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

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  1. Skint
    Great show (first one for me).
    My impressions (please treat them as such, just telling what my ears told me)
    Lime Ears - Aether - WOW! amazing full bodied sound with exceptional treble. The bass switch actually works, not a gimmick. As good as my Angie CIEM imo
    Custom Art - Harmony 8.2 - Again, amazing full sound. Very clear and detailed and great instrument separation. Poland bringing the heat!
    Mr Speakers - Ether Flow - Best over ear open headphone at the show. Better than the Stax 009, HE100 etc... Reaches low and high with authority and accuracy.
    Fiio - M3 - Best small format DAP at the show and better than the AK players I heard inc. AK380, however that could be setup/song file/something else? Used them with my Angie CIEM.
    1more - Triple driver (forgot proper name) - Very nice sound for the price, certainly worth a buy if you're in that market
    Atomic Floyd - SuperDarts - WOW, amazing bass and clear/clean highs with nice mids. For such a small size they are incredible. Would certainly buy them over anything other than TOTL IEM's
    Noble - K10UA and Katana - Love the K10, great extension at both ends with deep controlled bass. The Katana seems like the K10 with less bass. Both great but I'd go for the K10
    JH Audio - Layla, Rosie, Roxanne - Layla is like my Angie but everything turned up to 11, love the fuller bass. Not sure their worth double the price though. Rosie was great, slightly V shaped but very good bass extension. Roxanne, not sure about these, didn't seem to add anything over my Angies - didn't hear any great difference in bass. The FMJ version sorted out the peaky treble. Would have my Angies over everything but the Layla, however way outside my price range.
    Flare Audio - new IEM - Tiny, tiny size and huge sound! Hoping for good things once released. If not looking for TOTL IEM's, the Flare is second only to the SuperDarts.
    Rupert Neve - Headphone Amp - As you would expect, fantastically clear sound that reminded me of my Mojo. Would happily have this on my desk
    Echobox - Explorer DAP - Really great new DAP. Everything right - size, shape, headphone sockets at the TOP of the player (looking at you Cowon!). Fast, responsive UI and perfect size screen. Would like to test longer and get some custom EQ on it.
    Meze Headphones - 99classics - Fantastic, second best closed headphone I heard after the Ether C. Easy to drive from my Plenue D too.
    Sennheiser - IE800 - Very nice balanced sound from another small IEM. Does sound a bit thin though and no replaceable cable at that price!?!
    Stax - SR009 - Maybe I need to get used to electrostats but was not impressed after hearing so much good about them (I listened to the Hawaii amp/SR009 combo). Mostly mid/top end with little bass. Yes the mid/high is excellent, but I need the full range. OK the music was mid/high biased so I guess it would shine with more full bodied music. 
    Sennheiser -  HD800s - Very nice, clean and clear with good soundstage, however I do find most Senny's bass light, and the HD800 is no exception - need to do more listening with other sources. I am not a basshead btw :)
    Focal - Elear  - Nice rich sound, prefer it to the HD800 (listened from same source). Clamping force is a bit strong though so the HD800 wins on comfort.
    HiFiman - HE1000 - Hmmm, don't like the sound, not sure if it's the listening conditions but just sounded peaky and could not get it to fit my small head - not enough adjustment
    Audeze - LDC4 - Sound's OK, nothing special and certainly inferior to the SR009 but so heavy! Don't think I could wear it for long periods.
    Didn't get to hear the HE1 or MSB or Smyth :frowning2: I should have brought my own Comply tips as testing IEM's was difficult with the tips available - getting a good fit is essential. Also the open back headphones really need a nice quiet room.
    Overall excellent show, great venue too. I will be back next year.
    Shout out to Jude, he was super cool and super happy to discuss your audition - He must have been too busy to care about my thoughts on the Elear lol.
  2. Duncan Moderator
    Skint haha, you'll cause uproar with your comment re the IE800, but for what it's worth, I agree with your assessment of them.

    To be fair, of those that you've listed that I've heard also, your impressions mirror my own :)
  3. flinkenick
    Hello everybody I would like to briefly share my impressions on the two 'super systems', the Sennheiser HE-1 and the MSB driving a Stax. I do have to somewhat grudgingly admit in advance that I have little to no experience with headphones and amps, as I've always listened exclusively to ciems (and have little demo options in my country).
    Two systems that sound very different. Where the Sennheiser uses a tube amp, the MSB is designed without opamps or tubes to avoid digital coloration of the signal. The result is arguably the highest level of transparency and accuracy in a headphone system. The stage is wide, and incredibly deep. According to the deep stage, the layering and imaging are both incredibly precise, and the combination with the clean and airy stage results in very spacious sound with excellent separation. Depending on your reference point, its signature is neutral to slightly v-shaped. The key issue in describing its tonality comes down to how you define 'naturalness' - how a natural and realistic sound should sound; something I discussed in length and couldn't completely come to agreement with with my close friend @MikePortnoy who I finally got to meet in real life. The midrange of the Stax/MSB system is not inherently warm - at all, nor does it get warmth from the mid-bass like you'll see in many popular tunings. This contributes to the clean air between the layers/instruments as well as the high level of transparency, but does not really convey emotion. I feel that a vocal should have a sense of warmth, especially a male vocal for example being produced from deep within the throat and chest. Besides emotion, a certain level of warmth can add a bit of power and body to notes. So the result is a highly accurate portrayal of string and brass instruments, though it can sound a bit clinical for genres like pop or rock. But like I said, a part of this depends on how you define 'naturalness'; leaning towards tonal accuracy, the way instruments should sound, as well as the treble speed and the way it dissolves, the MSB/Stax is incredibly natural based on its realism. When it comes to a certain emotional naturalness, the way a vocal can reach and touch you and the weight of guitars, it is different from my personal definition of naturalness. However I strongly suspect that the target audience of a $150.000 system is wealthy 50+ people that mainly listen to classical, and the soundstage and transparency of the MSB/Stax system is of course mind blowing in this regard. 
    The HE-1 on the other hand has a very different presentation. The soundstage is noticeably smaller, dare I say even intimate in comparison (gasp!). Especially in its depth. I wouldn't call the presentation upfront by any means, but the music is not as distant or layered as I might have expected (but keep in mind I heard the MSB/Stax first). Its tonality however is more pleasing to my ears, and I think easier to listen to. While the mid-bass is highly controlled and defined, the tubes give the midrange that inherent warmth that I would classify as natural. Its treble is very articulate but never prominent, where the MSB/Stax could border on harsh with an ill-picked recording, as it is extremely dependent on the quality and type of recording due to its transparent nature. 
    Something else that I really liked was the prototype Cavalli driving the open Ether flow. For starters, Warren and Dan were both two easy going and simply awesome guys that I very much enjoyed talking to, but I really, really enjoyed listening to the combo. There was a certain smoothness and dynamic flow in the presentation, with a signature that was exactly to my liking. The midrange was clearly defined, with the right combination between sparkle and smoothness. Guitars just rocked, vocals sound beautiful, I could definitely settle for that in a distant future if I ever make the switch to headphones. I felt I could just listen to music without overthinking it, very nice. 
    Shoutout to Emil and Piotr from Lime Ears and Custom Art for being two very cool dudes that I immensely enjoyed hanging and laughing with. I have their ciems so I knew they make great stuff, but it was nice to meet them in person. 
    Finally, big compliment to the Head-Fi team for organising the event. It's impressive to see that the iem/headphone world has reached a level of significance where meetings can be organised in such a beautiful venue. I've been to academic conventions that weren't half as classy.
    Eternal Phoenix and gr8soundz like this.
  4. Skint
    Haha I really don't mean to cause offense or anything to anyone. These are all initial impressions. Glad to hear I am not alone :) Still very nice earphones and would be happy if I owned them :)
  5. stevesurf Contributor
    This should be stickied - wonderful summary!
    Are the cables on the Atomic Floyd replaceable?
    Which picture shows the Elear?
  6. mp101
    Thanks to all for a great time.

    Would volunteer again next year but make sure I'm around Friday through Sunday

    Cheers guys

    PS who won the SHaG?

  7. Jawed
    I returned to the show today, despite originally planning to visit for just one day. Various people's posts and time to sleep on the idea gave me the impetus to return.

    Thanks to today's postings by episiarch and Jerseyboy I listened to the Warwick/Sonoma electrostatic system and was impressed. I'd just listened to the Stax 009 off the BHSE and did not feel like I'd suffered in the move across the aisle. I dare say show conditions affect me pretty bad, so I can't say much that's meaningful as there's too much distraction. But both electrostatic systems had a rich, even and communicative sound that I could have happily listened to for much longer than the half hour each that they got from me.

    Moon Audio's stand was like a mini-show all on its own, there's so much happening there! I tried comparing Moon Audio's copper replacement cable for the stock Sennheiser HD 800 S cable, but show conditions and/or my perceptions just came to nothing.

    I spent a lot of time with Smyth Research, starting with a booking for a dem slot of the Realiser A16 that I only made this morning. Boy am I glad I found out about this technology. I've been dreaming of this kind of thing for well over 30 years and it turns out to be far better than I could have dared to hope for. It doesn't simply sound like the real thing. It is the real thing: the sounds entering my ear canal from the headphones are the same as those produced by the speakers.

    This includes the colourations of the speakers, which were painfully clear (with room sound on top). I'd prefer an idealised sound presentation of acoustic spaces over a presentation of speakers playing a recording. But the technology to do that doesn't seem to exist. It's a shame, because frankly, one of the reasons I listen to music and video exclusively on headphones now is to escape from the sound of speakers playing in rooms, which is usually crap (and in my previous life I lived with a high end system for years, though I admit that was fab, not crap).

    For me this is the most important development in audio technology since stereo. And it's been around for a while and I've only just discovered it. I spent prolly a couple of hours having a very stimulating chat with Stephen Smyth. I can't really sum it up meaningfully: think of it as master and student sharing a common joy in audio and technology :D

    I enjoyed the panel "The Dynamics Strike Back". It really does seem like we're alive in the best of times for headphones...

    At the end of the day I plugged my HD 800 S into DAVE and enjoyed it more than yesterday. Horses is still a crazy live recording. Can someone please point me at the actual recording that you can buy, because I can't find it :confused_face(1):

    I was too busy listening to stuff to enter any competitions, so you prize winners can thank me now for not competing with you :wink:

    Oh, and I just want to make a small note about listening levels. I enjoy "rocking out" with excessive levels quite often at home, but it seems as if at this show everyone was continuously listening to excessive levels. Just to be able to hear anything. At least, that seems to be the case on the open-style headphones. I think the sheer quantity of noise in the main space encourages the volume control to go to places it normally doesn't go. Yes I grinned a lot. And I didn't have a headache at any time this weekend. I'm enjoying excessive levels right now (Kate Bush) but normal service will resume shortly. Putting my IEMs at their normal volume setting for my journey home was a real shock: the music barely audible and seemingly a mere shadow of the aural delights of the Ether Flows I'd just been listening to... :)
    Middy likes this.
  8. Smokey636
    I just wanted to give out a big thanks to everyone who organised this event.
    Being quite new into headphones (but not audio) it gave me a great chance of trying lots of different equipment with no sales people bugging you hoping to get a sale that second. Very refreshing!

    You just knew everyone there was there because they loved audio and happy to help (apart from one seller which I won't mention). I sat at the cavalli/mrspeakers desks for ages auditioning the new ether flows (sound fantastic btw, my favourite of the show) and the guys were very welcoming answering any of my questions and never feeling rushed to move on. I was very surprised to not have ques waiting to hear the latest headphones from focal, mrspeakers etc... Just walked over to the desk.. Wait a minute and then on with the headphones and zone out.... :)

    The venue was fantastic and in a great location. You could have quite easily hired a cheap venue in the middle of nowhere but nope. Top hotel in a great location.

    The biggest eye opener was the Smyth Research Realiser A16 surround processor. Left the demo with my mind blown..! (Again a really good bunch of guys)

    But those ether flows will definitely be on my Christmas list :D :D in fact I'm finding it pretty hard to not just buy them now........must be sensible...:angry_face: :evil:

    Thanks for a great weekend!

  9. sujitsky
    My wife had the honor of picking out the lucky number in the Realiser A16 draw. If you are holding ticket no. 8, you can bless your lucky charms :)

    More impressions tomorrow...
  10. Middy
    Just read the kickstarter it looks amazing spatial technology. Always a good deal on KS if you pick a good firm...
    Another reason to hate my self for no CJL..
    Next year...
  11. Jobbing

    Are you serious? No #8, that's me!
    I was on my flight back home when all this happened. I should go to bed now (01.30h). I am SOOO thrilled!! And I am so amazed by the system, already got in on the first tier on Kickstarter (that slot will be open I guess). And Stephen, Mike and Steve are extraordinary people. Luckily I had already mentioned that in my earlier post


    @Sujitski: Please give your wife a big hug on my behalf will you? :wink:
  12. sujitsky

    Hahaha... Nice! Will do.

    I did give it a try to convince them that #10 sounds better (mine, of course :p) but they didn't listen.

  13. third_eye Moderator
    Thanks to all the amazing event volunteers, exhibitors, and attendees, you all made this event so enjoyable!
    Last night in London and we got to play some ping pong on the London 2012 Olympic table, how cool is that? Can't wait to do this again next year! 
    ClassicalViola and moedawg140 like this.
  14. glassmonkey
    Congrats! That was surely a highlight of the trip. That and our 30 minute session with the MSB due to someone not showing for their appointment. Also the listening session with the HE-1 in that romantic room was excellent. Big shout out to all the Sennheiser crew for being such great hosts!
    I'll have lots of impressions later as I took a bit of photos and kept my pen and notebook busy. Early highlights outside of those listed above: Ether Flow C out of Liquid Tungsten; Focal Utopia out of Naim V1; Audio Opus Opus #2 (Opus 1 on steroids bashing moonshots); Echobox Explorer, Lime Ears Aether (brill bass switch), and the Noble K10U (I A/Bed it with the Katana, and liked the K10 more). The King was excellent, but the sword was also excellent, thanks @bangkokkid for running such an awesome booth, legendary.
  15. Aornic
    Hey all. I'm still typing out my comprehensive impressions of the weekend but I just wanted to share a handful of interviews that I filmed earlier today. 

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