Editor’s Note: Before we dive into Hubcon 2022 coverage, let’s take care of the elephant in the room—what the hell is Hubcon? Hubcon is a gathering of Part-Time Audiophile writers and editors. During our planning of this strategic-social event several exotic locations were discussed: those included Toronto, Hawaii, and Cartagena. Alas, we decided on something closer to home for our initial outing—the state of North Carolina. Home to both Dave McNair and Eric Franklin Shook, and within reach of Grover Neville, Graig Neville, and Jameson Mourafetis. In short, Hubcon is where love and audiophilia meet and shake hands.
Jameson Mourafetis and All That Head-Fi Stuff
Q: What do you do with someone that just hangs around the publication for five years?
A: You make them a contributor.
Words and Photos by Eric Franklin Shook
To be fair I’m poking a bit of fun, and as dismissive as that quip sounds the reality is far from that. The addition of Jameson Mourafetis is something that we at Part-Time Audiophile have been waiting for, for a long time. It’s long overdue, but he’s finally on the team, a part of the squad, and in the PTA War Room on a daily basis.
What Jameson Mourafetis brings to Part-Time Audiophile is an encyclopedic knowledge base of head-fi and ultra-fi components, and their shifting marketplace trends.
His experience with the high-end lifestyle extends well beyond the boundaries of high-end audio, as his expertise runs the gambit of all things lux, such as: Michelin star restaurants, exotic cars, luxury timepieces, lavish seafaring vessels, and exclusive destinations.
Headphones On Speaker Amps??
I’m not even sure what day it was, as most of us didn’t keep track of the day of the week. Nor did we really keep track of the passing hours, a seemingly shared symptom of Hubcon 2022. Had I taken everyone’s watches and phones away for the weeklong adventure, I doubt any of our attendees would have noticed. If in six months you were to ask everyone who attended as to what month Hubcon was, you’d probably get several different answers in your tally.
But after what seemed like an endless night at Ovation Sound Studios, where Grover Neville and myself found ourselves nicely tucked in between the crossroads of art and machine. Waking up the next afternoon in a domestic setting with head-fi gear strewn about us, almost had us feeling like we were back at the studio.
Jameson being the early riser, had unpacked a few of his high-end headphones, requisite custom cables, and transformer boxes. The clattering of the clamor awoke me from my well needed beautyrest. But this is Hubcon, and sleeping is for the weak.
Going Down The Abyss
Having found a flight of stairs a little too difficult a journey the night before, I found myself introduced to the new day by waking up face-to-face with a pair of Abyss AB1266 headphones.
While, Jameson and Grover were busy making the necessary connections and adjustments to the Hubcon system, required to power headphones via either the VAC Statement monoblocks, or the Ampsandsound Bryce monoblocks. I fetched myself some well needed coffee. Thanks Dave.
After a few sips of coffee
I soon discover that Jameson’s dandy little transformer box presents a stable 6 Ohm load to the monoblock amplifiers, allowing the attached headphones to play successfully, but also not short the amplifiers. He can explain it all better than I can, but in the end, everything sounded great and really informed the group as to how special the VAC and Ampsandsound amplifiers (and upstream components) really are.
Imagine putting a microscope or stethoscope up to the hi-fi system. That’s what this felt like. Along with the most gripping and deep bass you’ve ever heard from a headphone. It’s quite jarring.
The RAAL Life Sound
Now, I would never call the Abyss headphones conventional. They require a bit of a gap in the ear-pad placement, between pad and skull–weird right? But in comparison to the RAAL headphones Jameson had us try next, even a plate of Bojangles’ biscuits on top of my head would seem more like normal behavior.
The RAAL Requisite SR1a headphones are a true ribbon design, that work less like a headphone, and more like an (n)earfield monitor. It’s all about soundfield imaging folks. The SR1a removes everything we could hate about room reflections and holds tightly to everything we love about a true stereo presentation.
The gnarly bit of all this, is that these “earfield monitors” require a solid 100 wpc to function at optimal levels. Attached to the VAC electronics, we were double dosed with what could be unparalleled impressions of space, speed, and accuracy.
Audeze on The Master
Even when we took the new Audeze LCD-5 headphones over to the studio, our own Dave McNair was quite impressed with where Audeze found the room to improve on two existing design concepts and present a benchmark product with equal prowess for both studio and in-home use.
Does this move Dave and myself away from favoring the traditional two-channel experience? Possibly.
A review of the new Audeze LCD-5 is in progress, and is forthcoming from our own Jameson Mourafetis.