CanJam London 2022 Impressions Thread
Aug 2, 2022 at 8:21 AM Post #211 of 329
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Now, this is sounding more and more dreamlike... return to the US, go to CA (visit friends I have there), go to CanJam SoCal, visit Star Wars show (with Rob Watts and Head-Fi folk)... I’m having hotflashes.

OMG you should so take the opportunity! 😃

1659442783421.png


And I can tell both you and @zen87192 that this year's CanJam SoCal is turning out to be a monster show! Here's a list of exhibitors that will be at CanJam SoCal 2022, that were not able to make it to CanJam London 2022:
  • Akoustyx
  • ampsandsound
  • Atlas Cables
  • Audio-Technica
  • Awedyo Audio
  • Bloom Audio
  • Burson Audio
  • CEntrance
  • DALI
  • Dan Clark Audio
  • DUNU
  • FatFreq
  • Feliks Audio
  • Ferrum Audio
  • Headphones.com
  • Linear Tube Audio
  • Manley Labs
  • NAD
  • Pathos Acoustics
  • PrimaLuna
  • Pro-Ject Audio Systems
  • PSB
  • sBooster
  • Schiit Audio
  • Sennheiser
  • Soekris Audio
  • The Source AV
  • Upscale Audio
  • Viva Audio
  • VZR Audio
  • Warwick Acoustics
  • Wells Audio
  • Woo Audio
  • ZMFheadphones
 
Aug 2, 2022 at 8:21 AM Post #212 of 329

Kentajalli

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What did people think of the dCS Lina stack? They have invested heavily in marketing this new line.
I heard it using Abyss 1266 and Susvara - but it was very difficult for me to determine what was the headphone and what was the stack, as it was my first time hearing either headphone. Would love to hear from more seasoned enthusiasts their opinion on the Lina.
I did listen too, at their Quiet Room.
I used my own Hifiman Edition XS (lightly modified) and the Susvara that was available.
I was not blown away either, it was good, really good but not 20K/30K good, or perhaps I don't know what 30K good is!
I'd like to say, Chord Dave + mScaler at 2X oversampling was better, perhaps the best sounding DAC/amp at the show, though I was not blown away with them either.
The Lina amp was very powerful! The Susvara reached its max. output at just under half volume.
To my amazement, the single ended output sounded better than balanced. On balanced they lost .......something?
But consider this too, though trivial!:
- I had to use two completely different cables for single ended and balanced. The single ended was my own DIY, 90 cm, single soild-core (pure silver), and the balanced cable was on the table, it was probably 2m long, and I am guessing it was Susvara's bundled cable. The book says, cables should not affect the sound, even if they do, should be small. Also that both headphones have flat impedance curves.
I then compared the Lina to my own Hugo2, that I had taken with me. I could not detect any superiority on Lina (save for power), but I only had a short time for all of that.
Bottom line, nothing jumped at me!
In contrast, a few other items on the show, Did jump at me, some good, some not good!
So I can still hear differences :gs1000smile:
 
Aug 2, 2022 at 8:31 AM Post #213 of 329

GoldenOne

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Canjam London was an absolute blast this year and I cannot wait for next year (and for SoCal in September!!).
Thank you so much to everyone involved in organising the event for making this happen.

So, some impressions! I'll have a video out hopefully soonish but wanted to get some written ones down immediately.
I also wanted to say a big thank you to https://headphones.com for lending me the DCA stealth for the show to use as an evaluation can. It's pretty perfect given the level of technical ability in various areas, the harman tuning, the isolation (especially important at shows), and also the fact that they are quite hard to drive and respond very well to more powerful amps. It was a great help for comparing stuff at the show.

As to other stuff I had with me:

Headphones: DCA Stealth
IEM Source: Chord Mojo 2
Digital Source: Samsung S22 Ultra (USB Audio Player Pro for bitperfect playback)


ZÄHL HM1:
The HM1 I first tried back in Munich, and at the time I heard the DCA Stealth and Abyss Diana TC. It was by far the best I had heard the stealth, with the most dynamic, controlled and overall excellent presentation compared to all other amps, including the Enleum 23R and Phonitor Xe that were next to it. Before hearing them on the HM1, I was not really a fan of the stealth, but this amp changed my view completely.

At London, RME was demoing the HM1 with the HEDDphone, which unfortunately is not ideal for me as it does not fit my head. The HEDDphone only covers 3/4 of my ears and so I can't get a proper seal or get a real evaluation of it. I hope in future they release a version with a bigger headband for people with massive noggins like myself as the (unreliable) impression I got when listening was good but I did not spend much time with it as until there is a larger headband I could never properly use one anyway.

BUT, I did have the Stealth with me, and also was able to steal a pair of Susvara (thank you Mark!) and a pair of CA1A (thank you Danny!) to try out on the HM1. As well as the T60 Argons that @skedra brought to the show.
20220730_164721.jpg20220730_164213.jpg20220730_160348.jpg

The Susvara were the ones I was most excited to try as they are notoriously hard to drive properly, and they can sound a bit soft when not on a particularly beefy amp. To the extent that many owners (including myself) actually run them on speaker amplifiers.
The HM1 exhibited absolute control over the drivers, with fantastic extension, force and impact, and all the while sounding as if it was doing so effortlessly.
It was expansive, with excellent resolution and coherence, and whilst presenting an incredibly transparent and open sound, did so without a hint of glare or aggression.
I cannot wait to spend some time with an HM1 at home.

A standout aspect of the HM1 is just how dynamic it sounds. Not in an exaggerated way, but it just feels as if it lifts any restriction from your headphone.
The Dan Clark Stealth was the best example of this, as it in my experience changes in response to power even more than the Susvara does. Put it on a Mojo 2 and it'll get loud enough without issue but sounds flat and lacking significantly in dynamic impact. Almost lifeless.
Put it on a GS-X mini and now it's sounding better. But put it on an AHB2 and suddenly you're getting the Slam that was missing before. The HM1 rivals and honestly possibly beats the AHB2 in this aspect, and manages to do so without at all coming across aggressive or fatiguing.

The other enticing features of the HM1 are in the tweaks you can apply to the sound. There is the basic bass/treble EQ and L/R balance adjustment which is always nice to have, but the two that are quite unique are the ability to turn the feedback on or off, and the stereo base adjustment.

The feedback toggle means you can run this as a full class A, no feedback amp if you want a warmer and arguably more holographic sound akin to a bakoon AMP-13R, or turn it on and have it as a still full class A but excellently measuring source if you prefer the more neutral (and objectively 'correct') sound.
With the feedback on, the amp measures at the limit of the audio precision analyzer that Zahl currently have. So the true measured performance may actually be better than the listed specs. I'll find out once I get a chance to test it at home.

But the second feature, and my particular favourite, is the 'Stereo Base Adjustment'.
This is NOT just a normal feedback circuit. This is an analog domain mid-side comparator, which looks at what the differences between the L/R channels are vs what is similar, and ONLY amplifies the differences. Meaning as you adjust it, you literally shrink and expand the soundstage. It's quite remarkable.


Blue Hawaii SE, Hifiman Shangri-La SR, Stax X9000:
BHSE:
Impressions on this will have to be very brief as the only other electrostatic energizer was across the hall and it was not possible to AB, but what I can say is that I MUCH preferred this to the Shangri-La energizer (it seems a fair few others found the same), and from memory, the X9000 sounded considerably better on this than they did on the T8000.
On the T8000 the X9000 were very good, but a bit too intimate. On the BHSE they staged considerably better, were seemingly more resolving (though this is not particularly reliable when comparing so far apart), and had an overall more transparent presentation compared to the warmer and softer one of the T8000.

I'm very thankful that on the Saturday night I was given the opportunity to listen to the X9000 and Shangri-La SR on the BHSE in a quiet environment, and this allowed me to get a much better evaluation than during the event when it was busy. Thank you VERY much Makiah for this!
1659440313055.jpeg
Stax X9000:
I'd heard the X9000 twice before, once in the UK, and once in Munich, though both were on the T8000 energizer.
I had very good impressions of them, but found them to be slightly too warm and surprisingly not as resolving as I expected. I liked them, but thought that Susvara on a good amplifier was an overall better headphone.
That changed once I heard them on the BHSE. They were considerably more resolving, the veil was lifted and they sounded considerably more airy, spacious and with better layering capability.
I've mentioned dynamics a few times in this post already, but must do so again as that has typically been a weak point of many estats. They can be incredibly detailed, quick, and the initial leading edge of macrodynamics is there, but then....not much. No body or boom to drums, perhaps lacking the thunderous weight to organs or deeper brass instruments, and sounding overall quite ethereal and light.
I owned the Stax lambda signature previously and sold them for this reason, and didn't get on with the 009 or any current production stax for the same issues were present.
But the X9000 does NOT have that problem. The lowend is excellent, still not the most impactful headphone around but leagues ahead of previous estats I'd tried.
The timbre is simply beautiful, which when combined with the spatial presentation ability of the X9000 led to a beautiful experience listening to the 'Mingus Medley' by the Windmill Saxophone Quartet.
The X9000 is not just a mild improvement over previous Stax, it's a huge leap and I can't wait to hear it on the LTA Z10E in September.

Hifiman Shangri-La Sr:
The Shangri-La Sr was present at two booths during Canjam. One from Hifonix, running on Hifiman's own energizer, and also at the Headamp booth on the BHSE.
1659440862860.jpeg
Now as mentioned, I much preferred it on the BHSE, so am basing my impressions on that chain, but my comparisons to the X9000 remain valid for both sources as both headphones were present at each booth.
The Shangri-La Sr was more resolving than the X9000, and also had a larger soundstage. In fact one of the biggest soundstages I have heard on a headphone.
The tuning was overall more neutral than the X9000 (as the X9000 is slightly warm), but not vastly different.
But what held it back for me was timbre, and this was a surprise given how excellent their flagship planar the Susvara is in this regard.
The Susvara still holds the crown for me in the 'just forget you're wearing headphones' department, with the X9000 not far behind and only because I find it slightly warmer than what would be real but totally understand why some would prefer it. (At present I consider the Susvara and X9000 pretty much equal overall, just different).
But the SL-SR seemed as though it was TRYING to impress with the detail and spaciousness and came across a bit contrived as a result.
When AB'ing with the X9000, it was more dry, less lifelike, and so despite the better resolving capability, I found myself overall preferring the X9000 and given the choice between the two that's what I'd go for.
The resolution is nice but can be forgotten after a few minutes of listening. Instruments just being too dry and lacking the body that they should have is not something that can be overcome with 'brain burnin' and that was a shame.
I'm glad I got to try them at last though.


RAAL CA-1A:
Oh boy....these are exciting!
The SR1A (now the SR1B after some slight revisions to the build) were a very interesting headphone, and one I enjoyed, but only for certain genres. It excelled in timbre and classical music was truly beautiful, but anything requiring significant low-end content or an overall heavier presentation didn't do so well.
The CA-1A though, is simply an excellently well-rounded headphone, with resolution exceeding headphones at twice its price, and honestly not falling back in almost any area other than requiring some quite serious amplification.
1659441335818.jpeg
The tuning of these headphones seems to be very close to neutral, with perhaps a slight lower treble lift.
And for those worrying whether a ribbon headphone can deliver sufficient low-end, don't, these things have it, and they SLAM. In fact, with the 'doughnut' sealed pads, there is actually too much low-end in my opinion. The slotted 'coffee bean' pads deliver a better presentation and keep things neutral.
At $2500, these make a lot of headphones honestly somewhat redundant and I've no doubt we'll be seeing numerous VERY positive reviews of the CA-1A soon.
The resolution is incredible, the soundstage is huge, the imaging is laser precise, the tuning is well crafted and the comfort is fantastic too.
Honestly the only fault I could find with these is that whilst you can now run these and the SR1B on regular headphone amps thanks to the new TI-1B adapter, you need one that can deliver a couple watts constantly, with good thermal dissipation capability.
On the HM1 though, well, I think my friend Armand's face sort of says it all:

1659441857660.jpeg



Subtonic Storm:
I was a huge fan of the Symphonium Helios (made in collaboration with Subtonic) and so the storm were some IEMs I was particularly excited to try out.


I only spent a short time with them, but what I heard was the biggest soundstage I'd experienced in any IEM. Coupled with some top tier technical performance and a tuning that seemed closer to neutral than the Helios, with less of a subbass focus, but a pleasant warmth that did not go so far as to colour things or make them genre picky.
I had a smile on my face the whole time listening to these....
I can't give much more feedback until I hear them for a longer duration though.


xMEMS:
MEMS showed off a new transducer technology at Canjam, and I am incredibly excited to see what manufacturers do with it in the near future.
It is a silicon based design, which allows for unparalleled unit-to-unit variation, and also a more precise degree of tuning ability than in other drivers.
It does have the downside of not being able to be powered with a typical amp and must be 'active', so it's more likely we'll see this either in active headphones like TWS IEMs or in active monitors, but the 3d printed demo unit they had at the show was not just 'good', but surprisingly excellent. A touch bright on that particular unit but with performance in almost all other areas including lowend extension, separation of elements in the mix, resolution and imaging, that competed with some very high end IEMs.
This is seriously cool tech and once in a more 'thorough' final product design, it could be honestly quite incredible.
1659442414263.jpeg

Wrapup:
There are FAR more products that I was able to try at Canjam, but I just wanted to share a few highlights in this post.
For me though the best part of these events is always the social aspect. Getting to spend time with friends old any new, going to cool places after the show, and I cannot wait until next year. I had an absolute blast!


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Aug 2, 2022 at 8:48 AM Post #214 of 329

Derivative

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I listened on my own headphones. I wasn’t blown away like I was with the Dave/MScaler. Maybe I need better headphones (than my HD800S), but couldn’t find something that made me think it worth £18000 more than my current stack.
I was surprised that the clock changed the sound so much though. I wasn’t sure it would do anything.

I did listen too, at their Quiet Room.
I used my own Hifiman Edition XS (lightly modified) and the Susvara that was available.
I was not blown away either, it was good, really good but not 20K/30K good, or perhaps I don't know what 30K good is!
I'd like to say, Chord Dave + mScaler at 2X oversampling was better, perhaps the best sounding DAC/amp at the show, though I was not blown away with them either.
The Lina amp was very powerful! The Susvara reached its max. output at just under half volume.
To my amazement, the single ended output sounded better than balanced. On balanced they lost .......something?
But consider this too, though trivial!:
- I had to use two completely different cables for single ended and balanced. The single ended was my own DIY, 90 cm, single soild-core (pure silver), and the balanced cable was on the table, it was probably 2m long, and I am guessing it was Susvara's bundled cable. The book says, cables should not affect the sound, even if they do, should be small. Also that both headphones have flat impedance curves.
I then compared the Lina to my own Hugo2, that I had taken with me. I could not detect any superiority on Lina (save for power), but I only had a short time for all of that.
Bottom line, nothing jumped at me!
In contrast, a few other items on the show, Did jump at me, some good, some not good!
So I can still hear differences :gs1000smile:
Thanks for the feedback - IMHO it's looking like the price is way out for the performance. Is this an attempt to bring 2-channel enthusiasts into headphones with the cachet of the dCS brand? They are generally (much) higher spenders, especially at the summit.
What doesn't add up for me is that the most expensive (widely available) headphone is circa $6k, creating a massive 5x headphone price / gear price imbalance... and this imbalance was probably already hard to justify with something like the DAVE/M Scaler stack at 2-3x.

Agree that the Lina amp has more than enough power for Susvara or 1266, I know this is something that was hotly debated on release.
 
Aug 2, 2022 at 8:50 AM Post #215 of 329

GoldenOne

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Thanks for the feedback - IMHO it's looking like the price is way out for the performance. Is this an attempt to bring 2-channel enthusiasts into headphones with the cachet of the dCS brand? They are generally (much) higher spenders, especially at the summit.
What doesn't add up for me is that the most expensive (widely available) headphone is circa $6k, creating a massive 5x headphone price / gear price imbalance... and this imbalance was probably already hard to justify with something like the DAVE/M Scaler stack at 2-3x.

Agree that the Lina amp has more than enough power for Susvara or 1266, I know this is something that was hotly debated on release.
Imo the Lina amp was not sufficient to power susvara properly.
It can get it loud enough sure. But as with many other headphone amps, you don't get the same level of control or impact in the lowend, and also a slightly reduced soundstage Vs when it's run on something like an HM1, CFA3, AHB2, or AIC10.

At Canjam they had the Lina and a Riviera close to eachother and there was a quite stark difference between the two with Susvara.

It's also worth noting that gain and power are not the same.
How loud a headphone is at a particular position on the volume knob is not at all indicative of how powerful an amp is or how much headroom is available.
 
Aug 2, 2022 at 8:57 AM Post #216 of 329

Kentajalli

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It's also worth noting that gain and power are not the same.
How loud a headphone is at a particular position on the volume knob is not at all indicative of how powerful an amp is or how much headroom is available.
You do have a point there!
It is possible that Lina could be almost at full power at half-volume-knob setting, because of its higher gain (on the tracks I was listening to!).
 
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Aug 2, 2022 at 9:04 AM Post #217 of 329

GoldenOne

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You do have a point there!
It is possible that Lina could be almost at full power at half-volume-knob setting, because of its higher gain (on the tracks I was listening to!).
Yep, it could be at 12'o clock but pretty much maxed out on current whereas another amp could be at Max on the knob but still have 10x current capability to go.

The Lina amp is 2W, so quite a lot less powerful than many other amps. Still more then plenty for most headphones but some like the Susvara or DCA stealth are not going to sound their best on it.

I really like the DAC though. It's much better than the Bartok. I was able to try it with some third party amps back when it came out and unfortunately preferred others like the BHA-1 for example over the Lina amp.

But the DAC was standout and definitely top notch
 
Aug 2, 2022 at 9:08 AM Post #218 of 329

Derivative

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Imo the Lina amp was not sufficient to power susvara properly.
It can get it loud enough sure. But as with many other headphone amps, you don't get the same level of control or impact in the lowend, and also a slightly reduced soundstage Vs when it's run on something like an HM1, CFA3, AHB2, or AIC10.

At Canjam they had the Lina and a Riviera close to eachother and there was a quite stark difference between the two with Susvara.

It's also worth noting that gain and power are not the same.
How loud a headphone is at a particular position on the volume knob is not at all indicative of how powerful an amp is or how much headroom is available.
Thanks for the constructive clarification.

From your summary it seems Zahl are onto a winner with the HM1 - I didn't even notice it was on the RME stand and now regret missing it.
I will keep an eye (ear) out for opportunities to have a listen. Also cheaper than the Lina amp!!
 
Aug 2, 2022 at 9:39 AM Post #219 of 329

Sayed2020

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CanJam was great, it was missed for sure (3 years since the last London one).

A big thank you to Head Fi, all the sponsors and all the exhibitors.

I was there helping a buddy and could only make Sunday.

I actually spent most of my time speaking and interacting with people (audiophiles and manufacturers), I saw quite a few familiar faces.

I really needed 2 days to hear the gear and cans but I’ve heard most before anyway.

Elise Audio had a world exclusive demo of the Subtonic Storm, it was impressive for sure.

Fantastic resolution, great sub bass texture and definition, lovely decay too.

The Lampizator Horizon was an absolute beast of a DAC.

I quite liked the upcoming Meze 109 Pro and the Audeze MM-500 too.
 
Aug 2, 2022 at 9:57 AM Post #220 of 329

Knee Deep In Epoxy

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OMG you should so take the opportunity! 😃

1659442783421.png

And I can tell both you and @zen87192 that this year's CanJam SoCal is turning out to be a monster show! Here's a list of exhibitors that will be at CanJam SoCal 2022, that were not able to make it to CanJam London 2022:
  • Akoustyx
  • ampsandsound
  • Atlas Cables
  • Audio-Technica
  • Awedyo Audio
  • Bloom Audio
  • Burson Audio
  • CEntrance
  • DALI
  • Dan Clark Audio
  • DUNU
  • FatFreq
  • Feliks Audio
  • Ferrum Audio
  • Headphones.com
  • Linear Tube Audio
  • Manley Labs
  • NAD
  • Pathos Acoustics
  • PrimaLuna
  • Pro-Ject Audio Systems
  • PSB
  • sBooster
  • Schiit Audio
  • Sennheiser
  • Soekris Audio
  • The Source AV
  • Upscale Audio
  • Viva Audio
  • VZR Audio
  • Warwick Acoustics
  • Wells Audio
  • Woo Audio
  • ZMFheadphones
This looks amazing... But I think it would need to be a week long event to get through all the things I would want to try.
 
Aug 2, 2022 at 11:03 AM Post #221 of 329

Deferenz

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I was looking out for you on Sunday but figured you'd only come for one day. With the volunteer stint aside on Sunday, I only heard another handful but I'm glad I went back to 64Audio and Elise Audio for repeat listens. I listened to all of Jomo Audio but only liked the GT600. The flagship was...OK but again I think my ears were done at this point.

Next year I can leave certain models from the various manufacturers alone and concentrate on my favourites. I didn't do any research beforehand (could argue for or against that) but perhaps that reduced my bias towards driver types/counts? I know I don't want an all-BA setup but I did like a couple of sets.
Yes I was only there for Saturday. I tried to find you just before I left to say goodbye but I couldn’t see you. (So, errr….goodbye!)

I loved trying everything at the 64Audio stand. My favourite piece there was the U12t. I can see why it has such a great reputation.
 
Aug 2, 2022 at 11:33 AM Post #222 of 329

THGM

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Massive thanks to all who have taken the time and trouble to post their impressions and photographs over the past few days. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make the show this year, so it is extremely helpful to see and hear about it all through your eyes and ears. Mind you, my wallet is thankful....:wink:
 
Aug 2, 2022 at 12:03 PM Post #223 of 329

snapandslide

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Yes I was only there for Saturday. I tried to find you just before I left to say goodbye but I couldn’t see you. (So, errr….goodbye!)

I loved trying everything at the 64Audio stand. My favourite piece there was the U12t. I can see why it has such a great reputation.
I think the 12t will be the iem I end up buying next. Let's see what the price works out after show discount...
 
Aug 2, 2022 at 12:37 PM Post #224 of 329

Kozwoz

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Can someone at the show who heard the u12t and u18s compare the two? If price was no object does the u18s come on top? I find the u18s treble just right for my own preferences. Just wondering if u12t bass and mids are any better?
 
Aug 2, 2022 at 12:43 PM Post #225 of 329

snapandslide

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Can someone at the show who heard the u12t and u18s compare the two? If price was no object does the u18s come on top? I find the u18s treble just right for my own preferences. Just wondering if u12t bass and mids are any better?
I tried both i cant remember too much as my time with 18s was limited. Preferred the u12t. The 18s felt 'soft' to me, lacked dynamics. Preferred the tuning too. Hopefully others can help out too!
 

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