2022 Texas Audio Roundup

Discussion in 'The Meeting Place' started by purr1n, Jul 21, 2022.

  1. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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    I hate all this bullshit. Ii wish we could all just have fun together.
     
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  2. purr1n

    purr1n Desire for betterer is endless.

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  3. rhythmdevils

    rhythmdevils MOT: rhythmdevils audio

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  4. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Are we allowed to discuss H-F meetings here?

    Yes! Because we're grown-ups.

    Wait... I didn't join Changstar/SBAF to be a grown-up! :eek:
     
  5. penguins

    penguins Friend, formerly known as fp627

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    A little late with this post - I've been pretty busy with the day job since I've got back.

    First and foremost, thank you to those who made things much easier in the Zampotech room:

    - A huge thank you to @famish99 for the Wavedream DAC, DDC, amp, and other gear he loaned and for helping in the room when it got busy, grabbing food, and some fine drinks
    - @purr1n for extra gear and @Erroneous for an extra amp and assisting with the logistics for the Zampotech and rhythmdevils tables.
    - @netforce for the advice you gave me leading up to the show
    - Once again, to @schiit and Emotiva for hosting a great show for FREE
    EDIT: How did I forget... @zach915m for an Atrium and a surprise Verite through CeeTee

    Other thoughts, musings, and happenings during the show:
    - Congrats to ETA and Cee Tee for your success at the show!
    - As mentioned earlier in this thread, good headphone gear, especially in the sub $1000 range, has come a long way since 2010ish. I think it's one thing for us to see this play out and another to suddenly realize it all. Even more amazingly, it didn't take a huge show to realize this.
    - It was also interesting to see and listen to different people talk about how they approach, view, and hear music and gear differently. I have mentioned this before, but it was interesting to correlate this to explanations from my audiologist on measurable differences between how different people hear and subconsciously process sound... in other words, objectively measurable subjective differences".
    - Once again and also on a comparative note, it was interesting to hear how everything compared in the DAC off. For a brief moment I wished I had a better understanding of the engineering and theoretical side of DSP beyond the basics so I could try to make some more educated correlations to the different sound signatures we heard. Or, maybe it's like amplifier design where the theory doesn't necessarily correlate to what we actually perceive and hear. Perhaps someone on SBAF with a strong DSP background could give a nice tutorial one day...
    - I didn't get to experience "Austin live music" on this trip, but if we have another meet here... a night of live music night or a jazz club / lounge crawl would be fun.
    - I continue to be impressed by how good a lot of the food in Austin and the surrounding areas is for a city of it's size. With regards to BBQ, we missed out on Louie Mueller during this trip... but I did get to go down to Lockhart again to hit multiple BBQ joints in a very small area (I could almost fly to Austin for a day trip just to do this...), have Interstellar and Rollin' Smoke in the city, and have one final meal at Black's (Austin location) on Saturday :)

    Some thoughts on gear at the show: Note that I only got to listen to most of the below for 10 minutes in show conditions, so I'm treating these as "worthy of further exploration" rather than a definitive conclusion.

    - Audeze room - I liked the mm500 and the LCD5 at this show. The LCD5 also sounded different this than the first iteration of the LCD5 I heard as well (I know the initial impressions here were not that favorable). Overall, the drivers in both sounded cleaner and faster than other Audeze I'm familiar with. Both were also much more comfortable than many past Audeze headphones such as the LCD2, 3, etc, even with my big head and klingon ridge.
    - Dan Clark gear was already very ergonomic and comfortable, but the Stealth took it to the next level. Probably the most comfortable production headphone I've worn to date. One other thing that I found really interesting which Dan mentioned to me - the Stealth was meant to emulate live music. He succeeded.
    - Obviously biased because I have one, but yes, the Stellaris is amazing. It's unfortunate it went down and more people didn't get to hear it... but seriously, for those of you who haven't heard it, it's worth a listen if you can make it happen.
    - I wrote about ext1 's JAR HD800 and Bill-P 's HD800 driver based headphone in post #135 already
    - I'm not very familiar with most Grado headphones as they don't fit my big head very well, but I did listen @purr1n 's Grado 325x on the SW51 and it was a really good pairing. Could easily be another recommended very recommended headphone pairing along with the HD600 and HD650/6xx.
    - Unfortunately I didn't have that much time to listen to the @schiit stuff but I did briefly hear folkvangar and pretty much what others are saying - some of the best bass I've heard out of any headphone amp period. Heft, slam, and prescence ALL at once while also being very clear sounding, crisp separation between instruments / sounds, clean transient attack and decay, and great texture in the bass. Would love to see bass like this in other Schiit gear in the future.
    - Similarly, I did briefly hear the BF2/64 and Lyr 3 for about 2 min each, but both with unfamiliar chains so I couldn't isolate the sound. I didn't hear anything that stood out as wrong or annoying with either of these though. Saw but didn't get to hear the Modi 2 MB.
    - I liked the sound of purrin's modded Modi 1 MB - not only did it have a denser vintage sound, it also had something in the sound reminiscent to me of a tape reel setup. I may have to buy one now...
    - Didn't get to listen to Magnepan as the room was pretty booked.
    - Didn't get to spend much time in the ETA or EC rooms or see anything Emotiva downstairs due to lack of time. However, I did notice a few (I think) non SBAF people bringing ETA headphones to try on the SW51 and them being really happy with the sound.
    - I only spent about 2 mintues in the Nitsch room on the Piety, but the 2 minutes I spent were 2 minutes well spent. My brief impressions more or less match everyone else's.
    - @rhythmdevils stuff has already been talked about, but I definitely want to hear the LCD-X again based on how good the LCD-X was on erroneous 's setup. I don't think I had time to try it in the Nitsch room with the Liquid Gold X so I can't compare directly against what others heard. However, as others have already said and I agree, if you really don't like planar, RD LCD-X won't convert you as it still sounds mostly like a planar headphone, but if you are even OK with or enjoy planar, then these are a must try. The FR is pretty even and neutral, the overall sound is cleaner and less thick (more like newer Audeze headphones), and the bass was much tighter with better slam and heft vs stock LCD-X.

    I may have missed a few things, but overall, great show. Would enjoy another Texas Audio event or perhaps one in north San Diego County as @Gazny and I mused about at the airport if Schiit decides to expand the event... or any particular member feels like they want to put a meet like this together.......
     
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  6. Souldriver

    Souldriver Almost "Made"

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    It is a little veiled at first, but reading through threads like this really exposes how nice, caring, and inclusive this community is. I am filled to the brim with FOMO and jealous of all of you that had the chance to listen to all the great gear I read about here.
     
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  7. Vansen

    Vansen Gear Master (retiring)

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    I flew in to Austin just to attend this event had a lot of fun. This was the best I’ve been to in the last five years and it felt like some of the old school meets - minus all of the enthusit set ups. I showed up with the goal of catching up with people first and listening to gear somewhere down the list. Even so, I got to listen to a lot gear that helped me decide which direction to go with my full size headphone set up and a DAC for my speakers.

    I’ve been traveling for work over the past week and haven’t had a chance to read SBAF or post impressions since then. Given my purpose for this trip, I didn’t write down any impressions, so I’m not going to go into too much detail on sound.

    Dan Clark Audio Stealth

    I’ve been out of touch with the direction of headphone releases over the past few years, part due to my hiatus and part due to a distaste of ever increasing headphones prices. In so many cases that I listen to a $2k-$5k headphone, I really want to send the developer of the headphones an HD650 with a note, “do you really think this is worth $3k more than the 20 year old HD650?” I didn’t see too much of that here, which made me happy.

    From that, I actually found Dan Clark’s Stealth pretty compelling. It’s a headphone that I would like to spend more time with at home to form a better opinion of. Regardless of how much I end up liking it, $4k is not something I’m willing to spend on a headphone - I’ll put that towards a DAC or speakers instead. However, in the short period I listened to it, it could be the best cross of closed back and planar that I’ve heard. It’s a very engaging headphone that loves being fed tons of power. Slap a Rag2 or Jot on it and you can have some real fun. This headphone does a really good job with fast and poorly mastered metal, especially if you want to crank it to ear splitting volumes. If I was a member of ORFAS, I could see my my daily driver as Utopia with the Stealth as second headphone for rock and movies.

    Focal Utopia (and HD600)

    I used to love hating on Focal headphones even though I love the way most of them sound. My only real issue with them is that the drivers have enough excursion that they can slap the housings at loud volumes with low frequency effects. I never listen to music that loud and don’t typically listen to music that can expose this fault. I’ve had a Focal clear for several years now and have gotten over that fault. The more I listen to headphones, the more I come to conclusion that the Utopia might be one of the best headphones for me. At some point over the next year, I’m may buy one on the use market.

    The HD600 has always been one of my favorite headphones and I always regret selling mine. If I could only have two headphones, it would be the HD600 and Utopia. This meet confirmed this for me. After the meet, @Erroneous sold me an HD600. Thanks!

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see myself with a HD580/ HD600/ Utopia, and then sell the rest of what I have.

    Focal Clear OG

    I have a Focal Clear that I listen to all of the time at home. Someone had the same Clear at the meet, but they put a pair of Dekoni Elite Fenestrated Sheepskin pads on them. This upped the bass just slightly and added some odd punchiness to the bass. It was still a compelling mod, even if it’s not for me. I take meet impressions with a grain of salt, so I decided to order a pair of Dekoni Elite Hybrid pads to try. I’m hoping the sound of the hybrid is somewhere between the OEM pads and the Fenestrated pads. I have no clue if I’ll like the pads, so don’t be surprised to see a FS add soon.

    Special Synergies

    Modi MB —> Nitsch Piety —> HD600

    This setup punches way above its price point and I doubt I could find another set up for under $1k that sounds this good. This does not sound like a typical SS set up. I had this setup with the HD6xx at my house for most of 2021 before @CEE TEE needed the amp back. It’s the real deal if you want a magni that leans toward the tube sound.

    Play with the gain settings on this amp. @CEE TEE should call it a flavor switch instead of a gain switch.

    Whenever I look back at photos, I always find the Clear or HD6xx plugged into the Piety Ignore the underwhelming Gustard stack I was testing.

    B286AB46-0C93-4980-AF81-A4866EBCA180.jpeg
    C932CE88-E8AA-4D91-9E10-716BF4D7E587.jpeg

    Gungnir —> ECP DSHA-3FN —> Marv modded HD650m

    Prior to this meet, I had not heard the DSHA-3F. After a first listen, I get why this amp has a cult following. This sounds more like a very clean tube amp than a typical SS amp. The HD650M has a fairly colored sound, but it pairs so well with this amp. It tightened up the sounds of the 650M and gave it a very engaging sound for pop, hip-hop, and anything with some energy to it. I am struggling to remember more about how this sounded. While it was a fun and memorable setup, it wouldn’t be a daily driver.


    Yggdrasil A2 —> EC Studio B —> Rhythmdevil’s LCD-4

    I don’t like the LCD-4. Forget the LCD-4 that Audeze was showing. Even when I listened to Whitney’s modded version, it was way to rich and lush for my tastes. At some point in the show, Marv started listening to the LCD-4 on the Studio B. Marv rarely pulls people into other rooms to listen to something, but I’m really glad he did. In turn, I pulled CEE TEE into the room for a listen. On this setup, I get it. The LCD-4 shines and pulls far ahead of the LCD-X. This set up has resolution and dynamics that I’m not used to hearing in a planar. The lushness was tamed and it opened up the headphone for a more balanced experience while feeling opening and airy. This is the setup that I hope @rhythmdevils can show off his LCD-4 with in the future. It’s a true treat.


    DAVE/ Mscaler —> DNA Starlett —> Utopia

    Yes. Just yes. This setup has my name written all over it. This has all of the resolution, macro and micro dynamics that I’m looking for while maintaining an airy and open sound. I listen to to a lot of female singer/ songwriter music and while this setup excels at everything I threw at it, it felt perfectly at home with my preferred genres. I would have bought the Starlett that day if it wasn’t for my EC ZDT.

    DACs

    The DAVE

    I suck at describing DACs, but my ears are very picky when it comes to DACs. There’s a reason I’m still rocking a Modi MB most of the time. Anytime a DAC shows up at my house I either hate it or it gets slapped around by my turntable. Up to this point, I keep pouring more money into my turntable, but I REALLY want a DAC that makes me happy.

    I have heard the DAVE several times before and have liked it each time I’ve heard it. In the past, I’ve never spent too much time with the DAVE because it’s price point made it responsibly unobtainable for me. These days, I can plan around a purchase like this, so I gave the DAVE as serious listen at this meet. The more I listened to it, the more I liked it. It was my favorite DAC at the meet. Something about this DACs distortion characteristics and detail separate it from every other DAC at the meet.

    I spent the last four years iterating on my turntable set up I currently have about the same amount of MSRP invested in my turntable as a DAVE costs. Perhaps I’m being a little unfair to the Yggdrasil or Holo Spring when comparing them next to my turntable. Even my wife and friends that came over could tell a difference between them and all preferred the turntable. I’m not sure that would be the case with the DAVE. I suspect the DAVE would be just as good, if not better.
     
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  8. joch

    joch Friend

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    If the Dekoni Fenestrated don’t quite sound right, there’s a mod to them. This involves mini drill bits used incrementally to enlarge the holes to tame the sound.
     
  9. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    Sounds simple enough, is it just that simple? The Clear with these pads Vansen heard was mine. I like it how it is, but it's my warmish bedside "easy listening" pair.

    I actually have wanted to use these same pads on the Utopia in my Yggdrasil>Starlett>Utopia chain, but unlike the Clear the Utopia FR is moved too much (too much bass boost, too much mid/treble reduction), as well as some microdetail smearing (relatively - it's still a Utopia).

    Maybe this mod is just what I need to get these pads to work for the Utopia...
     
  10. joch

    joch Friend

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    I don’t really recall where I actually read about it. I’ve done the mod a long time ago, and it’s something that works for me. (YMMV, etc applies.) I wish I know how to do measurements to confirm.

    @Vansen @crenca I can lend you my pair of Dekonis to try. (I’m living in Asia, so customs/logistics hassles apply)
     
  11. Lunk_Wray

    Lunk_Wray Obsessed with Headstage

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    ME: Hmm, If only the minor flaws and limitations of BF2> Lyr3 were improved a little, it'd be the perfect gear for me. Haha, a boy can dream.

    SCHIIT: Here ya go then, exactly what you asked for. Also, you can use it without the tube in summer.

    ME: Ok, sure, but the Piety is $149.99, and I hear tell of a new Modi Multibit?

    SCHIIT: *Slaps forehead*

    (I'm mostly joking about my screwed up analysis paralysis aproach to purchasing decisions here. Mostly).
     
  12. BarryT

    BarryT MOT: Austin Audio Works

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    I sincerely regret not making the show but the medical risk was too high. So what did I do with the time?

    As many of you know I have been working on a 100 watt version of the Black AMP. I built a 50-watt version which sounds great and was going to scale it up to 100 W into 8 ohms. Got boards and began to build, it has about 1000 output transistors and it is a pain to build. I felt that the law of diminishing returns has set in.

    One of the reasons for the great number of devices was that I wanted the F(t), the cutoff frequency of the transistors to be greater than 250 mHz. This ment many small devices rather than a few big one (bigger the chip size the lower the F(t), it's a silicon size issue).

    Then on Saturday afternoon, while you were plying the halls looking at gear, another epiphany hit. I conceptualized the output as a set of Current Cells and set the cell size at 4 amperes. This affords me almost a 100% overload safety factor in the cells. I can stack these current cells to get 4, 8, 12, 16 ampere outputs.

    But I needed the right pair of complementary transistors so I pounded the web and books looking for the right transistor set.

    Thank you Toshiba, for a 1.5Amp transistor set with an F(t) of over 120 MHz, woopie! Oversimplified 10 of these on a side is good for 15 amps a Cell, I need 4 worst case. I ordered 60 each (comp/sym pairs) for testing.

    I set the output voltage swing of 20+ VRS from the front-end current gain cell after it goes through the I-to E converter. One 'block' gives us 50 watts into an 8 ohm load at 2.5 Amps at 20 VRMS in a single ended configuration.

    Using a bridging approach (two amplifiers yielding a bridged balanced output) I get 40 VRMS(20 VRMS + 20 VRMS) output. Add a second pair of Current Cells to each output raises the current potential to 8 Amps. and we get 200 Watts (40 VRMS) into an 8 ohm load with a 5 amp current need.

    Now the killer.

    Add two more current cells and this all becomes 400-watt into 4 ohms needing 10 Amperes, three cells offer up 12 Amperes so there is still 20% current reserve PLUS the original almost 100% safety overload ability. Altogether this will mean as much as 1200 watts through the power line which is the upper prudent limit you want to see for household residential mains writing.

    Same circuit as the Black AMP, just more power.

    So I pivoted as they say, to a better direction, easier and quicker solution.

    Now I am off to find power transformers, need to separate power supplies, each fully regulated with the addition of capacity multipliers to assure pristine power regardless of the state of the mains power. Finally I have a very cool display in mind provide a unique picture of the operation of the amplifiers when pumping music to the speakers.

    Fun times, good day, damn it's hot here, +102 degrees for over 50 days and no rain, welcome to Texas

    --
    Barry
     
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  13. edd

    edd Almost "Made"

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  14. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Ah, cool. Thanks everyone for your impressions of the headphone I left with @CEE TEE!

    To be honest, I just wanted his thoughts on it for the most part but he thought the headphone was interesting enough to bring along to the meet.

    Since many have heard it now, here's FR measurement of that pair in case anyone is curious:
    [​IMG]

    And yeah, my target for this one is completely different from a typical HD800. I just wanted a "super HD650/580" rather than a "super HD800". So it is indeed its own headphone.

    P.S.: compared against coin-modded HD650 for reference:
    [​IMG]
     
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  15. crenca

    crenca Friend

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    Thanks for the measurements Bill-P. It confirms what my ears told me and what you were after, a "Super HD650" in FR. No wonder of the HD800 mods I heard at the show I liked yours the best ;)
     
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  16. econaut

    econaut Almost "Made"

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    What's the gear upstream of your Yggdrasil?
     
  17. Gazny

    Gazny MOT: ETA Audio

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    I want to preface this by saying it was my favorite audio related trip ever, thank you to Schiit and Emotiva for having an amazing show.

    Well, since it is a topic with a lot of criticism, I wanted to say I had a blast on the great dac off.
    Many dacs entered and many have been claimed to be dead in the water.
    Some will say, no it was the system. NO it was THE Room. It was too difficult, and I will say I have to agree, this is mostly a kind way of saying. It was the people in the room, and as a person in the room, I can only blame myself.

    No I wasn't rude, but I did not pick any "easy" track to demo. It seemed we all had picked difficult tracks, and at the end of the night I did sleep well.
    What it was is, we had a big group of audiophiles. Some with more varying interest. Some with very classical interest, and others with black or comedic interest. I have only shared part of the story but it was a great time, and it really gave me a lot of insight to my personal taste, the taste of others and what we do when we share impressions through a subjective lens.
    Truth be told, I struggle to finds words to describe what I liked about others interests in music.

    For me I quite like older blues recordings, these often are recoded on tin cans with very low budgets. But the music behind the veil of noise is what I try to look for in them. "Unlocking" them is my term for them. Grating tape noise and other things that will have many audiophiles screaming out of a room.
    And no my intention was not this, I apologize. I was just playing music I had saved on my phone.
    I have included a small clip from the event. volume warning, thank you @animus for preserving this moment.

    At the end of the dac off I would come out understanding why @purr1n enjoys the Yggdrasil so much. It just makes sense, its price, its presence, its texture. Even its bass, some don't enjoy this but I loved it in the small EC room.

    68012734979__00BB7BCB-6036-4F9B-A1E1-466C2E19C5A9.JPEG
    Now for other things, and the memories. It was a really fun trip. I had blast sharing a ride with @Comzee on a single bird scooter in down town Austin to have a slice of pizza with @tommytakis. @crenca being an amazing host as I would walk in and out of his room because I forgot everything. Hanging out with @yadavrk and @famish99 eating tacos for lunch. and later on in the night having chili with @Vansen @CEE TEE. Chatting with @netforce and @animus in my room as they geeked out on my retro game console playing elden ring and pokemon pinball. Meeting up with @penguins at the air port and talking about maybe more events in socal.

    IMG_0946.JPEG IMG_0963.JPEG IMG_0972.jpeg IMG_0992.jpeg IMG_0959 (Large).JPEG
     

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  18. Erroneous

    Erroneous Friend

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    My man Gaz. I'd been looking forward to meeting you in person since you'd been talking about making the Austin trip. Very sad to have the rug pulled out from under me at the last second but let's do it next year. Glad you had fun and definitely looking forward to misadventures when we finally can.
     
  19. Gazny

    Gazny MOT: ETA Audio

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    All the places you had rec'd along with Fammy was great. we can turn the fun up next time, maybe even go to the lake!
     
  20. Vansen

    Vansen Gear Master (retiring)

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    For the digital, my testing was:
    #1: Roon --> RPI3b w/ Allo Nirvana PSU --> RoPieee 4.019 [beta] —> Allo DigiOne --> Coax --> Yggdrasil or Holo Spring 3
    #2: Roon --> RPI4 --> RoPieee 4.017 [stable] —> Allo DigiOne --> Coax --> Yggdrasil or Holo Spring

    I’ve mostly been listening to a Modi MB at my desk these days as try to find the right DAC for me.

    For the turntables, I’ve been running:
    #1: VPI Classic 3 w/ a Kiseki Purple Heart —> Manley Chinook —> stuff
    #2: Marantz TT-15S1 w/ VAS Nova —> Manley Chinook —> stuff
     

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