CanJam at RMAF2017 That's a Wrap!

I half-jokingly wrote that the Bose counter at DIA was the show stopper for me. The truth is, my overwhelming impression of CanJam@RMAF this year was, "We made it!" It really did seem to me that the enthusiast headphone segment has come of age. We've come a long way since the first CanJam@RMAF 2009.

It's hard to search Head-Fi effectively since so many of the older pages have redirect errors now, but the closest I could find to an exhibitor list from that first show is from this JP-Nums post:

JH Audio
Lavry Engineering
Moon Audio
Ray Samuels Audio
HeadRoom Corp
Woo Audio
Ultimate Ears
Cable Pro

Back in those days it was a bit of a crap shoot whether exhibiting would be worth it or not. The Rocky Mountain Event Center room wasn't full and about a third of it was curtained off so it wouldn't look too vacant. Member tables reminiscent of the member driven CanJams of old were sparsely populated. Poor signage made it all but invisible to the regular audiophile RMAF attendees. Gotta give a big shout out to Sennheiser and beyerdynamic for hanging in there for all these years. The payoff for exhibiting in those early times must have been pretty marginal.

Kind of melancholy to see Ray Samuels and HeadRoom on the list, both companies now gone. But cool to see the number of firms that have flourished over time. JH Audio, Moon Audio, Woo Audio, Head-Direct (HiFiMAN), and Audeze have kept coming and the bet has paid off. These companies are now doing quite well, thank you very much.

This year saw the return of Shure to the exhibitor list. Many years ago they did spend quite a bit of time supporting the community by posting on Head-Fi and attending meets. Unfortunately there were a few incidents where they fell victim to a "flavor of the month" product introduction pushing their headphones into unwarranted disregard and disparagement. The high-maintenance environment had them give up on hobbyists and return focus to their primary pro audio market. I think they are a fine headphone maker and it makes me very happy to see them back in the room. And I find it telling that they are back making moves in the enthusiast market segment. We must be doing something right.

Speaking of people making moves in the premium headphone arena: Focal had a dedicated headphone booth in the CanJam area...that's a first at RMAF. Klipsch showed up with their new flagship Heritage HP-3 headphone. Acoustic Research introduced their first headphone, the planar magnetic AR-H1. PSB/NAD had a separate headphone booth for their new noise cancelers. Audio-Technica, Koss, Pioneer, and Fostex, all fairly major brands, found a spot to raise their flag.

This is not the "some guy who started a headphone company in his garage" annual-meet it used to be. I suppose we may have lost some intimacy in the process, fortunately there's still plenty of small meets to attend if you have a hankering for a more personal interaction. On the other hand, we're all in it to listen to great headphones and that takes healthy commercial activity the flourish. For me, this year's CanJam@RMAF is proof positive we've got that going on.

I highly encourage readers check out the CanJam Global website for an event near you. Serious commerce is happening in the headphone enthusiast world, and a CanJam visit will provide a great glimpse into this heartily growing segment.

I'll be narrowing down my trade show attendance next year so I can focus more on reviews and measurements, but you can bet CanJam@RMAF2018 will remain on the list. Hope to see you then!

pbarach's picture

What happened to HeadRoom??

donunus's picture

Correct me if I'm wrong here Tyll but I think Headroom(Tyll) stopped making new amps/products even before this site went up. They still sell stuff over there though.

Journeyman's picture

There is still a site for Ray Samuels and its updated so I'm confused. The brand changed hands?

tony's picture

it seems like 25 years!

Harry Pierson presented an insightful hour worth of description of where we are today, he described 2009 as the Transition Time for Audio.

Steve Guttenberg was in the audience asking about SACD recordings of ROCK.

I sold and distributed the TAS magazine in the mid 1980s ( I also Imported and sold subscriptions to HFN&RR ).

HP was a curmudgeon in my world but I'm certain that he'd improve the Audio World we live in today, how do we live without him?

HP always gave generous credit to Gordon Holt.

Tony in Michigan