Disclaimer: The star of this week’s picture Sunday is Fujiya Avic’s 2017 Fall Headphone Festival. Wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, Nathan went there.
I just came back from Fujiya Avic’s latest and greatest headphone show. There was a lot of stuff there. I was there both days. Still, I saw only a tiny fraction of it all. Why? I’m just one guy. I had other meetings. My bag was heavy as hell. The biggest reason is that I’ve reached headphone fatigue. Every show is like the last, but with more and expensiver stuff. And I attend each armed with a Grado GR8e and/or a MyST Nail 3, both of which I’ve had for three years.
I plug each into my high-end iPhone SE, preparing for the audiophile evil eye. Excepting Sean Chan, audiophiles are nice blokes and blokets (more and more every year) cross-eyedly interested in own systems. And gosh, there are some crazy systems out there. Just check this one out. It sounded really airy. Great stuff. Forty kilograms. Many Bothans died to bring this thing across Tokyo.
While high-end stuff has become completely boring to bother about, I really enjoyed the new Ultrasone Edition 15. Not only is it packed really nicely in a tight leather box, its sheep skin pads are heavenly, its velour secondary pads nearly as good, and its general fit and finish is off the charts. It’s like 3.300$, but hey, it feels, looks, and holds many many many times better than at least one headphone I’ve tried that is twice as expensive. Edition 15: good stuff.
Even in the face of 10.000$ earphones (which I tried), 6.000$ headphones (tried), and many-thousands of dollars of DAPs (tried), it’s wireless stuff that really grabs me. But not just any wireless: wireless created by companies that care to make something better. Better means: more comfortable, better wearing, and with great battery life. There’s like one company out there that nails each and every point. That is RHA. The wireless MA750 is insane. It sounds as close to the original 750 as I’ve heard but gets up to 18 paces of wireless line-of-sight connection even in a crowded, Wi-Fi’d, Bluetooth’d, and sweaty conference room. Better yet, its shoulder yoke is flexible. You can crumple it up in a wad and stuff it in your pocket. No other yoked wireless cable or earphone does the same.
RHA: sick as hell.
Other notables: FitEar Air2 – could not be more different than Air1, which was thick across the mids. This one is more airy, contrasty, and extended in the highs. The Campfire Audio team also loved it. Speaking of, Campfire Audio’s Polaris is great. Not as layered as Andromeda, but fits better and has similarly neutral pressure down the line. Radius have a cool iOS-compatible DAC with play/pause and volume controls. It outputs very little hiss and otherwise sounds good. Finally, the Sennheiser IE800 S is great. Improvements especially to the highs, it is better balanced and looks great in matte. I got to hear the new 660, but not long enough.
And that’s that.