RMAF 2017 Impressions

Discussion in 'The Meeting Place' started by Scott Kramer, Oct 6, 2017.

  1. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    Good sounding, yes. Reliable, not really. There was a local dealer here in town and I spent some time hanging out with him. It was alarming how many of the amps came back for repair.
     
  2. MuppetFace

    MuppetFace Sultana of Seafoam Green - Moderator

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    Reliability issues are an unfortunate reality of trying to upscale your business model from something where everything is meticulously hand done to a sustainable, full time operation. I think this is what ended up burning Alex out, along with the early drama that should stay buried at the point.

    Alex increasingly struggled to find manufacturing houses that were up to his standards. Unfortunately things would slip by now and then not up to spec with some of these later assemblers, but you can bet Alex would take care of you.

    Alex was one of this hobby’s truly upstanding gentlemen. Even though a certain someone and his cult of followers had it out for him—tried to literally drag his name thru the mud and spread the most ridiculous rumors—I think Alex’s designs will, in the end, speak for themselves.
     
  3. zach915m

    zach915m MOT: ZMF Headphones

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    I had the MassDrop x Cavalli CTH at our table the whole weekend. It was great to have it because I am always a little embarrassed when we only have rediculously expensive amps, I don't want anyone to think you have to own a stratus or taboo to make your headphones sound acceptable!

    Anyways - the CTH sounds fantastic and the people unfamiliar with the amp were all blown away by the price to performance ratio on it. Alex did a great job designing the board and the footprint is really a good size. I don't know what is or isn't going on with Cavalli but I'm glad many more people will be able to hear his designs.
     
  4. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    Can you guys shortly name the best stuff you heard at this year's RMAF? Just one product.
     
  5. Galm

    Galm Still looking for Little Red Riding Hood

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    New or just period?

    New/newish probably Abyss Diana for me. Though note it’s quite different sounding from Phi if you expect that.

    Period? Probably Utopia with WA33 or Stax SR-009 with WES.

    Edit: btw that silver Chord Dave in the second imgur album is apparently the first one ever made which was cool. Rob was showing off how banged up it was haha.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2017
  6. Daveheart

    Daveheart Friend

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    I'm still pissed I couldn't make it this year. Did anyone actually spend any time listening to speakers in the rooms? All I've really seen are headphone impressions so far.
     
  7. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    Voxativ was really addicting.
     
  8. bixby

    bixby Friend

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    I liked a few items: Poly, Neve amp, Sennheiser 569. Loki, magni 3, Shure 1540. Cannot say best, no such thing and sorry could not narrow down. ;)
     
  9. ThePianoMan

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    Hey all, long post, but here goes.

    Super great meeting a lot of you inperson, @jexby @zerodeefex, @CEE TEE, @Hands, etc. It's nice to finally put names/faces to profiles. Had a super time hanging with Jason and Mike and crew over at the schiit booth too. Great guys. The lunch was a bunch of fun too, and I made an awaesome connection with Tyll that I'm really excited about. (I'm the only one besides Tyll not wearing black/dark blue in that picture... SBAF showing it's goth side I guess.)


    CanJam impressions:
    • I listened to almost everything there for at least a few seconds, but I'm just covering the stuff that stuck out to me. Not really an IEM person, because my two ear canals are very different and both exceptionally small, tips just never fit me and the sound is always weird. The campfire Orion was neat though, and the hip portland folks were a blast to chat with (one of them had a funny avocado tattoo)
    • The 64audio A6 sounded nice as well. Balanced, and the APEX modules did seem to help with pressure build up, but these aren't tuned incredibly bassy either. Eh, whatever, like I said, not a huge IEM person.
    • The New Klipsh HP-3 sounded really nice and smooth and coherent throughout (that Foster biocellulose kind of sound) my impressions are similar to others (somewhat v-shaped, bassy but pleasant, etc.)
    • I was surprised by how punchy the new Beyerdynamic DT1770/1990 were. Frequency response is still typical beyer though.
    BIggest Surprise of Canjam:
    • The AR Planar headphone. Wow! This thing sounded pretty seriously good. Hifiman style headband, but much better fit and finish and fairly comfy. The sound was nice and open, great transients, the midrange seemed to nail that difficult balance between midrange transparency and brightness. Not too warm, not too dark, just right in that critical 500-2.5kh range. Good bass. The reps said $600 msrp, which I was surprised by - I'm interested in hearing more of these. I think they'll be a great value at the price, and I was kind of surprised because I almost didn't stop at the table. the DAP was whatever, although it seemed to power the headphones nicely.
    • Focal Clear sounded nice, better balanced than Utopia or Elear (which had distracting dips in the midrange and upper presence region for my tastes) Punchy and similar transients to the other focal cans though. Price is a tad high, but I'd get these over the elear if I was in the market.
    • Mr speakers e-stat sounded alright. I'm not a huge e-stat person. I like the punchier sound of dynamics, but this one sounded like fairly balanced, nice airy -stat presentation. Didn't spend a ton of time with them. Did pick up a pair of closed-back Aeon's at a discount though. I've been looking for a nicely balanced closed headphone for live sound/recording work, and this fit the bill. Not everyone's cup of tea, but doesn't seem to the have the weird compressed, artificial tonality of the Alpha Dog and Ether headphones that I always hated.
    • I did have a nice chat with Dan's listening guy Brandon. We both studied music tech and make electronic music. It was cool to chat about ear training, the phillips golden ear test, and random other stuff.
    • Also met Dan for the first time (I didn't realize his daughter and I went to school together!) and he's a very interesting guy. We had a fun chat about consulting stuff and the Witcher 3.
    • The new Audeze cans were cool, much lighter and way comfier, until I realized they were $3000. They kinda screwed the pooch on that. (Or not, I'm sure they'll still sell like hotcakes) Pretty much the Audeze sound sig. Nothing revolutionary.
    • Diana and Phi sounded nice, but dam is the Diana ugly. It looks like the Jecklin Float pinched off a little baby cling-on imo. It's also a distinctly uncomfortable headphone. The pads do the weird not sealing thing the Abyss does, but unlike the abyss, the headband also doesn't really hold the cans on well either. Seriously, who designed these things? A great headphone for robots or people who can balance jugs on their head.
    • iFi showed me a new Black Label version of the nano they're releasing soon for I thinnk $200? It's a tiny bit smaller than the chord mojo, and for the price/size I thought it was actually a nice portable unit. Not as punchy and fun as the Full black label, but hey, if you don't have $500 to spend, I thought it was actually pretty nice.
    • Zach's new Auteur. I've gotten the opportunity to hear a lot of this headphone, and It's my favorite headphone of his yet. It has punch, resolution and clarity that's addicting. It's still ever so slightly dark for my tastes, but from the right SS amp it's phenomenal for my tastes. If you're an HD650 lover this should be on your shortlist. The Midbass quality is particularly excellent. Also the new wood and design are gorgeous IMO. Zach just keeps outdoing himself on the finishes and pad/headband quality and comfort.
    The Notorious Schiit Table
    • Magni 3 sounds really nice, like a slightly warmer, sweeter jotunheim - a seriously killer amp for $100.
    • Loki was very transparent for the price/chassis size. I've used plenty of outboard pro EQs that were many times more expensive and far less transparent. I kinda wish they'd make some outboard EQ units for us recording folks now... I might see if I can figure out how to rig up a Jil/Loki and see how it functions as an outboard system just for kicks.
    • The gadget (kidhatten) This was pretty immediately obvious to me. It changes tuning pretty transparently by .1-.5hz in either direction, centering on C256. I would say Triadic harmonies and Triadic overtones became significantly more noticeable (mostly applicable to western 1-3-5 acoustic music, kind made electronic music and most non-western music a bit weird) I mentioned to mike that he should try doing FFT spectral analysis of the signal after processing to see if it could be measured spectrally. I have some theories as to how and why this thing is functioning the way it is, but I'll reserve judgement until I can test one out with my own equipment at home. The unit itself was pretty transparent to the source, and the A/B switch was a nice feature (on the front - !!) I told mike he should build a better melodyne using the software they have XD
    • It was also pretty funny to see him and Dave spoofing people by putting on Portsmouth Sinfonia and playing the gadget for people.

    I seemed to miss most of the busiest parts of the Canjam area. It was quiet pretty much every time I was there.

    RMAF two-channel impressions.
    • Having a schiit badge was an interesting conversation piece in some of the rooms... I wasn't sure if the stereophile guys were staring disapprovingly at me because of that, or because I was wearing a Grover t-shirt... oh well.
    • I hit pretty much all of the rooms in the towers except stupid overpriced ones. I encountered two nice young dudes who said "I've never heard music that crisp that I didn't want to listen to." Yup. The Kimber cable room on the first floor was pretty nice, but kinda insane. Ray Kimber was actually really nice, even let me play Robert Silverman's Steinway Artist. Pretty cool to get free front row seats to Robert Silverman.
    • The rooms that stood out in the two channel area:
    • ATC - I love ATC speakers, and the Lone Mountain distributors were very nice. Actual soundproofing, and they were playing digital masters ATC had sent them. Not often you hear really honest audiophile speakers that avoid the clinical and boring angle (looking at you B&W)
    • ELAC - When I walked in Andrew Jones was qeueing up a song called "What I want before I die" and dedicating it to "us aging audiophiles." I totally giggled, and when everybody stared at me (oops) he was like "We have a young whippersnapper here!" Very friendly, good vibes in the room overall, and he played actually interesting music. Adante floorstanders sounded very dynamic, good image dispersion, decent bass, a nice balanced speaker.
    • Schiit/Salk: I love the vidar and Gungnir Multibit, but prefer the Saga over Freya. Not super familiar with Salk speakers but these sounded nice and seemed like a good deal for the money. Agree with zerodeefex, not the last word in detail, and the imaging wasn't as super precise as some, but hey, they're speakers real people can actually buy. I mentioned to Mike there was some funny 16khz and 18khz ringing in the room that the speakers were actually dealing with really well, and he just looked at me like I was an alien.
    • Music Direct's Wharfedale setup was nice, another high value room. Warmer sound though for sure, and slightly hazy imaging.
    • Magico had some crazy speakers setup in a room that were... not playing. Weird.
    • Spatial audio's new modular OB's sounded very nice and are apparently quite easy to position. I'm interested in hearing more of these. Very good imaging, and decent extension.
    • Was surprised by the Zu audio room - some Souls' or Omens or something were putting out some very impressive bass for a widebander.
    • Vandersteen room sounded nice too, great natural balance of sound, although a tad hazy. They were also playing almost exclusively vinyl, and I kinda hate vinyl (I know, shoot me... I don't care for the bandwidth compression and hazy warmth)
    • I did walk into all the 3-4 rooms that had tekton speakers in them... and walked right back out after a few seconds. Yowza. The speakers all had these insane 8-tweeter arrays, and tbh they were painfully bright. For such big speakers the sound was surprisingly thin and lacking in dynamics, across all the rooms and different music being played. The bass seemed kind wimpy and not very tight too. It's a shame because I've heard really good things about Tekton before and wanted to like them. Perhaps room issues or equipment pairings were to blame. I didn't check.

    • Some company upstairs had a weird skull headphone with glowing red eyes. Concept Skull or something? It looked kinda neat (although the room it was in was much more traditional looking)
    • Heard the Sonoma acoustics headphone. A pretty nice sounding headphone, although expensive. It was one of the best balanced headphones at the show, and a great listen. Gus was nice too.
    • Overall the energy at canjam was higher, although I did meet soem very nice folks in the towers. I got vibed by a few uptight reps, but most of the people I met were nice, and I didn't hear any Diana Krall or Miles Davis.
    • A big thank you to all the cool, nice people who helped arrange the show, displayed, and that I chatted with. Had a great time, and looking forward to following up on some of the connections I made.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  10. Elnrik

    Elnrik Super Friendly

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    Good Lord, they got me on that. I listened intently as it started to play, and immediately thought "holy F, this is the worst thing I have ever heard, ever". Even after they explained it was a joke I was so shocked i couldn't even say anything. The look on my face must have been priceless.
     
  11. Forza AudioWorks

    Forza AudioWorks MOT: Forza AudioWorks

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    Many thanks. I've seen Diana in Munich and it was way too small for my rather large noggin.
     
  12. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    I had such a blast at RMAF! It was such a treat meeting people I only interacted with online but they felt like friends as soon as we met.

    I'll keep most of my impressions short and will only comment on things that left some sort of impression. Also, remember that these were under show conditions and sometimes with systems, gear, and tracks I was unfamiliar with.

    Klipsh HP-3: What a great looking headphone! The pictures on Klipsh's website actually do them justice and the box they come in is a great touch. They have a fun V shaped sound with excellent controlled bass, good mids, and slightly elevated treble which makes for an exciting listen. Talking to the product manager and headphone designer they wanted the headphone to be exciting and energetic regardless of the music. They also said tubes work very well with their speakers and Klipsh's "voicing" so presumably tubes should work very well with the HP-3. Bonus for a good headphone that's dynamic. Yay!

    Dekoni Audio: Not a headphone manufacture but as most know pads can make or break a headphone. While some of the naming of the pads like the DT Series sound too bassy on say the DT880, they do work very well on other headphones such as HE-4XX and HE-6. What interested me at their table was new pads made for Sennheiser HD650 and HD800. The HD800 pads caught my attention and the designer had a measurement rig on the table so I asked him if he would measure the HD800 with the new pads. The pads added a touch more bass and completely eliminated the 6kHz peak on the measurement rig. Really impressive! I didn't get much head time with them to see how they actually performed compared to the stock pads but I'm interested enough to get a pair for myself once they are released.

    Schiit Audio: Well not much to say except that everyone at Schiit is awesome and don't have sticks up their asses like some of the vendors. The gadget was interesting. I'll have to refrain from making any definitive impressions of the Gadget but I did find on tracks with acoustic instruments such as strings, acoustic guitar, and trumpets that dialing back the pot seemed to shift the harmonic content pushing it from more high frequencies to lower ones, creating a denser less harsh tone. It's VERY subtle at meet conditions and seemed different than tube warmth so I'll need to get some quality time with it before I say anything more.

    ZMF: I loved the Eikon when I had them on the loaner tour. They are a very fun headphone with excellent timbre and a relaxing sound that lets you listen for hours without fatigue. My main critique is the slightly recessed upper mids and treble for my personal tastes. Well, if you're like me it seems the Auteur addresses these issues while still retaining the ZMF house sound. They had an effortless quality to the sound thanks to the open back nature. This is a headphone I need to try in the future. Impressive work Zack! Also, Zack is a world class dude who is down to earth and just a nice guy to talk too.

    Campfire Audio: I listened to the Andromeda and Dorado. The Dorado was too bass heavy for me but the Andromeda was just right with one caveat: you need a good seal. I used them out of my Galaxy S5, I'm not sure of the OI but it sounded great to me. Excellent natural tone and textures to die for! The sound stage is better than some headphones, it's frankly eerie how speaker like they are. If I decide to get an endgame iEM the Andromeda is it.

    Acoustic Research AR-H1: This headphone was a shocker and my number one pick for best in show. I had very limited knowledge of this headphone before seeing it at RMAF. There are some very brief impressions on Head-Fi but not much else. On Friday I sat down and started listening to their provided tracks on the AR-M20 and M200. I just kept going through the tracks listening and listening. Most of the time I can tell within about 5 seconds whether a headphone is for me except this was different. I wasn't listening to the headphones, trying to find their quirks, shortcomings, or personality. I was completely absorbed by the music. Saturday I returned and decided to use my phone as a source. Sound quality was actually quite decent even though I had to max the volume on my phone to get decent SPL. I then paired my phone via bluetooth to one of their DAPs ( I think the M-200) and played through about 10 tracks I know very well across all genres. I was just stunned at the sound quality of these headphone! They are an open back planar and are very light weight making for a great portable headphone, although you probably want dedicated amplification. The sound quality was very natural to me. My primary reference is HD650 with custom mods. On Saturday I also had @AllanMarcus PMx2 with me and decided to do a shootout with the two headphones. I found that the PMx2 was extremely well balanced and fatigue free but personally I wanted more presence in the vocal region a la HD650. The AR-H1 seemed to match the PMx2 in overall frequency response with excellent extended bass, natural mids, and a more present 2-6kHz region but without any tizz or hiss of high treble. I will be buying one for myself.

    Oh, almost forgot, after listening on the first day I asked how much they were guessing $1000 and was told they were only $599. WTF! Thank you Acoustic Research for creating a headphone that might actually exceed it's price point like the legendary HD650.

    MrSpeakers: I have a ton of respect for Dan and how far he has come since his modding days of the T50rp. He's also a great guy to chat with and we talked a little about fitness and eating and he even did an impromptu chair dip set! I had to chuckle at that. IMO, his "house sound" is one of the most natural in the business. My favorite of his planar headphones was the Ether C. It had a smidge more presence compared to the open Ether Flow which was more to my liking. I didn't like the suspension system as a couple pairs I tried were looser on one side which forced me to bring the opposite side all the way down just to get the right fit at the cost of uneven pressure. I did enjoy the E-Stat. I thought it retained the house sound and had excellent attack and decay with surprisingly extended bass. No 1kHz bump either...I'm looking at you Stax.

    Tekton Design: I think it was fate that I heard these. My room was on the 11th floor and there were exhibits and vendors on almost every floor in the Hotel. Little did I know that right across the hall from me was Tekton Design and the Double Impact speakers in gorgeous red. I was awakened at 8:30am by wonderful music. I got ready and headed over to check out what all the noise was. I was immediately impressed with the sound. Imaging seemed decent considering the room but I wasn't able to get a good grasp on depth. Tonally they were very nice with deep impactful bass and a natural tone. Drum kicks hit hard fast and went as deep as required. Vocals were properly placed in the front cymbals and strings had good bite without any harshness. The designer was there and was accommodating with my request to play something bright to show the speakers treble extension. He played some Owl City which I know is mixed punchy but bright. It was rendered with unflattering accuracy. There was some excess harshness but I think that the associated amps might have been to blame. I'm pretty sure they were Parasound. The most impressive part was the price which was $3000 delivered.

    Periodic Audio: I was pretty impressed by their Beryllium IEM. They had quite the bass boost but it didn't mask the vocal region which was the other standout. Kind of like a grown up SE215 but with better technicalities and sound. Blemished stock is $100 off at $199 and come with a warranty.
     
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  13. TheIceman93

    TheIceman93 El pato-zorro

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    These Acoustic Research guys came out of nowhere. Any indication of when it will be available?
     
  14. hifi01170

    hifi01170 Acquaintance

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    Already available in EU: 699 eur
    very much tempted to make a blind buy just to quench the audiophile nervosa thirst!
     
  15. Darren G

    Darren G Friend

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    Love this thread. Thank you all for your impressions. Curse you because now I have two new HPs on my radar. The Klipsch HP-3, and the Acoustic Research AR-H1
     
  16. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    There is one pair of AR headphones on Amazon for a measly $1480, shipping not included.
     
  17. Thenewerguy009

    Thenewerguy009 Friend

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    Any pictures of the new HD800 pads anywhere on the net?
     
  18. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    I don't think so. The pads aren't in production yet so they won't have anything up on the website. They were thicker, wider and I believe sheepskin for the material.
     
  19. Ice-man

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    I must have missed this. Any photos available?
     
  20. ThePianoMan

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    The Dekoni pads were nice. Ive actually been using some old ZMF ori pads taped to my HD800 for a while woth similar results but even a slightly smoother midrange. Ive been telling Zach he needs to do more with his (excellent) pads.
     

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