Warsaw’s bustling stadium left us with much to do and not much time to do it, but I made sure to stop at the Headphones Zone—this trip wouldn’t be complete without it. The layout was impressive, with dozens of brands displaying their wares one next to another, like a Persian bazaar. Here, of course, were not exotic spices and hand-woven rugs, but headphones, amplifiers, in-ear monitors, and every accessory imaginable.
There was not time to stop and listen to every product on display, but I did get a chance to audition a couple of products from Mytek and T+A. Conveniently, they had very similar headphones, both from Japan’s Final Inc., plugged into their devices.
I listened first to the Final D8000 Pro Edition headphones ($4299 in the US) through the Mytek Empire streamer, Mytek’s new flagship all-in-one solution for streaming, use as a standalone DAC, and for preamplification duty, including phono preamplification. Priced at $24,995 in the US or at €24,995 in the EU (including VAT), the Empire has full Roon functionality, and so after a few minutes of playing around with the iPad the friendly Polish reps had connected to the device, I was off.
Playing through the D8000 Pros with a balanced connection, the Mytek cast a wide but precise soundstage, with excellent vocal clarity and punch-you-in-the-gut dynamics. I stood up from the table impressed with the product, not just for its ability to drive a pair of ’phones, but for its supreme versatility. Mytek had another Empire streamer acting as a streaming endpoint, DAC, and preamp in one of the rooms back at the Radisson Blu Sobieski, where it was hooked up to a pair of the Empire monoblocks, which retail for $9995 each in the US or €9995 each in the EU (including VAT). The glowing orange gemstones on the tops of the amps lend a touch of panache, no?
But back to the headphones at PGE Narodowy. I tried T+A’s MP 200 multi-source player (zł29,900), here spinning CDs. It was plugged into T+A’s HA 200 headphone amp (zł34,900), which powered a pair of Final D8000s—not the Pro Edition model this time. At $3799, these ’phones retail for a bit less than the Pros in the US.
The sound from the T+A stack was a bit more relaxed and smoother, but a tad slower and more closed-in through the midrange than the Mytek Empire streamer. The T+A gear, however, offered a plumper, punchier bass and lower midrange. In fact, bass and lower-mid dynamics were excellent, and the overall sound had a very natural, organic feel to it through the Final planar magnetic ’phones.
I surveyed the rest of the huge display of headphones, but sadly it was time to move on. But I did walk away impressed by what I heard through those Japanese planar-type headphones powered by both the American Mytek device and the German T+A stack.