So, the big day is nearly upon us... I thought I'd take a minute to run through a few pointers that might help you negotiate the day to your best advantage.
Firstly, there is the question of what to bring. It might sound a little hyperbolic, but I really mean when I say that the more you can bring the better. Obviously you might have to draw a line at dragging your 300kg monoblocks along, so at a minimum I would suggest the following:
- Some reference tracks, ideally on a USB drive (there will probably be a limited selection of CD and vinyl transports available, but computer based audio is going to be by far the more ubiquitous option). You simply can't beat adjudicating the merits of a headphone against something you know well. Will the HD800 really elucidate details you've never heard from your most-loved tracks, or is all that audiophile talk of microdetails and soundstage so much snake oil? Only one way to find out, and the best way is to run them against tracks you know (or think you know!) inside and out.
- Your headphones. I know a lot of you will be wanting to hear aspirational headphones like the HD800 and LCD-3, but even if your headphones don't roll in that dollar range, don't dismiss out of hand their usefulness on the day. Your headphones are a known quantity, just like your reference tracks. Even if they won't scale high enough to reveal the limits of some of the best desktop rigs, they'll be a familiar point of comparison against other headphones and rigs. Does the LCD-2 really wallop your M50 for bass extension? Does the Taurus MKII really, truly, sound that much better than your E17? Impressions of sound are fleeting at best, even for the gear we know the most intimately, so make sure your comparisons are as fresh as you can possibly make them.
- Interconnects/adapters cables. If you're bringing a DAP or portable external DAC then you really want to be able to try it out with the widest possible selection of gear, and for that you'll want to be able to connect to it to various ports and arcane non-standard connectors. Whether it's the USB port on a PC, the micro USB port on an Android device, a proprietary Apple connection, a Ray Samuels Audio micro balanced connection, or an S/PDIF port, the point is that there are more standards out there than you can shake a stick at. Do your best to ensure you can hear the gear in the fashion that best suits your use-case scenarios.
Bring reference tracks
Bring your headphones
Bring all the interconnects you can possibly think of that you might need.
Bring your enthusiasm and maybe some friends! This is a first for NZ, and something we'd like to do annually - you can help make that happen.
(Oh, and if you're planning to bring your own desktop rig to show, please fire me a PM at Head-Fi as you will need some additional details)