Headroom, a tremendous event at the Metropolis recording studios behind Chiswick High Street at the Power House. The venue is an independent recording and mastering studio used formerly by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Queen, U2, The Verve, and Adele to name but a few. The venue itself is distinctive, set in and around the studios and mixing desks with monitors lying around casually in corners.
One of my highlights was listening to the Oppo HA-1 headphone amp/DAC with PM-1 headphones versus a nice pair of equivalent Grado headphones using the same source with a superduper balanced headphone cable. I preferred the PM-1s to the Grados I heard, though I’m not sure what model I was listening to. I would say, though, really you need to have a decent hour or so of listening.
I also had the chance to look and feel the pre-production HA-2, ‘very’ portable headphone amp. I was really rather nice, with a ‘Dunhill’ leather feel that you just want to caress. Connected via a mini USB to a Samsung phone it was a joy to listen to when paired with the new Oppo PM-3s; a closed back product unlike the 2s and 1s,, and presumably aimed at the ‘beats’ high street look. The HA-2 is due in March at or around £400, the PM-3 headphones on a similar time-scale and price, I’ll update this blog when I know more.
More information from Oppo is available here…https://www.oppodigital.com/
A new launch at the show was the Chord Hugo TT (Table Top) DAC/headphone amp. Another aesthetically pleasing product which I had another only brief listen to. But at twice the price of the original Hugo, I’m not sure, although it does contain a high quality bluetooth codec which is an interesting non-wired portable music solution (phone, bluetooth, no wires, Hugo TT in pocket with proper headphones, no rummaging?) What I would say is that many of the exhibitors I saw on Saturday were using a Hugo for their own demo purposes, whether TT or original.
Another highlight at the headroom™ show was a chat with ACS’s Andy Shiach. ACS are the custom in-ear monitor company based in Oxfordshire. They are due to launch a new in-ear monitor this quarter with memory foam inserts, and they fit like little gloves in you ears, beautiful. As someone who struggles to keep buds in, these are winners. The three driver product I heard was outstanding and I’m looking froward to a bit of ACS accompanied dog-walking! More information from ACS here. http://acscustom.com/uk/
Also exhibiting were Melco whose presentation on streaming audio data was a bit of an eye opener. Alan Ainslie gave a hugely detailed presentation on audio data storage, up and down sampling, recording integrity and data verification. Their product solution for audiophiles; a verified high resolution digital music library without parallel. I’ll do a bit of digging on this one but it is probably the most perfect digital representation of a music file that it is possible to get. Lots more here. http://melco-audio.com/
I have to say, sadly, I walked past Musical Fidelity, Grado, KEF and Shure as well as others but not for lack of interest but because there was so much other stuff to look at and listen to. Next time, next year, I’m sure.