Discussion in 'The Meeting Place' started by vzamayoa, Jun 18, 2023.
Photos part 3...
Photos part 4... (final)
Killer pics @Bill-P!
Oh... and here are notes on DSHA-3FN: simply the best solid-state amp I have heard ever by a very significant margin. At the meet, there were Modi Multibit and Yggdrasil LIM (I think?) and I could very easily pick out which DAC is which with the amp. If I was not careful, I would have attributed the sound of the respective DACs to being the sound of the amp itself. In my opinions, the DSHA-3FN actually doesn't really have a "sound" per se. It's just super transparent. But if I have to describe it over something else, like Piety, which I know very well since I paired mine with MM for a while, I would say the DSHA-3FN has sort of a much tighter grip or control to the sound. Bass can get wooly and a bit thumpy on Piety to my ears, sort of like someone punching a pillow and me hearing it from one room over. Bass on DSHA-3FN seems quite a bit less like that. The impact and hit is still there but it's not wooly or overdone. There's also no "bleeding" or overly done warmth but instead, it's just an effortless flow and continuity from bass to midrange and then to treble. There's kind of a fluidity to the sound of DSHA-3FN that I can't quite explain. I just know that Piety is quite a bit more grainy when it comes to treble presentation, as if it's just noise with busier passages, whereas DSHA-3FN is very much like how I remember my Zana Deux: smooth, liquid, extended but not peaky or overdone, but with bonus tighter bass.
So overall, just a very nice listen. @CEE TEE is a close friend of mine and I initially wanted to support Nitsch, so I told him to put me on the list for a DSHA. But now that I have seen it in person and listened to the production units, I honestly can proclaim this: no one will be able to fight me for that serial number #001. I'm doubling down on it. Once this amp has come into more people's hands, I think they will realize what a gem it truly is: the chassis is barely bigger than Schiit Bifrost, no extra power supply brick, nothing massive... and yet the sound punches well above its size class and is in fact ToTL in my books.
Headphones used at the meet to demo:
@Bill-P Thank-you for the great pictures and meet impressions. Your notes are very much in line with my impressions of DSHA-3FN and comparison to Piety as well. Piety is a fine amp however the DSHA-3FN is a great refinement in the qualities described. I think I either have SN 000 or -001 in the lab now. Measurements coming soon.
Anecdote: ELROG 300B arrived on Saturday for Studio B. Haven't heard them yet as each time I get ready to move DSHA-3FN off the lab bench I give it one more "short" listening session which tends to continue until I have used up time allotted for listening session.
@atomicbob Since you own the original 3F: how does the 3FN compare?
See this post for my thoughts: ECP DSHA3F Ravenswood 3F
I had an absolute blast at HiFiCon reconnecting with old friends, meeting new friends and finally putting faces to the names.
First of all – HUGE thanks is in order for Vince for organizing this whole thing. I’m sure he spent many nights and weekends of his free time organizing this for the community. Things went very smoothly from my point of view, so big props here.
Also, huge thanks to Schiit for sponsoring and the other MOT’s who supported by generously donating equipment to be raffled (Geshelli Labs, Nitsch, HiFi For All), showed up to the meet or sent equipment to be demoed. It’s always really cool to be able to meet and talk to the folks behind the equipment that we all love. You can genuinely sense the ones that come out to these community events are big fans of the hobby first and foremost and they share the same enthusiasm that we do.
And lastly all the cool community folks that lugged their gear to the meet for folks to demo. It’s always one of my favorite parts of these meets is listening to people’s home setups that they’ve curated (I find many of these more enjoyable than the TOTL megabuck stuff). And lastly huge thanks to everyone else who volunteered their time to help move things, setup, breakdown, or organize. Immaculate vibes all around.
I didn’t get to listen to everything too extensively, and it’s really hard for me to discern source/amp in these meet conditions (so I'll hold off on posting those impressions here). Nonetheless here are some notes on some of the headphones I've heard:
First time hearing ZMF headphones and really impressed overall (yea, I've been out of the game for a while!). Looking forward to the loaner tours on a couple of these.
Caldera: heard this out of the Yggdrasil → Rag 2 combo and holy moly this was impressive. The Caldera pretty much nails my preferred sound signature – was really balanced and warm. Loads of macrodynamics on this setup (didn’t realize it was planar at first). A lot of detail and resolution – really crisp leading edges. Lower treble were just at the edge of where I’d take like them, but I didn’t not find them too forward (I’m super sensitive to this usually). Timbre was spot on as far as I could tell. I’m definitely looking forward to listening to these more in my own chain.
Atrium Closed: another impressive ZMF. Timbre and tone feel very natural. More colored than the Caldera, and at times may be a touch more aggressive in the upper mids than I like. Not sure whether to attribute this to the Atrium or the Mjolnir 3 though. They sounded really open for a closed back, and didn’t really have the “cupped” sound that the Verite Closed that was also at the Schiit table. I expected these to be bass canons, but found the Caldera was bassier, or more bass focused.
Auteur Classic: spent some time with these on @keeblord’s system (Denafrips Pontus II → WA22). Enjoyed this setup a lot – really sweet, euphonic, laidback type of sound. They don’t quite reach as far down as the Calder or AC, but still punchy and plenty dynamic. Timbre was on point, with no wonkiness that I could detect. Really good all-arounder setup. (Also the most beautiful looking headphone at the meet).
Campfire Supermoon: I liked these a lot – seemed to be great all-arounders and very balanced. I wish the mids were a touch more forward, as a think vocals are set a bit further back than my ideal. Overall timbre was good, and I didn’t get any wonkiness from the tuning. It’s an overall “softer” sound where leading edges are a bit blunted, but I still found them plenty detailed. Imaging was okay. I find the Euclid better at detail and imaging overall.
Campfire Trifecta: I heard these right after the Supermoon and they didn’t sound right. There’s a substantial lower-mid suckout that makes vocals sound wonky and boxed in. Also got some spotlight treble issues on sax/trumpets. Didn’t listen to these long. Listened to this and the Supermoon out of the iFi Gryphon, btw.
Geshelli J2 Socketed DAC → Archel 3 Pro Amp: This was the giveaway stack so I got to listen while setting this up. I hadn’t heard of Geshelli before this meet, but was pretty impressed with this little stack. Like I said, it’s hard for me to discern sources/amps at a meet, but this setup was very clean and open sounding with no big glaring issues for the price. I’m planning to pick one up as a bedroom setup though. The wood looked slick, the knobs felt great, and it had tone controls. Sold.
Neko Audio’s booth: Huge thanks to Neko Audio for coming out with a bunch of TOTL headphone setups for us to try. They had the Audeze CRBN, LCD-5 and Stax 009 for us at their table. You never really get to demo all of these together in regular life so really appreciated this.
Audeze CRBN: I quite liked this overall – it’s a good balance between a Stax and an LCD. It has tons of detail, but doesn’t have that ethereal quality that the 007 and 009 have. There is a bit more weight as a result, so these would be a better all-arounder as an e-stat I think. These reminded me of an ESP950 on steroids. But then again, that ethereal quality is what makes e-stats magical, so I’d probably just opt for an LCD-4/LCD-5 or go full Stax.
LCD-5: Conflicted about this one. Technically these are really good – extremely fast sounding, tons of detail and resolution. You get some decent note weight and slam (compared to the CRBN). These are more neutral (maybe a touch too much upper mids?) but lose some of the magic of the LCD-2/3/4 tuning.
ETA Prototype: One of the highlights of the meet. This isn’t one of those headphones that wows you right away, and then it starts to sink in that these are just so impressively balanced. I threw like 8-10 songs at it and this thing had no missteps. Things just sounded right. It’s not as fast as a planar, or doesn’t have the expansive soundstage of the HD800, or the dynamics of a Focal Clear, but it also doesn’t commit the same sins in its tuning as those. I’m keeping an eye out for the production version for sure.
JAR600: Another highlight of the meet for me was the PS Audio DAC → Nitsch Piety → JAR600 setup. I’m not generally someone who thinks mods or pad swapping make a huge difference. Yes there is a discernible difference, but they don’t completely change a headphone in the grand scheme of things. Well, this mod completely changes the HD600, IMO. Everything sounds so much more open and spacious. For folks that think the HD6xx series is too thick and suffocating, this removes all of that while still retaining the beloved tuning (sweet vocals, great timbre, warm balance). It’s still missing the bottom octave and the upper mids may be a touch too forward for my preferences (I’m used to the 650’s), but I’m hard pressed to think of another dynamic under 1K I like more.
Focal: Speaking of dynamics, I’ve cemented the fact that I just don’t like Focal headphones in general. I owned the Radiance for a while, and heard the Utopia, Clear and Bathys at this meet. There’s just some wonkiness in the tuning that creates this weird, metallic, oversharpened, artificial timbre that’s disorienting to me.
DCA Aeon Noire: Another headphone I’d been wanting to hear for a while. I almost blind bought this so many times for a portable travel setup. Unfortunately I was not a fan. Had really limp dynamics and odd timbre issues to my ears. I’d take the ETA Mini C over this any day, for my preferences.
HiFi For All: I’m a total believer in their modular headphone cables! I have the Hart modular cables right now, but I prefer where this detaches (right below the neck where the two sides meet) vs. how the Hart one is near the amp. You can swap out headphones without dragging a bunch of cable with you. Cables are thicker/stiffer than the Hart ones which are very light in comparison – personal preference to which style you’d like.
Also here are my impressions of SBAF'ers I met a the meet:
Vansen - huge soundstage, outside of your head presentation. very expansive.
CEETEE - king of micro detail. extremely resolving of fine details and tons of plankton.
Bill-P - obviously the best at imaging. center image is always in focus and stage is sharp overall.
vzamayoa - definitely the best PRAT.
Loadexfa – very picky with source chain. must take great care in synergy but will be rewarded with careful curation.
most beautiful headphone I've ever seen. If whoever owns this ever wants to sell... (edit.. incredible photos)
Geshelli's amp and DAC looked so beautiful. Huge thanks to Geshelli for providing them for the community to try out at the meet and then to be given away. They sounded great. Especially loved the tone controls.
The DSHA from Nitsch looked so sleek and sexy. And it really does pair well with Focal's. I'm not a huge fan of the Utopia but really enjoyed it with the amp.
Out of Campfire, I enjoyed the trifecta. It gave me the sense that it was the most full sounding and correct of their line up. The supermoon was also interesting but by and far I think the trifecta is the best. Though not personally for me overall.
Bottlehead's SEX was great. I got to give it a try with both planars and dynamics and it really is versatile. It has a nice sense of warmth and a little tubiness. Overall it's not super resolving but it is very very good.
From the Schiit table, my two big takeaways were:
1. The Rag2 is a joy. It was better than all of amps and was really able to drive the DCA Expanse. It sounded incredible with the LCD-4 as well. I have to say, I really want one. It was highly resolving and sounded excellent. If not for the Aegis, I think I would buy one. Maybe I still will, not sure.
2. The Mjolnir 3 was a heater. It sounded pretty good and I enjoyed it. Though I think at high volumes it showed a little high glare I didn't care for personally.
ZMF sent the Caldera and the Atrium Closed. I still love the Caldera and it sounds a lot like my Meze Empyrean. Its kind of crazy. The pair that was at the meet looked gorgeous. The atrium closed was very impressive. One of the best sounding closed backs I've ever heard. Highly resolving and nicely balanced for me. Super tempted to get one.
HIFIFORALL has some amazing modular cables. I love how easy they are to use and flexible. I just really like them. It makes it really easy to have one cable for everything. I'm a big fan, I bought some for myself.
Bill's HE5 sounded surprisingly good. I'm still not sold on HiFiMan but this is one of the better ones.
Standouts for me:
1. L0rdGwyn Aegis was tied for my favorite thing I heard at the meet. Resolution was amazing. The bass goes deep and low. This might be one of my favorite amps. I am seriously considering building one for myself. I cannot forget about it.
2. ETA's prototype open back is truly amazing. Everything is well balanced and tonally correct to me. It sounds so much like a "correct" Focal but with better soundstage. I love that it has that thick bass and midrange but it still sounds correct in the treble without ever coming off as too bright. Again, another headphone I would consider and maybe one of the few dynamics I would buy. Quick aside, the ETA closed is another one of my favorite closed backs and I absolutely love it. If I had a use case for it, I would already own it.
3. Kartikay's sapphire continues to impress me. Though this time, I was really into the get-set-go. I feel like it was a beautiful tubey goodness. Still was detailed and sounded great but pleasantly smooth. I really enjoyed that one.
Thanks everyone for coming. Thanks Schiit for sponsoring the event. Thank you Geshelli, Schiit, Nitsch, and HIFIFORALL for donating to our giveaway. I think you made a lot of people's day (year?).
I'm aiming for another at the end of Jan 2024. Stay tuned.
Separate names with a comma.