New York Headphone Alert!!! Stereo Exchange Headphone Lounge Opening Event July 31st!

I've written about how I think headphone stores are a good idea, and about how HeadRoom's first foray with a storefront here in bozeman seems to be working well. (It still is, by the way.) Steve Guttenberg and I had a long conversation here about why high-end stores should be taking on headphones in a much more serious way. Well, things are looking up for New Yorkers, Stereo Exchange has just opened up a new "Headphone Lounge" in their Manhattan store and it looks terrific.


To celebrate, they're holding an open house event July 31, from 1PM-9PM, at 627 Broadway, New York, NY. Full details can be found here.

I looked down the pretty hearty list of gear they're carrying and found quite a few I'd like to hear:

Grado SR60e ($79)
140716_Blog_StereoExchangeEvent_Photo_GradoSR60eStill one of the top recommendations for entry-level headphone enthusiasts, the Grado SR60 now gets the "e" designating the product line's recent refresh with evolutionary improvements in materials, acoustics, and damping. I'm quite curious about the new SR60e and would love a chance to hear them. I think I'd test it on the Audioquest Dragonfly they'll also have on display at the event.

Phonon SMB-02 ($350)
140716_Blog_StereoExchangeEvent_Photo_PhononSMB02Phonon huh? Never heard of them. They sure have some...ah...unusual products. But hey, I'll try anything once. Wish I could grab a listen to these. If you folks have a listen and think it's good I'll contact then for a sample to consider for review.

Martin Logan Mikros90 ($299)
140716_Blog_StereoExchangeEvent_Photo_MartinLoganMikros90I'll tell you something funny: I was at CES and finally caught up with the Mikros90 for a listen—it had been out for a while but I never managed to hook up with them. I thought it sounded pretty good and asked someone if a review sample might be available. The rep said they thought it was going to be discontinued, so I just let it slide. Well, a while after that I started seeing people get kinda charged up by the little Martin Logan cans, and it seemed to me they were developing a following. I guess Martin Logan must have noticed and kept them on. Gonna have to give them a call I reckon.

McIntosh MHA100 ($4500)
140716_Blog_StereoExchangeEvent_Photo_McIntoshMHA100Yummy! What is it about McIntosh gear that's so damned attractive? I think it's the blue lights and analog meters. I did get to hear this amp at CES and liked what I heard. It's got an interesting cross-feed circuit in it as well. Were I to go to this event, I'd probably drag an LCD-3 over to this beast for a listen.

Astell&Kern AK100II ($899)
140716_Blog_StereoExchangeEvent_Photo_AK100IIHaving just reviewed the AK240, I'm gnashing to get my hands and ears on the AK100II. Same great user interface at 1/3 the price. If the sound is up to snuff, for most headphone enthusiasts this would would be a likely candidate for an end-game DAP. I'd say plug the NAD VISO HP50 into the AK100II for listen, I'd be quite curious about your opinion.

ARURALiC VEGA DAC ($3499) and Taurus Mk2 Headphone Amp ($1899)
140716_Blog_StereoExchangeEvent_Photo_AURALiCYeah baby, I know what this rig sounds like. I use it every day as my reference rig. Love it. I'd plug an LCD-3, LCD-X, HD 800, or maybe...well, plug anything you like into it. It'll deliver.

Steve Guttenberg ($Priceless)
140716_Blog_StereoExchangeEvent_Photo_SteveGLast time I was in New York I had a blast with Steve on the CNET 404 Show. Steve will be attending the event and writing up his impressions for InnerFidelity subsequently. Were I attending this event I would definately spend a little quality listening time with Steve, possibly with a nice baguette, a ripe soft cheese, and maybe a little iced tea.

Y'all have fun now. Don't forget, two weeks from tomorrow, Thursday July 31st. Have fun!!!

Jim Tavegia's picture

I would love to see an assortment of the under $100 headphones (Sony 7506, Koss PortaPros, and the Sennheiser HD280's for 3) and a way to compare them to the Beats. For affordable hirez players get a Tascam DR-07mkII that sells for about $140 and load it up with some 2496 wav files or the DR-05 that sells for under $100. SDHC cards are cheap and getting cheaper. Different cards could hold different genres of music.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
I have to tell you, Jim, that the new Beats Solo2 are very, very good. But your point is well made...they ought to get a few Koss Porta Pros, and Sennheiser PX100II to go along with the Grado SR60e. Cheap stuff can be quite good if you're selective.
Mr.TAD91's picture

How can they sound "very, very good?" They sound like muck. See my comment below.



DanGB's picture

You're not kidding about Phonon's unusual products!

KG_Jag's picture

Even my blind 90 year old aunt can see both of those shirts!

otaku2's picture


My HD280's are falling apart. If I needed another pair of folding, closed-back headphones, would you recommend them or something else?

RPGWiZaRD's picture


It's a shame these kinds of things only happen in the US and far eastern, I live in the wrong place.

RPGWiZaRD's picture

I hope you will audition the new Focal Spirit One S when you get the chance as it seems like a new budget killer that some may even prefer OVER Spirit Classic/Professional and it even comes with better pads than those and a sexy carrying case. Very interested in those.

XVampireX's picture

Hi Tyll, for a system you use daily, you sure know how to misspell it :P

Mr.TAD91's picture


You said the Beats Solo 2 are very, very good. I disagree.

I was in the apple store today and auditioned them with some 320s, and redbook from my phone - the Sony ZL.

The bass quality is a step up from the previous generation - but still wooly, and the mids are forward. There is nothing that impressed me about them, and it puzzles me as to why you would say: they're very, very good. A headphone like the NAD HP50 is very, very good. Do do you mean much better compared to the original solo and the solo HD?

PekaJ's picture

It isn't quite up to the Headroom store in Bozeman, but I'm glad little ole sleepy New York is catching up in sophistication with Bozeman.

I'm going to try and catch this event at Stereo Exchange. Smart move by them, and I think if it goes well, they will hopefully expand more into personal audio with more rooms, more inexpensive headphones and systems to show first timers how good their laptop or even portable music can sound for not much money. It used to be J&R and B&H were the only stores in NYC that had a decent selection of headphones to actually listen to prior to purchase, now J&R is gone. Great to see the dedicated audio stores getting more into personal audio before they are all gone too.

NickS's picture

I was over there today for the "opening event" and it was not a good shopping experience for me. I congratulate the store for trying something new, but the salesmen (all middle-aged white men) were not into it at all. How about hiring some younger salespeople who frequent this site and Head-Fi? *This* middle aged white guy would much rather get advice from a genuine enthusiast than someone who knows much less about headphones than me.

otaku2's picture


Too bad you got there early. I got there around 6PM, and there were a lot of manufacturers reps there, as well as Sterophile and ex-Stereophile staff, some of them not-quite-as-old-men. Everyone that I spoke to was knowledgeable and extremely will to help demo equipment.

NickS's picture

That is great to hear. I wish them well. However, I had a much better experience at the last Head-Fi meetup than here. I would suggest that they send their sales guys to the next meetup, so they can learn about the scene and see how it is done. The issue for me at the store was that the sales people were watching me like hawks when I was trying to listen. I was not sure if there was someone waiting for the equipment (there wasn't), if they were bored, or what. So, I felt very uncomfortable and left without really hearing the things I wanted to hear. Plus, one sales guy kept trying to pitch me while I was listening, which really works poorly when the customer is wearing IEMs! Still, I think NYC needs a headphone focused store and they can be it with some (a lot) of refinement.

bronson's picture

Please see if you can review all the Phonon gear - I clicked the link you provided and it's like entering another dimension of audio gear designed for aliens or something - lol.

Their PHD Black Star Edition from what I could make of it's description seems to be some kind of time travel device for audio waves? Pretty cool sounding for sure, unless it's snake oil in a different form factor...

warner321's picture

You did work very well. I really like and appreciated your work. I would like to say thanks for sharing this post here. Keep it up.
see my website