CanJam at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest - And So it Begins

I love the sound of hand-trucks in the morning.

It's set-up day at CanJam at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. I love set-up day. It's hard work, but it's also great fun saying hi to folks you haven't seen for a year. Hub-bubb, sweat, and yabber ... good stuff.

I was gonna do a fluff piece and write some cutesy captions for the pictures I took today, but this is my first trade show as a journalist and it's got me thinking. You'll excuse me if I just post pix as table bunting for my thoughts today.

A Little History
I think this is the third year for CanJam at RMAF. It seems to me it's been a slow start. CanJam at RMAF isn't what CanJam used to be. The old CanJams were headphone Bacchanalia that rose like Phoenix' each year out of the hoards that are the headphone community. It was a great thing.

I was one of the organizers of the first CanJam with the NewYork Head-Fi team, there were subsequent annual bashes in San Jose, Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, and Chicago. A great time was had by all. But there were problems.

The earlier CanJam's had become amazingly successful. Each one was lead by a local group of volunteers who put on the show from scratch every time. This gave the events great character because each was an expression of the people involved, but it also meant some inefficiencies: sometimes the signage wasn't very good, or the rooms might not be well laid out for foot traffic. There was also the responsibility of underwriting the show: all the money had to go through someone's pocket, which may have tax consequences; various insurances must be bought in someones name, making them potentially liable; and door-prize giveaways had to be carefully managed to remain legal. All this work, sometimes like a second job, all without a dime in recompense. When CanJam started pushing a six figure budget and a thousand people attending, it began to look like a very big project for a private individual to do voluntarily.

There are contrary views, of course, and I have mixed feelings too, but in the end I think a strong and identifiable headphone presence at a major audio trade show is a critical thing to have. Headphone enthusiasm is naturally connected to the same source components as the high-end world; and fidelity is fidelity no matter how it gets to the ears, so some basic cultural ethics and controversies are shared. The headphone world should be well connected to the audiophile world. The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, it seems to me, has become the premier high-end audio show in the U.S., and Jude and is in a uniquely qualifying position in the headphone world. CanJam at RMAF is a great match, it seems to me.

So yeah, I do think that CanJam at RMAF is a different thing than the old CanJam. I'd like to see something like the old CanJam rise again (and I'd like to do something about that), but I also thank CanJam at RMAF is a great opportunity for our segment of avid listeners to join in with the larger audio enthusiast world. I do think that the headphone community should see itself as audiophiles, and should share in a common goal of bringing better fidelity to more and more people. If there's a low-cost entry route into audio enthusiasm, it's with headphones.

I also think it's great to bring new blood into the traditional audiophile world. Audiophiles have long been lamenting the graying of the cohort. CanJam brings some youth and verve into the high-fidelity fold. I think we'll mix it up a bit and stimulate some new growth avenues.

Let's bring it back full-circle: today, unlike in past years, CanJam fills the entire Rocky Mountain Events Center room --- something akin to the size of a middle school gymnasium. And it's got me thinking ...


n_maher's picture

Have a great time Tyll. I'll be looking forward to your impressions. Say hi to mr. Millett for me.

LFF's picture

Wish I could be there!

Looking forward to reading your report on what is going on at RMAF! Say hi to Edwood and Iron_Dreamer for me. :-)

donunus's picture

LCD3 impressions would be great :)

Tyll Hertsens's picture

Let's start with "WOW!"

I'll fill in a little detail soon.

John Grandberg's picture
... to hearing your thoughts Tyll. Not just about the lcd-3 but all the goodies you came across.