Facebook to Lift Trump Suspension Tesla Breaks Sales Record Razer Edge Game Handheld MoviePass Beta 'Succession' Season 4 Trailer 'Poker Face' Review This Robot Can Liquify Mental Health Exercises
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you

Headphone mania hits White Plains, NY

Head-Fi's NY celebration of all things related to headphones was a feast for the ears.

Head-Fi founder Jude Mansilla and the Audiophiliac
Michael Trei

I attended the Head-Fi "meet" last Saturday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in White Plains, NY. Head-Fi is a grass roots online community that reviews and discusses headphones, in-ear monitors (IEMs), headphone amplifiers, and music. Head-Fi's core is its discussion forums, where on average 3,000+ posts covering all aspects of headphones are made nearly every day. Head-Fi started in the U.S., but now has meets in Canada, England, Australia, Denmark, Singapore, and all over the world! You can join Head-Fi for free or just enjoy the site. I've attended a number of NY meets over the years, and had a good time at each one.

If you have a more than casual interest in headphones, check out the Head-Fi Web site, and see if there's a meet coming up near you. Head-Fi-ers are a friendly lot, and the meets are a great way to hear all sorts of exotic and rare headphones, and check out the members' home-made headphone amplifiers. A few small headphone gear manufacturers were also on hand to demonstrate their wares.

A Ray Samuels RB-71B prototype headphone amp, with my Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor in-ear headphones. Steve Guttenberg
My friend Michael Trei checking out the Jecklin Float headphones Steve Guttenberg

Ray Samuels Audio was showing a prototype of a fully-balanced portable headphone amplifier, the SR-71B. Balanced technology is the hot ticket for the Head-Fi crowd, and one listen will convince newcomers as to its effectiveness. The SR-71B uses a custom-designed lithium ion battery pack that produces 16.8 volts DC. I first listened to the 3.25 by 0.7 by 2.25 inch powerhouse amp with a set of full-size Sennheisers, which were sounding better and more dynamic than ever before. The fact that I heard that much oomph from a portable amp was just that much more amazing. I also listened to the wee amp with a set of Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor in-ear headphones (review in the works). The SR-71B will be on the market sometime around the end of the year for $600 or $650, but Samuels has other models with prices under $300.

I had never heard a Jecklin Float Electrostatic headphone before the Saturday meet, but a Head-Fi member had one there and it was really cool. The headphone's upside-down "U" shape design barely presses against your ears, so it's nice and comfy. The sound wasn't my taste, but it's a really interesting design, manufactured from the 1980s into the 1990s.

Head Direct's Fang Bian was demonstrating his new HM-601 player, which is similar to the HM-602 ($439). The new one lacks some of the HM-602's features like the USB digital-to-analog converter, and it has a smaller onboard flash memory, but the HM-601 retails for just $259! It sounded big and beautiful playing a Sennheiser HD-600 full-size headphone, which is something my iPod Classic can't do. Bian was also showing off his HE-6 headphone, which might be serious competition for the Audeze LCD-2 headphone I recently raved about.

Head-Direct's Fang Bian is a regular fixture at Head-Fi meets Steve Guttenberg