CanJam at RMAF2016
Right then, time to enter the Big Top!
Seemed like it was pretty busy all day, but it didn't feel cramped. Temperature was good and the air felt clean; nice that Denver's weather cooperated, and the mile-high mountain air was fresh and dryjust like home in Montana, I guess. The only trouble I had with the tent...err, pavilion, was that it was too dark to take good photos. Please excuse any blur or grain in the pix.
It's boring, but I've decided it's best practice to simply start at one end of the room and work my way to the other aisle by aisle. So, I walked straight to one corner of the ten....err, pavilion, and sat down in Audeze's booth.
Earlier this year during T.H.E. Show Newport, I visited Audeze HQ for a quick listen to an iSine prototype. It was heavier; didn't have the proper ear hooks; was 3D printed; and...well it was a prototype and in the midst of tuning. It sounded okay and didn't fit very well; I walked away thinking it was an answer to a question nobody had asked.
This time was a completely different story. It was light, comfortable, and secure on my ears; I could shake my head around and it seemed near-weightless. And though I couldn't tell how goodbecause these are essentially open in-ear headphones and it was fairly loud in the tentI could tell they were quite good indeed.
As for the question that hadn't been asked: The thought of a really good sounding, open headphone for quiet use at home or office, that you can answer your phone with, and you're completely portable with your iPhone in your pocket, suddenly seemed really appealing. I can totally imagine being able to walk around a work space or kitchen doing stuff and being able to talk with people around me, all the while listening through a quality DAC and DSP EQ in the cable and being able to answer my phone. The idea is certainly growing on me.
Oh yeah, I'm reviewing these.
Next up, HiFiMAN and Fang's new Shagri-La electrostatic headphone amp. My what a sexy looking beast! Normally I don't comment much on looks, but holy cow this thing looks terrific. In the darkness of the tent it was difficult to tell what I was even looking at until I walked up close and gawked from numerous angles. Really sweet.
Sound quality? Oh geez it's hard to tell on an open headphone in a noisy room, but yeah, it was good. I'm going to have to listen to one for a while in the quiet before I could say anything useful. But you bet, I want to do that.
Westone was featuring their new W80, an 8-driver universal-fit IEM that goes for a cool $1499. I found it surprisingly good sounding. But the thing that really caught my eye was their Bluetooth Cable. It paired easily to my phone, and once I got used to where it was, it was easy to use the button functions on the remote just behind and below my right ear.
The really cool thing is that it will work on most any MMCX connected IEM...and there are a lot of those out there.
|Having really enjoyed their 99 Classics I was pleased to see Meze introduce a line of affordable in-ears: the 12 Classics ($69) and 11 Neo ($49). Both are dynamic driver IEMS, with the 12 classic having a slightly better driver with a titanium coated diaphragm and copper clad aluminum voice coil.|
|I tend not to spend much time on amps at a show. It's hard enough to get impressions of headphones; differences in amps are even more subtle. None the less, I was curious about the little Mojo from Chord and gave it a little listen. A quick swap back and forth from the AK240 to the Mojo using the optical digital out from the AK240 revealed an audible improvement in smoothness and tightness of response. Seems like a potentially worthy little amp.|
|64 Audio released a a couple of new high-end custom IEMs. THe big news for me here is that they've abandon their relationship with Asius due to quality problems with the Adel module and are now delivering their own Apex pressure relief module. Current customers will be glad to know the new modules are completely compatible with previous product and can be easily retrofitted.|
|Misha Kucherenko of Stereo Pravda reminds me of me 20 years ago. Driven to get the best sound possible from a portable rig. It's a big bag of stuff by today's standards, but there's no denying a lot of widgetry is happening in that bag. It sounded good and the IEMs were more comfortable than they look...it's going to be interesting to see what the end product looks like when truly complete. You can learn more about the products here.|
|And last but not least for today, had a listen to the new JH13 Pro V2 and JH 16 Pro V2. On quick listen I felt they were both incremental improvements over previous models. But the one that caught my ear was the new JH3X Pro, a $599 3-driver custom in-ear. Really a nicely balanced, straight down the middle, entry level custom. After hearing the Astell&Kern Michelle universal fit, I've got to believe it's based on this new JH Audio model.|
And that's it for yesterday. A lot of IEMS, and lots more to get to today. I think I'm going to have to go into triage mode and hit the stuff I really want to hear. Man, there's a lot of exhibitors at CanJam this year...be it a tent or pavilion, Jude's one hell of a cat wrangler.