This past weekend, Darin Fong Audio exhibited as a vendor at the SoCal Head-Fi meet. This meet was huge with over 325 headphone enthusiasts attending. It was SO busy at our table the I gave well over 100 demos to attendees. I didn’t even have time to sit or eat all day!
But it was great to meet everyone and give the demos. The best part about the demos is seeing the looks on people’s faces as they are in complete disbelief about what they are hearing. The sudden outbursts are even better! Some of the top spontaneous reactions are “Oh my God!”, or “What the heck?”, or my favorite and the most popular, “Holy Crap!” This happens almost every time. Or sometimes people are just speechless and keep looking around trying to figure out if there are speakers in the room somewhere. It’s really entertaining to watch!
Here’s some of the early impressions/reviews of their experience at the Out Of Your Head demo:
Now onto the audio impressions. Overall, I have to say that I was a bit underwhelmed by the different set-ups that I heard. I always hear great things being said about the different headphones and set-ups that were at the event. However, to me, a lot of them sounded, bland to be honest. I’m not confusing this with neutral, but bland and dull. A lot of the set-ups felt like they were holding the headphones back from what they can really do. The legendary HD800 at some of the vendors sounded muddy which took me by great surprise. The amazing Audeze headphones sounded weak in a lot of the vendor set-ups that I heard. Towards the end of the day I really was asking myself, was I expecting too much?
But alas, the answer was no. There were actually three vendor set-ups that I thought sounded fantastic which are:
The first was at the Darin Fong Audio booth with the Stax-009 headphone. The headphones were able to produce sound that, did not sound like they were coming from the side of your head. Everything just sounded natural and open I found myself looking around like a dog chasing its own tail. With its open back design, it was natural for me to be able to hear Darin talk right behind. What I did no expect was to be hear musical elements that sounded further away than Darin, and then closer. From what I understand, the Out of Your Head software provides a 7 speaker surround sound experience with headphones with 7 different directions. But there was more to it than just direction. There was also depth to the sound. I was able to clearly tell apart when something was happening closer or further to me and in what position. Furthermore, I was able to do this in a crowded and loud room but still be able to distinguish where the sound was coming from. Amazing. Just amazing. I’m not sure whether this was due to the headphones or the software, but the combination rocked my socks! The Stax headphone just sounded so natural to me. I’m kind of at a lost for words. Needless to say, I am seriously considering buying a license from Darin.
– from member Veetastic on Head-Fi
Here’s another review:
The meet was fantastic this year and a bit larger than last year so I barely had any time to look at the non-vendor tables. As someone who went to both this year and last year’s meet, I can easily say this year was way bigger and crazier in a good way. Can’t wait for next year’s already.
Some things that really stood out:
1. Darin Fong’s audio program was exquisite. I can’t believe I haven’t found any programs similar to it yet so it does indeed seem one of a kind. It is really awesome and I highly recommend people take a listen. He offers free trials on his software on his website so I really think everyone should try it out. It’s really something. Mad props.
-from member GoldenSHK on Head-Fi
And another one:
I had my reservations coming into this meet, considering that I wasn’t really looking forward to replacing any of my current setup. I just wanted to simply compare how the Grado 225i, which I brought with me, stacks up against the big boys. Well, it was quite overwhelming, to say the least, just to see so many high end stuff on display that I almost forgot about making such comparisons. The meet was certainly worth it; although, I wished I had come in a bit earlier, instead of doing a walk-in during that afternoon.
The game-changer for this meet happened once I visited Darin Fong’s corner. It just blew my mind. I’ve heard plenty enough of these types of surround sound processing in my days (from the long gone Aureal Vortex 3D to whatever’s current) but nothing was more impressive than the software he created. The surround integration was so convincing I was just astounded by it, not to mention such a simplistic interface within the program. With people chatting behind me I kept turning my head around thinking that there were speakers literally set up in the room interfering with what I’m about to experience. I didn’t know it was already happening – and that’s what the amazing part was, as I was expecting the sound on my ear, not outside. It literally took me out of it.
Anyhow, it was really quite an experience and would like to thank Darin for such an amazing experience. I told him that my visit to his table was worth the ticket alone and, have to say, it was the best. Keep up the good work, Darin. Who knows? perhaps with a few more tweaking you might come up with something almost Dolby Atmos-like in surround. I know it’ll just get better. Oh, and that Stax headphone? Remember in the movie The Prestige when Hugh Jackman was sitting in a train, staring into space, with a pensive look on his face – over what he just witnessed and couldn’t believe? That’s how I’ve been looking lately. Man, if I were stranded on an island, I might just pass up on a plane ticket for that headphone 🙂
-from member rosedac on Head-Fi
Darin Fong’s software was really impressive for 7.1, wow. And a great show price – – bought it. The presets were interesting. The JanZen preset sounded just like I remembered them at the Newport show. According to Darin you can get an even closer approximation of different systems if you do the calibration with your own ears, due to different ear shapes. So if there’s a system you particularly like and have access to, he can come out and plug you in, for a nominal fee of course. It’s tempting.
-from member abernardi on Head-Fi
I can’t thank everyone enough for all your support and the wonderful reviews!