CanJam @ RMAF 2018 Impressions (Oct 5-7, 2018)
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elira

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Thank you for your impressions. . . helpful and interesting. Although you don't like Focal headphones are you able to compare the Focal Elegia to the open Focals that you have listened to?
I didn’t spent time testing the other Focal, my favorite ones are the Clear. I felt the Elegía to lack some air, like being constrained by the enclosure. The mids were recessed and they were lacking some detail.
 
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Any more of the Sony DMP-Z1 impressions? Thanks in advance.
Mm..seems like only a few listened to it and only 1 made a passing comment. Not a good sign for this one-of-a-kind. I guess we just have to wait once it gets released in the wild (December-ish).
 
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not surprised, most are pessimistic about it... and it seems even the optimistic ones came out of it not really blown away by it... a bad sign, that.
 
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I didn’t spent time testing the other Focal, my favorite ones are the Clear. I felt the Elegía to lack some air, like being constrained by the enclosure. The mids were recessed and they were lacking some detail.
not surprised, most are pessimistic about it... and it seems even the optimistic ones came out of it not really blown away by it... a bad sign, that.
The original Focal trio were all lambasted (by some members) for their terrible soundstage and average (imo) imaging, so I'm not surprised the closed back gets no love. If they haven't changed the terrible driver excursion design I'm even less surprised that people say it sounded restrained.
 
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The original Focal trio were all lambasted (by some members) for their terrible soundstage and average (imo) imaging, so I'm not surprised the closed back gets no love. If they haven't changed the terrible driver excursion design I'm even less surprised that people say it sounded restrained.
erm, I was talking more about the DMP-Z1 there, but it's also applicable to the Elegia I guess.... no matter :floatsmile:
 
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erm, I was talking more about the DMP-Z1 there, but it's also applicable to the Elegia I guess.... no matter :floatsmile:
I heard the sony it was nice
 
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I listened to the new Focal briefly. I liked it enough based on what I heard (unfamiliar music and source chain in a noisy environment). I'd be very curious to do a shootout between it, the Aeon Closed and the Campfire headphone, all very nice closed headphones in the same price range.
 
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Mm..seems like only a few listened to it and only 1 made a passing comment. Not a good sign for this one-of-a-kind. I guess we just have to wait once it gets released in the wild (December-ish).
Regarding DMP-Z1, how many would buy this versus a Chord Dave? Granted the DMP-Z1 doesn't need a source, but it's hardly a portable.
 
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Mm..seems like only a few listened to it and only 1 made a passing comment. Not a good sign for this one-of-a-kind. I guess we just have to wait once it gets released in the wild (December-ish).
Agreed. At that price point, may people will likely just get the Chord Dave.
 
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A big thanks to all who participated in this year's show! Every year it seems to get just a little bit better and without all the members and vendors it just wouldn't be the same.

Well, I finally got some time since the show ended to load up the rest of my pictures from my last two days. Still need some time to digest prior to formal impressions, but if I had to choose, my 3 big takeaways from the canjam room are below:

  • Meze Empyrean - Thought these were worthy of a flagship, but need a good source and at one point seemed to may have been a bit slow on certain tracks, could have been the source though. Amazing soundstage with what seemed like holographic imaging at times on the excellent big Auris amp. Really comfortable and felt like it was manufactured very well; felt the part of a flagship item in many ways. Of course, I need more time with them and on different amps, etc. to really get a good feel, but they did spark my interest.

  • Mackie MC-250 - Would be my pick of the show for best budget item. At their $99 price point, they are some of the most neutral and overall pleasant sounding cans I've heard in quite some time (of course for the money). Many times headphones at this low of a price need to be modded a bit to sound decent, but these sounded really pretty nice as is. However, I did keep thinking what would be possible to mod them and move them up to the next level. At a hundred dollars this may turn out to be a fun little can to either just have around or to tweak. Will be interested in other's opinions on these in the future.

  • ZMF Headphones - Really enjoyed everything at ZMF's table this year, including the two newer offerings, really liking one of them in particular and will definitely be following its release closely. In my opinion, ZMF would get my all-around best of show category this year. From their awesome lineup of headphones, to the new amps, all the different cables/pads, and their great interaction with those who visit their table, everything just seemed right at ZMF this year. Plus, they always have streaming options, like Tidal or something similar, so you can usually find a good reference track very easily, which can be hard for some folks, like myself, at other vendors' tables who use local disks and playlists. At the end of the day, I think if I had every item they produce in their line-up, I would have more than enough variety and amazing sound to be extremely happy and content, which is actually saying quite a lot when you got giants of industry in on the game in all directions.
Now, for a "bit" more eye candy... enjoy!

Swan Song Audio

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Redscape Audio

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Auris Audio

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ZMF

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Fostex

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Focal

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Below is part two of the last of my photos...
 
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...and for part 2 of the last of my photos:

Mr. Speakers

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Sony

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Cleer Audio

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Campfire Audio


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HiFiMAN

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Spirit Sound Design and Questyle


_1570743-Edit.jpg _1570745-Edit.jpg _1570748-Edit.jpg
 
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First stop of Fiios booth. Got to listen to their M9 and Their newer 4 BA FA7. These had a good sound to it and I found out you can get custom plates but unfortunately only in China. These had your typical Fiio bass boost with good stage a bit warmer in tone. Good detail and smooth treble. They did remind me a bit of the FH5 tuning. Fit is amazingly comfy. These shells are actually smaller than they look.

Got to try the Fiio M9. Dual Ak4490 dacs. Smaller sleek form factor. Had a good full bodied sound to it with decent stage but the player didn't stand out to me being anything special. I liked my Shanling M3s sound quality better. It was what I was carrying around . I came prepared this time. My own player and more importantly I brought 2 of my earphones with my own tips. People were amazed by the DZ12 the way they looked. Had more than a few people ask about them. People on the JH booth were dissing on them since they were Chinese made. Lol. But more on that later.

Next to them is 64 audio. Which had their higher end stuff I will get back to later but next table was Campfire Audio. I have to admit I have been frequenting CA thread reading all the impressions of the newer Andromedas.
Finally got to listen to these bad boys.These are extremely impressive especially given their price point. I know $1100 asking price is a lot but trust me on this when I say these were the best value per money on the entire showroom. I will get back to how these hung in there in sound vs the bigger boys on the block. More on this later.

Also got the hear the Atlas. CA don't mess around with that bass. They bring it on all their earphones. Similar to how Sony does. I notice everything they have includes bass in the mix the Atlas might be a bit too bassy for buys that like a more balanced sound. But that dynamic they got on the Atlas is no joke

Then there was Sennheiser. Got to hear both the HD660 and the new HD820 closed back.
Both cans sounded outstanding out of their HDV820 amp.
Hate to say it but I fail to see how the HD820 is worth $2400. It sounds good enough. Wide stage, excellent imaging and detail. Reference level type sound but hecks to the no I wouldn't spend that much on these cans. I thought the new Fostex TH909 was better value for this level of SQ. HD660 sounded really good on the amp as well. Actually had the fuller mids vs the HD820 but the staging is not as good even though the HD660 is open vs the closed HD820. Sorry to say the HD58x seriously hangs with the HD660. Which was a surprise to me.

I made the mistake of listening to these bad boys first. Before listening to their M7 and M9. Mistake as it pretty much ruined the M7 and M9 for me.

These are summit fi earphones from Sony. The IER-Z1R at $2300 MSRP is absolute authority with the type of 3D imaging and full bodied sound which is best described is like listening to floor speakers. These don't sound like earphones or even headphones. The dynamic range on these earphones are 2nd to none. For me easily the star of the show. Start saving your cash fellas these are for real. Substantial progress of Sony sound on these like you have never heard. I was more impressed with these than their flagship headphones Z1Rs. I hope these goes down to a more reasonable price. One to look out for. Oh by the way the fitment in my averaged sized ear was very comfy. Excellent design.

The M9 reminded me of Campfire Audios Andromedas. Similar staging the bass end is no joke on these new BA based Sony earphones the M9 sounds like it has a full on dynamic driver for the bass. Easily matching any dynamic performance. These have wide stage with a spacious sound. Excellent detail and imaging hearing these out of Sonys Flagship player the WM1Z. At $1500 these are definitely compelling.

The M7 is the most neutral tuning out of the 3 and these remind my of my old EX600 monitors. A bit rolled off on the treble but very great even balancing from treble to bass. A bit smooth with a slightly warm tonality. These sound good for the $799 MSRP.

Also got to hear the MDR-Z7M2.@ $899 price point. These are supposedly upgrade over the previous Z7s and I will have to trust the Sony rep when they told me it was a nice upgrade from the Sonics of the Z7. Your gonna have to be a fan of bass to love these things or Sony sound in general. Warmest sounding of all the Sony phones I have heard these have a deep wide stage very full bodied sound. Treble is a bit on the reserved side but that is where the Z1R headphones comes into play.

Z1R is more refined than the Z7M2. Again bassy but stage is crazy good for a closed back. The spaciousness of the sound was awesome to hear on these. I can see how these are a love hate type of sound depending on your mood of the type of body in your sound you like. And body these have. To be honest I was more impressed with the IER-Z1R.

This is the section a lot of guys are probably waiting for. Empire Ears.
I got to listen to their Phantoms and Legend X. Also this one is of particular interest to a lot of guys since it will be on MD for $1000. We are talking about the Zeus R and XiV. There is a switch on these that gives you 2 sound profiles. Goes from 8 crossovers in the R and XIV to 7.

14BA earphones don't come around too often so this earphones by itself was reason enough for me to travel to Can Jam to hear. The R sounded more balanced to me but the XIV which will is currently sold on MD has a mid forward signature but not as mid forward as I thought they would be. In fact the differences between the R and the XIV was not huge. It actually has a good bass end and good clean treble. The mids are outstanding on these and that is what the main focus it. I took my time listening to these since these are definitely compelling at the $1000 price point. I will get back to what my verdict on these are a bit later. Lol.

The LX has crazy bass. I don't know how they did it but the bass does sound like subs. The tech is real on these. The mids and treble don't suffer due to the bass either. Guys that like them some high end bass will love these things. These have the closest signature to the IER-Z1R but what differentiated Sony's flagship and the Legend X. These don't have a great sound stage to my ears. It is adequate but the sound is almost too big for the stage they have. Which is a challenge for bigger bass earphones. Sony's IER-Z1R actually has the stage to pull off this sound signature better imo. In a head to head match. I would pick the Z1R. The Legend X has great imaging, sweet treble they sound spectacular for EDM. But it is the Sonys I would actually consider spending this amount of cash on. If they didn't exist. These do sound great for the type of sound they are going for.

Phantom has a sweet coloration to the mid range which makes them sound euphoric. Better balanced than the Legend X and that treble is clean clear and crisp. Detailed thick with a full bodied tone. Vocals come smooth and has some shimmer. With a fairly wide and deep stage. I was actually more impressed with the Phantom than the Legend X. Both earphones are definitely worthy of their price tag but at $1800. It is the phantom that had the better value imo. Bass heads would gush over the Legend X however.

Another surprise of the show. Actually taking the 3rd spot in the earphones realm. 1st being Sony the In ear stage diver . Prophile 8!. Astounding earphones for the price of $1300. relatively cheaper considering what others are charging. These darker ones on here. I got to listen to their prophile 8 it is called. Nice 8 BA eaprhones. The 2nd best dynamics I of any earphones I have heard and is actually at the sound level very close to Tia fourte in sonics at less than half the price. These were probably my surprise of the show. I have never heard any of the earphones from this company but. I was very impressed with these earphones. These were made for stage performers but the tuning is fantastic on their prophile8 They call it s studio reference signature. Has 2 switches on the back plate of the earphones. When switched to the off setting the earphones have excellent balanced dynamic clean spacious sound. One switch is for treble enhancement and one for bass. Both switched on and you get a v signature. Bass turned on and they mimic the Legend X. lol. The sound has a very chiseled sound to it very defined notes. Wide with a deep stage. The detail on these earphone was on a similar level to earphones costing double. It was only Jerry Harvey's Layla that I thought outdid these in dynamics but otherwise. These are an outstanding value at $1300 asking price.
They make customs in all wood. Like this model. Stunning to look at. The prophile8 is an earphone I will most definitely consider for purchase.

Clear Tune Monitors.
Got to hear both flagship models the Davinci 9 and 10. Number representing how many drivers on each side. The 9 goes for $2,000 and the 10 goes for $2,400. Similar to the EE pricing. Both earphones have a brighter tint to the sound due to well represented treble. The 9 had some splashy treble that I wasn't much of a fan of but that could have been due to my Spiral dots I was using. I know if a brighter tuned earphone has some extended treble the Spiral Dots can enhance this which is not good.

The 10 was more spacious than the 9 being their top end iem. Has some reference level detail and imaging with a slightly forward upper mid section. Female vocals sounded really good on these. Again don't know if it was my tip but the treble was a bit too forward for my liking. Otherwise both these have really good mids to them with a 3D sound scape. Cesar the owner of CTM was very cool to talk to. Both these earphones had some good bass for BAs but some of the others I have heard at Can Jam did bass better than both of these for BA earphones. Including the Andromedas.

Next was 64 Audio. Always popular on Headfi. Couldn't wait to hear their earphones.
First was the U12. 12BAs which includes 1 tia driver. Tia is their proprietary driver tech they include on their earphones that is specific to these guys and these do sound incredible. Neutral with great imaging and timbre with a tight detailed bass end.. But. These sound almost identical to my NiceHCK DZ12. Almost identical. I thought I was listening to my DZ12. Lol. My DZ12 from NiceHCK cost $720. These cost $2000. Value is not good with this one.

Tia Fourte. A much more fuller in body, more dimensional than the U12. Large spacious sound. Deep full bass end that actually competes somewhat with the Legend X in bass. I was very surprised by these but for the cost. I would go IER-Z1R here yet again.


CL2 Planar from RHA!


Ya so I went in on this one with an open mind. For the most part the tech is really interesting. The size and shape of these are smallish but produce a BIG sound.
I commend RHA for coming up with these. I think more advancement is needed for different tech on earphones and it is always interesting to hear something completely new. A planar single driver and the sound this thing produces is large and in charge has a roomy sound with some deep hard hitting planar bass. These come a bit mid forward sounding and has good dynamics and the mids are full bodied. The bass is the star here with a deep rumble that is not felt or heard at this price range however the treble is the culprit. Treble comes a bit flat sounding with a combination of a boxy stage with its warm tonality. The sound is slightly canned a bit stuffy due to the full bored sound on these. If anything they are unique sounding but for the asking price of $899. Hmm
Small housing. Big sound.

Then there was Jerry Harvey!


I got the meet Jerry Harvey at the show. Guy is distinct looking and stands out. One of the those sound genius guys. You know your talking to a mastermind when he starts talking sound tech on his earphones. I went straight to his big boy the Layla. Oh wow these are the very meaning of dynamic sound. So encompassing. These took 2nd place for me at the show. following the Sony IER-Z1R and I can argue these have even a better reference tuning than Sony's earphone but two things. These have some serious meticulous tuning to it. The detail and imaging was outstanding. The only negative was for me at least was the fit. I had to keep pushing the earpieces for them to sound correct. Larger housing on these mean a bit of hit or miss in comfort. Their other earphones are smaller housing less BAs so they fit better. These have the sound to back up the cost. I like these over the Audio 64 stuff to be honest.

I didn't even cover the headphones.. I got to hear Audio Technicas ADX5000, Meze Empyrean and Fostex TH909.
My pic is the new Fostex TH909. These have a better tuning than the older TH900 by a landslide. Better fuller mid range. Excellent staging. Treble was a standout to me as well. While the Empyrean was the highest end headphone I heard. At $3000 they better be.

In the end. It was too much fun and I got something from it. This man wanting my $1000 for his AndromedaS.
Had to do it.


Limited edition AndromedaS. In the beginning of the show I got to hear their line up and I have to say I was extremely impressed with the AndromedaS. So much so I kept on asking about them. They look stunning in person. These are easily 3rd runner up in the entire show. These and the In ear stage prophile8. I kept listening to them and that was when I realized I needed these in my life. I was gonna wait for the MD Zeus drop.. Nope. Not after hearing these.

To my ears the 5BA tuning on these are so masterful and the new mids driver they incorporate has a slightly more mid forward from the previous green Andromedas. Did a head to head and I think either one was good but these S version to my ears was special. These will go toe to toe with anything I heard all day and in many ways does things better. Like stage. Has just a good a mids as the Zeus but with better bass and treble shimmer. Imaging is impeccable. The sound quality was off the chain. If the looks is any indication these are the real deal and in limited supplies. I believe on 2K in existence. It was a close toss up between the Green which they had on hand as well vs these. The mid range won me over while retaining much of what makes the Andromeda special. No comfort issues. Wide specious. I couldn't get the sound out of my head while listening to the other earphones. I had to have it.

A $100 off the asking price online was good enough for me. I gave Ken my credit card. Today was a good day.
Come on man have some mercy on all of our wallets!!
 
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Dsnuts

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Hey I just report what I heard at the show. Nothing more nothing less. Will have to improve my camera work. I took an older camera and apparently the lighting at Can Jam is not so good.
 
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I am really surprised by how many people have amazing feedback for Sony IER-Z1R.
Makes me want to try it.

I was planning to get a custom either Empire Ears Phantom or 64 Audio U18, but now I have to give this a listen too before deciding...
 
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