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CanJam Singapore 2016 Impressions (February 20-21, 2016)

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  1. ClieOS Contributor
    Such a great show, I enjoy it deeply. The best part is not just having the chance to listen to great gears, but also able to finally meet everyone.
    Currawong, RedTwilight and Uncle E1 like this.
  2. joshuachew
    Hope to meet you one day. Too bad I had to miss this due to work.
  3. noobandroid
    i was hoping to wildly be able to meet you, but dont even know how to spot you, but i did find willy aka liquidgal and wkkm just before i left the expo to my flight
  4. autumnholy
    I only met International head-fiers! Haha.
    Ah, you missed quite a lot, I think.
    True, looks like everyone has a great time!
  5. FullCircle
    First head fi show for me, and i had a blast. I met a lot of great people, scored some gear (onkyo daps, thanks to my buds from Singapore)

    Met Jerry Harvey for the first time, met Jude, met Warren, Ethan, Joe and crew. I look forward to the next event
    Noble Audio Stay updated on Noble Audio at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
    https://www.facebook.com/NobleAudio https://www.twitter.com/noblebywizard https://www.instagram.com/nobleaudio https://nobleaudio.com/en/ contact@nobleaudio.com
    kchew, Frank I, d marc0 and 2 others like this.
  6. ctsooner22
    Thanks to you all for sharing.  Would love to hear more on thoughts of the DAP's and who they compare to the DAC's that can work with the iPhone 6.  Thanks again to you  all.  
  7. georgelai57
    Low point of the show is that you buy tickets and some people entered for free from the 2nd Level of the hotel. Some with exhibitor name tags were clearly swapping with friends.
  8. noobandroid
    the other funny thing was there were really hot babes from effect audio, ak and dita but we were like, can you please move aside?

    dap wise i was also scouting butnit was only hifimans and a couple fiio and the other one i forgot the name, it was near dita booth
  9. autumnholy
    u amazed and satisfied with the new god? Haha.
    btw, yeah, the nerd in me was like, err... you're definitely pretty eye candies, butta, this occasion is for different purpose. If you're around smiling, making us happy and stuffs, and helping us with putting on earphones or gladly sharing head-fi experience with us, it'd probably be entertaining!
  10. kchew
    It was an honour and a pleasure chatting with you when the meet was ending. Enjoy the rest of your stay here!
  11. ClieOS Contributor

    I was there both days while day actually, but you are right it is hard to spot member especially most didn't write their HF name on the name tag. I think we need a better way to mark our HF name on the name tag.

    It was great to listen to you guys at the conference talking about the industry from different prospective. I really enjoy that as well. Thanks.
  12. audio123

    A massive honour to meet the wizard [​IMG]
  13. gyx11
    CanJam 2016 Impressions
    (Edited to include the continuation of this original list)
    First and foremost I just want to express my gratitude to the organizers of CanJam Singapore ’16, as well as all who were involved in bringing this event to fruition – the sponsors, exhibitors, volunteers, attendees. Considering the scale of logistics and the level of coordination that must have been required to piece everything together, it was a very well run event overall and I thoroughly enjoyed myself over both days.
    Testing and auditioning aside, it was great getting to interact with several esteemed members from the community/industry. At times, it felt almost surreal speaking to someone whom I'd previously known only as an online persona with a cool username but without a face. Speaking with Emil and @piotrus-g, James Strong, Dr. John Moulton, Ken Ball and others (all of whom were so down-to-earth and friendly) will be some of my best takeaways from the 2 days of CanJam.
    Here are just some of my thoughts on IEMs. I don’t have sufficient time to do a write up of everything that I managed to test, so I shall focus on the standouts and perhaps do a separate piece on the others at a later time, along with other gear unrelated to IEMs.
    The Best:
    Lime Ears Aether Demo – When I first tried this at Music Sanctuary last year, nothing sounded quite like it. When I tried it again this time, the same still held true. No other IEM comes close to how spacious and enveloping the Aether sounds. I do believe it’s a case of masterful tuning, and Emil really hit the ball out of the park on these. In terms of other technicalities, the Aether also performs very well. The bass is quite neutral, reaches down low, is well textured, and has nice rumble. To be honest, I didn’t quite see the point in the bass switch, as the difference when it was set to either position seemed quite minimal, though perhaps this could be simply down to the noisy test environment. The mids are quite forward, accentuating both female and male vocals nicely. The treble is certainly present, but it is a touch smooth compared to a majority of other IEMs. When speaking to Emil about this, he did mention how this was done specifically to mirror one of his earliest audio experiences with the cassette player – a pleasant, analogue-ish sound.
    Noble K10U Aluminum – In an earlier write-up on my test experience at Music Sanctuary, the Noble K10 was listed as somewhat of a disappointment. In the midst of having my mind zonked out by the Aether, the K10 had sounded very unremarkable, and I could scarcely find anything about which put it in the TOTL IEM bracket. I tested the K10U Aluminum this time round (the one at MS was either a custom demo or the old acrylic shell with the screws) and my experience was completely different. The K10U pelted out a supreme musical experience which completely sucked me in.
    The K10U is quite balanced, but certainly not a neutral monitor. There is definitely a degree of coloration in the tuning, but it is done masterfully. Every frequency seems to be pushed slightly forward for an in-your-face presentation. The overall sound is very clear, detailed, but not hyper-resolving. Macro-dynamics of the K10U was without peer. It’s just incredibly fun to have every ounce of detail thrown out and laid bare. Soundstage and imaging is also very good, perhaps not massive in overall size, but very well proportioned overall, even though the sheer musicality of the K10U can tend to undermine this. I did not manage to test all music genres, but I would imagine that the K10U would work well with most kinds regardless of file/recording quality.
    I spoke to Dr. John Moulton briefly (including a really eye opening segment listening to how several of his Wizard designs came about!), and he mentioned that there should not have been any perceivable difference in SQ between the old and new chassis since all components, drivers, and tunings were completely identical, and this has left me somewhat befuddled in trying to account for such a night and day difference in experience with each variant of the K10. Perhaps my ears are just wonky.
    Shure KSE1500 – Amazing. To be honest, I wanted to hate this before trying it because the price-tag seemed a little ludicrous. There was also some skepticism since my conventional impression of electrostats is based on hefty headphone systems rather than tiny earphones that can be stuffed into ear canals. Upon getting up close with the KSE1500, I was pretty surprised (impressed?) that the housings were even smaller than I had imagined (smaller than the SE846 if my memory does not fail me).
    Sound quality wise, the KSE1500 was nothing short of superb. I’m not too tech savvy to understand the whole concept behind it, but the KSE1500 produced sound in an effortless way unlike any other IEM I have tried so far. The two words that best associate the KSE1500 is ‘fluent’ and ‘control’. It’s tough to describe the sound signature in any other words, because everything just sounded… right. Clarity, detail, soundstage, naturalness, extension on both ends, cohesiveness – everything was there, and then some!
    Is the KSE1500 USD $3500 good? It’s a tough question to answer, but I will still have to say no, although I now consider it far from absurd if someone were to purchase a set.
    Campfire Audio Jupiter – What I must say is that Ken Ball could have placed some cheap $5 earphones from a shady back-alley dealer in the Jupiter’s housing and the overall packaging, and a case could be made that it would be a decent deal. The thought and effort placed into every aspect of the Campfire Jupiter is truly remarkable. The box set, zipper case, provided tips are all of excellent quality, but special mention must go to the beautiful aluminum enclosure of the IEM itself, which could qualify as a work of beautiful art in itself. Comfort is top notch, which wouldn’t seem all that evident based on initial visual examination.
    The sound is fantastic as well, perhaps having the best extension on both ends of the frequency range out of all the IEMs that I’ve managed to test/audition to date. The stock tips on the Jupiter were the Comply foams, but given my distaste for it due to persistent fit problems, I swapped them out for my own Spinfit S tips, and the sound changed quite significantly as a result. With the Complys, the Jupiter was a tad warm and closed-in for my liking. The Spinfits helped reduced some of that, although the Jupiter should still be classed as a relatively warm sounding IEM. The bass of the Jupiter extends very low and is considerably textured. There is a slight hump in the mid-bass, which fills out the low end nicely without any intrusion into the mid frequencies. Mids are dead neutral and has some heft in terms of note thickness, whilst the treble has some terrific air and sparkle to it without any form of sibilance whatsoever. The soundstage of the Jupiter is well projected in all directions, and imaging is very precise as well. The slight bass boost notwithstanding, the Jupiter puts forth a reference tuning that still remains enjoyable even for casual listening.
    I went up to Ken Ball to congratulate him for what he achieved with the Jupiter (the Lyra and Orion were pretty decent as well). He did mention to expect new offering(s) from Campfire Audio coming later in the year. If the Orion, Lyra and Jupiter are his first attempts at IEMs, I cannot wait to see what Campfire/Alo Audio has in store for us next.
    Also Excellent:
    ACS Encore Demo – I found these to be remarkable as well, not too dissimilar to the Campfire Audio Jupiter, but slightly brighter (though still with a very slight hint of warmth), with slightly scaled down bass and a tinge less treble extension. The overall presentation was very organic sounding. An added plus point is that the Encore is built in full silicone, and the exhibitor (a friendly Taiwanese whose name I cannot remember) was quick to demonstrate just how much better silicone would be in terms of seal and comfort as compared to tradition acrylic monitors since it conforms to the ear canals at all times even with head/mouth movement. The tiny T2 connectors were also my first time seeing it actually implemented adopted in IEM usage, and when coupled with the Linum BaX cable, gave the Encore demo a very low profile and comfortable fit.
    Klipsch X20I – I’ll just lift this from my earlier post in this thread: Upon first look, the X20I doesn’t give off the impression of a good sounding IEM, at least in the aesthetic sense of how conventional ‘audiophile IEMs’ look like. The Klipsch range of IEMs all have a certain housing shape (sleek and low profile), and the X20I is no exception. Anyone who has owned a Klipsch IEM before can attest that they are a very decent offering for the mass consumer market. The S4 was perhaps my first real IEM and was in essence what catapulted me towards the world of personal audio.
    With no expectations of sound whatsoever, and assuming the X20I was designed just as a top end consumer model (think good bass and with nothing else noteworthy), in the region of $400-500, I gave the X20I some quick listening, and came away impressed. Slightly warm sound but with overall good balance. It was very cohesive throughout the entire frequency range, and it struck me to be in the mold of a Jack-of-all-trades IEM that would handle everything very well. If I had to nitpick, perhaps the treble could do with a tinge more sparkle.
    For the MSRP of $999 SGD (approximately $700 USD), I do think that Klipsch has done a nice job on these. The exhibitors mentioned that the X20I sports a modular cable system as opposed to traditional detachable connectors, but I did not have sufficient time to check it out personally.
    Advance Acoustic Werkes Nebula 1/2 (and the whole AAW lineup for that matter) – In terms of performance-cost ratio, both the Nebula 1 and 2 were far and away the best IEMs of the show. These are AAWs new universals, and they are priced with the budget audiophile in mind (USD $99 for the N1 and USD $149 for the N2). At this price bracket, the build quality of the Nebula 1 and 2 is excellent, as is the level of comfort owing to the small and circular housing design.
    The sound quality is very commendable as well. The N1 has deep plentiful bass with very satisfying rumble. Mids are slightly forward leading to quite an intimate presentation, although the overall sense of air is still good. The treble is smooth but slightly pushed upfront as well so as not to appear overly recessed compared to the low frequencies. The N2 sees an additional BA tweeter to give presence to the high mids and treble, for an overall more balanced sound signature. The mids are pushed slightly back, and hence there is also a perceived increase in airiness. The treble of the N2 is a little brighter. Overall, the N2 is certainly less aggressive sounding than the N1, and is more balanced. To me though, both are equally good and dependent on sonic preference – both represent tremendous value. The N1 has just been released, whereas the N2 is scheduled to follow suit in a couple of months’ time, and I strongly suspect they will be a huge hit.
    I demo-ed several other AAW products as well, including the flagship W500 custom demo which came quite close to the top echelon of IEMs in this list (without the substantial price) with its very well balanced sound signature, and also the W300AR demo that excelled with its sweet and intimate female vocals accentuated by a slight dip in the low frequencies. A quite baffling (in a good way) IEM that is still as of now in development phase is the AAW Q, the tiniest IEM I have yet seen. It is designed to be canal-fit, and I must confess that I was slightly worried upon initial insertion that the Q would irretrievably disappear into my depths of my ears because that was just how small the darn things were! Kevin (the founder of AAW/Null Audio) told me to take off the eartips just to appreciate how small the Q was, and I let out a silly laugh when I did so. The full length of the IEM housing is exactly half the length of my thumbnail, and that’s not exaggerating. Sound-wise, these are simply unbelievable considering the miniature size of its 6mm proprietary dynamic driver. Quite balanced sounding and almost comparable to the Nebula 1/2, if only a little thin sounding. I will certainly be looking to buy large quantities of the AAW Q (slated to be mid-year) so as to turn all my toddler nephews/nieces into audiophiles.
    FLC Technology FLC8S – A triple hybrid IEM that was the last piece of equipment I tested in CanJam, and it was certainly a good way to bring things to a close! I’ve read quite a bit on these on Head-fi given its 36 levels of uniqueness. I didn’t have any time to perform any filter changes by myself, or to give all the preset configurations a listen, but the ‘Balanced’ configuration (they did not explicitly state which filter combination it was) sounded quite excellent. The level of transparency, clarity and detail was amazing, certainly one of the best of any IEMs tested at the show. The overall sound was fairly balanced, with the upper midrange given a slight boost. The only apparent drawback was soundstage depth, which was slightly lacking.
    Fender Acoustics FXA-7 – These are due to be Fender’s (through acquisition of Aurisonics) flagship IEM, and I took an immediate liking to it. I am not sure what it is officially called, but the ‘swivel’ pin connectors used throughout the Fender IEMs on display was a touch of design excellence, adding a degree of movement that came in handy when for adjusting fit and comfort. The tuning of FXA-7 is very analogue-ish, with a neutral, cohesive, and organic sound that is very unique. Tonality is also spot on.
    The remainder of my impressions on IEMs. There were quite a few other IEMs that I tested at the show that didn't make it to either of my lists, mainly because they left no lasting impression and would likely have been at thrown into the not-so-good category or thereabout.
    I also neglected to mention in my previous impressions that the test equipment for all IEMs was either/both my iPhone 6 streaming HiFi Tidal through Wifi connection, or an iPod Touch strapped to a Geek Out v2+ with 3.5mm unbalanced TRS.
    Pretty Nice:
    Cosmic Ears C6EP Demo – This was the very first IEM that I tried at CanJam, and I cannot remember much about this any longer except that it sounded excellent. It is quite a musical monitor, had nice air to it and very good clarity and detail. Perhaps the only reason why the CE6P is not listed amongst the best I heard during the show is the treble presentation. To be honest I’m still a little undecided if I like it (definitely warrants another listen), but it sounded quite detached from the rest of the frequency range. It had a certain lift that gave a perceived feeling of great spaciousness and soundstage, but also a sense of disjointed artificiality.
    1964 Ears Adel A10 Demo – This was really strange because it sounded completely different from the Adel U10 that is currently in my possession. My interest in the U10 stemmed originally from 1964 Audio marketing the A10/U10 as dead neutral. A short audition session of the A10 demo at Music Sanctuary gave credence to this claim and it became one my favorites. When I first heard the U10 however, I happened to like the sound tremendously though it was contrary to my expectations – it was anything but a flat tuning.
    The very same A10 demo was here again at CanJam, and doing some quick testing with the U10 on hand, the U10 seemed essentially a supercharged A10 demo. They share an almost identical sonic character, except that the bass of the U10 is way heavier and the mids are noticeably thicker and upfront. In general, the A10 Demo and U10 have a coherent sound with good technicalities across the board, though most notable is the air between instruments and the depth of stage, which are both amongst the very best. I have not read enough of the Adel module to understand what it brings to the table, but this would be the logical explanation for the contrast between the A10 demo and U10.
    1964 Ears Adel A12 Demo – This actually sounded quite similar to my U10s, though the bass presentation is different. The bass of the U10 hits hard and is quite upfront whereas the A12 Demo is relatively less impactful but with longer decay and more rumble.
    Unique Melody Lineup – I had a listen to the 10 driver model, the new hybrid model, and the retuning of another lesser driver hybrid. I can’t remember how each of them sounded as it was a super short stopover at the UM booth, but they all sounded impressive, and perhaps deserve to be placed one tier higher in my rankings. All of them sounded coherent and organic. No weird spikes or bumps anywhere. Will definitely drop by Stereo Electronics in my free time to give these a more honest appraisal.
    FitEar TG334 – What lovely mids! Up there with the very best I’ve ever heard in an IEM. There is no doubt that the tuning of the TG334 was designed to draw focus to the vocals and nothing else, but as compensation I felt that the overall sound was lacking in bite in both the bass and the treble for my preferences. I can see why the TG334 has acquired its cult status though. It is a niche IEM that works absolutely great with certain types of music.
    Echobox Finder – I can’t recall who was manning the booth when I dropped by (a really amicable dude from Michigan) but in our conversation he gave quick mention of how the Finder is extremely responsive to burn in. When I tried the unit on demo it had gobs of bass and ultra-recessed mids, and sounded so weird that it was almost nice (if you get what I mean). He then lent me his personal pair and it was like listening to a whole different IEM altogether. His Finder was much more balanced, but with a very taut bass that had some great impact. The rest of the sound spectrum was quite good as well. Good detail and clarity, spacious sounding. I liked them quite a bit and although I can no longer remember the exact MSRP, I did recall finding it well worth it.
    The Not-So-Good:
    Dita The Truth (All Editions) – I didn’t quite like the treble as it sounded artificial to my ears. The other technicalities sounded quite decent to me, but nothing that felt outstanding. I was also quite put off by the fact that they designed multiple variants of the exact same IEM based on exactly the same drivers, configuration and tuning, with the only difference being a different cable, cable configuration, and shell material (and price of course). Call me cynical but I cannot comprehend why they did not choose to adopt removable cables and then offer the Van Den Hul cable as an optional upgrade. Sound wise, the Truth Edition didn’t sound a whole lot different than the non-Truth.
    Empire Ears Zeus Demo – A disappointment. I really wanted to like these but I could not. The sound was too colored to my liking, there was not enough air between instruments, and there was just a feel of congestion that I could not quite put my finger on. There were plenty of positives though. Hyper-detailed, non-fatiguing sound, amazing depth and layering, and very nice bass. For all the acclaim the Zeus was getting, coupled with its 14 drivers and the pretty high price tag, I didn’t feel it was all that spectacular as a complete package.
    Jomo Audio Genesis Demo – A disappointment as well. These were not that bad, but I truthfully could not hear anything special about them. They just struck as a normal mid/high-tier IEM, and certainly not a revolutionary, industry-defining product with a certain niche area. The 1964 Ears Adel series boast a certain kind of effortlessness and spaciousness that has come to define it. The KSE1500 also had a different kind of flow and ebb to the way music was presented that was markedly different to any conventional BA-based monitor. I would however not have been able to distinguish the Genesis from any of the top IEM offerings already currently available in the market. Given the supposed trump card of the Genesis is in its IsoFlux technology and material of the internal wiring network, one would expect there to be at the very least a certain niche aspect to the sound. I have great hopes for Jomo Audio because I adore the Jomo 4 and Jomo 6R very much (I would take either of them over the Genesis), but this just didn’t really cut it, not for the price anyway.
    The Bad:
    HUM Pristine Reference Demo – This is probably contrary to all other impressions so far, but I didn’t like the Pristine Reference. I must first admit that I spent just a couple of minutes on these right at the start of the show and did not give it much due diligence. However, the reason why I moved on quickly was because of the treble performance that I disliked immediately. It was thin, artificial, and bordering on splashy. In the midst of so many people at the meet who mentioned the Pristine Reference as one of their favorites, I hope to try these out again sometime soon.
    Atomic Floyd Superdarts/Titanium – The treble was easily the most offensive and screechy that I have ever heard in an IEM. Perhaps this could be an issue similar to the Echobox Finder, but based on the units that I auditioned, it was just too unpleasant to spend more than a minute on the Superdarts, and even less so on the Superdarts Titanium, which was somehow even more offensive. The funny thing is that there were some quite redeeming characteristics like the overall clarity and detail in the midrange, as well as the overall aesthetics, but the treble just destroyed all of that. James was a super cool guy who was very intent on getting honest feedback on his products, and he did acknowledge that the Superdarts were definitely too bright for normal listening.
    The guy who was beside me basically yanked the Superdarts Titanium from his ears after less than 20 seconds and handed them back with a brutal ‘nope, these are way too bright’, and I felt almost cruel wanting to do the same as well. James did give mention that they were revamping the entire lineup, and given that he’s very aware on the general sentiment, and assuming that some of the positives can be built upon, I wouldn’t count them out just yet.
    Carlsan, d marc0 and Semuapunmau like this.
  14. audio123
    The soundstage depth of FLC8S is very wide with the right cable. You missed the chance to try my set though haha [​IMG] @gyx11
  15. Watagump
    You are in luck, the next event is about 4 weeks away. [​IMG]
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