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CanJam London 2019 Impressions thread

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  1. Nik74
    The one pairing that for me was the best all rounder and that I would very happily walk out of the show with, if I magically had the funds to, would be the Woo Electrostatic amplifier paired with the Stax SR-009S.Truly mesmerizing and immersive sound with soul.

    If it was to add to my existing system it would for sure be an M-Scaler.

    Other headphones I loved were the ZMF Verite- and the Glenn OTL that was driving them, amazign pairing-, the Susvara driven by Chord Hugo tt2 and M-Scaler -and also Headamp GSx mini- and the Audeze LCD4 through the Benchmark HP4. I was listening for overall musical enjoyment rather than looking for technicalities as even in the suites the constant chatter was making critical listening impossible.

    I was also Impressed by the MySphere and HEDDphone both of which would require a certain brain rewiring on my part to fully appreciate :) Both were ultra fast, incredibly incisive-not harsh though- but under show conditions didnt involve me emotionally so much.

    Such a great show, I d be back next weekend too :)
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2019
    RCBinTN, Aornic, snk8699 and 12 others like this.
  2. phthora
    Any details that you could add about the HEDDphones' sound? I am really excited about these, and at this point sound impressions are hard to come by. Seems like they're getting compared to ribbon and electrostatic headphones quite a bit, do they have that same sort of resolution and detail? Any mid-fi level headphones that you could compare to? Anything you got in this regard would be very appreciated.
    Hifiearspeakers likes this.
  3. slapo
    I'd heard the ETHER 2 and ETHER C Flow. The former I could to be pretty nice, a touch too much bass for my taste but otherwise a really nice sense of space with really good imaging to go with it. A little bright at times, but it might've been just thetracks. The latter sounded... rather dull. It seemed to be lacking in quality on the low end and high end.

    The oBravo Cupid seemed to be a V shape tilted a fair bit in favour of bass.
    The oBravo eamt-1c on the other hand was remarkable. Probably the best clarity and speed I'd heard in a headphone of any type yet the response seemed very natural, a lot like on Etymotics.

    I was surprised that the Campfire Cascade seemed a much less bassy headphone than most people claim them to be, with a really spacious sound stage and very nice detail retrieval. But, that was running off a tube amp.

    The HEDDphone was interesting. I only got to try two of the three prototypes. One of them was just too bright and sharp, the other one had a really nice treble, but a touch too much bass and there wasn't something quite right with the mids. Gregory Porter (and most of the others I listened to there) sounded both a little thin yet with a strange veil. It was really odd. A shame I didn't get to try the third one. The tech seems to have quite a bit of potential, though. The speed of transients was good but didn't seem to be above a fast planar magnetic headphone.

    I had tried the Campfire Comet and the Andromeda. The Comet was really nice, except for a few peaks that seemed to be there that made cymbals just too sharp and there was a bit of sibilance, too. That was with Comply tips I brought with me, so I think it would've been worse with other tips.
    The Andromeda I found pretty disappointing. In particular, the bass just seemed to be lacking definition and speed compared to the mids and highs.

    While I had been waiting at the ZMF booth to try out their closed backs (mostly Eikon), I took out my T40RP MK3 and Beyerdynamic Custom Studio Pro (both modded). And they listened to them and actually seemed to like them (even shook hands with Zach). o.O
    I didn't get to actually listen to the Eikon, unlike last year. I wanted to come back on Sunday, but I chickened out and didn't go (apologies to the ZMF folk). I was pretty sure I'd have ended up buying the Eikon. I'll need to buy a new computer this month or the next and my common sense surprisingly won this time around. Next year, though, I'll have saved up for them, dang it.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2019
  4. baseonmars
    My first CanJam and a top experience.

    I spent as much time chatting a I did listening. What an awesome friendly bunch of people.

    The Verite Closedwere the star for me, They sounded phenomenally holographic, excellent instrument separation, well defined driving bass and a crisp response across the board.

    To me, where the Stelia sounds too dynamic and peaky the ZMF headphones were tuned beautifully. Tracks included Stan Gets - Girl from Ipanema, Knower - Time Traveller, RATM - Take the Power Back and Eric Clapton Unplugged - Running on Faith

    I’ve put myself on Acorn Audio’s home audition list. When something sounds this good on first listen I like give myself a second listen to make sure I’m not blinded by the lights.

    I spend quite a while comparing cables at the Effect Audiostand - talking myself in and out of a Leonidas II to pair with my customs. This remains an open question until I can put into words why it sounds so damn good.

    Empire Ears Bravado where a fantastic listen - a real surprise not only at the price point but just in general. I will come back to these if I need a second pair of portables. Bang on my sound signature and very comfortable in the ear.

    FiiO were my final stop. The M11 Pro is an amazing bit of kit sounding just the notch more natural and less “digital” than the M11... whoever set the EQ in the picture below on the M11 needs a talking to... I couldn’t figure out why it sounded so wonky at first :)


    At the end of the day I still preferred my SP1000M to the M11 Pro but if I was starting fresh it’s be a strong contender, the UI is so much more responsive it’s not even funny.

    The BTR5 and Q5s both sounded great connected to my AK DAP, I’ll likely pick up the Q5s to replace my xDSD as a portable Swiss Army knife.

    Finally Jude - what a cool, down to earth and genuine guy. Thanks for taking the time to chat, I wonder if we both know the same guy from the Detroit Video? Send me a link if you find it.

    Thanks for a great weekend to everyone I met.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2019
  5. THGM
    Had a blast at the show yesterday! Thanks to everyone who made it possible, Jude, Ethan, exhibitors and attendees. A lot of time and effort has gone into making CanJam London such a success and it is greatly appreciated. Am happy so share my impressions with you, though please bear in mind that my impressions are just that, my impressions. No measurements, limited technical jargon, just what I felt when listening to my choice of music through some quite amazing gear. No pictures I’m afraid as I forgot my camera but loads of people were taking photos and videos on some serious-looking gear, which I see are beginning to appear on this thread.

    First stop, of course, was Meze, having listened to the prototype Empyreans last year. Meze had decided to partner their Empyreans with the dCS Bartok which was a great pairing. The sound was warm, smooth and non-fatiguing. If you are looking for a simple (but expensive!) set-up comprising one box and a pair of headphones, for listening late into the night this is perfect. Apparently, Meze are selling the Empyrean as fast as they can manufacture them, the demand is so great.

    Warwick Acoustics had the great idea of exhibiting their Aperio and Sonoma Acoustics Model One in a listening booth, isolated from the hustle and bustle of the main hall. Once inside and plugged into the Model One, I understood immediately the love for electrostatic headphones! I have never heard Bob Dylan’s voice so well-realised. There was clarity and detail in the mids and highs, yet without being sibilant or fatiguing, whilst the bass - something I thought might be lacking - was well defined and controlled. No, I wasn’t listening to EDM, so that might be something to explore for those who need to feel the bass coursing through their body but for me it was perfect.

    Next up was a stop at Innuos, where they had hooked up their ZENith Statement to a Chord Dave connected to the HiFiMan Shangri-La Jr. Over £25,000 worth of gear and, boy, did it sound good too. Sublime imaging, clarity and detail with the smoothness and warmth of the Jr’s tubes combining to great effect. Sheer musicality and another combination I could listen to for hours on end.

    Focal had a major presence in the main hall, where they had all several examples of all their headphones hooked up to many different amps and dacs covering most combinations you would choose to listen to at home. Spotting a free space, I homed in on the Focal Clear connected to a Novafidelity HA500H digital-to-analog converter, preamp and asynchronous USB DAC in turn hooked up to a Novafidelity X50D music server / network streamer. Another great combination, particularly for critical listening, although I did feel it would become fatiguing quite quickly. To my ears, I felt it unsuitable for relaxed, late night listening but ideal for hearing into the music, bringing out detail and nuance.

    I then listened to a pair of Focal Clears hooked up to a Feliks Audio Euphoria amp and Benchmark DAC3. This was much more to my taste, a warmer, smoother sound yet not lacking in detail or clarity. I could listen to this combination for hours, one thoughtfully put together by Focal.

    My last Focal combination was, likely, one that a lot of people outside our hobby will choose, that of the Focal Utopias (or Focal Stelias) hooked up to their own Arche dac/amplifier. A neat solution that produced sonic bliss: great musicality, detail and drive. Simple, effective and relatively affordable, for the career professional who I suspect is the target audience, at £6,000 for a neat one stop solution.

    Having read and heard so much love for ZMF headphones, I wanted to visit their stand. Greeted warmly by Bevin, I listened firstly to the Verite which was a little too bright for my taste. A happy and proud owner of the Verite sitting next to me, better described them as having a W signature. I then had a listen to the Aeolus which, to me, sounded a little warmer without losing any detail, resolution or presence. This, I could quite happily live with but then their UK Distributor, Aamer, suggested taking a listen to the Auteur with leather pads fitted to reduce the highs. This made for a delightful listen, hugely musical, perfectly weighted highs and lows, detail and, above all, the musicality I craved. But, I am getting ahead of myself. What really blew my mind was the beautifully crafted headphones arrayed all around me. Gorgeous woods, lovingly chosen and polished to perfection. If ever a headphone brand inspired pride of ownership, it has to be ZMF.

    Next up was the HEDDphone. Great name, only surprised it has taken so long for someone to come up with it! Amazing headphones, great speed and dynamic range allowing you to hear into the music. Great price too, given that I expected it to be more expensive than it actually is, coming in at around 1,700 Euros. The pre-production pair I listened to, though, was very heavy, very heavy indeed. I couldn’t see me wearing this for more than an hour at a time, if that. That said, it is pre-production and HEDDphone are looking to reduce the weight as well as improve on the look and finish of the headphone before it hits the shelves of specialised headphone dealers around October/November later this year.

    Being the happy owner of an original Hugo TT, I was interested in stopping by the Chord Electronics stand to take a listen to the TT2 and M-Scaler. The chatter on Head-Fi had piqued my interest to say the least! Chatting to the guys there, Rob having left to speak at the seminar which I missed unfortunately, they explained that the original TT had been based on the Hugo, whereas the TT2 had been designed from the ground up. Listening to the TT2/M-Scaler through, I think from memory, HiFiMan Susvara headphones, was hugely enjoyable, with copious amounts of detail and resolution making the gorgeous Susvaras sing.

    Another great combination was found at HeadAmp, where the Stax SR 009 ear speakers were being driven by the Headamp Blue Hawaii SE. Comfortable, resolving, fluid, spacious, musical and magical. I could have listened to this pairing all day and all night but I time was against me and I wanted to visit the Plaza Suite where dCS had their main display.

    Walking into the Suite, I was greeted warmly but it was the sight of at least six dCS Bartok’s arrayed atop huge roadie transportation cases that grabbed my attention! Each Bartok was paired with different headphones, Meze, Focal, Abyss and HIFiMan included. I chose to listen to the Abyss 1266 Phi edition……. and was left feeling disappointed. I really wanted to like them but felt they were nothing special and uncomfortable to boot. In fairness, the settings of the Abyss were fixed, there was no opportunity to adjust them, so this may well be the reason. I then chose to listen to the Focal Utopia with the Bartok. Wow! Absolutely amazing combination, for me the most striking I’d heard all day. Obviously a price tag to match but if I had £15,500 going spare that’s where my money would go! Allow me to dream! And it is a neat one box solution, DAC, headphone amplifier and streamer combined with no apparent weakness in any area. The Bartok has a selection of filters, mainly for use with a pre-amplifier but there is one filter especially for headphone listening, although that does not preclude the use of the other filters should you so choose. Listening to this pairing did not disappoint, the Bartok bringing out the best in the Utopias: detail, clarity, space, speed, resolution and outright musicality. Difficult to see this being bettered for critical listening for some time.

    I’ve banged on for long enough, so will end by saying how lucky we are to have such wonderful gear through which to hear our music, even if it is only once a year!
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2019
  6. Peter Hyatt
    THGM —when you write a post this lengthy and still hold our interest as you have, you’ve shared your enthusiasm skillfully.
  7. THGM
    Thanks for your kind words. I really enjoyed my experience yesterday and I hope my enthusiasm - and that of many others - will encourage more Head-Fiers to attend CanJams in future.
  8. Uncle Monty
    The Eikon is an excellent headphone - with great isolation to boot..
    Aornic and slapo like this.
  9. Yassa
    Any thoughts?

    Only Dac+Amp i am interested in.
    Condocondor likes this.
  10. Monsterzero
    Wait...Zach has Verite closed for sale already?:astonished:

    Seems that ZMF has hit a homerun with the Verite closed,with all the love its getting in this thread.
    Already a Verite open owner ,im looking forward to checking the closed out.
    aloki, Malfunkt, Condocondor and 3 others like this.
  11. Sceptre
    It’s sad that this is the second CanJam London I’ve missed. Thank you for all the reports.

    Wish I had been there.

  12. Watagump

    Quit wishing and show up. :smile:
    krismusic likes this.
  13. someyoungguy
    Can I ask how much the Verite closed cost? It’s not listed on their website yet and I haven’t seen any announcement on price.
    Condocondor likes this.
  14. musicday
    We are locals, if you need any help.
    THGM and Matt White like this.
  15. krismusic Contributor
    I didn't listen to a lot of stuff but from what I did listen to. Noble Khan. Probably where my money is going. Even though Audio 64 18t's were more immediately exciting. Noble just have that understated magic that I want to live with long term. In fact, at 63 with limited pension options, my next purchase has to be my last in this lifetime and I trust Noble to be that purchase. The Nieve amp at £1000. If the Smyrh Realiser does not work out for me I will buy the Neive. Adds nothing and takes nothing away. Superb. If I was in the market to spend £5k. The Warwick. The first time I have heard a headphone that does what the 600 does and then some. All in all, a top notch CanJam. Thanks all who work to deliver at the cutting edge of this hobby. Amongst all the hype these items restore my faith.
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