So I recently attended a Head-Fi meet and had the chance to listen to some great gear. Here are some impressions – please take these with a grain of salt as meet conditions really aren’t the proper environment for doing an in-depth evaluation.
MrSpeakers Ether C vs. Audeze LCD-XC
I was really interested in this matchup as I have the Audeze. The source was an AK 120 II connected to the Cavalli Audio Liquid Carbon outputting to the headphones in balanced mode. The Ether C offered up what I felt was a more natural sounding midrange than the LCD-XC’s that took a little bit of the edge off cymbals and Florence Welch’s vocals in “Ship to Wreck” and made Adele’s voice sound a touch warmer on “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)”. However, I felt that the Ether didn’t kick as hard as the LCD-XC in the bottom octaves. The LCD-XC’s were also seriously outgunned in the ergonomics department with the Ether C’s very light and comfortable frame, although the earcups seem smaller in person than in the photographs online.
Schiit Yggdrasil / Schiit Ragnarok / HD 800 S
Honestly, I didn’t like this setup at all. It sounded pretty lifeless and sterile. I’m not used to wearing HD 800’s, so it could’ve been a fit issue with the headphone. Not sure. I might have to listen to this system again just to give it another shot.
Schiit Yggdrasil / DNA Stratus / Audeze LCD-XC
The Stratus sounded muscular and offered plenty of drive. Once again, though, the Yggdrasil seemed to be the weak link. I simply could not get into the flow of the music as easily with my Ayre C-5xeMP / DNA Sonett 2 system. I know the Yggy is supposed to be the end-all of sources out there – I mean R2R DAC, closed form filter, fully balanced and discrete design, yada yada yada – but the combination simply wasn’t enjoyable. Maybe the Gungnir Multibit would’ve been a better choice as it’s warmer than the Yggy but still retains (I feel) the little details that audiophiles like.
I had such high hopes for the microZOTL 2.0 that I think it was hard for it to live up to them. Not sure what the source was but I did use my LCD-XC’s to do some listening. It sounded ok – more like good solid state than tubes. Perhaps more engaging than the tube stuff that Schiit has on offer, but I can’t really say for sure. I got the feeling it was a step down from the DNA Sonett 2, however. A little disappointed here.