This was the first time I attended the California Audio Show, now in its fourth year. It was also my first time organizing a section of the show and I am thankful for all the people who helped me to make the event a major success. The HeadMasters vendors who were present there made for an exciting show. The Headfi.org community came out and attended the show in terrific support of the event and also got to see some of the best two channel audio systems being produced in high end audio today as well as meet some terrific people and industry giants.
Dan Clark who designed the modification to the Mad Dog-modified Fostex T50 RP headphones had a few systems up and running. He premiered the world’s first 3D printed closed headphone. The Alpha Dog with its 3D printed closed cups with automotive paint was making exceptional sound and for $599 promises to be one of the very best closed headphones in the market today. The sound from both the Mad Dog and the Alpha Dog played well about the asking price making them some of the very best closed headphones in the marketplace today. Dan was using the Burson Conductor and Schiit Mojnir amplifiers as well as the Oppo BDP 105 and a Woo WA7 to showcase the Alpha Dogs. A magnificent and exceptionally great sounding closed headphone.
Astral & Kern
Owen Kwon and Jimmy Moon were showing the two portable players from iRiver, the $699 A100 and the $1299 A120 which is using the dual Wolfson DACS and has a touch screen interface that was easy to navigate and the player was making terrific music. The players are small, light and very compact and deliver true high-end sound. They system works with memory cards and can be loaded with all available audio formats like WAV, flac and lossless. I was very impressed with the sound and musicality.
Drew Baird and his lovely wife Nicole Baird were showcasing Moon Audio’s entire line of headphone cables and portable IEM cables. The Black Dragon, Blue Dragon and Silver Dragon cables were all being demonstrated. The King Sound Electrostatic headphones were there with both the solid-state amplifier and the new EL84 tube amplifier. The Electrostatic headphone is available for purchase through Moon Audio and the headphone and solid state amplifier is priced at an ridiculous low price of $1000 with the tube amplifier headphone offered at $2000. The sound coming form the KS headphones was transparent and sounded very liquid with excellent bass and treble.
The Bryston reference $2600 DAC sounded excellent as well as the Sennheiser HD800 with the new Sennheiser HDVD800 $2000 amplifier. Moon also had other headphones from Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic plus portable amplifiers form different manufactures on display.
Bob Hodas and Amarra
Bob Hodas was sharing a booth with Amarra and showcasing the Amarra software solutions for MAC, and Bob was offering consulting services for room setup and treatment as well as his line of Focal loudspeakers for sale.
Simon Ho had Woo Audio lineup of amplifiers, CD transport and DAC on display. The WA7, WE6SE WA2 and WA22 headphone amplifiers as well as two electrostatic amplifiers, the Woo GES and KSS amplifiers with the Stax 009 and the Stax 007 MKII and the Stax 404LE. The sound coming from the Stax setups were liquid and very transparent. The LCD3, LCD2 and the HD800 were making excellent music on all the other outstanding Woo products.
Alex Rosson and Mark and Meg Harper were showcasing the Audeze line of headphones. The LCD2, LCD3 and two new prototypes were being shown. Their new closed headphone plus another new open headphone. The new open model will be priced between the LCD2 and LCD3 and available for sale in October. The Eddie Current Balancing Act amplifier sounded magnificent with the new prototype open planar headphone. The closed phone looked and sounded fantastic also.
Jason Stoddard and Mike Moffat were showing their terrific real world priced products. The $99 Magni is a fully discrete amplifier and sounded out-of-this-world good. The little desktop had a separate power supply and drove the LCD2 really well. Mike told me he was working on another reference DAC and it would rival his Theta Generation V DAC, which for me still reigns as the best DAC I have ever heard. Mike said this new one would be better and priced at around $1800. The Schiit products offer terrific value. The Asgard 2 is priced at $249 and the Mjoinir balanced amplifier is their balance amplifier priced at a super competitive $749.
Alex Cavalli was showing his terrific amplifiers. The Liquid Gold solid-state headphone amplifier priced at $6450 was driving the new Abyss $5500 planar headphone by JPS Labs. The $4850 Liquid Lightening electrostatic amplifier was driving the Stax 009. Both amplifiers were very impressive and sounded transparent and musical.
Justin Wilson had Head-fi member Iron Butt manning the HeadAmp booth showing the GSX solid-state amplifier and the Blue Hawaii electrostatic amplifier. The sound coming from both products was outstanding and the Stax 009 sounded terrific with the Blue Hawaii and the LCD3 sounded terrific with the GSX solid-state amplifier. HeadAmp products are well made and built to last.
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