CanJam 2009 Impressions
Jun 9, 2009 at 1:52 AM Post #556 of 636
here's what i've got from talking with Ed, Aaron, and Peter and going over the vendor/press list...

we printed the following:

170 (member badges) (averaged the three different totals i've been given)
126 (vendor/press badges) (averaged the different totals)
407 (guest badges) (firm number)
-178 (left over guest badges)
-7 (not claimed member badges)
-5 (not claimed press/vendor badges)
total attendance: 513

member & guest attendance: 392 (a close approximation)

i think it is highly unlikely that we had less than 375 in attendance over the two day weekend and more likely we were in the 385+ range for members and their guests.

the 10,000+ square feet of meet space encompassing the lounge areas and the 13 rooms probably resulted in the largest headphone meet in history retaining a relatively smaller feel than previous years.
Jun 9, 2009 at 1:59 AM Post #557 of 636

Originally Posted by 909 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
largest headphone meet in history

Jun 9, 2009 at 2:00 AM Post #558 of 636
Just got my pics off the camera... They are only from Friday setup... but I thought that I would post anyway.... Got too drunk the rest of the weekend....

All the equipment made it:


Waiting for something to start... or drink:


Equipment setup and checked... sounds good:


The most amps from amb:


Voltron's Monster:


Getting it setup:


Battle of the ES-2's....


Rest of Blubliss setup... dang!!!!


And the best source (IMO) in the house (cheers Ironbut):


Wish I would have shot more .... but big fun anyway.

Jun 9, 2009 at 2:48 AM Post #560 of 636
Okay so if it was the largest, where are all the impressions? Seriously the posting has been SPARSE! Save for the downright unbelievable posts like those of Voltron, these actual impressions have been utterly weak this time around.

Folks like me live vicariously through attendees. So get posting people!
Jun 9, 2009 at 3:17 AM Post #563 of 636

Originally Posted by Zanth /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Okay so if it was the largest, where are all the impressions? Seriously the posting has been SPARSE! Save for the downright unbelievable posts like those of Voltron, these actual impressions have been utterly weak this time around.

Folks like me live vicariously through attendees. So get posting people!

I TOLD you to come, but nooooo.
Jun 9, 2009 at 5:35 AM Post #564 of 636
[photos will be uploaded tomorrow, and inserted throughout this post, and the conclusion post(s) of my Can Jam 2009 impressions/journal]

As I sit here and listen to the rig that made up the bulk of what was a nearly 80-pound suitcase that I lugged to Los Angeles, I can't believe more than a week has gone by since I wheeled that behemoth into the LAX Hilton, where I had one of the best times I've had in quite a while. No doubt, Can Jam 2009 was the best audio show I've ever been to, and that it happened to be mostly a headphone audio meet….well, that just makes it that much groovier, being a Head-Fi'er and all.

John Purtill (jp11801), the lead organizer of Can Jam 2009, was someone I spent seemingly endless hours on the phone with in the months leading up to the show, and his dedication and focus was, at times, well, intense. And, as the deadlines got closer, and the pressure on him increased, JP somehow still kept the laughs going every time I talked to him. The rest of the Can Jam 2009 organizing team was just as intense and dedicated, the group of them bringing to the table the perfect mix of abilities, specialties, personalities: 909 (David Russomanno), Edwood (Edwin Khang), velogreg (Gregory Fortner), Iron_Dreamer (Peter James), Jasper994 (Aaron Wong), and LFF (Luis Flores). Edwood and Jasper994 summarized the roles of each of the teammates nicely in this post. What that post doesn't mention is that this team--as the teams in the years before them have done--sacrificed their chances to experience much of what we attendees got to experience, this in addition to the sleep and personal time they put on the chopping block ahead of the big Meet. Their gift to us was Can Jam 2009, the best of the International Head-Fi Meets thus far (and I do not say this lightly, as all the ones before it rocked hard, too).

After a slurring, stumbling, partied-too-hard performance at the first annual International Head-Fi Meet in New York (2006), I've tended to party at least a little less hard at subsequent ones; and I was positively chill at this year's. As always he's been at these events, Todd Green (Todd The Vinyl Junkie) was, once again, my roommate. (Todd still routinely pokes fun at me for my, um, condition, in 2006.) My Friday arrival allowed me to hang out with some community and industry friends on the day before the whole shebang officially started--some of whom I consider truly close personal friends--and also to hang out in several of the exhibitor rooms whilst the community members and vendors set up. I also cracked open my suitcase and set up my personal rig in our hotel suite, to let people hear how I listen to the new Sennheiser HD 800. (I'll get to my personal rig in just a bit).

The audio fun started early, with Friday sneak previews in the various vendor rooms, and in the Summit-Fi high-end member rigs room. One odd experience--and I've been around audio for a long time--was when Voltron (Al), in the Summit-Fi room, asked me to use my camera flash to "ignite" some of the tubes on his SDS-XLR, which didn't work until I manually set my flash to full power. Yes, the tubes actually reacted / activated with bright light--don't ask, as I can't explain, but it was pretty groovy.

blubliss (Andy) and neilvg (Neil) had their outrageous electrostatic rigs (and more) set up for us all to use. FrankCooter (Frank), a mad scientist of headphone audio if ever there was one, also brought what had to be the most extreme electrostatic amp I've ever seen--a new standard of "Say what?!" going on there (although somehow I didn't actually see it until Can Jam officially started).

I will never get over the generosity the community shows to one another, openly sharing their personal equipment with strangers, with some of that equipment being of extraordinarily high values and/or of great rarity. Some of the best sound of the show could be found in the Summit-Fi room, but I did not get a chance to hear ironbut's (Steve's) reel-to-reel rig, which many said was the best source of the show.

By Friday afternoon, Todd The Vinyl Junkie (TTVJ) had already put several sets of Sennheiser HD 800 headphones in the hands of his customers in time for Can Jam, so we were starting to see those silver, ring-drivered wonders floating about in private hands, in addition to the HD800's that were being exhibited in the Sennheiser / HeadRoom room.

Walking into the HeadRoom / Sennheiser room, I had another odd experience when I nudged Head-Fi'er ingwe (Michael) from an HD800-induced catatonic stupor to say hello on Friday--I kid you not, he barely budged, gave me a millisecond-long greeting, and then immediately went back into the catatonia. (ingwe greeted me warmly later, but, apparently, such is the power of the HD800 nicely driven.

Tyll Hertsens sat me down to listen to the HD 800 driven balanced for my first time, which I was eager to do, as it was also being sourced by HeadRoom's new HeadRoom Ultra Desktop DAC, which I've been wanting for quite some time to hear. That rig was was a great start to my 2009 Can Jamming on the gear front, as it made beautiful use of the HD800's resolving abilities. I'm going to ask HeadRoom if I can borrow one of their new flagship DACs to try for a couple weeks to a month with a variety of amps more familiar to me (and, of course, the HD 800). Tyll and HeadRoom are responsible for dragging me kicking and screaming into what is now my love for computer audio--it all began for me one day in 2005 when Tyll stopped by my office on his way to New York, and demonstrated what was then one of his flagship DACs through a computer rig. (I thought I'd be spinning the shiny discs forever--now I mostly spin'em to rip'em. And, by now, HeadRoom has the chops to create stellar DACs, and this newest one by them has the ESS Technology ES9008 SABRE DAC chip that so many have praised.

Back in TTVJ's exhibit room (which TTVJ was sharing with Woo Audio), Todd, when nobody was looking, lifted a cover to show me my Grado HF2, which I'd asked him to open up and plug in the week before to begin the headphone break-in period in Montana (where TTVJ is based). I wanted to take it right then and there, but Todd made me promise to wait until the official unveiling on Saturday morning. After much harrassment and begging, Todd finally relented, and let me bring my HF2 up to our hotel suite to listen and enjoy, but only after forcing me to swear on the lives of future generations of Judes that I'd not show anyone else until after the official launch. By now you probably know the HF2 has aluminum outer shells with mahogany inner chambers that hold the drivers, and the headband is covered in a nice stitched leather--definitely more upmarket, in terms of construction (and, more importantly, in terms of sound), relative to its HF1 predecessor. My opinion of my production HF2? The HF2 is what I'll call a bridge Grado, with an ease and touch of warmth that will find favor even with some who've not previously found Grado to be their cup of tea--but yet it's unmistakably one of John Grado's sonic creations. Because John Grado (and Grado Labs) and Todd Green are giving Head-Fi $40.00 from the sale of each HF2, I've been rather tame in my review-type comments about it. Like the HF1 before it, the HF2 is an exceptional value, which I'll say more openly now, now that so many others have said so, too. And I'll say more about the HF2 after I've lived with my own production version for a while.

Speaking of John Grado creations, I heard the awesome new Grado flagship PS1000 at Can Jam 2009, and the PS1000, GS1000 and RS1 are probably the only Grado headphones I'd pick ahead of my HF2, sonically. Unfortunately, I didn't get to listen to the PS1000 for very long, and I hope to get more time with it at some point in the future. It didn't take much listening, though, to realize that the PS1000 was awesome with TTVJ's flagship headphone amp, the 307A. I look forward to giving the PS1000 a full wringing with my Luxman P-1 and a Ray Samuels Audio Apache down the road.

Oh, and the TTVJ there's an amp that no self-respecting headphone audio enthusiast with $5995.00 to spend on a headphone amp should be without--especially those with multiple headphones. A transformer-coupled beast designed by Pete Millett (pmillett), the 307A drove the 32-ohm Grados with aplomb; and the balanced Sennheiser HD800 from the 307A was zen, one of the definitive rigs I've yet heard of any type, in terms of power and resolution. The 307A is more neutral than it is lush, but still possessing of timbral richness that can only be had with tubes or outrageously good solid state. The 307A's multiple transformer taps that allow for the accommodation of headphones of all impedances--in both single-ended and balanced modes--makes for excellent versatility. The 307A's utilitarian appearance speaks to one of Pete Millet's key audio design philosophies: Spend it all on the inside. (I happen to love the 307A's old school, old world aesthetic.) Yes, the 307A is way up there on my list of dream amps.

Friday night, Jerry Harvey (of JH Audio) (see Jerry Harvey is back) gave me a call to tell me he had arrived at the hotel. We got together for drinks and a late dinner at the hotel bar, after which he asked me to come up to his room to give a listen to the demo pieces he was going to be showing at Can Jam over the following couple of days.

In our previous conversations, he had let me know he was thrilled with his new line of custom IEMs, having custom designed/spec'd the drivers, not to mention having spent countless hours of meticulous crossover work and tuning, to come up with what he felt confident would be received as products that advance the state of the art in custom IEMs. Leading up to the show, Jerry understood how important it would be to somehow convey the magic of his new custom IEMs, but using universal-fit pieces for obvious reasons of show demonstration.

Having heard Ultimate Ears' universal-fit demo for the UE10 Pro (and owning the full-on custom version, which is still my reference IEM), I know how difficult it is to convey the magic of the final custom product with a universal-fit demo piece (in short, the custom UE10 Pro sounds a lot better than any universal-fit demo of it I've thus far heard). To do this as best he could for his new line demos for Can Jam 2009, Jerry Harvey came up with carefully tuned, carefully crafted universal-fit demo units that--in order to get as close to custom performance as possible--were somewhat of a compromise in terms of ease of insertion, and different in design than any other universal-fit demos of custom IEMs I've seen. With these demo pieces, he achieved what he said was about 90% of the performance that the custom versions deliver; but, fit-wise, the form factor he chose to help reach the sonic performance he was looking for was a bit more difficult to get properly inserted in one's ears, especially for those who had never used custom IEMs before. He understood this completely, and so desired to keep only one rig at his exhibit table, so that he could be sure to spend one-on-one time with each and every person desiring a demo, to make sure that the pieces were inserted properly, and a proper fit and seal achieved. As a long-time custom IEM user, I got the demo pieces in my ears with no problems at all that Friday night.

The moment I ran some of my reference tracks through them I realized JH Audio was indeed advancing the art. I started with the demo versions of the JH10X3 Pro and the JH11 Pro, and both were outstanding. The JH13 Pro, however, was simply from another planet. Six drivers (dual low, dual mid, dual high), in a three-way crossover configuration--that may sound like overkill, but, goodness gracious it worked. On all three models, the treble extension was better than I've heard from an IEM before; but the JH13 Pro simply breathed easier across the whole audioband than the other two (and, frankly, more than any other headphone I've heard through my portable rig). The JH13 Pro's sheer level of overall detail retrieval was uncanny, incredible--yes, better than my current reference UE10 Pro. We went through track after track, with me frequently saying, "Jerry, you've gotta hear this." We went back and forth like this for a while, discussing what we were hearing, Jerry explaining how the JH13 Pro was doing what it was doing, with several a promise from me to leave what he told me within the boundaries of that room. I told him people were going to flip when they heard it. Beginning the following day, that's just what they did. Whereas I thought the HF2, PS1000, Edition 8, and, of course, the HD800 would be the only headphones with strong Can Jam buzz, the JH13 Pro kicked and punched its way into the spotlight--big time. The JH13 Pro was easily one of the highlights of the show for a lot of people, including Patrick Norton of Tekzilla. The JH13 Pro was easily one of the runner-ups for my choice of Can Jam 2009 Best of Show. Uncle Wilson (of Jaben-Crossroads) was shooting ear impressions for free at the show (a very generous gesture, but par for the course for the always-generous Uncle Wilson), so Jerry Harvey left the show with my ear impressions (and those of others, too). My JH13 Pro should be coming soon, and, seriously, I can't wait.

[to be continued in part two, which will include Moon Audio, Lavry Engineering, Cary, PS Audio, Woo Audio, Ultimate Ears, Westone, Ray Samuels Audio, Head-Direct, Audeze, Manley Labs, Eddie Current, and more....I think there will be only two parts, but it might go to three]
Jun 9, 2009 at 8:33 AM Post #567 of 636

Originally Posted by jp11801 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Folks it's over it's Chicago in 2010!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Somewhere close to The Green Mill Jazz Club, perhaps?

Alternatively proximity to Intelligentsia Coffee or Metropolis Coffee* really wouldn't hurt given the crazy hours we all pull.

*[size=xx-small]Both superb folks-it-ain't-just-Starbucks artisan roasters/cafés.[/size]
Jun 9, 2009 at 1:36 PM Post #569 of 636

Originally Posted by DoYouRight /img/forum/go_quote.gif
hmm, is the HD800 a limited run or will they be sold for awhile?

The HD 800 is *not* a Limited Edition.


Originally Posted by immtbiker /img/forum/go_quote.gif
We could go full circle and do it in New York, again.

CanJam in New York - Good idea - I might be able to get to that one, my wife has always wanted to go to New York.
Jun 9, 2009 at 2:25 PM Post #570 of 636

Originally Posted by John Willett /img/forum/go_quote.gif
CanJam in New York - Good idea -

Gotta read the thread mate, it's in Chicago. But I agree doing it in New York again one of these years is a no brainer, though I think some of the DC area guys might want a shot at it.

Thanks for the detailed impressions Jude. It really was an amazing meet with lots of newsworthy stuff.

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