NOTE: Dear old Ω inserted a picture of CTM customs instead of Rhines Customs as the lead in to the Rhines section. Many thanks to @furafura_walker for pointing out my mistake. The CTM earphones were pretty damn cool, too.
Fujiya Avic's Spring 2014 show was great. But being the Disneyland of headphone events, no one person can capture it all in one go. In retrospect, I didn't really get around all that well. For better coverage, check out Headfonia's pictorial essay and the official Headfi Fujiya Avic 2014 thread.
For the sake of brevity (and server strain), I have split my impressions up into several categories. Today's will be headphones.
Thanks to new pads and a kinder headband, the new T51p is lighter and more comfortable than the T50p. Its sound is also clearer. Definitely worth a listen.
Same ergonomics as before, but you can now opt for pleather rather than velour pads. 32Ω is more friendly for portable players, but you'll need a portable amp to get good volume out of these phones. Despite great isolation, I pushed my iPod 5G to about 90% of the volume before feeling comfortable- and I'm the guy that - for bed listening - wished the iPod touch's first volume step was quieter.
Ocharaku & Surround
Both Ocharaku's new, treble-leaner earphones, and the new Surround label, rocked the house. I'll be reviewing the entire lineup at Headfonia. As always, Mr. Negishi's handiwork is not only top notch, but industry-first top-flight pioneering awesomeness.
Musica Acoustics' table proudly displayed Tralucent's newly-tuned 1Plus2. As always, quick, detailed, and boasting a great sound stage, this is an earphone to keep an eye on.
I didn't spend much time with any single headphone at this year's event, and with Soul's LOOP even less. My few minutes strapped to the LOOP were comfortable, hip, and surprising.
The new universal earphone is simply called fitear. That may change. As may everything else. I am told nothing is set in stone. The current design sits flatter and more secure than Parterre and 111 variants, and is much smaller than the ToGo!334. It takes heavy design cues from FitEar's custom earphones. Sound is a mix: not quite as exciting a top-end as Private 333 (which I love), but certainly clearer and more aggressive than ToGo!334. Bass is tight with good transitions, but retains some sway. It may be the FitEar universal for trance and EDM music.
I am also a big FitEar fan. While I don't jive with every product they make, I love their attention to detail and focus on inventing new technologies. I have reviewed the following FitEar earphones.
1. FitEar Private 333
2. FitEar ToGo!334
TOP OHMAGE of SHOW: Rhines and Dita Audio
But the two biggest standouts for me were Rhines Custom Monitors, and Dita Audio's new balanced Truth Edition (about which Dita spilled the beans prior to the show). In no particular order:
This bad boy rocked my boat. Completely. The proviso is that I was listening to music I didn't know out of a player (Astell&Kern AK240) I don't own. Still, in back-to-back comparisons, the balanced version is brilliant. Tighter bass-mid transitions, better stereo separation, natural reverb, and sweet upper midrange ring. These things have nailed 'great'.
As you know, I love Dita's earphones.
Also demoed was a new interconnect, wired with Van den Huul's famous guts. As you can see, it is truly flexible, and well classy.
Rhines Customs impressed the audio geek in me with solid, spacious sound. But next to many counterparts around the world, they confound. Build quality, finish, even printing, are top notch. Their plates are smooth, excellently machined, and their shells are among the cleanest out there. Years from now, they are destined to be one of the custom earphone manufacturers people still talk about.