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CanJam Shanghai 2018 Impressions Thread (November 3-4, 2018)

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  1. third_eye Moderator
    We had an AMAZING first day at CanJam Shanghai 2018! Post your impressions and pics here, and be sure to subscribe for full event coverage!

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    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018
    Aslshark, Sp12er3, lesale08 and 4 others like this.
  2. misteral201103
    Heading in again today and will write impressions after that. If anyone is Shanghai and, for some odd reason, not sure if they should go - GET DOWN THERE!!
  3. Faber65
    Arrived at the show ten minutes before the opening and left half an hour after the closing.
    I tried to test as many gears as possible, especially the high-end ones.
    As expected It is a very interesting show, And it is definitely worth a visit, even if it would had been nice to have the direct participation of the top brands/manufacturers as exhibitors.

    The location is perfectly in the heart of the old city, but there are some details of the organization to be improved (ticket pre-sales, admissions, booked t-shirts sales).
    I hope this is just the beginning in a crazy booming (and potentially huge) market and to see more exhibitors next year.

    P.S.: you know what? I am going to go there again this afternoon
    Sp12er3 likes this.
  4. misteral201103
    Impressions from Canjam Shanghai (Sorry, no pictures!)

    Pretty much perfect number for people for me (probably organisers would have liked a few more) - enough that there was a good buzz and I had to wait a little to listen to what I was interested in, but not so many that the place was heaving and there was no chance of checking stuff out. I heard from someone that it was the best "first-time" turn-out for a Canjam, so that's really good.

    Buzz was great in the main hall. Visitors were clearly pumped, exhibitors were positive and happy to chat - while also not intrusive and allowing you time to listen to what they had on offer. Campfire Audio guys didn't seem super happy, but they were the exception to the rule and they certainly were helpful.

    For me, this represented an opportunity to audition an awful lot of gear which I have read about but would otherwise not have a chance to try. A tiny bit disappointed that very few exhibitors were able to sell on site but I understand why (how did Periodic Audio and Stealth Sonics get around this though?!?!) SO MUCH available to check out, as an enthusiast this was an incredible opportunity. I took my wife who is considerably less into audio than I am but still appreciates a good sound, and my friend who is a musician, head of music at an international school here in SH but not previously someone who spent money on his own listening gear (his money goes on instruments instead!)
    Organisation was great, location and venue were great, all people involved were awesome. Sad I didn't get to see Jude in person and sad not to see Audeze there.
    Ok, what did I check out?

    Note - some of the items on my "must hear" list are neither new nor ground-breaking but I've read good things about them and this was my chance to try them out.

    For those who have already read enough - IEMs of the show, for me, were the InEars Prophile 8s - full-size cans were probably the HifiMan Ananda - DAP was the Opus #2 though I didn't get to hear the Lotoo PAW Gold (I didn't know it was there!).

    Unless otherwise stated, these were conducted with Fiio X5iii running through Xduoo XD05 with Burson V5i (amp duty only)

    Stealth Sonics

    Hitting these guys first because I think they deserve some buzz. I listened to the U9 which is priced around 7000RMB. 9 BAs per earpiece, custom and universal models available from this Singapore based team. Compelling product considering the price. Nicely tuned, fairly neutral, fantastic layering especially in terms of depth (there were very clearly different Z-axis positions) and height positioning. Felt a little light in the hand but comfortable. Once the word gets out, I expect these to sell very well. Nice!

    I've seen these pop up from time to time on Taobao - full size, circumaural cans with wood housing (different woods available). I listened to the Teak models. Soundstage is what people refer to when they talk about "closed cans" but what a lovely presentation of sound. Really "listenable" if that makes sense! Bass hits were powerful and had a real snap to them, mids and highs were well balanced. The closed-in sound is their major drawback but the signature is so compelling I suspect many will happily overlook the restricted sound-stage once they give them a listen. For anyone who is a collector, these are definitely worth a look. Very impressive.

    Chord M Scaler
    Chord need to demo this in a separate room if they're sticking with the Senn 800. So much additional noise coming in from the room, I could not appreciate what the tech was doing.

    I listened to the Jade II system which was good but, in honesty, didn't wow me. Might have been the same issue that Chord faced with open cans in a noisy environment. BUT..
    The Ananda, which is obviously VERY open, blew me away. Very hard to pinpoint what these cans are doing (obviously a lot of detail with that super-thin driver) but they just get it right. I can't go into technical specifics with this but the presentation from these cans is just stunning. Nailed it. Going back to my 400i, even hours later, was a bit disappointing and I can see myself picking up the Ananda in a couple of years (this will make more sense in a moment). All those reviewers who have expressed their delight with these cans - they're right. Gorgeous.

    The RE2000 - finally got a chance to hear these earphones. Lovely sound, easily competing with multi-driver IEMs. For anyone looking for reference detailed sound but, for one reason or another, cannot go the IEM-shaped route, these are worth checking out. Just doing everything right, very balanced reproduction.

    Campfire Audio
    I'm treading carefully here. I really like the Polaris but other models I have heard are just not for me. Lots of people swear by CA stuff but in this room...they did not do it for me compared to other gear I heard. Re-auditioned the well-loved Andromeda. Good, but I've heard better. Heard the new Solaris. THICK sound, really not for me. However, bumped into the father of one of my students who had just treated himself to the Andromedas (which he loves), who had heard the Solaris and wished he had waited till this weekend before making a purchase because he loved them more than the Andros. Horses for courses.

    InEar Prophile 8s
    I've tucked these down here but honestly, everything else I listened to was being compared to the PP8s. When I'm demoing a set of earphones and I can't bring myself to go to the next track, because I'm so enthralled with what I'm hearing, it's a good sign. When the presentation of a song genuinely makes me want to sob because it's so stunning, they're probably the ones for me. When my WIFE is moved to tears and tells me emphatically that I can spend 10,000RMB on a pair of earphones....well....that has not happened before. These are hands down, the best IEMs I have ever heard. The staging, the balance, the naturalness of the sound...heavenly. Ridiculously comfortable AND the same for my small-eared wife who has great difficulty with IEMs (as opposed to bullets/earbuds). These, for me, are almost certainly the last pair of IEMs I will buy because I don't really see how sound could be better reproduced. I cannot believe that I am going to spend about 1000 pounds stirling on IEMs but I need these. I listened to them three times. Nothing else at the show came close except the Ananda. Maybe the 64Audio Tia Fourte was on the way, but really not the same. These earphones just get everything right. Endgame. Mic drop.

    Smith Realiser
    SO excited to get to try this out but I'm afraid it did not deliver. HOWEVER, the woman who was running the room explained very clearly why it fell short (it was set up for Chinese listeners and the head/face/ear physiognomy is VERY different to westerners. I did get a clear sense of out-of-head sound-stage, but not a reproduction of the speaker set-up they had there. Thanks to Clara (the aforementioned woman) I may get a chance to set up a personal HRTF, which I would be keen to do. I was very impressed with the knowledgeability of the staff here though and did feel that the equipment did not get a decent opportunity to impress me.

    Aune B1S
    Ignoring Fiio, the B1S is one of the big three portable amps available over here, the other two being the Cayin C5 and the Xduoo XD05 (got them both, love them both). I had never had a chance to audition this so jumped on it when I saw it. Detailed and musical without being too colored. I really liked it. Will almost certainly pick one up next time I have an itch for new gear but limited funds. Very Nice. Listened with UM Macbeth and Nighthawks - both paired very well. Was so excited I didn't even check if I was listening in Class-A mode or not!!

    Fiio FA7
    The new IEM from Fiio, 4BA either side, around 2000rmb on release next month. Wow. For the money, this is a no-brainer. In the "reference" area of presentation with a decent stage and just a lovely sound. Comfortable. Impressed me far more than the 9 pro (which I also liked). My friend who had been pretty sure he would not feel tempted left the show raving about these, disappointed that they weren't on sale right there, suddenly very aware of balanced armature drivers, utterly converted. These are killer at the price, they will sell like crazy. If this were one year ago and I was looking to move up in price and ability, these would beat everything under 3000rmb (I bought the Unique Melody Macbeths at the time!) Expect to hear a lot about them.

    Periodic Audio
    Interesting. I liked the Mg, my wife and my friend preferred the Be with its warmer signature (though my wife liked the staging in the Mg). For the price, they're compelling.

    Lovely people here (everyone was, but this team especially) Listened to the #2 and the difference from my X5iii was very clear. Better staging, layering, detail, fluidity of interface. This is totally on my list. Fantastic hardware design as well. More impressed with this than with AK offerings (from memory). Loved it. Also got to listen to a product currently in concept/beta. #2 for me though.

    Kinera Odin
    Nice, competent. Offers a lot for the price. I'd already heard the PP8s though, so.....

    VisionEars ErlKonig
    Wow, these are some weighty IEMs. Very nice sound, detailed without being sharp - decent bass without booming - respectable soundstage. Didn't bother trying the other switch positions, I listened to "moderate bass". Very capable IEMs.

    I listened to some other IEMs as well, but they weren't worth mentioning. One thing that really came through to me at the show was that in the $500-1500 price range there are three tiers of product - sub-par, very competent, magical. The middle tier is the one with most examples and a lot of what I heard fell into this category. Decisions would come down to personal taste and budget. The PP8s though....

    This show was the highlight of my year (at least tied with a diving trip in the Philippines) and it did not disappoint. This was a triumph, I'm making a note here:huge success. Great people, great atmosphere, wonderful opportunity to hear "what's out there". Thank you to EVERYONE who made this happen and congratulations on an immensely successful first run. Also, thanks for happening to choose the weekend before Xi Jing Ping visits Shanghai so we all get Monday and Tuesday off work!
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018
    Walderstorn, Sp12er3, marhol and 30 others like this.
  5. XERO1
    Really looking forward to hearing the FA7 now! I thought the F9 PRO was so close to being great, but their treble peak was just a little too much for me. Hoping that the FA7 doesn’t have this problem.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018
  6. Moonstar
    Thank you for sharing your detailed impressions:thumbsup:
    karanehir35 likes this.
  7. duaned
    Assuming the FA7 will be down on sub-bass due to being designed only with ba drivers?
  8. Kitechaser
    Anyone check out the Sony IER-Z1R?
  9. lambdastorm
    Nice impression! I too was absolutely enamored with Ananda. Dunno what they did to it, but to my ears these easily best the HE1000s even on a full desktop setup.

    Oh and btw how would you compare Ananda with Nighthawk? I'm thinking about picking up a pair myself.
    misteral201103 likes this.
  10. someyoungguy
    First of all, big thanks to the organizers and exhibitors. It was a big event and some people were looking understandably tired towards the end, but always helpful.

    This was my first Canjam or any event similar. We got there shortly after it started on Sat and it was already packed, and quickly got pretty hot in the main space until the air con kicked in later. At first I was sweating!


    Klipsch HP-3 and heritage headphone amp were on my list to check out, and sounded great. The combo works well and both individually sounded good connected to different sources/headphones. The amp is definitely on my list to buy - they weren’t selling any amps at the event. Might pick up the HP-3 to match if I can afford it one day.

    Next up were Campfire Cascades - they had two sets, one with the cloth pads and another with the leather. I tried the cloth first and was immediately surprised at just how much bass these things have. Asked one of the guys there what the difference was and couldn’t believe when he told me cloth was more linear, with more bass on the leather pads. Tried those next and jeepers this bass emphasis is huge. I love bass - my daily headphone is the B&W P7 (which I was using to test things at the show) and I even use them with BBE effects on a Cowon player (which makes the signature more V-shaped). I’ve also owned the Sennheiser HD630VB in the past. So yeah I’m a fan of the bass, so was pretty surprised I found a headphone that was even too overwhelming for me! Maybe I would buy one to use with cloth pads.

    Also tried the Campfire Comets, but they just reinforced that I really am a headphone fan and not into IEMs in general, the SQ is too dependent on fiddling with a good fit.

    At the Focal stand my favorites were the Clears. Elears seemed a bit congested to me, and Utopias were okay but didn’t seem as good as the Clears. Unfortunately they didn’t have the Elegias. In all the Focal range seemed good but didn’t grab me and make me think I needed to buy them - surprisingly that was also the case for a number of things at the show, and more expensive definitely didn’t equate to better. I had always thought that but it was a useful experience to hear it at the show. Also, each headphone was hooked up to different gear so that could influence impressions too.

    The Chord team were great - so friendly and easy to chat with. Also, they had the most varied collection of tracks loaded up on their source devices (iPads or macs) - other stands were pretty slim on the range of choices. My partner, who came for an afternoon and isn’t into hi fi, listened to the M-scaler feeding into the Hugo 2 TT, and was seriously impressed at how real and lifelike it sounded - as was I. It also ruined everything for the rest of the afternoon, where no matter what she heard it wasn’t as good!

    I heard the Dave but felt like I preferred the Hugo 2 TT/M scaler set up. Chord were also doing the Mr Speakers range hooked up to their sources, which made for a great way to trial the headphones too. I used to have a Mojo and am familiar with it’s sound (and sometimes regret selling it!). They had one hooked up to the Aeon Flow Closed - fantastic pairing, and I was surprised that Rob Watts said the Aeon Flow Closed was his favorite. I’ve been looking for a pair of high end closed backs and after today the Aeon Flow Closed are going to be it - so that was a nice surprise, I arrived thinking the Cascades would be me all the way.

    The Hifiman stand was packed and I didn’t get in over the whole two days. Not too bothered, prefer closed backs.

    Was genuinely impressed with the iBasso DX120 - so good for the money. I ended up listening to it 3 times over the weekend, and was considering getting one there and then. The UI is simple to use, sounds great. They also had the DX200 range: standard model, titanium and copper. I think I only tried the standard, had more bass kick than I was expecting, more than the DX150. Great player.

    At the iFi stand I tried the xDSD and xCAN - Bluetooth DACs makes listening to your own music and tracks you’re familiar with so handy. But I don’t really understand why the two products - they seem so similar in features and sound I don’t get why they’ve released both. I used to have a micro iDSD (silver model) and the sound of both the xDSD and xCAN was reminiscent of the same iFi signature; a focus on the upper mids and lower treble in terms of resolution and detail, very easy to listen to sound.

    Speaking of Bluetooth DACs I also tried the new touchscreen Lotoo Gold player - it was good, way easier to use than the Paw Gold they had there too. I thought the sound edged out ahead too.
    4ED495AB-E345-41E0-A3BE-EE4291F19069.jpeg 1446361C-C03B-4F73-81DE-5FE51F85D10F.jpeg

    One other surprise of the show for me was wandering around I saw an Oriolus stand - hadn’t heard of them before but was drawn to a simple-in-a-good-way player they had called the DP100. They had a black aluminum body version, which seems was released last year, and a copper body with gold plating (like the Sony WM1Z) limited version.

    The UI is simple and a bit quirky but works well - no touch screen but a scroll wheel which you can also depress to select (I think Fiio did something similar on a previous player?). The sound was excellent, especially the copper/gold version, which added more body and fullness to the lows and mids. Again, I was wondering about buying one there and then. They didn’t have any stock of the copper/gold model to sell, but my partner who speaks Mandarin chatted with them for a while and overnight messaged her to offer the single demo unit they had, at a discount since it was used and minus the usual accessories including leather case. I went back and listened to it on Sunday, but in the end decided not to go ahead. It’s not that the DP100 copper/gold wasn’t good enough but reflects the huge competition- I can get the Klipsch Heritage Headphone Amplifier for only a bit more, and also here in China the A model of the Sony ZX300 is available crazy cheap for 2300 yuan. I feel bad for the Oriolus team for not taking them up on the offer! So friendly and helpful, and from my partner’s conversations with them the people manning the stand were actually the manufacturers, and heading back to the factory after the event.

    Oriolus also had an interesting prototype for trial, the DP150. It’s a DAP with a tube amp, like the new Cayin flagship. Also, like iBasso and Fiio players you can switch the amp units, which changes the tube and also the DAC chip! Hadn’t seen that in a player before.

    Although Sony weren’t there, there were a few products around at various stands, so I trialed the ZX300 and WM1Z. Their flagship headphone was also at another stand but I didn’t manage to trial it. I was surprised at how polite the ZX300 sounded. The UI wasn’t that intuitive, but was in Mandarin so I struggled, but more so than with other players there (most of which were set to Mandarin). I also trialed the ZX300 at the Sony store nearby, and will probably head back today. Didn’t have much time to really focus on it, but seemed like once my brain adjusted after a few moments there was sufficient detail and rhythm there. Oriolus had a ZX300 hooked up to a portable balanced tube amp, which accepts a 4.4mm balanced input. Sounded good, more full bodied and with more output power than the 4.4mm out of the ZX300 alone.

    The WM1Z was smaller and lighter than I expected. Sounded good, but I wasn’t as floored as I felt I should be given the price. There were a few high end items like this I tried out of curiosity, knowing I had no intention of spending that much on them, but didn’t really feel like I was sorely missing out at a lower price range. Maybe also since I knew I’d never own them I wasn’t too critical in my listening and paid more attention when listening to something I would actually buy.

    Also tried the Colorfly C10 and Opus range - they all seemed okay; not disappointing but not making me want to buy them there and then.

    These Auris headphone amps are huge in person (didn’t actually listen to them):

    So, thanks to all involved, really interesting experience. In future I would take a versatile source, with Bluetooth and coaxial, maybe optical outputs, to help trial with your own music. I had my phone but sometimes couldn’t get Bluetooth to pair or didn’t have the right connector. Also, a small microSD card with only a dozen or so familiar tracks for trialing would be handy - on some stands I swapped in the card from my Cowon player but it has my entire music collection on it.
  11. misteral201103
    They are completely different. The Nighthawks (which I LOVE) need a bit of EQ to bring out the high end detail. They are super comfortable and, rather than warm, I would describe their sound as rich. They have a specific signature which is lovely but in no way neutral. Soundstage is not bad and sometimes catches me by surprise. The Ananda are far more natural in their presentation. You could say neutral I guess but I feel natural is a better descriptor. Sound-stage is like you're standing in the middle with music going on all around you. They are not quite as comfortable as the NH but not uncomfortable. If you had to choose between them it would entirely come down to what you are looking for in terms of presentation. I have the 400i which is similarly different to the Nighthawks and I really like having the choice between them. I could not choose one over the other, I would rather have both.

    Hope that helps!
  12. misteral201103
    @someyoungguy - Absolutely right about Chord's selection of tracks. I say "selection" but it was a library of albums. When I see Diana Krall's "Girl in the other room" alongside Infected Mushroom's "Friends with Mushrooms" I know that every taste is going to be catered to!!
  13. misteral201103
    Hmmm...I didn't spend as long with these as I did with the PP8s but they gave a very good voicing of "Gotham's Reckoning" from the Dark Knight Rises. No lack of bass there. Sub-bass...I would have to listen targeting that range specifically to tell you, sorry!
  14. lambdastorm
    Thanks a lot for the reply mistral! I own both the HD600 and 650 and prefer the latter, sounds like the Nighthawk is for me :smile_phones:
  15. someyoungguy
    Completely agree, there was some random combinations on offer! I found it also quite reassuring - when you see a small selection it makes you feel that the exhibitors have chosen select tracks that will bring out the best of their gear - whether that’s actually the case or not, you feel like that’s a possibility.

    With Chord it was like saying throw anything at this, we’re confident it will sound good. I found Mastodon’s Crack the Skye, chucked it on, then ended up having some banter with one of the Chord guys who was a fan :)
    misteral201103 likes this.
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