I hope it’s ok to expand on the scope of the title just a little bit.
2020 - Year in review
It has been quite a drastic year for me. 2020 saw me change direction completely, and it was not an easy decision.
I went from an all out e-stat setup to camp dynamic. I sold off the 009, 007, L700, KGSSHV and Octave III. There were two main reasons for this change.
First, I had a taste of ZMF. All Stax were open back and I needed a good closed back alternative. I got a used set of Eikon in late 2018, then upgraded to the VC at launch. This set me down a road of evaluating my preferences. I valued the effortlessness and extremely detailed sound of Stax, but ZMF had shown me that there was something missing. Body, impact, weight. I just couldn’t ignore how these aspects of the sound made me enjoy my ZMF cans so much.
Second, I always felt that I was handling very sensitive equipment that had no reliable warranty and could potentially develop a channel imbalance that would not be cheap to fix. I was always a bit nervous when handling and listening to the SR-009.
So, a decision was made. It was time for me to get out of e-stats altogether. Since I already enjoyed my closed back ZMF cans so much, the obvious choice was to get more ZMF cans. I heard on Tyler’s ZMF live stream that Wenge was the next LTD edition for Auteur. I had already seen some pictures of an earlier pair of Wenge Auteurs on a HF thread and really liked how they looked. I also thought that a more neutral headphone would be a great fit in my setup. I contacted Zach in early July about pre-ordering a set. No problem, Zach was great (as always) to deal with and soon I was listed on the Auteur sheet. With things going on at ZMF with new production equipment and a move to a new shop it would take a while for my Auteurs to be ready. But that turned out to be a good thing, because a lightly used pair of Verites in great condition turned up for sale somewhat near me. Long term I already had the VO’s in my sights, so I just couldn’t refuse such an opportunity.
Other bits and bobs I picked up in 2020: HD650, R70x, Loxije P20, a bunch of headphone cables.
2021 - looking ahead
I feel that the headphone side of my setup is pretty much set. I don’t want to have too many headphones around because I would not really have time to listen to them to justify the expenditure. The ones I now have are enough.
However, there is also electronics. I will now turn my attention to dacs and amps. In order
to not make things unnecessarily complicated I will probably just get a Bifrost 2 and be happy. Sure, I could go dac hunting and compare X and Y and end up spending way too much time in the rabbit hole. But I believe a BF2 will see me happy enough and save a lot of time and money.
Now, amp wise. This is where the rabbit hole widens. I look forward to exploring the world of tube amps. My experience so far is limited to the LD MK II, Torpedo 1 and Loxije P20. Since I have pretty much reached my end game on the headphone side, I want an amp that can do them justice. I have spotted a few interesting candidates so far:
- Cayin HA-6A
- Ultrasonic Studios Oblivion or Citadel
- Feliks Elise or Euforia
- ECP T4 (if it gets back in production)
I would like to get two amps, one smaller for desktop duty and a bigger one for the living room. But I will have to see what funds permit, I will probably just get one amp in 2021.