla

    Maxvla Friend

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    Nice impressions Velvetx. Can you comment on soundstage Dharma vs HD800? My main area of interest is forward stage projection and how complete it is from side to side, ie no gaps, as well as the stage's depth and layering front to back. Both of these traits I find only acceptable on HD800s for the most part.
     
  15. bozebuttons

    bozebuttons Friend

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    Enjoyed reading your impressions,I was unable to make RMAF this year,went last year.
     
  16. velvetx

    velvetx Gear Master West/Vendor Spotlight Moderator

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    I am going to Torrance, CA for an event with the Dharma (Questyle is hosting and they said the Dharma will be there and if it's a real shop it should have the HD-800 so I will conduct this test there).

    In regards to the HD800 I honestly think their soundstage is second to none. I can fault them for not being what I like because of my music tastes but not their sound stage, accuracy of music, and instrumental accuracy. For this I still think they are the kings in that regard and especially at that price point.
     
  17. Judeus

    Judeus Facebook Friend

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    nice, thanks velvetx for the impessions

    I am actually really excited to try the dharmas and hex
     
  18. JK47

    JK47 Guest

    Nice write ups velvetx, thanks for sharing |\/|
     
  19. JK47

    JK47 Guest

    Are you going to test the T20's and T40's as well? That would be a cool comparison.
     
  20. MuppetFace

    MuppetFace Sultana of Seafoam Green - Moderator

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    Thanks for your detailed impressions, velvetx!

    I'm with you on the Abyss and Cavalli gear; that's been my main headphone rig for a while now. Just wish the Abyss was less unruly to use lmao.
     

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