Big Sound 2015 Brian (NA Blur)

Brian used to live in Bozeman and we've spent some time together before. He used to work with a very good friend of mine, but we met because of HeadRoom and headphones, as I recall. He even helped me do some blind testing for burn-in and AKG K701s.

He went through the whole rigamaroll just like every one else did—he is, however, and engineering/physics dude by trade, and broke the record for note taking quantity, easily surpassing Bob Katz...and that's no easy task.

He did really well in the first blind test pitting the Bakoon, Moon, and Teton with the Sennheiser HD 800s. It's wildly swinging impedance response interacted strongly with the amps making it easy on the Bakoon, and tougher but doable between the Moon and Teton. Once we switched to the flat impedance response of the HE-1000 it was a totally different story. Here's where it gets tough. After a few too many misses we packed it up.

(Man, I've got a lot to say about how blind blind testing is.)

He went on to survey the field with zeal; determined to add his considered input to the qualities of all these top-of-the-line headphones and their harmonious pairings with the amps. His favorite headphones were the:

  1. Sennheiser HD 800
  2. Mr. Speakers Ether
  3. Audeze LCD-3

Brian has committed to writing more extensively in a Participant Report—and given the copious notes he took it's bound to be interesting—but you'll get a very good idea of where he's at in the video.

Good seeing you again, Brian!

Equipment List

Front End
NAS - Synology DS414 ($479)
Renderer - Aurender W20 (~$17,600);
Digital Distribution Amps - Four ATI DMM100 Digital Matchmakers
and one DDA212-XLR digital audio distribution amp ($1450).

Power Conditioning
PS Audio, two P10 power regeneration station ($4999) and four DecTet conditioned plug strips ($499).

AURALiC Vega DAC ($3499)
Simaudio MOON Neo 430 HA ($4300 w/DAC).
HeadAmp GS-X Mk2 ($2800)
Schiit Ragnarok ($1699) and Yggdrasil ($2299)
Burson Audio Conductor Virtuoso ($1495 w/PCM1793; $1995 w/ESS1908)
Woo Audio WA-234 ($15,900)
Antelope Audio Zodiac Platinum DSD DAC, Voltikus Power Supply, and 10M Rubidium Atomic Clock. ($13,045)
Apex High Fi Audio (TTVJ) Teton ($5000)
Eddie Current Black Widow ($1248)
Violectric V281 ($2299)
Bakoon HPA-21 ($2995) current output headphone amplifier.
KGSSSRE (Kevin Gilmore Solid State Special Reviewer's Edition E-Stat Amp ($Unobtanium)

Sennheiser HD 800 ($1599)
Audeze LCD-3 ($1945) and LCD-X ($1699)
JPS Labs Abyss AB-1266 ($5495)
Stax SR-009 ($4450) and SR-007 ($2350)
HIFIMAN HE-1000 ($3000)
Mr. Speakers Ether ($1499)
Enigmacoustics Dharma (~$1200)
Audio Zenith PMx2 ($1398)

Digital cables by AudioQuest.
Cable complements for wiring entire systems will be from: Nordost; JPS Labs; WyWires; Cable Pro; AudioQuest, and Cardas.

Headphone stands by Klutz Designs

Mr AC's picture

Tyll, it is really interesting to hear all of these different perspectives rather than the voice of just one single reviewer. One thing I have taken away from this so far is that there really aren't any clear favorites. At the end of the day it's a matter of taste. I guess everyone hears a bit differently and values different aspects of sound quality.

TMRaven's picture

So far the modded HD800 seems to be the most consistently liked.

Mr AC's picture

Pretty interesting since the HD800 came out in the beginning of 2009! In hi-fi years that is pretty much dead, but it's holding its ground amazingly well. Can't wait to hear what Sennheiser has in store for a sequel. I'm sure it will be amazing.

TMRaven's picture

I wouldn't really say that. Headphones aren't like computer technology, where something becomes obsolete within 2 years. The 600 and 650 still hold their ground very well against most flagships today, and are even better than most flagships in lots of ways, and those came out way before the hd800.

audiofly5's picture

Agreed. Lots of people have said that Theta Gen V is one of the best DAC they have heard and it's over 20 years old. I know a few people that prefere vinul to any DAC. My point being, we all have been mislead by some new-tech/high-rez hype train at some point. Some prefer to stay in the flow.

Jazz Casual's picture

Yes, it's consistently right up there and costs considerably less than the SR009, SR007, HE1000 and Abyss.

drWho2's picture

... Brian (NA Blur) expressed his opinions with reasonable clarity (on par with Aaron, yesterday).
SUCCINCT=Not too much, not too little ... just right. GOLDILOCKS!
These guys are are a refreshing break from most of the other BS-2015 participants.
I think the main problem with the other folks is that they (a) overthink/over-explain (Anax); (b) under-explain, often using too many hedge expression (maybe, kind of, etc.)
I've READ posts/blogs by some of the other participants -- Hands, Katz -- and they do much better IN PRINT.
IAC, to put into COHERENT LANGUAGE --verbal or written --what one experiences sensorily ain't easy. Scientists and philosophers have devoted much research into the subject. Even Wittgenstein gave up trying to develop a 'unified theory'. Initially [in the Tractatus] , he thought he had it, but later on, he found huge flaws in the Tractatus...
...some folks at Changstar and HydogenAudio fall into a Tractatus-like pseudo-conjecturing.
Sometimes, it's just better to go with "Blink" (your gut)...

bronson's picture

I'm definitely going to look into doing the hd800 mod after reading all these interesting reviews.