Continuing from Part 2 of our RMAF 2019 Coverage:
No Headphone or Personal Audio show would be complete without Sennheiser. The HD 800 stands as the cornerstone and in many cases the propagator of the modern Personal Audio community. This year they decided to forgo the HE 1 room, much to the disappointment of many, and focused on the launch of their new True Wireless offering the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless IEMs ($299.95 USD) presenting an audiophile sound to the True Wireless field backed by their long history of wireless devices. The Momentum True Wireless IEMs feature Bluetooth 5.0, touch control, and a specialized App to configure their operation and sound profile. Also new was their Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless Over-ear Noise Cancelling Headphones ($399.95 USD), also Bluetooth 5.0 and App configurable, offering 17 hours of playback on a single charge and 3 Active Noise Cancelling Modes.
Green Energy LLC:
Probably the strangest booth in the Headspace ballroom (well there was a cosmetics company, but I couldn’t see how that related to Personal Audio at all) was Green Energy LLC who were displaying an array of their getgear custom cases, offering a large selection of cases for headphones, IEMs and DAPs on their website https://www.getgearcase.com/shop.
Upscale Audio is a Southern California brick & mortar high-end audio retailer who also hosts an on-line retail store as well as importing and distributing several European audio brands including Pathos Acoustics, Feliks Audio, and Prima Luna. Truly impressive was the Pathos Acoustics InPol Ear Reference Headphone Amplifier ($4,500 USD), a pure Class A tube hybrid amplifier capable of 3 watts into 32 ohms, with two 4 pin XLR balanced outputs as well as the one ¼” single ended output. Though what caught my ear was the PrimaLuna EVO 100 Integrated Tube Amp ($2,299 USD), able to pump 40 watts of power output via its speaker taps, it was an extremely musical amplifier.
Next stop Benchmark and there are few more aptly named brands. This is seen clearly in their new Benchmark HPA4 Headphone/Line Amplifier ($2,999 USD), the first Headphone Amplifier to employ THX AAA-888 amplifier design to reduce Harmonic, Intermodulation, and Crossover distortion by 20 to 40 dB. Also up for your consideration was their new Benchmark DAC3 B Reference Quality DAC ($1,699 USD) with four balanced 32 bit DAC chips that are summed together to produce 6 dB of noise reduction.
In an industry made up of unique personalities Andrew Spark is definitely one of them, and SparkoS Labs reflects that. In fact, he insisted that every visitor watch a short video presentation that established among other things, that the CEO of SparkoS was a dog. While he may approach life and business with a sense of humor, his designs are no joke. In their own words: “SparkoS Labs specializes in high performance audio, discrete op amps and regulators, electronic design engineering, PCB layout, circuit simulation and construction, and embedded systems.” Hence the small stack of circuit boards on their table, but what it of interest to us is their amazing new SparkoS Aries Heaphone Amplifier/Preamp (TBA). The feature list for the Aries includes over 20 bullet points, but what stood out for me was the -130 dBu Noise Floor (dynamic range for most amplifiers falls somewhere below 115 dB). I can certainly say that I am looking forward to being one of the first to review this product.
Danacable was on hand performing their impressive cable A/B tests, which entails having two pairs of the same headphones running off a single amplifier with only the cables in disparity. It never fails to show just how much difference a cable can make in resolution, phase linearity and tonal balance. Taking center stage was their Danacable Lazuli Ultra FC cable with silver sheathing ($1,999 USD).
Jerry Harvey Audio:
Another household name in the Personal Audio world is Jerry Harvey Audio who specialize in providing handcrafted Custom IEMs for the Music industry. Other than having their full line of CIEMs on display, Jerry Harvey Audio was demonstrating their new soon to be released Bluetooth IEM Cable (TBA) and their updated version of their High Purity OFC 4N Silver-Plated Litz Wire tunable Bass Attenuator IEM cable ($100 USD) with all new cable braiding.
We would like to thank Walter Liederman, affectionately known as Underwood Wally, for sponsoring our show coverage and making it possible for us to take our team of writers to this beautiful venue. Without the support of Underwood HiFi, it would have been difficult to provide our complete coverage and for that, we are truly grateful Please check out Wally’s website https://www.underwoodhifi.com/ and support him so we can continue to offer our special coverages.
To be Continued in part four of our RMAF 2019 coverage: