The Los Angeles Head Fi meets are starting reach a scale that puts them on par with many of local audio shows that criss cross the country. Rumor has it that an upcoming meet might even span the course of two days instead of the typical Saturday afternoon.
A great showing from vendors resulted in a few surprises and an excellent way to spend a day with fellow enthusiasts. I particularly enjoyed a conversation with Grace Audio designer Michael Grace, pictured above. Very intelligent and well spoken on complex subjects, Michael and I waxed DAC technicalities for quite some time on a toasty afternoon in the Los Angeles valley.
Showing off the same updated Grace M920 [that we saw at Capital AudioFest], Michael did have a new twist on the recently released DAC on hand for fun. Although he didn’t drop a name for it, the above headphone stand/DAC combination of sorts might provide an utilitarian solve for the desktop audio warrior in need. The removable upper appendage acts as holder for multiple sets of cans, all within the same footprint of the DAC.
I also got a chance to demo Darin Fong’s Out of Your Head software for the first time at the meet. A quick A/B lets you know that the effect is indeed not a subtle one. It very much accomplishes a sense of instrument placement that feels further from your ears than a typical headphone experience. The Transformers demo video he played for me through a Stax setup was definitely something unique. Those looking for a wider spread in their headphone listening experience should seek out a demo for themselves. Darin has also measured several sets of classic loudspeaker setups and simulated their sound as additional content for the software package. This software may even ease the transition for a few loudspeaker lovers into personal audio, or vise versa. An unintentional, real hand-holding, “Kum By Ya” piece of software for the industry, if you will.
One of our AH favorites, the Questyle CMA 800R ($1,500) was in the collective audience that day. Not only available for SE output, the rig on display was running the full dual mono treatment for attendees to enjoy in all its detail-ic splendor. The powerful setup was connected to the company’s own CAS 192D DAC ($1500). Additionally, the new head amp/DAC combo called CMA 800i was available for a listen and will retail for approximately $2k when it becomes available later this year.
Mr. Speakers hardly misses a show and the L.A. meet was no exception. An AH headphone review of his new offerings will be up soon on the site. In the meantime you can check out our review of the original Mad Dog [here]. Keyword search: Bang & Buck.
L.A. & Orange County Audio Society friend and personal audio enthusiast John Williams was manning the helm for Cavailli audio on Saturday.
In another side step into the market, pro audio company Apogee brought along a few goodies to the show. The Duet and One were originally designed as computer interfaces for computer recording, but have also been more recently adapted into preferred playback devices. As one might expect, the upper tier Symphony pictured above can handle DAC duties as well as A/D conversion. The starting $2k price tag (depending on configuration) costs surprisingly less and does quite a bit more (technically speaking) than many mid tier audiophile DAC options currently on the market.
The event was organized by Head-Fi’ers Ethan (Third_Eye) and Warren Chi who did an excellent job of managing the whole occasion and making sure everything went as smoothy as it did. Nice job boys, looking forward to the next one.