CanJam London 2017 Impressions Thread (July 15-16, 2017)

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  1. bmichels
    I will be there. It will be my 4Th Canjam ... :stuck_out_tongue:
     
    raypin and joe like this.
  2. Pokemonn
    noooo please don't bully pikachu... lol
     
  3. ceemsc
    They fail to grasp that not everyone can afford the hi-fi speakers & amps or have the dedicated treated room space to do such kit justice....
     
  4. Skint
    Didn't listen to as much stuff as last time due to running late, but here are my brief impressions;

    • 64 Audio Tia Fourte and U18 are both stunningly amazing in every field, the wife preferred the Fourte as did I. Not sure I could spend that much on a universal IEM which is not so far away from my custom Angie's.
    • Flare Audio's IEM is unreal! probably the best bass quantity I've yet heard in an IEM, and from such a small shell. I would say it approaches my Angie in terms of sound enjoyment, not got quite the separation. Certainly the best sub £1k IEM I've ever heard. In fact out of everything we heard (except HE1, not exactly portable), regardless of cost, the wife would have brought the Flare, even over the Tia Fourte (I would have the Fourte personally).
    • HE1 audition was great, shame the music choice was limited - would like to hear something big and bassy. The wife had goosebumps during her session and said it's the best headphone she's heard - I concur. Interestingly the HE1 has a second headphone socket round the back, and at only £25k it's a bargain. The wife said we should buy a house before a HE1 + second headphone :)
    • Not overly impressed with EE Zeus XR, I have the Cerberus which is great, was expecting more I guess.
    • 1more quad sounded worse (sounded muffled) than the triple (wife has the tipple).
    • Cardas A8 was really nice, very bass heavy but in a good way.
    • Echobox explorer is a nice DAP, probably he most ergonomic out there. Still prefer my Cowon PM2 to it, and basically everything else on the market.
    • Not impressed with Final's current lineup of IEM's but the prototype planar sounded amazing! Full bodied and musical.
    • Hifiman RE2000 sounded great in all areas but not very exciting/musical and did not better my Angie's.
    • Beyer Xelento was very nice, good sound-stage and very smooth. Better (more musical than) than the RE2000 imo.
    • Noble had a good offering as usual, my fave is the K Encore, again did not better my Angie.

    Show was noticeably bigger and seemed more organised than last year so hats off to the Headfi team. Shame JHA was absent, really wanted to hear the Lola - unless it was somewhere at the show and I missed it!?

    Looking forward to next year.
     
    raypin and joe like this.
  5. bmichels
    Very interesting report. Thanks.

    Re Flare IEM, are you speaking about the FLARES PRO ? Their new wireless earphones ?
     
    joe likes this.
  6. Bastianpp
    What's better fot you? a lot of people think the angie is only a low cost iem from JH.
     
  7. Skint
    Yes the Flare Pro - it's a regular single ended IEM but you can plug in a wireless module which replaces the Y split and it becomes a wireless IEM (didn't listen to the wireless though). Wireless module comes with the earphones which is cool - although it is a little chunky.

    The best imo is Layla (note: yet to hear Lola) but not worth double the price, still enjoying the Angie as when I first got them. Naturally YMMV.
     
  8. Matez
    Thanks, will look into that! Nice work!
     
    Ultrainferno likes this.
  9. Jackpot77
    Bit late to the party, but my impressions from London '17 are now up on Audio Primate - link below:

    https://audioprimate.blog/2017/08/15/jackpot77s-canjam-impressions/

    Posted a few of the manufacturer impressions from the writeup below.

    -------------------------------

    Canjam London will always hold a special place in my heart – this is the first portable audio festival I ever attended, and provided my first taste of true high quality portable audio, and what it could sound like.

    I was lucky enough to make the Sunday of this year’s Canjam London, and while making my way through the various temptations on display, I managed to jot down a few brief impressions. Unfortunately, my camera work didn’t fare quite so well, so the solitary photo I managed to take without a huge smudge on the lens turning it into a passable impression of the famous pea souper fogs of London in the 1800s was of something I didn’t even get to listen to. Photos here are of the gear in question, but pretty much only the stuff I ended up purchasing up on the day.

    [​IMG]

    Flare Audio
    The first booth I stopped at was the Flare Audio concession. Flare were my “gateway drug” into this hobby via their Kickstarter a few years ago for the R2A in-ear monitor, and hold a special place in my heart. Ever since I heard about their latest single-DD offering, I have been waiting with baited breath to see if they could improve on the original without losing too much of the “special sauce” that made the R2s unique. Enter the Flares Pro.

    Compared to the original packaging from their first series of IEMs, the Pro are a serious step up in quality, the cube-shaped box modelled on an anechoic chamber, and looking really cool sat on their stand. This was the only model they were talking about at Canjam, with the demo models mainly running off their small Bluetooth module that is included with each package. It is about the size of a small matchbox, but is a fully balanced Hi-Res DAC/AMP, sporting AptX Bluetooth and a decent 10+ hours of battery life.

    They have also upgraded the cabling, keeping the titanium shells small but definitely improving the robustness of the rest of the design with some aramid fibre cables. @glassmonkey will be reviewing these on here soon enough (as will I), but suffice to say the sound quality of the Pros from both the Bluetooth and wired connections is pretty stellar for the £350 RRP, and competes pretty well with IEMs in a higher price bracket. They use one single Beryllium micro-driver and a unique “dual jet” design and tapered sound bore to lower distortion and reduce pressure in the ear canal. The sound quality is beautifully clean and smooth as a result, with very good weight in the bass and excellent clarity throughout. These were one of my favourites of the whole day, and I ended up going home with one of their last boxes.

    For those who may be put off by the unique cabling design (the IEM cables detach at the y-split and are terminated in MMCX connectors to link to the Bluetooth module or the unbalanced cable), the guys at the Flare stand did mention they are looking into producing further connector sets, with a 2.5mm TRRS connector likely to be the first additional option.

    [​IMG]

    Empire Ears
    I was the recent winner of a competition on Head-Fi that was run by Empire Ears and Effect Audio, and as a result was the lucky recipient of a custom Zeus-XR and Effect Audio Leonidas. After exchanging a few PMs with Jack Vang at Empire to arrange the custom build, he was the one person I wanted to make sure I got to meet in person at Canjam, to say thanks face-to-face for the outstanding competition prize and to check out the rest of his firm’s lineup.

    As it turned out, I spent a few hours over the course of the day at the Empire booth – Jack and the head designer Dean were both extremely gracious and entertaining hosts, happy to shake hands with every person who took an interest in their gear and talk at length on various topics.

    Dean (the engineering “brains” behind their lineup) very kindly spent some time talking me through his approach to tuning his flagship models, as I was curious as to how Empire manage to retain the level of coherency the Zeus is capable of with a 14-driver/8-crossover setup. Sadly, I wasn’t able to learn any earth-shattering secrets from Vang Sr., but it was refreshing to hear that their philosophy on sound is simple – they tune IEMs to sound as close to what a singer or guitarist wants to hear as possible, and use however many crossovers as the design merits to keep the sound as clean and clear as possible. Dean also talking through why they “nano-coat” the drivers in each IEM – this is a trickle-down (or across) from the parent hearing-aid company that the Vangs also run, and is designed to ensure that the drivers are sealed against water and moisture damage, to prolong the working life of the IEM if it is worn for long periods or in very humid or sweaty environments. It has the added bonus of reducing magnetic interference between drivers within the shell, which can only be a good thing.

    While I worked my way through their existing range to get a benchmark for where the Zeus sits in direct comparison, I was also presented with the opportunity to hear both their “non-advertised” Savage line (for musicians) and two of their new prototypes that may eventually replace some models in the existing range.

    [​IMG]

    Starting with the existing lineup, I worked my way through from the Hermes to the Apollo (some ADEL variants as well) – the Hermes is an impressively clean sounding monitor, but a little analytical for my personal preference. Moving up to the Athena, I had an immediate connection with the signature, reminiscent of a slightly watered-down Zeus in terms of clarity and tone, but with a little more lower end presence and warmth. It had a signature that didn’t immediately blow me away, but it was the model I came back to the most when I was playing around with the different variants (in fact, I came back to it so much I ended up purchasing one from Jack at the end of the show).

    The Apollo struck me as a closer sibling of the Zeus, but having heard the summit of the mountain already, there wasn’t enough to leave me with a clear impression of the differences between the two, just that the Zeus was slightly superior (when you are dealing with IEMs in this categories, most differences are of the slight rather than gaping variety).

    A random conversation with Jack regarding my very poor drumming skills led to a few IEMs being produced from behind the curtain (as it were), which are currently not advertised on their site and aimed mainly at stage musicians – the Savage line. These are tuned for serious bass response and smoothness, and use a different crossover configuration and design to the Olympus line as far as I can gather (I may be wrong, though). I tried both the Savage 5 and 9 (the numbers denoting the driver count), and as advertised, found the bass to be a far meatier and more muscular affair than on the main range. Out of the two, I preferred the 9, but found the treble tuning a little too smooth and sweet to consider making it an addition to my collection – they reminded me in a lot of ways of the old Aurisonics ASG series, weighted in the bass and vocals/mid range and rolled off towards the treble to avoid listening fatigue after extended listening at stage-levels of playback. If dark, smooth and solidly proportioned is how you like your sound, it may be worth tapping up the EE team for more details on their secret range.

    Finishing my various trips to the Empire stall, I was privileged to hear their two new prototype models, one aimed at the middle of their current range, and one sitting around the top end as a potential new flagship. Jack was very vague on the inner workings of either unit, and the shells were deliberately opaque to ensure no prying eyes (or cameras, even if I had managed to take any pictures that worked). Despite being none the wiser about the configurations on show, one thing I can say is that the two models are definitely an evolution of the sound signature currently on offer, and for me, a very exciting one. The higher end model had all the signature clarity and cohesion of the current flagship Zeus-XR, but carries a weightier lower end and a more organic feel – I can’t give too much more away as I only spent a few minutes listening to the new gear, but I will be watching the Empire news feeds with great interest to find out more as soon as these beauties are ready for general release.

    [​IMG]

    Shanling
    I ended up spending a lot of time at the Shanling booth at the 2016 Canjam, and coming away with their M5 flagship. This year I was more interested in the lower end models, the M1 and M2S. I spent a fair bit of time auditioning both with the various gear I had on hand, and ended up plumping for the M2S.

    I liked the tiny form factor and highly stacked functionality of the M1, but the M2S just sounds a little better across the board, with their variant of the AK4490 DAC chip producing a punchy and musical sound that plays well with most of my gear. It does tend towards the bassier side of the street with my Andromeda, as the output impedance on the M2S is around 4 Ohms, so that may be a factor if you own a lot of gear that has particularly sensitive impedance curves, but for the price, the feature set (Bluetooth, passthrough DAC, OTG) is very impressive, and the sound is top notch for a mid-fi unit. It also shares almost the exact same footprint as the Chord Mojo, so can be used as a Bluetooth enabled USB transport for the Chord device if you don’t want to spring for the Poly.

    [​IMG]

    Summary
    Considering I was only there for the Sunday session, this year’s Canjam definitely left an impression on me. It’s always great to see the enthusiasm an knowledge of the vendors, and their willingness to engage with the audiophile crowd over all sorts of unusual topics (some even related to audio!). Getting to listen to such a wide spread of high end gear in somewhere like the UK where it is a little more difficult to audition some of the more boutique brands is a real blessing, and definitely not ideal for the wallet.

    My personal top 3 in terms of “Wow” factor on the day:

    1. Empire Ears new prototypes – definitely some big things coming at some point soon from the EE factory in Georgia.
    2. Flare Audio Flares – unusual implementation, wired AND wireless in the box, great design and a sound signature that punches way above its chosen price bracket (plus a box that looks like modern art).
    3. Correlated Magnetics – the sound was enjoyable, the school science fair demo toys were impressive and the concept was very intriguing. If these guys get the tuning right on their first model at the sort of price point they are considering, they should start making some serious waves in the industry.
    Honourable mentions go to the AKG N90Q (who doesn’t love a headphone that scans your inner ear to self-adjust its own EQ – very James Bond), the Kennerton Audio and Stereo Pravda team (very friendly and some bonkers pieces of gear on their tables) and the Atomic Floyd display, proving that not all people or products that get sold in a FruitStore are intrinsically bad.

    Bring on Canjam London ’18!
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2017
  10. Turrican2
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2017
    Jackpot77 likes this.
  11. Jackpot77
  12. third_eye Moderator
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