Huge thanks to HeadFi team for bringing the event close to home and hope they return next year. Appreciate all the vendors and effort. Everyone was great and a pleasure meeting everyone.
Beginning from HE1 appt. at 10am, everything following was sure to be a tough act to follow. I plugged my LCD5 in when convenient.
Marked off bucket list in no particular order.
HD660S2 on HDV820
Empy 2 on Naim Unity Atom
Nutopia on Anni and Qutest
Stellia on Anni and Qutest
Empy on CA1000
Tungsten single and double on CFA3 prototype
Stellia on iDSD Pro
LCD5 on IDSD Pro
D8KPLE on iDSD Pro
Arya on HA200
LCD5 on HA200
Nutopia on Mass Kobo 433 and Eversolo A6
Nutopia on Lina Stack
LCD5 on Mass Kobo 433 and Eversolo A6
LCDX on V590
D8KPLE on Mass Kobo 433 and Eversolo A6
LCD5 on Rossini Apex stack with Lina amp and clock
Elite on Lina stack
HD800 on Lina stack
Susvara on Lina stack
Spirit Valkyria on Shanling M30S
Spirit Pulsar on Shanling M30S
LCD5 on Lina stack
HD650 on HDV820
HD600 on HDV820
Storm on DX320 Max
Philphone on DX320 Max
LCD5 on Dave and Mscaler
CRBN on Z10E and Bricasti M3 I think
CRBN on Z10E and DX320 Max
Caldera on Z10E and DX320 Max
Empy 2 on Lina Stack
Liric on Lina Stack
Grado SA1X on Schitt Syn
X9000 on Metaxas Ethereal
LCD5 on Metaxas Marquis and Musician Pegasus
Caldera on Metaxas Marquis and Musician Pegasus
LCD5 on Schitt stack Yggy More is Less Better?/Loki Max/Mjonir 3
Elite Tungsten on Lina Stack
LCD5 on LTA Z10E and DX320 Max
009S on LTA Z10E and DX320 Max
Atrium on Envy
LCD5 on LTA Velo amp
Atrium on Decware Reference OTL
Caldera on Lina stack
Atrium Closed on Lina stack
Verite Open on Lina stack
Atrium Closed on Envy
1266 Phi TC on WA33
Caldera on Envy
Kinera Loki on Gryphon
Kinera Urd on Gryphon
Odin on Hugo 2
Raven on Hugo 2
Legend Evo on Hugo 2
109 Pro on HA200
I had an absolute blast at my first ever CanJam, and I am so glad I went. I got to hear every TOTL headphone I have always been curious about, and it was a blast getting to try all the different amps and DAC's as well. I learned so much in two days, and I am so thankful they finally had the show in my hometown.
Some of the show highlights for me are pictured below.
The ZMF VC's paired up with the @L0rdGwyn designed Aegis was the highlight of the show for me. This combo did everything right for my taste and had grip, texture, detail and deep staging for days. I am going to own this amp.
Another fantastic pairing was the VC's and the ZMF/Decware OTL. That combo again had good grip, texture, detail and deep staging with a "live" music type of sound that was intoxicating. If I was in the market for a TOTL OTL for high impedance headphones, this would be the one.
I am a tube guy through and through, but this combo had me thinking maybe I should add a SS to the mix, and was an absolutely fantastic pairing. The Bliss and Caldera are made for each other and is an Endgame pairing no doubt. In fact, this combo got the closest to performing at the level of my home system with my HA300MK2/Morpheus pairing. I loved the full bodied and dynamic sound, with tube like staging.
The Lina Stack was a great reference sound, and they were everywhere so it was easy to listen to a bunch of different headphones with this system. The AC sounded absolutely fantastic with this system, but it still doesn't do it like my Cayin HA300MK2 can. I appreciate the linear sound, but I like a bit more punch and weight.
The Caldera and Lina Stack pairing was another one that was a blast to hear, but as good as that combo was, I still prefer the AC off the Lina. I found I liked pairing the Caldera with tubes and warmer SS amps like the Bliss, as it was a bit more forward and detailed in the mids and treble, of which benefited from some weight, warmth and space in my opinion that tubes and the Bliss provided.
Speaking of the Caldera and tubes, this combo was fantastic and gave me chills the entire time I was listening. Being a happy owner of the HA300MK2, I was happy to hear the Caldera with 300B's and it did not disappoint one bit. I am really looking forward to the Closed version Caldera to be released and I bet that will sound heavenly with my Cayin.
The Ferrum Stack really surprised me, and pretty much everyone else who heard it for the first time had the same reaction. This Stack flat out rocks and for the size it's stunning how much power and grip it has. The AC and VC both sounded incredible as did the Caldera as well.
I also got to hear the Auteur Classic for the first time, as well as gear from T&A and this pairing was another great one. The Auteur Classic was the big surprise in the ZMF lineup for me, and I love that headphone and could listen all day to that sweet sound.
The ZMF Bokeh was a nice warm and punchy headphone, and reminded me of my Atticus and I have a feeling this one is going to be super popular. It sounded fantastic off the Ferrum stack. The build quality of the Bokeh is just a tad bit behind ZMF's higher end offerings, but still has the classic ZMF look and feel with metal, wood and leather. I was sitting next to a guy at one point who fell in love with the Bokeh and didn't know the price point prior to listening, and he was pleasantly surprised when he found out he preferred ZMF's most affordable offering over the rest.
The legendary Susvara was a headphone I have always been curious about, and after finally hearing one off the Lina Stack, I get the hype. This headphone does mids and treble like no other, and with the right music was as good as it gets. That being said, it could never be my one and only, as it really only came alive for me on certain tracks. I prefer a more weighty and impactful sound and the Caldera is the planar for me, but it was awesome to finally get an idea of what the Sus sounds like.
The Spirit Torino Valkyria Titanium was an interesting listen, and I could hear a bit of magic with these, but they also sounded just a tad bit off to me. The fit was a bit weird and I had more pressure on the bottom of the cups than the top, and they just felt a bit strange on head. I don't think they are worth the price of admission for my preferences, but they did sound incredible on certain tracks. I would like to hear these off a 300B tube amp, and I bet the results could be special.
I also got to hear the Meze lineup and they sounded fantastic and honestly I am ZMF fanboy for life, but if I ever did venture out to another brand, Meze would be it. I loved the Empy, Empy II and Elite, but the OG Empy was my fav of the three.
I also got to hear the new MJ3, and I can see why there is some hype around this one. It was super detailed, and had really unique staging. I personally don't think it was at the same level as the Ferrum Oor and Holo Bliss, but it was close and a great value.
Lastly, this pairing of the Elite and new LTA Velo was probably the one that shocked me the most, and sounded absolutely incredible. There was detail, texture, grip and a full bodied sound that just doesn't get any better, and I know the new LTA Velo is going to be getting a ton of attention once more people get to hear it. For the price, I think this amp is one of the best values out there for a tube amp with TOTL sound.
After hearing all that, I came home and fired up my system and to my surprise and delight it bested everything I had heard at the show. I am so glad I went and it was a blast being surrounded by enthusiasts and getting to talk gear for two days straight. The goal for me at this show, was to hear every TOTL headphone and system I could find, to see if what I had at home was as good as I thought it was. Let's just say after hearing all that amazing gear, my system truly is legit.
Thanks for such an awesome experience and I really hope we get to do it all over again next year!
What a fun weekend at CanJam! I am now sat here at my gate waiting to board my flight. It’s a long journey back to Houston at roughly 40 minutes of travel time.
I didn’t take many pictures but I captured enough memories that I’ll hold onto forever.
This was my first CanJam experience and I can’t imagine it having gone any better, and it makes me VERY excited for New York in March. Everyone I met there was so welcoming and friendly, it was as if I had met these people before. It was very warming and I couldn’t have asked for more. Special shout outs to @HiFiHawaii808 and @wazzupi for introducing me to everyone and having some great chats at breakfast, as well as @Subtonic Ken for accommodating my request to demo all the NightJar cables and help find what I was looking for, although that proved to be a very costly hour . It was also a pleasure to meet @Andrew DiMarcangelo from bloom audio, what a nice guy.. and thanks for letting me steal a Kit Kat I know I am missing some people.
I got to hear SO many pieces of gear but I’ll mostly just talk about what grabbed my attention the most, which was the Kinera Loki Emerald, NightJar Dual DD prototype, NightJar Blue Hour 2 and 4 wire cables, 64 Audio Nio and U18t (yes, i know they’re old but I loved revisiting them), Noble Spartacus, and Kinera Imperial Verdandi prototype (?).
The Kinera Loki Emerald immediately “wow’d” me upon first listen which doesn’t happen to me often anymore. It’s a U shaped sound signature with clean and excellent sub bass rumble, a bodied mid bass, and thinner more revealing mids with a fairly elevated treble response that isn’t overly smooth but has enough bite and excitement to stop it from sounding too flat. The special sauce in this IEM came from its fantastic bone conduction imaging. Picking out placement of notes on the Loki stage was about as easy as I have ever heard, with each note getting its own “highlight” on the stage with incredible precision and spaciousness. I’m not sure this is a set that I’d want to listen to for long periods of time but it sure left an impression on me within my multiple demos of it.
The Kinera Verdandi prototype was also very unique with its staging and imaging, it sounded so incredibly open and massive but almost to the point of just being far too diffused and disjointed. I think this will make it divisive amongst the community based on library and preferences but I thought for the price, the overall well executed and inoffensive tuning, and the “fun” presentation it had that it’ll be quite popular if/when it is released. I believe the suggested pricing is about $1099 and it’s in prototype stage at the moment?
I’d like to see Kinera offer their IEMs as customs, if they did I might have bought a Loki Emerald on the spot.
I spent about an hour at the 64 audio booth listening to Volur and revisiting older IEMs that I had once owned and sold off. The U18t still impresses me and I probably made a mistake selling my A18t. Going back to that flatter/reference sound did feel like a nice palette cleanser and I was reminded quickly of how far ahead of their time 64 audio was back when these IEMs came out. I’m not sure it’s something I’d want to listen to anymore at this point for enjoyment but I still find the 18t very relevant even all these years later. The Volur didn’t work much for me at all, I couldn’t really tolerate the treble tuning being so zingy and spicy, it stuck out like a sore thumb to me on my electronic tracks and just made it unenjoyable. I much preferred the cheaper and less technical Nio tuning.
The NightJar Dual DD prototype is a bass lovers dream. Jesus Christ this thing has gobs of bass and it’s very high quality bass. On top of that there’s impedance adapters (done in pigtail form) to tilt it even more “bass head” levels if that’s your thing. When I pushed play and went through one of my bass test tracks the grin I had on my face was something the Grinch would have been proud of. The physicality behind the low end was something that just has to be experienced to understand, and on top of that it has fairly decent detail to offset it too! It wasn’t the most technical thing I’ve heard and at the price point they’re aiming for (I believe somewhere between $2k-$3k) it may not be enough for some people but it’s clear as day this isn’t what the IEM is aiming to achieve. I don’t know how well this set would fare for long term listening or if the novelty would wear off after time but I loved it. For me this was something like Legend X successor, I’ll be keeping an eye out for this one.
Another NightJar product(s) that I loved straight away was the Blue Hour 2 and 4 wire cables. I tried both on my Fei Wan in preparation for my CIEM to arrive shortly. These were the first copper cables I’ve tried that haven’t been from PW audio that I felt were actually good. The 2W gave Fei Wan a much more deeper sub bass rumble with excellent dynamics and control. It was quite staggering how different the lows sounded from the stock cable. It was an immediate improvement for me and on top of that the ergonomics and weight of the 2W are fantastic. It’s incredibly light and supple. Moving from the 2W to the 4W I felt that same excellent bass control and dynamics but with a richer and more analogue sounding mid range, with smoother yet equally detailed treble and extension. The entire stage felt so cohesive and well pieced together, it was perfection and Ken from Subtonic could tell from my “listening face” that it was an immediate positive reaction from me. I placed an order then and there for the 4W Blue Hour cable and I can’t wait to receive it.
The Noble Spartacus was surprisingly good and I thought was very competitively priced at what it offered. It’s a 4BA 2 BCD IEM with the BCDs covering the mids. It’s a new Sonion BCD driver that’s not similar in appearance to the typical disc-like drivers we are used to seeing from UM and EE. The tuning was fairly neutral in mids and treble but with a very generous bass boost done from 2 BA drivers that brought a sub bass rumble that would fool inexperienced ears to thinking they’re DD lows. Technicals were slightly above average in terms of detail and resolution with the main highlight being the spacious mid range and imaging. I preferred this to the Canpur 622B which is over 2x the cost. I was also told they can be made as a CIEM for a small up-charge over the universal MSRP. Jim and Kai (?) from Noble were incredibly pleasant to chat with and I enjoyed learning more about their products.
A couple of “honorable mentions for me”:
AK SE300 - loved the r2r tonality and smoothness but lord have mercy this DAP is painfully slow and it boggles my mind AK thought that SoC was acceptable at that price point and in 2023. Stop being cheapskates.
Eletech Plato - loved it with Fei Wan but the wire itself just felt too stiff for me compared to Sonnet of Adam or the NightJar cables
Campfire Ponderosa - for that “warm & muddy” sound I thought it was fairly decent and easy to listen to with nice imaging that campfire is known for. It was my favorite from the new releases.
List of things heard this weekend:
Noble Damascus Viking (the most incredible IEM I’ve ever seen and held)
AK x VE Aura
Subtonic Storm w Sov Symphony
Noble WM1X (i don’t remember the model name, but 1 DD 1 xMEM driver, powered through USB C)
64 audio U4s, Nio, Volur, U18t, U18s
Campfire Ponderosa, Cascara, Bonneville
NightJar Singularity & dual DD proto, Vanguard, Blue Hour 2/4 wire, Bifrost, Mira
Kinera Loki Emerald & Verdandi
UM Red Halo
hi friends, anyone happen to have a link for the 64 audio discount from the show? i signed up for the raffle and it said an email would be sent with the discount. i was looking for the email because i was going to buy a u4s, but i can’t find an email. any assistance on this would be greatly appreciated!
I own the Atrium, and got to hear the caldera for a few weeks at home. Atrium has larger stage and more bass. While the caldera has a smaller stage but much more accurate imaging. That and the subbass extension is better. The atrium is a slower driver, and the caldera is faster. I'd rank the Atrium higher for me, but I love warm headphones.