Impressions under show conditions are subjected to a giant bag of salt. That said, here were my major takeaways from the show:
- BEST OF SHOW: The 64 Audio Tia Fourte
- The best IEM I’ve ever heard (and I’ve heard most of the flagships from other vendors).
- It even sounds more fluid and natural than most full-sized cans.
- The Tia Fourte clearly bests the JH Audio Lola but I wouldn’t say twice as good. For the price variance ($3,599 vs $1,599)…the Lola is quite an attractive proposition.
- The Lola also obliterates my custom JH Audio Angie. You can imagine how the Angie did against Tia. This cat fight was a disaster for Angie.
- It’s too bad I have a problem with always wanting the best. I found the Tia Fourte highly addictive and seductive. Two very dangerous attributes to have for anything in life.
- Until I could get a Chord Hugo 2 and Tia Fourte at the same time…I’ll pretend I currently have the ultimate portables in existence today. 🙁
- The Woo Audio WA33 was the talk of the show. I think I had more time on this amp than most guests. It didn’t sound like what you’d expect from a tube amp but you still get that sweet sound without being overly lush. The soundstage was huge and it provided a very euphoric experience. Some Frank Sinatra recordings sounded startlingly real. I much preferred the Abyss Phi on this setup over the Utopia. This amp gives the Abyss Phi that sense of air and bloom that I think some of us crave from our original Abyss. The other SS amps at the show were more energetic and “refined” but I think this amp paired quite beautifully with this headphone.
- The new Chord Hugo 2 is leaps and bounds better than the original. I brought my poor Hugo for the comparison. It was sad for my wallet. Greater level of detail, layering, separation, dynamics, everything. It was better in every way.
- The Abyss Phi’s debut was most welcomed. Transparency and energy has reached new heights for that one.
- The Astell & Kern KANN looks pretty sleek and was quite light. Might be able to get a loaner so will keep you posted.
- One setup that surprised me was the Mr. Speakers Ether C Flow with the Woo Audio WA5 and that ridiculously expensive Kimber cable. Incredible sound coming from that rig. It sounded like an open headphone.
- The Little Labs Monotor was surprisingly very natural sounding.
- The Liquid Tungsten was on full display and looks like how it it was named. Personally I could appreciate the aesthetics and design, but that could be the geek in me. If you haven’t heard it yet, head down to The Source AV. They have every dang headphone you could imagine in their personal audio section. Jason Lord and his staff are incredibly knowledgeable and have provided me with the best customer service experience I’ve ever had at an audio shop.
- The Sonoma Model One did sound good but the clamping pressure was a bit high.
- The LTA microZOTL2.0 with the HD650 + Surf cables was a pleasure to listen to. It actually reminded me, you really don’t need expensive gear to get incredible sound. I’ll be looking into their cables and hopefully LTA will reply to my emails regarding a loaner 😉 Great sounding amp.
- Periodic Audio’s Be IEM sounded pretty good for the price. Need to take a closer look.
I went through almost the entire show so if you have any questions let me know in the comments.