I didn't spend a lot of time listening to gear. Of the few that I was able to check out, here are my initial impressions:IEMs
- JH13. Jerry Harvey is back. The Head Master Chef of Ultimate Ears now has his own restaurant and has cooked up a new masterpiece (along with his other menu items). He has an amazingly diverse and large custom IEM line up. From a $399 Custom all the way up to his Flagship $1099 JH13. I have serial #1 heading my way in the near future. Headphones
- HD800, got a chance to listen to them again. My opinion is unchanged from January when I first got to hear them. I was hoping to like them less, so I could save a little money by not keeping my preorder. But, alas, I liked them even more. So, my preorder stays.
Magnaplanars were a big surprise to me. Never heard them before. Very electrostatic like in presentation, with plenty of Bass.Portable Amps
- Bye, bye, small analog potentiometers. Precision Digital Volume Control is the new hotness. No fewer than three of our favorite amp builders had their prototypes available for listening at CanJam. HeadAmp Pico Slim and Ray Samuels Audio Shadow were the tiny contenders, while TTVJ had a Peter Millet designed one that eschewed tiny size for extra power and battery life. Precision Digital VOlume control is a boon and must have for IEM users. You get a much bigger range of volume control, and perfect left and right channel balance at even the quietest of volumes.DAP
- Without a doubt the most hotly anticipated Digital Audio Player was the HiFiMan HM-801. I was surprised at how lightweight it was in person. I was expecting a pretty heavy brick, given the sheer amount of goodies crammed inside. There was unfortunate shipping mishap that caused damage to both prototypes, but fortunately, different parts were broken in each one, so overall, there was two halfway functional HifiMan HM-801's. I got to hear one with it's USB input as a DAC hooked up to my portable computer using Foobar. I also used the built in player with FLAC files loaded up on an SDHC card. And, yes you can browse folders. The overall UI will be familiar feeling to anyone used to Rockbox. Overall, the sound quality was not a let down. I'll reserve final judgement until I get a chance to hear the final product, but it's off to a fantastic start. Is up to quality of my Pico DAC I had there to compare to, if not even better in some regards.
The HM-801's hardware will be done towards the end of June, with the software possibly being finished then, or a bit later. One thing I talked to Fang at Head-Direct about was the possibility of having other Amp builders making their version for the modular Amp bay. Imagine having a HeadAmp, Ray Samuels Audio, or other Amp built into the HiFiMan HM-801? Now that would be THE ONE portable I would carry. Period!Smyth Research
- They came to the show again. And now their little black box of awesomeness is in production. Still amazing. I got a chance to get a custom measurement profile with something you can't do with regular speakers. I put the center channel speaker right up to the front/middle of the TV screen when doing the personalization/calibration sequence, so that the center channel would line up with the left and right channels. Not how you'd watch TV with a speaker blocking the view, but with the Smyth Research box, no need for speakers at all. They were saving out profiles to an SD card and giving them away. I took the card to their other smaller set up they had in another room, and had them load my profile. It worked perfectly on the other setup. I played some COD4. They had other people's profiles there, so for fun I switched back and forth. It's amazing how completely different the other profiles sounded like. Diffferent people's ears really are very different, and effect the way we hear things. (anyone with Custom IEM's will attest to this fact.)
Overall. I really wish I had more time to check out all the gear. But it would be a one week event.