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CanJam London 2016 Impressions Thread (August 13-14, 2016)

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  1. ejong7

    I actually feel bad that I didnt post this up earlier. I found it during clean up and meant to post it but have been busy with other things that whatever time I spent at home was to sleep and recharge my batteries LOL.
  2. Middy
    You should get a fit bit for sleep tracking....Oh..:grin:
  3. emptymt
    Did you get a chance to try the open flow?
  4. surfratt

    Thank you :)  I have a pono player and am trying to decide between the AR m2 and AR m20.
  5. glassmonkey
    That was a lovely weekend! First off, a shout out to all the folks that made this happen: @third_eye , and company (post won't let me tag Jude, @joe, @ejong7, Maurice @moedawg140 and many more). Thanks George (@Gilly87) and Sam for getting the sponsorship on--I'm wearing a Keep Calm and DAP On shirt right now. Thanks to all the charming, informative and fun exhibitors. It was good to see the folks I know and good to meet some new folks. It was also really lovely to see some HeadFiers I've met again and put faces to HeadFi handles. @Ra97oR is funny as hell and kept me well entertained--congrats on winning the Rupert Neve amp. I hope it keeps you well entertained.
    Last year I came for one day, and everything felt rushed. I completed my SHaG ran around listening to the HE1K, Orpheus and others, but didn't really socialize much with exhibitors or other HeadFiers. This year was different. I took it leasurely over two days, did some volunteering and got to hang out with really lovely people.
    On to the gear!

    Focal Elear

    The Focal Elear was my first headphone listen of CanJam, and it was delectible. It has a wide image with excellent height and depth. Layers come subtly with deft precision. On Radiohead - Everything in it's Right place tiny details like the subtle whispers in deep in the mix pop out beautifully.

    Focal Listen

    That sounds friggin' excellent at £149. If you are looking for a closed back headphone for on the go or on the job, you should definitely give the Listen a try-out.

    Focal Utopia

    I got two listens in on the Utopia, but preferred it out of the Naim V1 DAC. I wish I'd been able to get it over to the Cavalli gear. I think my brain would have melted. On the Utopia, vocals really stood out to me with an easy organic tone. The soundstage wasn't as wide as the HD800 (but what is), but had excellent depth and deep details emerging out of mix on Pink Floyd - Money. Timbre is dead on. Switching to Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here, I get emotional during the song. The sound is genuinely moving. It's the first time I've felt the deep loss intertwined into the song in such a cathartic way. The Utopia just made me feel all the feels. I listened to the MSB with the SR009 and it didn't do that to me. Only one other headphone really pulled at my emotion circuits.
    The Utopia was so orgasmic that I couldn't stop cursing when writing my notes. NSFW below the spoiler:
    Those hand drums are so beautifully separated. **** me that PIANO! If I owned these I don't think I'd ever go outside. All the feels. All the mother****ing feels.




    I made a stop by the Sennheiser stand, not least because of the gregarious staff and nice sets of cans. I came for the HD800 vs. HD800S comparison. I like the HD800 better. I tend to like a bright sound and found that the HD800S shrank the soundstage a bit. Over time I've really come to like the HD800, but the first time I heard it, I just wasn't into it. The Sennheiser PXC550 bluetooth headphones really caught me by surprise. They were light and comfortable with great sound. 
    One of my best listens was the Sennheiser HE1. The HE1 was natural, open, and just put a big smile on my face at several points. The HE1 was Ferrari fast when I threw Animals as Leaders - Kascade at it. After that I couldn't take any notes as I was just enraptured. I'm glad I got to hear it. Other folks were just as happy as me.
    CanJamLondon2016-18.jpg CanJamLondon2016-21.jpg
    CanJamLondon2016-23.jpg CanJamLondon2016-19.jpg


    KS Distribution (Final Audio Design, Mee Audio, more)

    I've been part of a few review tours with KS distribution and they are a good crew. If I weren't in Southampton and if there was more to do in Lancing for the family, I'd pay them an office visit. It was nice to meet folks from the team at CanJam. KS distribution are one of the only ways to legitimately buy Final Audio Design gear in Europe, but I hadn't really been impressed with their price to performance ratio, or overall sound. From what the folks at KS Distribution tell me the FAD line is a bit polarizing. I've previously (briefly) owned the Heaven V. I had other headphones I liked and still like much better, so I sold them. On this day I got a listen to the nearly top of the line FiBASS. It is a good sounding headphone with excellent treble extension with a strong focus on the mids. The soundstage had impressive width for an in-ear, but was pretty lacking in depth. At this point, the crew let me know that I should try the Final Audio Design Sonorous VI (£549). They gave it to me playing out of the Lotoo PAW Gold after I tried to power it out of my DX50--isn't that cute. You can't power it out of a DX50, don't try. Out of the PAW Gold it was visceral with sharp attack and decay on drums. The Sonorous VI has great separation with a live feel to the sound. It is definitely a bright headphone, but I like that.

    Echobox Explorer

    I backed the Echobox Explorer on Kickstarter for a few reasons, I had seen George at Canjam London 2015, the folks involved had good reputation on HeadFi, it looked cool--flasks are friggin awesome, the power output looked like it could power my HD600 and the price was right with all the free Tidal I've gotten. I feel very reassured in my decision. The Echobox Explorer doesn't lack for power in a portable at all. It drove my HD600 with a smidge of overhead to spare, which doesn't really happen in portable DAC/Amps or DAPs with the HD600. I don't feel like the Mojo did that for me in the past, and most portables would struggle to power something half as demanding as the HD600. If you are in the UK, there is a tour being organized for the Echobox Explorer. I'd check it out if I were you.
    CanJamLondon2016-13.jpg CanJamLondon2016-14.jpg


    Cavalli Audio and Mr. Speakers

    The Ether C Flow out of the Cavalli Audio Liquid Tungsten prototype was a thing of absolute beauty. The combo was one of the few emotion engines of the show. I loved it. The background was so black that it would get pulled over by the cops at three times the average rate. Hotel California off of Hell Freezes over has never sounded anywhere near this good to me. I see now why it is a demo track. This pairing had huge soundstage, detailed presentation, and pitch perfect timbre. Both companies should be very very proud. I hope that @warrenpchi is well rested now. He looked tired as hell. I thought he might have been on something relaxing and recreational, but it was just sleep deprivation.
    CanJamLondon2016-37.jpg CanJamLondon2016-35.jpg


    MSB Audio Select System

    I had the first slot of the day on Sunday, and was lucky enough to have the person after me not show, so I got 30 minutes of listening with the MSB system with @Jobbing joining me for much of it. It's like listening to real life, like being in the mastering studio and hearing exactly what the engineer is outputting. When listening to Daft Punk - Georgio by Maroder playing , I noted that the bass was a bit warmer than I'm used to hearing, but then when playing other tracks, the bass was crystal clear and perfectly textured. I think that the MSB was revealing the master to me. The MSB system has startling realism. There were many points where I was simply shocked by the technical quality of what I was hearing. Much Wow great music. Frank Vermeylen, our tour guide through the MSB select system has great taste in music. I had to note down several new tracks that I just have to acquire. Vocals are holographic on the MSB, cello timbre is perfect, sub-bass is full and deep. The MSB Select inspires run-on sentences. When listening to Nils Lohgren - You, it was like being front row at the concert, slightly to the right of centre, without any ******** sweating and breathing on you and shouting at the stage. It was like having your own private concert, it was just me and Nils, Jobbing got to come too. It was a Hell yes kind of moment.
    CanJamLondon2016-38.jpg CanJamLondon2016-39.jpg
    CanJamLondon2016-26.jpg WP_20160814_10_25_09_Pro.jpg


    Audio Opus

    I can't believe I forgot these guys when writing this up. Thanks @Mimouille for reminding me. I couldn't get the Opus 11 to work out of my phone, but the new Opus #2 DAP is sexy. It has metal construction with reassuring heft, a nice size screen, full Android and the clarity and neutrality of the Opus #1 but with more power. I like it. A lot. I want one.


    I am currently reviewing the 1MORE MK801 and went to 1MORE's stall and had a listen to the Bluetooth MK802. It's better than the MK801. Similarly, their triple driver is better than the EO323 I just reviewed, it's got more sparkle and overall texture. I'll be reviewing both of these. While I was there, Jude was right next to me listening to the Bluetooth iBFree in ears, and appeared to be very impressed. I'm looking forward to reviewing them also.


    Chord Mojo and Audeze Sine

    The Chord Mojo and Audeze Sine pairing was wonderful. The Sine is balanced with great texture throughout. It's the most impressive on-ear I've heard and was very comfortable. The Sine were fast, with an average-ish soundstage and excellent imaging. Listening to Tool - Forty six and 2, the Sine show their v-shaped signature a bit as the mids are a tad recessed, with Maynard's vocals sitting back in the mix a bit. The Sine has excellent treble extension. I use Kraftwerk - Kometenmelodie2 to test whether the headphone goes shrill when it is supposed to - it does the shrill.

    Noble Audio

    Brannan is amazing. He handles that major booth by himself with no problems. He is also really good at getting tips on the big Noble nozzles. He worked my Spinfits onto the K10U and Katana like some sort of magician. When comparing the K10U to the Katana, I found the K10U to sound more natural. The K10U has a big soundstage, but the Katana is even bigger, as big as the biggest in ear soundstage I've heard, the oBravo EAMT-3W. In every other aspect, I think the Katana is superior to the oBravo EAMT-3W. The Katana sound is an incisive, razor sharp analytical sound. The K10U is a bit warmer and easier to listen to. The Katana challenge your ears to an iajutsu duel. I preferred the King, long live the King.


    The folks at FiiO were very nice! I had a nice conversation with Oscar, who is from Sweden and understands cold and dark better than most folks I know--I'm from Alaska, -40 degrees ain't nothin'. I tried out the X3ii and the X7. I didn't have a long listen, but I think the X3ii is the more neutral of the two, but the X7 was so easy to use with that touch screen. Also the changeable amps are cool.

    Mitchell & Johnson

    I listened to almost everything they had on hand with the MJ2 being my favourite. All of them had a pleasant sound, with the MJ2 being the best for critical listening. If the MJ2 and JP1 could be combined into one unit, that would be super. The JP1 is still being finalized on headband adjustability, but it is going to be super sexy when it comes out. People who backed the Kickstarter for the GL2 SE (oval and drop shaped) are going to be pleased, it was a hell of a bargain at Kickstarter prices. I thought the HP1 (I think I've got the right one, it was square) was a nice sounding neutral headphone with a very clean sound. The bass was a little recessed and it had average soundstage with good imaging within the soundstage it casts.
    I had a really good conversation with Dave Johnson, the brand owner, about managing expectations and jerk backers on Kickstarter. I told him that I spend lots of time on here telling people to calm down when it comes to delays, but with more foul language. Every Kickstarter needs a few really enthusiastic backers who keep other people engaged instead of enraged. I think if I had advice for Kickstarter folks it would be to do an update at least every other week and see if you can get some backers to handle questions during the campaign and afterwards. Enthusiastic backers are free, and are often willing to help. I've developed pledge managers for boardgames I've backed, and frequently answer questions if I'm hanging out in the comments.

    Trinity Audio

    I had a few folks at CanJam tell me they knew me from the Trinity threads. Apparently I'm 'Very Super Famous'. The link is to satirical and wildly inappropriate video that Jon Lajoie is no longer hosting on his channel--this one has Polish captions for folks like Emil of Lime Ears (that guy is funny, I hope he watches the video), and the crew of Custom Art. I'm not really famous, but it's nice to be recognised.  Don't watch the video if you don't get satire, you'll be really offended.
    Bob is a really affable guy. I spent quite a bit of time over at his stand. Enough time to try the Delta II, the Hunter, and the Vyrus. I listened to the Hunter with the Silver filter and the Gold filter (I think both were damped--I should have noted that in my little notepad). The Hunter sounded superb. One bit of warning for owners of other Trinity gear, the filters between the Hunter and Delta II look like they're compatible but they aren't, so don't mix and match. I did, and managed to crossthread a Hunter. Bob was really nice about it. "That's why you bring spares, he said." He also said it was one of two in existence, so my bad, sorry, Bob. The Delta II is absolutely world-beating at £99 and look for Bob's signature for a discount. It's the best bargain I've heard in IEMs for a while. The Trinity Vyrus isn't far behind, it also has the tuneable sound that folks come to Trinity for, and is under £60, which is ridiculous. The Vyrus was clear and balanced with the gold filter. Well done, @Bobtrinity. People are going to ask you to come to all these meets--speaking of, look at my signature for another meet coming early next year in the UK. Here's to hoping it doesn't conflict with other up and coming events.
    Phantom Hunter​


    Lime Ears

    Emil and I were talking about the new S versions of their headphones that have bass boost. I said, "Bass boost, like a kick in the ears." His reply was perfect:
    The description is apt. I found that the Aether was incredibly natural and organic sounding and that whether I wanted the bass boost on or off depended on the track I was listening to. Massive Attack - Angel loved the switch on, whilst Fleetwood Mac - Dreams was better without.

    Custom Art

    I listened to two IEMs at the Custom Art table (shared with Lime Ears--Pole position, indeed). The Fibae 4 driver was described as having a W signature. I found it to be rich and warm across all frequencies. The signature was a chocolate cake kind of signature. I like my xylophone a bit more defined than the highs on the Fibae 4 offered. Vocal layers were a bit too thick for me, I found myself really searching for details. The Harmony 8.2 was also rich, but more like a cafe au lait--a light kind of rich. I preferred the Harmony 8.2. The treble and vocals had much better definition. These are a really inviting IEM.


    I spent quite a bit of time with these guys chatting about their headphones and ideas for the future. @LorandCz picked my brain about the Meze line. It's always nice to feel like you are contributing to something, especially when it is as nice as the 99 Classics. I got a listen to the new larger pads, and I don't agree with the video posted by @Aornic, the bigger pads do change the signature--I believe in positive way. For me, I felt the bass was sometimes a bit much with the old pads, the signature is more to my liking now and they will definitely be more comfortable. I describe the Meze 99 classics as an audiophile version of a popular consumer signature. I think it is part of why they are so successful. They aren't changing what people in the general populace are naturally looking for. A lot of audiophiles like this signature, too. I think that Meze should sell the Meze with either set of pads, and let you decide when you buy them. Also, since the headphones are completely user serviceable, people can get both sets and hear for themselves the difference in signature. Speaking of signature, if you want the signature of the Meze 99 Classics (original pads) in an IEM, the Meze 11 has you covered for not much dough (I think it was $50). Get one.
    I lied! How did I forget about the Smyth Realiser?

    The Smyth Realiser

    @Jobbing won this, congrats! It was a really interesting experience sitting down putting some microphones in my ears and getting all calibrated up. After they got me calibrated, I chose my video, and went. Game of Thrones was my video of choice. They start you out with speakers, and then switch to the headphones. It doesn't feel like a switch has happened. When removing the headphones a slight pressure change indicated the change, but the sounds still sounded the same. The instrumentation is really seamless, but it wouldn't work for me right now with my little baby girl.
  6. musicday
    Did you get a chance to try the open flow?

    Yes i tried extensively both Flow versions, closed and open.
    While the closed has a more prominent bass,with a faster attack the open has a wider soundstage..The details and clarity on both is very impressive.
    I was listening to Suavemente by Elvis Crespo, and literally you can learn Spanish,hearing everything so clear.
    But i will choose the closed one as i want to be able to listen everywhere,while with the open one you are limited.
    Fully recommend both.
  7. HeadAmpTeam
    Thanks a bunch to everyone for making Can Jam London 2016 an amazing and successful experience! @third_eye in particular for the amazing venue and easy logistics, it just keeps getting better!
    And thanks to everyone who came out to demo the Blue Hawaii and GS-X, we are grateful to have so many enthusiastic fans here in Europe!  Don't forget to use promo code HEADFI10 for 10% off your next headphone order at HeadAmp.com.
    Looking forward to Can Jam at RMAF, we may have something new and exciting to show!
    HeadAmp Stay updated on HeadAmp at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    https://www.facebook.com/HeadAmp https://twitter.com/HeadAmp https://www.instagram.com/headamp/ https://www.headamp.com/ sales@headamp.com
    purk likes this.
  8. Antonio-DD

    An overview of the Westminster ballroom at the park plaza, a very enjoyable CanJam!
    Currawong likes this.
  9. Type35
    Glad to hear that most folks had a great time but I wasn't as fortunate. One of the highlight I was looking forward to was the new Focal Utopia. I tried three times to have a listen but it never worked. The first time, the guy ahead of me spent half an hour with the Utopias; I gave up after waiting for 20 minutes since it was early in the day. The second time, I finally had the Utopias on my hears just when the power went out on the entire row where the Focal booth was located. I came back a third time toward the end of the day but two guys where doing comparisons between the HEK and the Utopias for more than an hour. Basically, it just wasn't meant to be. I just wish the guys manning the booth would move people along when they had a good listen and other people are waiting in line.
    I was attending on Sunday and several booths started to pack their gear around 4:30PM while the show was scheduled to run until 6PM: that's just not very professional. Some big guys were also missing like Schiit Audio (only very limited stuff at the AKG booth), Meridian, NAD/MSB, Oppo, Philips.... So overall decent show but not great.
    On the bright side, I really enjoyed the Ether Flow and the new amp proto from Cavalli: very effortless sound, detailed but non-fatiguing, wide frequency response range, not unreasonable pricing. I was also positively impressed by the Rupert Neve amp: very neutral sound with good clarity, solid build (as pro gear should be), competitive pricing. I had a good talk with the Meze guys and it's nice to see that they are improving the Classics: if they get the earpads and damping right, the Neo is going to be a very solid value. Finally, the 1More triple driver was a lot of fun: not the best dynamic / BA drivers integration or put another way, bass was a little too pronounced and not enough defined but the toe tapping factor was definitely there. For £80 and given the very complete accessory set that comes with it, there is a lot to like.
  10. masterpfa
    I think I may have been sitting next to you at the Noble stand, I remember someone taking notes

    But then again there were many all weekend who were taking notes.

    PS agree totally with FL8s and Nobel Keiser 10u

    I was determined not to spend that weekend but had a difficult choice between Katana and Keiser 10u at the Noble stand and hard to walk away from the £230 at the show price for the FL8s
  11. ToroFiestaSol
    I have to go to the next Canjam, looks like you guys had a lot of fun, I couldn't do it this year but hopefully next year I'll go :)
    PS: I really want the Ether C Flow.
  12. paulchiu
    Thanks for short compare between Utopia and 009 with MSB Select,  That confirms my short experience as well.
  13. mark2410 Contributor

    yeah, sadly i didnt get the to hear the katana, meant to get back to them on the sunday but, well, you know time.  i mean i could have happily had the show be monday to friday rather than a weekend to actually get to everything i wanted.  still, though FLC 8's which granted are tunable but the one i tired i was super impressed with it for the price, really seriously nice.
    masterpfa likes this.
  14. gr8soundz
    Good impressions.
    Would've been great if not for the joke about traffic stops.
  15. Mython Contributor
    It may not have been politically-correct, but I didn't interpret it as racist. It struck me more as a wry dig at unfortunate societal shortcomings.
    But I can see how it's open to differing interpretations.
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