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a few words of advice from one novice to another

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I arrived at canjam after quite a bit of annoyance and hardship but I finally made it. Being new to the community and canjam being my first meet I felt this need to share a few thoughts that might be of help to other new comers, perhaps not so much for the regulars or old timers. Feel free to add anything to it from your past experiences.

1.GO TO MEETS!!! Even if you don’t get to stay there for an extended period of time JUST GO, even if it is for just a few hours. I know im beating a dead horse here but once you take the plunge for the first time, the subsequent times wont be nearly as hard as the first. Its just like headphones. At first you may hesitate to buy 60 dollar headphones because you are new to the whole arena and think that it is a lot of money but after a while you get used to the idea that 60 dollars is pretty much nothing. The same way if the overall cost of attendance seems a little too much, go to a local meet if you like but once you do, the cost will not be a deciding factor. Had I been elsewhere in the country I would have dismissed the idea of buying a flight to attend the event without thinking twice but now, just like headphones, I know how much to save up for a cross country meet and the idea doesn’t seem to bother me or seem ludicrous to me. It just takes a little taste and then you WILL get addicted to meets like crack. I just went to my first one and am scared to ask when the next one will be but highlife suggested they pop up fairly quickly because people are excited right after big meets.

2.Go to local meets first. I am NOT saying don’t go to big meets. In no way, shape or form do I regret going to canjam. It was a treat of a lifetime but for a first timer, it was an overwhelming experience. With that much gear and so many people, you cant help but be confused and be torn between which to do first. Being a selective introvert (I am shy in new surroundings but quickly open up after ive been there for a bit) I was a little slow in my approach to the room and I didn’t know if I should sit down and start listening to gear and introduce myself to people as they walked by or just say hello to everyone first and then settle down. Confused and giddy like a school girl with all those toys around me I just walked around the room in circles because I couldn’t decide what to try first. With a meet of this massive magnitude new people are bound to get lost. Attending smaller meets first might help disciplining yourself so you don’t run around like a chicken with its head cut off. I spent a lot of time thinking about the gear I wanted to listen to and the order in which I wanted to hear them but all that goes out the window when you see shiny things that you don’t know about because you naturally gravitate towards them. It is only human. I only suggest this with very little weight behind it because I couldn’t imagine a better introduction to headfi than canjam. But hopefully, after reading this (if anyone does decide to give it a quick read) people wont make the same mistakes I made.

3.INTRODUCE YOURSELF FIRST!!! Not only do I realize that it was rude not to now that I think about it, it was also stupid. I spent about 20 minutes looking at different things in the main room and walked around aimlessly and THEN went up to a fellow headfier and introduced myself and this is how the conversation went.

a.Pleasantries exchanged.

b.Have you ever been to a meet before? No? Well make sure you check out “insert-rig-here” sometime today. It rawks!

Not only will that help you shave off that first 20 minutes that I wasted, it also gave me a chance to hear about a lot of headphones and amps that I hadn’t marked down on my list to try. The initial guidance I received from voltron, agile_one and boomana (to mention a few) went a long way and were probably the best advice I got during the entire meet.

4.WALK AROUND AND MAKE A PLAN OF ATTACK. Before you commit yourself to any particular rig, walk around keeping in mind the precious advice given to you by other people and make a rough sketch of what is kept where. It helps if you want to make direct comparisons between a certain pair of headphones you are trying to decide between or what have you. If it helps you, keep a small pad with you (will expand on this later) and make a rough sketch. I certainly will be doing it when I go to a big meet next.

5. Keep your expectations real. Then night before canjam and the morning of, I spent about 4 or 5 hours burning 10+ cd’s and then in the end didn’t burn the 2 that I wanted to listen to the most. A “sub-advice” here – burn all the music you want to take with you a few days before or during the meet when you sit down to listen to something, you will feel like kicking yourself in the head (I know I did) for not having that one song that would have really tested that particular gear. I am the kind of person who does not listen to the whole cd. I like certain songs and if I don’t like a song initially I almost never do after the first listen so my entire music collection on my computer is 3-4 songs from each cd. Instead of burning 15 cd’s the night before, it would have been wiser to just select enough songs for maybe 5 cd’s that I really listen to all the time. Even that in retrospect would have been overkill. In fact I heard maybe 6 or 7 songs the entire time because I found it the only way to compare different setups. As ive said quite a few times before, I am new to head fi and my ears are not as well trained as some of the more senior members so I needed to hear the same song over and over again to find subtle differences in gear. That circuitously led to listening to even fewer songs than I had prepared myself for.

In terms of the number of rigs you want to listen to, don’t expect to listen to EVERY SINGLE PAIR OF HEADPHONES and amp in the house and then try different combinations of them. Here is a little mathematical demonstration of what I am trying to say.

Lets assume a very conservative number for the number of headphones at canjam, say 50. Assume the same number for the number of amps as well. Also, let us only pick ONE song (5 minutes long) to be played as a comparison track. So we have,

Number of headphones = 50

Number of amps = 50

Total possible combinations of headphones and amps at canjam = 50 x 50 = 2500 combinations

Total minutes of listening time on each combinations = 2500 x 5 = 12500 minutes = 208.33 hours = 8.68 days!!!

Now obviously there is a lot of repetition so even if we chop that number down by a factor of 8 we would still require a
continuous 24 hour listening stretch with no breaks, listening to only one song and traveling from gear to gear faster than the speed of light because I included 0 time for walking from table to table. a rather formidable task by any standards.

It may seem a silly calculation but I wish I had done it before leaving. My suggestion to the newer folk is this – pick ~10 rigs that you REALLY want to listen to because that number will grow once you actually get to the meet for unknown reasons. I saw a lot of rigs that I hadn’t heard of and I just had to give them a listen but in the end it only turned out to be a huge disappointment. Being a fan of the sennheiser sound I really wanted to try out the Orpheus rig but I didn’t get to =/. Same goes with philodox’s massive amp (didn’t even get to ask him the name of it, sorry philodox ) and the list goes on. Had I been prepared for the barrage of headphones I was going to be pummeled with I probably would not have been as sad as I am right now. Moral of the story – take fewer cds and pick out a few rigs that you really want to spend some quality time with at meets.

Much more to come. Tune in again for another installment of “advice from one novice to another”
post #2 of 22
Interested to read your impressions of the systems you heard at canjam
post #3 of 22
Good advice and glad you had a good time

I'm interested in what you heard as well..
post #4 of 22
CJ gets mad props for starting this thread and I hope he and others keep posting in it. Mods may think of a better place for it -- meet impressions sticky? -- but add to it. CJ also gets a lot of credit for making his way past initial parental prohibitions, 2 flat tires driving to the Jam (separate times), and the foreboding task of meeting tons of people and even bunking with Gene and me whom he had never met. It was great having you at the meet and keep on meet'ing!
post #5 of 22
Heh, I was kind of in the same boat... my first meet and not really knowing what to do, but I just started talking to people and listening to some different cans. Voltron was great and gave me a good listen on his rig to get me started and it just took off from there! CanJam '08 ROCKS!!!
post #6 of 22
CJ ... I echo fellow roomie Voltron's congrats for starting this very useful thread, and the other informatibve posts you've made about the Jam.

It was fun hanging out with you, and thanks for the positive energy you bring.
post #7 of 22
CJ, excellent post.
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
thank you everyone for the kind remarks. i didnt know how it was going to be received because all the information is already out there but i couldnt find it explicitly mentioned anywhere and thought it would have been helpful for me had i read it before attending my first meet.

revision 1 - bullet 5 has been added. i have quite a few other monkeys running around in my head that need some discipline after which their thoughts shall be penned down as well.

to my chagrin i have not put any time on editing this post for grammar or effect so if anyone would like to clean it up, you would be doing me a big favor. however, i will make an attempt to make it more readable and less annoying once i finish the post itself.
post #9 of 22
Definitely an excellent post.

Couldn't make it to this year's event , but I am very glad that I was able to make it out to a local meet here in Toronto, before I went to last year's event in San Jose. It allowed me to learn many of the great suggestions on CJ's list before making the big investment to go across the continent for Head Fest.

Thanks CJ! I'm sure many others will benefit from your thoughts between now and next year's "It's All In Your Head '09" event (yeah, I just made that crappy name up).
post #10 of 22
Hey CJ! Nice thread, though you lost your newbieness a few hours in. He also hung with the whole crowd until the wee hours, crashed on sofas, and came back for more. CJ wins the newbie award of CanJam. It was great meeting you, and hope to see you at some mini meets in the future.
post #11 of 22
Originally Posted by crappyjones123 View Post
...Same goes with philodox’s massive amp (didn’t even get to ask him the name of it, sorry philodox )
Unofficially it's the McAllister Massive Attack, but we all know it by it's real name, the Thundercougarfalconbird.
post #12 of 22
I thought it was the key lime amp
post #13 of 22
Originally Posted by GlendaleViper View Post
Unofficially it's the McAllister Massive Attack, but we all know it by it's real name, the Thundercougarfalconbird.
hahahaha whatever happened to the thundercougarfalconbird?
post #14 of 22
Great advice!
If there only were any local meetings to attend...
post #15 of 22
Originally Posted by krmathis View Post
Great advice!
If there only were any local meetings to attend...
It only takes one person to start the ball rolling,Just make it Happen.
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