Metropolis Studios in West London is one of the last great recording studios in the British capital, and in the early months of the year it is home for a weekend to the Headroom Show, in association with headphone retailer, Audio Sanctuary. More than 50 brands rocked up again this year – 45 for the headphone world – to fill the four of the five studios and the bar section of the four-floor studio complex.
We recognise that there are a lot of shows crammed into the first few months of every year, and many of the products on show at Headroom have been seen several times in many different events across the globe, so rather than cover all the products at the event, we are going to focus largely on newcomers, or products that are new to the UK or Europe, as well as discuss some of the trends in this fast moving world.
UK makers of custom in-ear monitors for pro musicians, ACS has recently branched out with a trio of universal fit models, initially designed pragmatically as demonstration models for the custom designs. The single driver Evoke, three driver Evolve, and five driver Emotion are based heavily on the pro range and all feature detachable Danish cables. Prices range from £199-£749, with the custom in-ear versions costing around £50 more.
We’ve been selectively focusing on Audio Technica’s output both at CES and Bristol, in part because the company had so much to show. This time at Headroom, Audio Technica concentrated on its Pure Digital Drive technology in its Digital Wireless headphone range. The two models – the £299 ATR-DSR7BT and £499 ATR-DSR9BT – both feature an innovative 45mm ‘True Motion D/A diaphragm that couples with a Trigence Dnote chipset. This feeds a digital datastream direct to a multi-layer voice coil on the carbon-composite drive unit, via a modulated power supply voltage. This is akin to taking Wadia’s concept of the ‘power DAC’ even further, right to the drive unit itself.
The aptX, NFC compatible Bluetooth headsets support AAC and SBC codecs to 24-bit, 96kHz, and include a USB combination charger and signal cable for wired connections to Macs and PCs. The difference between the two models include improved materials and finish, but more importantly more layers to the voice coil on the higher-end model.
The Chord Company
The Chord Company launched its ShawCan headphone cable from the company’s Shawline collection. This cable uses silver-plated copper conductors, with a PTFE dielectric, a carbon-composite shield, and a braided outer jacket. The design uses a variation of the company’s Super ARAY conductor geometry so successfully used in its top lines of interconnect cables. Currently available with connectors for mono or stereo jacks, mini jacks, 2-pin IEM, mini XLR, LEMO, and more, we got to hear these on a pair of Audeze through a Chord Electronics DAC and the difference was marked. Prices start from £275 for a 1.5m cable.
It’s worth repeating periodically that despite The Chord Company using a Chord Electronics DAC, and despite The Chord Company and Chord Electronics frequently turning up at the same shows (including this one), the two brands are entirely unrelated and based on different sides of the country. OK, so it’s a small country…