HeadRoom in for a Quickie

Mike (left) and Jamey (right) from HeadRoom.

The folks from HeadRoom and I get along just fine—I often go down to their storefront and ask if they've gotten anything good in lately, and likewise I'll often fill them in on new stuff that's come my way.

Today it was my turn hosting the HeadRoom crew for a quick listen to some of the new high-end headphones before they had to go into town and open the store.

I've known Jamey, Mike, and Jeremy (not pictured, he came in after we had done the video), for years, and I can assure you they've heard a whole lot of headphones—likely more than most enthusiasts. Of course, their focus—like mine—of necessity runs towards un-modified, stock headphones, making them a good data point for folks interested in these high-end cans, but not really into the whole DIY modding scene.

The guys did not do the blind testing as time would not permit, but the did get a good hard listen to the headphones present at Big Sound 2015. No notes were taken; it was a hear-and-dash sort of affair, so their impressions on the video will have to suffice.

This was the last visit to Big Sound 2015, and from here on in we'll be seeing some more Participant Reports, and various thoughts of mine. I will, at the very end, report my findings and let you know who topped my leaderboard and what gear will end up on the Wall of Fame and why.

Subsequently, I will be doing full reviews on the important gear, but not under the Big Sound 2015 banner.

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

zobel's picture

Would have liked their take on your modded HD800's. Also, would have liked everyone's comparison to your HD600's (if they aren't the ones you were working on that ate your pliers.).
Thanks for the reviews to all!

Jazz Casual's picture

I enjoyed these guys impressions. The Abyss is indeed a strange beast and an ergonomic misstep.

Stevelgbch's picture

Yeah, where were they? After all these discussions, I was thinking that might be the headphone that I wanted to get next. And, was this the first time we heard about the break up with the HE1000's? Also been wondering why you didn't use the Auralic Taurus amp? All in all, great reporting. Loved the videos.

Seth195208's picture

Short term "wow" can quite often equal long term fatigue, and short term "boring" can quite often equal long term bliss. Not always, of course, but probably more often than not. Blind testing or just plain short term listening is of course worthless in that regard.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
But it's better than not having listened at all. Just doing what I can.
Seth195208's picture

Absolutely! Also a very informative one.

ab_ba's picture

I agree with basically everything Mike said about the headphones! His experiences matched my own startling well, and it's really cool to find someone like that - it makes it easy to take their recommendations in the future.

I stopped in at HeadRoom when I was visiting Big Sound. The place was awesome! Talking to Jamey was a delight. I wish there could be a HeadRoom here in Pittsburgh. Actually, I wish they were everywhere!

I gotta say, with Tyll, HeadRoom, and Todd the Vinyl Junkie all in/near Bozeman, I think folks there have it so good, and most of them probably have no idea...

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Come visit November through March. We do know how good we've got it because for half the year we suffer for it.
Jamey Warren's picture

Sorry we left the HD800 out of the video.

I can't speak for Mike but in the short amount of time we had, I still felt that the HD800 did most everything right. I own a pair and I'm not rushing to replace them any time soon. Of course, I can listen to most any headphone at HeadRoom.

If I didn't already own the HD800, they would likely still be my first choice in the $1000 and up range.

As for the modifications on Tyll's pair, I felt it tamed the highs nicely. I'm looking forward to trying the next anax mod on my own pair.

Mrip541's picture

I bought my first "real" headphones from the headroom website back in the day. I flew out of Bozemon this winter after some skiing and planned to stop by but I was late for my flight! I had to settle for driving by just to make sure it actually exists. Incredibly sad times.