Separate names with a comma.
Wonderful times. I wish we kulakligim.net in Turkey Istanbul had the same too.
CanJam Shanghai 2019!!!
Hope I don't ramble too much! This year I could only come to one day, since I was working on Saturday. My head wasn't quite in it this year, I wasn't really prepared. Also, I have my end-game IEM, Headphone and (for the moment) DAP so there was less excitement for me and also I have not kept up with the hype-trains this year.
It took me an hour and a half to make it up the first aisle before reaching Hifiman and turning the corner!! Forget everything above, this was VERY exciting suddenly! Wish I had two days, I needed it this year. I'm not sure if there were more exhibitors, or more "big" names but I really could have done with an extra visit.
As it was, time was a little limited for me and so I flew around. There's a lot I didn't listen to because either a) I listened to their gear last year and it didn't do it for me or b) other things caught my eye and I ran out of time. So my sampling was based purely on what interested me and I apologise in advance for not being able to give any kind of comment on some gear which I know others would be interested in.
I won't mention any companies or gear that I tried that got swiftly placed back. There were a couple, not many.
My all-round awesome wife Paris took photos (except the ones of a beautiful woman listening to earphones).
Ok, let's do this!
InEar - the new flagship (forgive me, I can't remember the name and can't be bothered to find out)
Tough one this. Obviously they're very nice. Look absolutely stunning, amazing fit (especially for a universal) and they sound great, with a more pronounced bass presence than their Prophile 8s (which I own and adore). No doubt, these are top tier IEMs, but with that extra little bass (extension and bias) I am taken away from the more neutral signature that I prefer and something, for me, is lost amongst the gains - somewhere around upper-mid/high. It will be a very popular model but the PP8s still wears the crown as far as I'm concerned.
No pics here - criminal oversight on our part - they were gorgeous.
Shuoer - Tape and Unnamed New Model
With all the excitement online about Tape I had to have a listen and, well, I'm glad I did. What a lovely little earphone! Very good and clean representation across the frequencies - for me, maybe, a tough bright in the upper-mid or lower-treble. But at their price-point, they are really delivering. Soundstage was fine, neither expansive nor enclosed. Bass response was pretty decent. One of my wife's favourites of the day.
The as yet nameless new model should be launched before the end of the year and it's a bullet style earphone, similar in form to the Final Audio range. These are going to retail for 500RMB (less than $100). These blew me away considering the size and price. Dual drive, I think a dynamic and a BA but a little unsure. Lovely lovely sound from these, everything in its place. Again, I felt they were a little hot up top, to which the Shuoer staff replied that there's a changeable filter at the nozzle so you can tailor them to your liking. I loved these. Bear in mind that I listen to the PP8s every day, which tells you about my signature preferences and my frame of reference (haha) for sound quality. Also, it is not in my best interests to be so pleased with an IEM that is a fraction of the price I paid. Watch out for these, they are just fantastic. Had a little issue with the tips and I would definitely recommend tip-rolling to find the best possible seal. When you find it though, they are a treat.
HEDD - Heddphone
New product from a German company which has thus far been working with speakers. Estimate retail price of $2000, still in development but not far from production.
Again - I like a neutral signature but not anemic. These, for me, were just perfect. I don't know what else to tell you. Beautiful definition to the sound, neither too much or too little anywhere. Realistic soundstage. One of those moments when I realise I'm listening to a perfect reproduction of the audio.
HUGE. Biggest I've ever had my hands on. A bit heavy (they're aiming to shave 100g off) but worth it for the results.
If you get a chance to hear them, do it. Stunning.
Oh! Also, uses a technology called air motion transfer. Not planars, not dynamics, something more like a squeezebox. Very interesting - apparently the tech is relatively old but had been abandoned, so they had another look at it to see if they could get a good result. That was a very worthwhile quest!
Manley - absolute headphone amplifier
Absolutely beautiful tube amp with a widerange of settings (bass, treble, feedback, push-pull or single ended) which produces a wonderful tone. It sounds exactly as good as it looks, as you would hope considering the price. But, if you're absolutely flush and want everyone to know that music is the most important thing to you, this is definitely a conversation starter! Awesome, as in invoking a sense of awe.
No pics, but quick shout out to this company. Tried their 12 (I think) driver IEM which retails at 9000RMB and honestly, I really liked it a lot. Wouldn't pull me from my current set, but flashback to a year ago and my decision would have been made much more difficult with these. Also bought a lovely silver plated copper balanced cable for my PP8s (which I am listening to at this moment and loving EVEN more than before, if that's possible) for a reasonable amount considering how much they CAN go for! Nice guy, nice gear - worth checking out if you get a chance.
EarSonics - Stark
I'm running short of adjectives. These were solid metal, matte black, diminutive but weighty. Lovely balanced sound from 1 dynamic driver and 4 BAs. 12000RMB. If you're looking for top quality, buy-them-and-you're-done IEMs, these are well worth a listen. Liked them a lot.
Fiio - M11 Pro
Incremental update and there's definitely a noticeable improvement over the already excellent M11. It's a small improvement though, and you lose an SD card slot. If you're looking for a DAP around this price (4000RMB I think) and can go on one card, this is fantastic. If you already have the M11 - it's probably not worth the upgrade unless you are really fastidious and yearn for a slightly more precise sound. Upcoming M15 will be the flagship at around 8000RMB. Will be interested to see what it's like (no sign of it here). Really do admire Fiio though, something for everyone's budget and just great quality - if I mention other DAPs below, you'll see the trend that Fiio does it just as well, for considerably less.
Hiby - R8
This is a BIG HEAVY DAP. Anyone complaining about the M11 being non-portable, look away now. Very fast responsive UI and wonderful sound (single ended and balanced). Retailing around 10000RMB. Did I pick up a difference between this and the M11? Very slight. Very slight. Nice bit of gear though, and probably running a Play Store capable version of Android, so there's that to consider. Oh! Also, you can put a SIM card in it and thus stream directly on a 4G network. Is that something you want to do? Then this is a possibility!!
Meze - 99 Classic
"You didn't listen to the Empyrean?" No, I didn't. I think I heard it last year. I have never heard the 99s and I wanted to know what they sounded like. Plugged into single ended - oh, very nice. Kind of on the Nighthawk tip but not as warm and a bit more clarity. Nice. Do you have a balanced cable? Oh you do? Thanks! Plugged into balanced (more power as well as balanced) and WOW they came alive. What absolutely gorgeous headphones these are when driven well. Soundstage which does not seem to equate with closed cans, plenty of crisp detail, lovely bass response. Instant hit and added to the list for the future. Not for nothing they're called Classic. VERY glad I got to hear them.
TP - Aurora
These completely defied (and exceeded) expectations. Single balanced armature driver. What? These are batting with the big boys, no doubt. Really really liked these, one of the top results (taking price into consideration) of the day. Enough of everything, not too much anywhere. Reasonable soundstage. Currently 2200RMB (can be had for less in 11.11 sale) and well worth it. I was seriously impressed. Absolutely worth checking out if this kind of budget is where you're aiming (although this then brings in the Fiio IEMs, and I don't know if the Aurora would beat them. Would be very close though).
And that was about it. Wanted to hear the Dan Clarke Audio headphones but they had moved from their room to the main hall when I went to hear them and I was already done for the day. Heard Amphion's lovely little speakers, the Argon 1 (need to find the name of them, please let me know if you happen to know) which amazed me with the size and quality of reproduction considering how small they are. Might be a binaural video of these on the way.... Audiofly was too busy when I went there - though a friend went in and listened and was very impressed. They had live musicians playing and then being routed into their earphones. He's a musician himself and said the sound was fantastic. I would have liked to have experienced this. Oh! Got to shake Jude's hand and thank him, that was nice. Thought about asking for a photo with him but then remembered that I'm 49 and shouldn't do this sort of thing.
Loads of gear that I didn't try - this was a hell of a turnout in terms of exhibitors and, again, an incredible opportunity for anyone with even a passing interest in what they're listening on. Very well organised, plenty of space, good amount of people without being too too busy (hope it was busy enough for Head-Fi!!). Fantastic event, very well done to all involved. Really wish I'd had that extra day this year - hopefully next year will be better for me. As it was, I saw and heard plenty to get excited about and walked away with the right balanced cable for my IEMs and two or three headphones/IEMs to add to the list for fun purchases or presents.
Thank you to everyone who made this happen. It's an absolute gift!!!
edit - Speakers were not Cambridge Audio, they were Amphion - the Argon 1. Fixed
edit - EarSonics was not Blade but Stark. Fixed
It was good to catch up with Jude and see the show in Shanghai.
I didn't hear everything but I did listen to the Rupert Neve Fidelice DAC. Amazing that Neve is still working at age 92.
I really enjoyed the Crosszone CZ-1 I heard at the event. Also out of my price range but really amazing listening experience.
I wanted to like the Fiio M11 Pro, but I just don't see myself carrying around a separate unit.
I am still on the hunt for a headphone with a great microphone (TRRS) to be used on a smartphone- that is something that I have yet to find.
I've been going to the Tokyo events for years (Fujiya AVIC's and e-Earphones' events) and this Shanghai event is smaller (only year 2 for Shanghai; I'm sure they will grow it) but a much younger crowd which bodes well.
Canjam Shanghai: Day Two:
Day One is over here.
Yesterday’s show was quite tiring. From the outstanding HEDD (which will get a second listening session today) to the not so outstanding IEMs that debuted here, a lot was heard. Today was no different.
First up we have the Moondrop Blessing 2. This is a more lively sound than the original Blessing as well as most other Moondrops I’ve heard, and is pretty energetic all around. I do find it too upper mid forward for my tastes, bordering on shoutiness. It’s also somewhat rough in the treble. Despite this I find it fairly enjoyable, and don’t have difficulty appreciating it. In comparison to the S8, it’s not quite as smooth and detailed, though that’s fair considering the price bracket difference.
The other Moondrop release I heard was the Moondrop Solis. This one’s supposed to be their flagship tribrid, and I don’t know if I’m really a fan. It’s surprisingly un-Harman, with way more lower mids than any other Moondrop IEM I’ve heard so far. It seems to have recessed treble too, and is generally a lot more boring than the Blesssing 2 and the S8. Resolution seems about on par with the S8 as well. I generally feel like this one is a bit too far deviated from the general Moondrop formula.
And then there’s the other side of Moondrop, Softears. I don’t know about this one, it’s pretty uneven. The Cerberus, befitting the name, has treble banished to the underworld, with worse resolution than both the S8 and the Solis. The Turii has this ridiculous square shell which is incredibly uncomfortable with weird, thin and tinny mids and rough and harsh treble. Really not sure what Moondrop’s parent company is trying to do with this brand but it’s not good so far.
I also took the time to give the new InEar flagship the ProMission X a more in depth listen and have a full length review for it. Check that out over here.
And then things go south. A friend asked me to check out the new Earsonics IEMs, and while I was initially apprehensive, I now wish I followed my gut instinct and avoided their booth like the plague. The Blade has thin and shrill mids with a weird boxed in presentation that sounds incredibly off and has an uncanny valley-esque effect. Dynamics on these are also pretty terrible. In general it just sounds wrong for all the intangible reasons. On the other hand with we have the Earsonics Stark with its boosted, blunt bass and its resonant and hollow sounding mids. This pair seem just terrible and really need to be taken back to the drawing board. I don’t know what else to say because this stuff is just plain bad.
Finally I spent a couple more hours with the HEDDphone to extract further impressions. The layering and detail retrieval is just as good as I remembered, and the tuning in the lower midrange sounds less weird with the Questyle CMA Twelve powering it and the HEDDphones worn correctly (I was previously wearing them back to front to compensate for the channels being flipped because I didn’t realize the pads were angled. Doing the proper smart person thing and just swapping the cables fixed that pretty easily). In general the HEDDphone takes on a neutral-esque sound with a center-midrange emphasis, not unlike some of the Stax Lambdas. The bass on it slams unlike anything else I have ever heard and it physically rumbles when subbass is run through it. This will likely be something I end up buying when it goes up for sale. Just a damn good headphone all around.
And that concludes my Canjam Shanghai adventure. See you guys next year on the home turf.
Score: Fulltime HEDD shill/10
So interesting and once again underlining how subjective this hobby can be. Couldn't disagree more about the Blade - I would have picked up on those points you made so either you didn't get a good seal or our ears are INCREDIBLY different. But then totally agree on the HEDDphone which surely means we at least appreciate the same kind of sound signature/reproduction. They really are superb, I expect them to become an instant reference classic once released.
So, from your show report, I got that every single iem you tried is a turd and only HEDD full size headphones are worth listening to?
Out of curiosity and just for the comparison reference, since I tried before wm1z & ier-z1r (listed in your sig), how do you find that combo, in particularly the treble peaks?
I definitely got a good seal. Something was just plain off about the presentation and staging and it sounded wrong to me all around. To an extent the HEDDphone had some presentation quirks as well, probably because of the pad design. But I find the other aspects of it redeeming enough for me to ignore it.
I actually praised the new Moondrop stuff this time around which is weird enough since I usually hate anything Harman that goes in the ear. Maybe I’m becoming too soft.
As for HEDD, they’re certainly a good combination of being well priced, well engineered, and well tuned, but there are other overear headphones I would give time of day. Just that my philosophy of minmaxing a single setup rather than wasting time dabbling in multiple permits me to get what I think is best.
As for the 1Z and Z1R, I don’t find the treble peaks particularly egregious. With a deep fit it’s mostly lower treble around the area for cymbal stick impact which is just what I like. What I can’t stand is mid treble peaks, and thankfully the Z1R has none of that.
Too dangerous! Like matter and anti-matter...
(or in this case, Twizzler and anti-Twizzler)
Any impressions on Dunu new flagship "LUNA"?
All that I hear about HEDD being huge! Largest, bestest of best I have heard.....high end and so on...
I rarely see anyone mentioned that they compared it to the best of Stax? Or even the Orpheus II
have you guys tried either one of those top of the line Headphones champs ?
Otherwise, Bestest of the best and highest of the huge is just that you are impressed about HEDD, and even so... should bE taken with a grain of salt
Or maybe comparing it to a nice Hd800S setup which I gotta say, HD800S is dependent on the Amp and sources. I would take GSX MKII + HD800S for a references here. That would be a nice comparison on similar price range VS a well known Setup
it would be better to have some references in your statements and claims in your impressions.
Mm...love the impressions. Re: Manley tube....when I was in HK last Oct., DMA Audio in Wanchai had a Manley just a foot away from where I sat. I was too busy auditioning (and purchasing) the Denon D 9000. I should have auditioned the Manley. It is stunning in person. Will audition the Manley this coming January.
Well here goes, I’ll try to keep it to the point.
Another great event. I was at CanJam Shanghai last year, purely by coincidence. Only made it to Sunday, and even then only two stretches of around 2 hours each. So much to try it was a bit of a rush, but here’s what I heard, in the order I heard it.
Generally I tried to listen with my own sources and music (Plenue S or iPhone to Dragonfly Cobalt) and/or headphones (B&W P7s). If I couldn’t connect either of these (e.g. not having the right cable etc) then I usually just had a more superficial listen, as I find if something like a pair of headphones are hooked up to very expensive amps and DACs, with music I’m not familiar with, then I really have no idea what it would sound like in my own environment so tend just to get a brief impression then move on.
Comfy, detailed, good sound. A bit bright for my tastes but I find that with a lot of gear (as you’ll notice below) so could be perfect for someone else.
More bass than 1000 with thinner pads and less comfortable. Coming straight from the HP1000 there was a big drop resolution to the 151, but once I let my ears and expectations adjust they sounded nice.
Smooth, resolved. Better balance in tonality and sound than the HP1000.
Tried the Ananda BT; could connect with my iPhone via Bluetooth but strangely not play music out of them (apps would only play out of the phone with no option to change). Between the language barrier with the attendants I couldn’t get it to work so moved on.
Kennerton Vali: Was attached to a Head 2 amp and some very pricey gear. Sounded great, full body and detail, would be curious to hear it with my own gear but the cable was XLR so I couldn’t do it.
Good sound isolation, coming straight from the Vali it didn’t sound quite as “alive”, but this is comparing the multi-desktop gear attached to the Vali to my Plenue S with the Aeon, so hard to judge clearly. Needed lots of juice - over 100 on the Plenue S and I haven’t needed that for any other headphone I’ve tried. I owned the previous Aeon Closed and this seemed a bit warmer.
JAVS X7 DAC:
Never heard of this brand, and with Google blocked by the great firewall Bing was no help either. But I chatted with one of the guys there who spoke English and it’s a Korean brand, with the X7 retailing for about 1200 USD. It’s a DAC-amp combo. Not the most resolving I’ve heard but actually nicely balanced and I felt it would make a pleasant long-term listen. Plenty of input/deciding options so can pretty much do anything and has balanced connections on the back too. Not bad at all.
Outstanding. This was one of the show highlights for me. One of the helpers there was happy for me to slide in my own microSD and I tested it with B&W P7s which I know well, with a bunch of test tracks I know well. So good I went back and did the same again right at the end of the show. Great detail, balance, sound stage, deeeeep bass, non-sibilant highs, intuitive music app. Great value for money.
Sound is nicely detailed and has heaps of power. But for me somehow a bit too punchy, like the impact of notes was a brick wall. Still it’s pretty cheap so quite good for the price.
Finally tried this after hearing so much about it. It’s good, but just a bit too mellow to fit what I’d want if I were to spend this much. For me this is actually one of the great things about attending a CanJam - you can hear some really expensive gear that just doesn’t hit the mark for you personally and strike it off your list. The show drives home that more expensive doesn’t necessarily equal better for your tastes.
Antonio the man himself was there and was very helpful and easy to chat with. Great to see people like this at the show. He even pulled out extra tips for me to try out the Penta and Solo. I’m not an IEM guy so keep this in mind for the following, as I have a hell of a time getting tips to fit my ears - the biggest size that comes with the Penta wasn’t even a full reliable seal for me. From what I could hear the Penta seemed worthy of the praise it gets. I could also hear the upper mid/treble emphasis that people have mentioned for the Solo, but can’t say much more than that based on my fit issues. They’re both smaller than I expected and fit in the ear well, body finish is great for both.
B&W PX7: Not bad, very comfy and light. Sounds good.
I’d never heard of this brand so it was a pleasant surprise. Closed back headphones with angled drivers like the B&W P9s. Very nice sound, good tonal balance and full body with a slightly different sense of space - in a good way. I was EQing the bass up a bit. A bit more bass and this would basically be my perfect headphone. The larger flagship CZ1 headphone was there but in use when I was at the stand. I meant to go back to trial it later but never managed to.
I tried all their open back range last year and wasn’t sure what the fuss was all about. This year they had the Stellia and Elegia too, with each of the range hooked up to an Arche. Even though I couldn’t pair them with my own sources I thought both Stellia and Elegia were great, much better than I expected based on previous experience with the open backs. They also did a good job at blocking out surrounding noise, the rest of the room disappeared for a while as I disappeared into the Stellia. A little more treble than I would ideally like but a great experience. The Arche does a great job too; I had wondered whether a DAC-amp based on AK4490 would cut it in today’s world, but no complaints from me.
Focal also had the Listen wireless there which I thought was an interesting move - maybe reflects an increasing acceptance of Bluetooth in the audiophile world? They’re well done headphones and the controls feel much more sturdy than the PX7s or Momentum 3s I’d previously tried at a store.
Auris Euterpe: Nice, but a little too bright for me.
DX160: Having previously owned the DX80 (twice), DX90 and DX200 this is quite a departure from their previous builds - looks like a slick smartphone and is much lighter than expected. Great detail and really good value for money in terms of sound quality. They also had a monstrous DX220 MAX there, which I briefly listened to with unfamiliar music before stopping to take a call. Sounded very good.
Audeze LCD-2 closed back:
I’ve been curious about these for a while so glad I finally got to try them, but paired with a Matrix X and unfamiliar music. Much lighter than I expected and didn’t feel like a heavy headphone on the head at all. Good but I wish I had another cable to hear with my own gear and music.
Rupert Neve Fidelice:
The headphone amp is very good, but the DAC-balanced amp was one of the standouts of the show for me (along with the M11 Pro). Sound is fantastic, little things like the realistic tonality, full frequency spectrum of sound with none of it feeling harsh, little notes would hang in space with just the right decay and reverb. It’s quite substantial size-wise but has substantial sound to match. Damn it’s going to be expensive, but it would be a buy-it-and-keep-it-for-life piece of gear. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll have one but it’s way above my budget for the foreseeable future. For me, this didn’t just sound good - it played music and I could have kept listening for hours. I threw a bunch of different tracks at it from different genres and it all sounded enthralling. I don’t think I’ve heard my trusty P7s sound like this before.
I didn’t visit the Chord booth as for me they’re a known quantity- their gear sounds awesome. The Qutest is already in my plans for upgrades so I skipped them but just because I already love them so much and wanted to try unknown gear
All in all a great day. Staff were always very friendly and helpful and it had an enthusiastic but relaxed vibe. Thank you to all the organizers and exhibitors
A few pics:
Sunday start of the day:
Dethonray had this product, never knew they made it, a tube amp for loudspeakers (not headphone amp):
The Hifiman players are smaller than I thought they’d be:
The JAVS X7:
The M11 Pro:
Did anybody checked out dunu’s “Luna” ?
You make a point. But do these persons have so much mileage as you regarding (portable) audio? Maybe they have heard pieces of gears that were so nice that they had to share their enthusiasm without taking care of the exagerate wording and other existing references.
Overhyping things nowadays is common. Especially in the audio world I think... Your remark is spot on in that regard, I fully agree.
You seem to own, to have heard and/or being in contact with high end stuff. For some other people, the trip just began and they easily are overwhelmed, using words like "best", "better", "totl" or "I-stick-to-that-gear-till-I-die", which is not very consistent, relative and is meant to change over time.
Considering the above, I tend to second what you say, because overhyping things all the way really starts to get on my (usually calm) nerves. On the other side, we can let people make overstatements if they want. Filters exist, not just in fancy IEMs haha