CanJam at RMAF: Closing Thoughts

CanJam at RMAF a Success?
Yes. I think so. The ballroom was completely filled for the first time in three years, and traffic was quite good. Fostex, Bottlehead, HRT, were among the first time exhibitors at the event. CanJam had the look and feel of a full-fledged audio trade show.

I dug a little deeper and sometimes asked the exhibitors if they thought the show was worth while, and if they'd be coming back again. The answers were universally positive. I think the headphone world has found a permanent home for its trade show needs. Huge thanks to Jude, John, and Marjory and the RMAF team. This is a great venue for headphone lovers.

Even though this isn't the headphone community building affair it has been in the past, I do think the hobbyists thoroughly enjoyed the event. It seems to me we have grown into a real market, so it's appropriate to have a real trade show at which headphone vendors can give us a taste of their wares. It felt good to be at a trade show focused on our needs and desires; I think we deserve it.

Things That Were Great!
Seeing friends from the headphone forums, of course! Isn't the interweb weird? You're in constant contact with folks from all over the world, but you rarely get to see them. CanJam provides a great way to get reacquainted with buddies, and to put screen names to the faces of forum friends not yet met in meetspace. Geez, I love that.

FREE BEER!!! Saturday afternoon's beer-o-thon was great! Need I say more?

I really think we did pass the tipping point this year, and the manufacturers of headphone related gear will come to know that if they want to show their wares to the headphone-faithful they'll need to be at CanJam at RMAF. That's really good news for headphone fans because it means that CanJam will be the one place to be if you want to see all the cool new gear. Sure, you could go to CES ... but that place is a mad house, and the smaller (and usually most interesting) headphone gear vendors often don't show up there.

Let's not forget there's a whole 'nother show going on! I'm sure we all like speakers, and of course we need great sources to inject music into our cans. RMAF has become the premier audiophile show in the U.S., and as a CanJam attendee you're also able to roam the hallways of the rest of the event to check out some of the best audio gear on the planet.

Things I Thought Could be Better
You'd have to be familiar with the layout of the show, but CanJam is sort of off in a corner by itself. It's absolutely not obvious it's there, and I'm sure there are many show attendees who have no idea CanJam is happening. I think there are probably some things that could be done with signage and promotion that would bring more headphone n00Bs into the CanJam room.

Here's something that's gotta change: I know multiple vendors that displayed headphones along with their other gear in their regular RMAF room, and not at CanJam. First, a static display of headphones in a room with speakers blasting is no way to get any attention ... especially from the headphone faithful. I'm sick of the view that headphones are an accessory, and I think vendors are missing out on making an impression when they do so. I'm glad CanJam did so well this year because I think it will begin to attract folks like Klipsch and Polk who are now making cans, and convince them that they're missing out if the demo their gear in RMAF rooms when CanJam is available as a more appropriate venue for display of headphone product. In other words, cough up the dough to man a table in CanJam as well as a room. You'll get a LOT more attention from the grass roots people who know how to spread the word about worthy products.

Along those lines: Where was HeadRoom? They helped start this thing, I think they're an important player in keeping the momentum up. I know they were interested in developing dealers for their electronics, but ... well, that's what CES is for. More than anyone else, they've been a draw to get RMAF attendees into CanJam, and I missed seeing them in the room.

Next Year?
You bet! I'll be there. And I'll probably do just like I did this year: cover CanJam. It's taken me 9 days to get to this final post. I don't need to go into the regular RMAF rooms to get more stories than I know what to do with. If vendors have headphone gear they want to sell to an enthusiastic market, then they should come to CanJam, dag nub it! That's the place for headphones; that's the place where people can really see and experience gear in context; that's the place to get feedback on products from people who have the experience to form useful opinions. If you have an interest in headphones, CanJam at RMAF is the place to be.

See you next year!

C'mon Larry, pack up your stuff. We're outta here.