I didn’t get to spend very much time in the marketplace at the 2019 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, but I had one booth I really wanted to visit–Drew Baird’s Moon Audio. Drew’s booth was very much like a CanJam event where you could compare top headphones with top headphone amps, all to your heart’s content. Moon Audio has established itself as not only one of the finest headphone system retailers in the country, but also as a vanguard for innovative design. I explored this in the Spring Issue of The Occasional, when I reviewed Moon Audio’s wonderful Dragon Inspire IHA-1 tube headphone amp, which was developed with Dennis Had, and Drew’s own Silver Dragon headphone cable. It was one of the finest headphone rigs I’ve heard.
At the Moon Audio booth at RMAF 2019, I took this all a step further. I plunked down in one of the chairs, right in front of the awesome-looking Auris Audio Nirvana tube amplifier (starting at $5,799) and Aurender music server and asked Drew’s crew to help me compare some of my favorite headphones using Tool’s title track from their new album Fear Inoculum. I finally settled on a battle between the Focal Utopias ($3999) and the HiFiMan SUSVARAs ($6000). I loved both–the SUSVARA had incredible clarity, lots of air and silky smooth highs, while the Focals were more convincing in the low frequencies. I would happily live with either one of these incredible headphones.
Going back to the spirit of innovation at Moon Audio, one of Drew’s crew asked me to test a third pair of cans against the SUSVARAs and Utopias–a pair of HiFiMan HE-6s ($1299) that included about $400 worth of his modifications. “Feel free to tell me if these suck,” he explained before I slipped them on my head. While the two premium headphones were more open and airy, the modded HE-6s were in the same ball park in terms of musicality.
This exercise proved that Drew and the folks at Moon Audio are constantly striving to improve the listener experience through constant research and testing. This is one of the reasons why Moon Audio has become such a trusted resource for all types of personal audio gear, and a reminder that if you’re not visiting Drew and his people at high-end audio trade shows you’re surely missing out.