An Audiophile Weekend in the Midwest

Sonic Hemisphere The Fidelity Monitor

This was a busy weekend in the Midwest for those interested in the finer arts of audio listening.  My journey began with a 3-hour road trip to the great state of Michigan.  Much to my chagrin, I was greeted with driving sleet and snow for most of the drive which a bit unexpected for April, even for me. There was quite a bit of flooding this weekend as a result of the persistent rain, and Michigan was no exception.  I saw some ducks swimming through the backyard of the riverside house pictured below.

It was just a short hop over to Lansing for the spring head fi meet at Michigan State’s Kellogg Center.  The good folks that attended were very friendly and offered up a warm vibe the entire afternoon, a stark contrast from the 28 degree temperatures that greeted us earlier that morning.  The room was set up perfectly for a meet. Special thanks to head fi user blitzxgene for putting all the details together, nicely done. Blitz brought a couple of special items with him in tow.  The first was the Audio-Gd Reference 10.32 ($1,850) and the second was a heavily modded pair of Denon D-2000s.  The former served triple duties as a DAC, pre amp and balanced headphone amplifier.

Audio-Gd Reference 10.32

His updated D-2000s featured a “MarkL” mod, new ear pads, new wooden ear cups and a custom cable by Aphrodite Cu29.

Modded Denon D2000 Headphone

OnSong audio was also in attendance with their Calyx 24/192 DAC ($1,950) and the new Allnic HPA5000 8-tube OTL headphone amplifier ($5,500).

Allnic HPA5000 Headphone Amplifer

Although not quite as romantic, a V-Moda M100 to a Fiio E11 still gets the job done.  There were some cool custom plates installed on this pair as well.

V Moda M100 and Fiio E11

For a one-piece system, the popular Oppo BDP-105 will do in a pinch.  Connected to a pair of Fostex T50RP here.

Head-Fier j123my gave attendees a rare opportunity to listen to the Bottlehead Crack head amp with and without the speedball upgrade. He felt the most noticeable change from the upgrade was tighter, more refined low end. Paired here with a Sennheiser HD600.

Bottlehead Crack Headphone Amplifier Speedball upgrade

Loudspeakers were not left out of the mix altogether. The group had a little after-hours party in an adjacent room with the reasonably priced pair of Emotiva Airmotiv 4 powered speakers ($350).  Clarity and imaging were remarkable for $350 through this little computer setup.  The three power cords featured here are the Shunyata Venom 3.

Airmotiv 4 powered speaker

I asked the attendees what their favorite headphone was, and to my surprise, the Beyerdynamic DT880 was the most popular headphone mentioned.  I am a big fan of this headphone, as it was also one of the first audiophile-type headphones I ever owned.  I still love the sound to this day. It’s not quite as refined as the flagship T1, but for $300 its one of my top recommendations.

From there it was back up to northern Chicago for the monthly Chicago Audio Society meeting.  This gathering of the souls featured a new Chicago-based speaker company called Sonic Hemisphere. The Fidelity Monitor ($2,250) on display features the same 7” woofer and 1” inch aluminum/magnesium dome tweeter as its full-size, floor-standing big brother the Fidelity One ($6,750). Both the Fidelity One and Monitor feature a front-facing port, which according to the manufacture, is designed to add a little love to both the bass and the midrange.  The monitors were connected to balanced Clayton Audio monoblocks and Cary preamp.  The Oppo BDP-105 made a second appearance that weekend as the source.

Sonic Hemisphere Fidelity Monitor