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CanJam London 2019 Impressions thread

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  1. episiarch Contributor
    Peter at the Headamp booth was so casual about this that I didn't even think to notice it except in hindsight:

    The GS-X mini that was driving all the top-tier headphones in balanced mode (one of the Rossons, the Stellia, and maybe some others) was running in unbalanced->balanced mode the whole time, taking input from the Chord Qutest, which is an unbalanced source.

    All absolutely perfect, at least to my ears. This was a great sounding system.
    Nik74 likes this.
  2. DecentLevi
    @HungryPanda @zuber @Endymion Joshi Godrez @noirceurfg @Nik74 @phthora @slapo and @THGM I quoted your impressions on the HEDDphone thread so we can get all the impressions thus far together for all those waiting for news. See you on the thread... and anyone else that's heard them please also drop us a line there too :slight_smile:

    Yup at the the Rosson Audio Rad-0 at their booth with the Chord Qutest + GSX Mini was a fantastic pairing, and I was very impressed too with it on the Schiit Yggdrasil 2 + Rangarok 2 (that was at the SoCal meet).

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2019
    Nik74 likes this.
  3. masterpfa
    Loved the Atlas, listened extensively on Saturday, returned to listen again towards the end of the day, rekindled my infactuation twice more on Sunday.

    I like these very much (then saw the price!)

    Maybe next year
  4. Skint
    @krismusic Cheers man. Yeah it sucks, I was literally hanging around the bale whilst others listen looking at the clock but just ran out of time. I'm sure i'll catch it somewhere. Listened to all other Noble IEM's, Kaiser was my fave.
  5. kefs
    64 tia fourte, westone w80 and Meze Emperyen did it for me. I thought Stelia on the Focal stand sounded drab and lifeless with a selection of tracks, v surprised. So many iems sounded so flat without soundstage or an engaging sound unless you spend mega money, will stick with my Audiofly AF180 ( most comfortable iem i have EVER tried), and Sony Z1R, lovely to see and listen to a plethora of gear, but it made me realise how much i love my own gear. An enjoyable afternoon well spent.
    Klmahnn, Colors, Light - Man and 4 others like this.
  6. Jackpot77
    Another great Canjam London - many thanks to @third_eye, @jude and all the others behind the scenes (and the booths!) that made it happen.

    Been writing up some proper impressions at the moment (up to 8000 words from just the gear I heard over the two days, and still growing!) but a few brief highlights from me:

    The good:

    EE Valkyrie - good punchy bass, great detail in the highs, bright but enjoyable sig, nice smallish form factor. Felt like a breath of fresh air in the ear, and nice to hear an estat model with some bass. Maybe not quite as detailed as their flagships in all areas, but pricetag reflects that, and you don't feel robbed of resolution. Inagine it could get fatiguing after a few hours listening.

    64 Audio U12t - was the sweet spot in their Tia range for me. Nice bass weight, good (but not mind blowing) resolution and a good sense of airiness and soundstage. Honourable mention to the Fourte Noir - probably the best model of theirs I've tried for timbre and overall technical prowess as a whole, but still kept going back to the 12t if I had to pick just one to listen to.

    Acoustune - great to finally see them at a UK show. Both the current models (HS1650 and 1670) were very good for the price. 1650 is bassy and emotional, 1670 is less bassy (but not bass light) and more crisp in the treble. The 1650 still pushed out good detail for a £650 single DD, but the 1670 just had a sharper tuning and more obvious detail throughout. They convey emotion in a similar style to the old Final Audio tunings, and the insane quality of their build and accessories really showed what can be done in the sub $1000 bracket. The newer models that are awaiting release were an iterative upgrade on both. I ended up purchasing the 1650, as the warm but detailed sound was the most enjoyable thing in my price bracket I heard all weekend, and just made me enjoy anything I listened to through it.

    Vision Ears - both the Erlkonig and Elysium impressed, although both are priced stratospherically. The Elysium had a pleasantly musical signature that sits between neutral and natural, and highs that were a match for anything at the show. The choice of a DD based midrange helps keep the emotion in the tuning, and while it loses a touch in terms of final resolution compared to some other models in this area, it was just just plain enjoyable to listen. That estat treble is something to hear - great headroom, snooth as butter but extended highs, tons of air. Not sure if they will be able to justify £3k for a four driver tribrid, but if money was no object, these are worth a listen.

    If money is not even an object but just a downright irrelevance, the Erlkonig is an IEM that has a tonality and presentation that competes with over ear cans for me. Rich, warm and very resolving in a subtle way, this gives that rich sort of tube / analogue tonality to music while not skimping on bass or details. Very well done, and the accessory pack is on another level, along with the feel of the silver shells. Is it worth £4k? Depends if that is a lot of money to you - it's definitely a beautiful listen, but not a bang for the buck one in my opinion.

    Jomo Audio Trinity Brass - probably the best IEM I heard at the show as an all rounder. Nice substantial bass, stacks of resolution and a butter smooth and airy top end with the estat tweeters. This is just musical, pure and simple - it has the trick of presenting music in a warm and engaging way but still surprising you with just how much detail is pushed into the sound - feels almost effortless to me. Again, price is high but if I had a lottery win, this would be high on my shopping list.

    Obravo Cupid - great planar/DD hybrid sound. Tends towards dark and musical, with a lot of bass in the mix, but then surpasses expectations with blistering treble speed and unexpected clarity up top. Not a TOTL flagship killer, but definitely a contender for the sub-$500 market crown at the moment IMHO. Build is solid brass and very sexy too. One thing to note - tip and seal is very important with these - the right tip really expands the soundstage and presents a much more cohesive sound.

    The "meh":

    EE Wraith - technically impressive in the most part, but sounded much better to me with the Ares II+ copper cable suggested by Josh at EE instead of the Cleopatra. Couldn't quite click with the signature, and despite a good seal and fit the soundstage felt a bit flat in depthd and a little odd. Sounds like the Zeus with more bass, but less coherence - would be willing to give it another try, but didn't feel as flagship to my ears as the LX or Valkyrie.

    Obravo - the rest of their models sounded nice, but WAAAY overpriced. Not for me.

    64 Audio - the N8t was something I expected to like, and the bass detail and texture is top notch, but the whole tuning just lacked air for me, and left me longing for the additional detail and air the 12t was offering. Definitely a specialist IEM.

    Edit: various typos corrected.
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2019
  7. teknorob23
    wow thats some acolade, i have both Focals too, but only had 2 hours at the show and the queue at the ZMF stall was always 3+ deep. I have listened to most of the previous ZMF model which i liked but was never blown away by, but these sound like they're something special so i will hunt them out. If you have a moment i'd love to hear why you prefer them over the stellia, oh make me sick, were they selling at a good show price? :)
    Light - Man and THGM like this.
  8. Nik74
    Another thing that made the last day of canjam more enjoyable for me was managing to drag a 'head-fi virgin' friend along and watching them slowly but surely get hooked. He was supposed to have a look around for an hour and head out to lunch, ended up cancelling lunch plans and regretting not having spent there all weekend. He s now on the lookout for a solution around £2K :)
    Makes you think , there s so many people out there that love music but are under the impression that a pair of Bose noise cancelling phones is where the road ends!
  9. krismusic Contributor
    Are you in UK?
  10. Skint
    I am, in Bristol.
  11. krismusic Contributor
    I can highly recommend Gisele at Aid2Hearing in North London. She is a top notch audiologist who is also an informal distributor for several brands and has Noble IEM's for demo. I'm not sure if she has a Khan yet though. If she does, definitely worth a visit. Even from Bristol!
    THGM and Wyville like this.
  12. Jackpot77
    One point to note about the Khan (which also surprised me at Canjam - pretty enjoyable sig): Jim Moulton @ Noble mentioned that due to the different placement of the ceramic piezo drivers in the custom, the treble will sound slightly smoother than the universal version. Something to do with the sound firing more directly into the ear canal on the uni and following a more curved path in the custom.

    He thinks as a result, the extension and detail in the highs will remain the same, but the bass will be perceived as slightly fuller in the CIEM, even without the added seal. Don't know if that helps or hinders! :wink:
    masterpfa, Light - Man and krismusic like this.
  13. ElectroMod
    Hi, You are correct £450 for 2metres with any termination, these where prototypes so it could change slightly but as always we would honour the price if order a week after the show or if the price went down we would also do this, so win win really.
    Oscar-HiFi likes this.
  14. HungryPanda
    I find just about any iem in custom form sounds so much better
    Scribemole and Light - Man like this.
  15. Sunstealer
    This was my first Canjam and I enjoyed it immensely.

    I loved the atmosphere and the relaxed, informal setting that allowed me to try pretty much anything I wanted. I was there to audition IEMs and I definitely did that! My brief to all of the reps I spoke to was neutral / balanced / reference, in keeping with my ER4XRs. I listened to DSD256 on a vanilla DX228, balanced cables where possible.

    I started at Westone as I was curious about their house sound. I also see a lot of refurbished sets for sale around and wondered what was going on. I loved the form factor but felt that the house signature was too warm, closed-in and blunted for my liking, even the W80.

    Following advice, I was steered towards the U12t and U18t. I found the fit a little awkward and whilst preferring the 18 over the 12, felt that there was too much bass for my liking and not particularly involving.

    I was looking forward to trying the Pro-phile 8 which was immediately comfortable, even for its size. The only downside was a single ended cable. I had forgotten to bring a 4.4B - 3.5SE adaptor so used an A&K source they had. I was immediately taken in by the clarity and crispness of the sound with an improved soundstage over my etymotics (although that isn't necessarily that difficult). These were my new reference point for the rest of the show. I forgot to try the switches as I was so enthralled!

    Vision Ears:
    The house was not my cup of tea, being mainly V/U shaped and not detail/retrieval focused.

    Jim was really welcoming and accommodating, starting me off with the Katana, which I found a little polite on a reaudition in the afternoon. He noticed my DX220 and suggested I try the Khan to see if there was a repeat of the previously reported interference. Running the latest firmware I can report that there was none. I loved the Khan signature except the overly piercing highs on top of a more "normal" set of highs. I felt that this was coming from the piezo driver and remarked that I would be interested in the Khan but minus the piezo element: a Khan Junior, if you will.....

    The gentleman at the stand was very engaging and started me off with the Andromeda. I love the CA design but not the sound, unfortunately. It is a little too warm and relaxed for me. On further discussion, the rep said that this was the house signature and that I was unlikely to find the more referential/neutral sound that I was looking for. Still, very glad I tried them.

    Empire Ears:
    The guy was on his own and really busy but hats off to him for his level of energy and interaction. He suggested the Empire Studio Reference and Phantom. I preferred the definitely not neutral or particularly reference but lively sound of the ESR. The Phantom was too bass heavy for me. As I was there, I tried the Wraith (which sounded wierdly tinny with the copper cable but better with the recommended silver) and Legend X (excessive sub bass for me but still not that special, I have to admit). The ESR was close second to the PP8 on my list.

    Exception to my rule but tried the Empyrean. Wow. Worked OK with the DX220 but far better with the rep's N6ii and the desktop setup. Even so, I welled up listening to "roygbiv" from Boards of Canada as the analogue piano washed over me and instantly took me back to warm summers as a child. I didn't see if they had a Rai Penta - if so I missed out on hat.

    Chatted with the operator, where I buy a lot of my stuff, to audition the AMP9. Accidentally hot-swapped it. To my surprise, I wasn't that impressed with the differences from AMP8. Smoother, more mature, maybe but not really leaps and bounds ahead of the AMP8, in contrast what I have read on the DX220 thread. Forgot to try the wood IT04 (I have a normal pair of IT04). Agreed that Cayin software and support had a lot to be desired, having previously owned a N5ii. He suggested I try Jerry Harvey and even the Audeze LCDi4.

    Briefly auditioned the Layla but wasn't really feeling it. A bit lifeless, for me. Don't quite get the ergonomics of the bass adjustment on the cable. The LCDi4 were amazing but again, overly bassy - the detail and airiness were superb, however. The Audeze stand had an A&K Kann which is an absolute beast. Could be used as a murder weapon. Tried the Focal Stellia as it was there and felt that it couldn't compete with the Empyrean.

    As of now, I will be on the lookout for a pair of Prophiles. It would be nice for Empire to have a UK distributor, the European ones don't stock the ESR. I'm hoping that Noble come out with something new soon, too. I will be back next year and will probably take little more time auditioning each IEM, or maybe keep going back to the ones I like again and again.

    Thanks to everyone who made Canjam possible. My only wish is that it be a little more frequent in the UK. I would go back to one next week and buy stuff, for sure.
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