Taipei Audio Show Reports

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by gixxerwimp, Dec 19, 2016.

  1. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    Taipei Int'l Audio Show 2016 (Dec. 15-18)

    There was a headphone festival here in Taipei at the beginning of the month where I got to hear the Andromeda and other CA IEMS and the Abyss AB-1266. Last week we had one of the two annual Taipei audio shows and I stopped in to check it out. Most of the vendors were local 2-channel dealers hawking their wares in rooms with little or no treatment. I don't know that much about 2-channel stuff and didn't go into most of the rooms, and the ones I did go into did little to show off the best of the equipment they brought.

    Ultimate Ears UERR

    I did stumble into an IEM room where I demoed the UERR out of my micro iDSD. From memory, I thought the sound was comparable to the Andromeda with both having good sound stage and tight imaging. The Andro had a bit more air and crispness in the treble and was more engaging. The UERR was a bit warm for me and slightly bloomy in the mid bass, which makes me think I'd probably prefer the UERM based on what I've read here and Changstar. There was a 15% margin over US pricing (VAT included) but a 5% show discount with molds on the spot and a 3 week turnaround.

    Stax SR-009 and L500
    Down the hall was local dealer who set up a Stax room with the SR-009 powered by SRM-727II and an L500 (don't remember the amp). The 009 was piercing and unlistenable for me. The HD800 has that 7k spike but this was just overly bright everywhere and had way too little bass though what was there was fairly tight. The L500 on the other hand had a very pleasant overall tonality with warmth in the low end. There was also an L300 or 3100 powered by one of their tiny amps that sounded pretty lifeless. My first time listening to electrostats and the music was preprogrammed and random so that was all I took away from the experience.

    Sennheiser HE-1
    and HD800 vs. HD800S
    Further down the hall was the Sennheiser room and at first I thought they only had their latest mid-fi offerings on display. But in the adjacent room I saw a big HE-1 poster and sure enough, there it was. Someone was listening but the next slot was available and I was in! I don't think there was much publicity about it being demoed as there were very few people waiting to hear it, most of them having stumbled upon it accidentally like me. The guy handling the HE-1 asked if I knew about it before coming, which leads me to suspect he was trying to find out how effective their advertising was.

    [​IMG]

    My impressions of the HE-1 were that it was really fast and precise with tight imaging, but a vague left/right sound stage. Smooth response and good extenstion from bottom to top and very engaging, especially with vocals. I was able to find two of my test tracks in their offerings (Amber Rubarth Don't You and Hotel California HFO) and the latter pulled me out of analytical mode and into the audience when Don Henley started singing, not from imaging/staging but just an overall feeling if that makes any sense. They had Chesky's Ultimate Headphone Demonstration Disc so I played the Four Surround Voices, Drum and Bell Walkaround, and Height Left/Center Shaker tracks. Side to side was OK, height was so-so, but front/rear was pretty hopeless. The Shake, Rattle and Roll track was pretty flat down to about 50-60Hz and had reasonable response to nearly 30Hz. At one point, the right channel started distorting a bit with guitar frequency range sounds. I clicked around a few different tracks and it eventually stopped. Anyway, it was a cool and unexpected experience to try out a $50k+ headphone system.

    They also had the HD800 and HD800S side by side out of an HDVD 800. Crappy music selection and mostly mp3s, but I was able to tell that the problematic highs were reasonably well tamed on "S", and the bass was boosted in comparison, though some of the tightness and punch seems to have been lost. I'd tried to like the HD800 previously, even having made a set of Anax 2.0 mods and stuffing them into the demo units at a store when nobody was looking, but I eventually gave up. However, I think I could live with the HD800S+SBAF mod, or the HD800+SD+SBAF as someone else has mentioned in one of the HD800 threads. Guess if I come across a used HD800 in good condition and a spare $1k or so ... But I also really like the Andromeda ... hmm

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There was a Focal Utopia, but it was the Tournaire and I don't even know if it was a real one. Probably just a replica as it was just sitting there in the acrylic case with no obvious security measures. Waste of diamonds and gold if you ask me, and of a perfectly good headphone that you couldn't listen to. A guy in the room tried to tell me they were "special diamonds". Gimme a fucking break :confused:

    [​IMG]

    Not much else that was really interesting for me. Here's the report from a local audio magazine. Lots of photos; Google translate to your heart's content. I can't read Chinese.
    http://news.u-audio.com.tw/newsdetail.asp?newsid=4962
    http://news.u-audio.com.tw/newsdetail.asp?newsid=4963

    The show that's usually in August attracts a more "professional" collection of vendors and reps. I went in 2015 and most of the rooms were treated and sounded fairly decent. @Marvey has expressed interest in attending an event here next year as an excuse to see his motherland and visit long lost cousins, so maybe he can do the write up for the 2017 TAA Hi-End Audio Show. Below is the report for the 2016 event, 2nd floor. Links to the other floors are at the bottom of the page.
    http://news.u-audio.com.tw/newsdetail.asp?newsid=4731
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017
  2. 3X0

    3X0 Friend

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    Nice write-up. Surprising that the 009 still sounded insufferable out of a (presumably stock) 727.
    I'm picturing SBAF vigilantes modding demo HD 800s in B&M stores for the greater good...
     
  3. thegunner100

    thegunner100 Hentai Master Chief

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    @gixxerwimp The current SBAF mod + SDR is quite a step up from the old Anax 2.0 days. The HD800 now is much more listenable than it used to be. It'll still be comparatively bass-lite compared to the HD600/650, Elear, Andromeda, etc but it's not so bad if you actually acclimate yourself to it.
     
  4. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    @thegunner100 Yes, I followed the development of the Super Dupont mod with great interest. Unfortunately, it wouldn't have been feasible to sneak one into a showroom demo unit. I pondered ordering the official SBAF rug liner to try but had pretty much given up on the face tweeter by then. I think I like the increased bass response of the S, but it would be nice to hear an HD800SDR+SBAF sometime as that's d definitely the more cost effective option and I'm not averse to a little headphone surgery. Hopefully I can make it to an SBAF meet sometime.
     
  5. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    2017 TAA International Hi-End Hi-Fi Show (Aug. 17-20)

    Decided not to start a new thread and just rename this one.

    Today I went to the 2017 TAA International Hi-End Hi-Fi Show (link to local forum coverage), which is put on by a different organization and has a slightly more professional feel to it. Impressions are using an iFi micro iDSD as source unless otherwise noted. Andros with @Bill-P's 1st gen foam mod and HD650M are my references.

    ChiFiMan
    • HE1k V2
      • rather bright, gritty highs
      • wide but shallow stage
      • bass a bit boomy (which surprised me for a planar)
    • HE$6k (Chord Hugo TT > TToby)
      • quite sibilant
      • precise imaging
      • "fast" & controlled sound
      • so-so microdynamics
    [​IMG]
    • RE$2k
      • finicky fit, ended up using gray double-flangers
      • V-shaped profile, bass a bit boomy
      • microdynamics loose big time to Andros

    [​IMG]
    • RE800 (Sony A35)
      • rather inefficient, had to crank the volume past 50
      • vocals sounded "restricted", not exactly a midrange suck, not sure how to describe it
      • Shangri Las were free so I switched over to them ...
    • Shangri La Jr.
      • powered by Sr's Battlestar Gallactica as its own amp was shipped from HK w/o some internals for some reason so it was just a static demo
      • guy said emphasized that it was a proto-prototype
      • fast, tight bass
      • slightly "tinselly" treble
      • nothing sounded particularly strange for a prototype¬≤

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    • Shangri La Sr.
      • much less efficient than Jr.
      • treble more refined
      • smoother female vocals
      • touch of bass bloat
    [​IMG]

    Schiit
    The local dealer brought some schiit to the show, as well as their EC Balancing Act. The BA was being fed by a DAC/streamer sending out 8 repeated tracks alternating between MQA and PCM. I listened to it briefly with an HD800S, but it was classical which I rarely listen to and I couldn't really get a meaningful impression.

    [​IMG]


    I wanted to get a feel for the "multibit" sound and they had Yggdrasil > Rag, so I plugged in my Andros at low gain. The only track on their streamer I was familiar with was HFO Hotel California. I can't say I was bowled over or anything, but the sound was well articulated, excellent detail and microdynamics, less glare/tizz.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Focal
    • Elear
      • obvious treble peak
      • tight imaging
      • full, tight, well-extended bass
      • too much noise from the speaker room next door ... no point listening any longer
    • Utopia
      • locked up tight in a Plexiglas case

    Astell & Kern
    • Michelle
      • A bit U/V-shaped profile
      • slightly tinny treble
    • Rosie (bass pot 1 click clockwise from 12 o'clock)
      • balanced, neutral profile
      • slightly tinny treble

    As you might have guessed, I was getting a bit tired towards the end and not listening as critically.

    Most of the show was 2-channel stuff and I'm even less qualified to give impressions on that. Most rooms were completely untreated and many playing at volumes near or above my pain threshold. I found a many systems to have a lot lower midrange bloom. @deafdoorknob explained that this was due to room gain and my being used to the "direct injection" of head-fi. I wasn't that bad in a few rooms, and I would have thought a properly setup system should sound good, period. I'm thinking it's a combination of poor/underdamped rooms and excessive volume levels.

    Thanks for reading my crappy impressions.|\/|
     
  6. gixxerwimp

    gixxerwimp Professional tricycle rider

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    Forgot to mention, Senn had two HE 1s on demo. Both seats were occupied when I popped in and I'd already heard it at the show last fall.

    I also tried to listen to the HiFiMan Edition X V2, but something wonky was going on with channel imbalance on 2 units so I gave up. The guy running the room was very friendly tried hard to get things working, but overall organization for the show seemed be lacking (this was Day 2). The Macbook running Amarra for the Shangrila was acting up and I spent most of the time sitting there waiting.
     

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