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CanJam SoCal 2019 Impressions thread

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  1. XERO1
    Wow! What a great 'Jam!
    Saturday was pretty much slammed all day and Sunday had a pretty healthy crowd as well.
    It was great seeing lots of Head-Fi friends and lots of great new gear!

    My Fav's

    HiFiMAN Arya ($1599) - Great sounding headphone. It really is a HE1000 V2 (and maybe even a little better) for nearly half its price. Doesn't get much better than than.

    Rossen RAD-0 ($2600) - Another great sounding (and looking) planar, it reminded me of an Audeze LCD-X on steroids. And like the LCD-X, it had a more intimate soundstage than most other open-backs but it had a nice density to its presentation that I found quite compelling.

    MrSpeakers Ether 2 ($1999) w/ perforated pads ($89) - I was not a fan of the Ether 2's tuning which sounded overly dull to my ears. But the new perforated pads pretty much fixes that! While still a little subdued sounding, the perforated pads made a big improvement over the stock pads for me. I also tried the suede pads and thought they sounded a little better than the stock pads as well and they were super comfy. It's really cool that Dan has given current and future owners of the Ether 2's these extra tuning options.

    Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO ($599) - I forgot how great these sound! Definitely one of the best bang-for-the-buck open-backs on the market. This was the best I've heard them sound and they were running off an A20 amp. Maybe some magic synergy going on there!

    ifi xDSD ($399) - Fantastic SQ from this little guy. And I love the that it uses a 100% analog volume control. I made sure to turn off its bass boost and crossfeed, and it sounded excellent.

    Schiit Lyr 3 w/ Tung-Sol tube ($525) - Damn it! I was hoping the Lyr 3 would only be a tiny bit better than the Lyr 2 (which I currently own and love) but it was noticeably better across the board! Now I have to save even more pennies and (eventually) get one!

    Schiit Mystery Product ($???) - I don't usually do this, but I'm going to be a total tease! I had a nice convo with Jason and he told me a few juicy secrets but made me swear a blood oath not to post any specifics. So I'll just say this, there are going to be a lot of really happy SchiitHeads a couple of months from now. And I'm definitely one of them!

    Campfire Audio Solaris ($1499) - Holy Schiit! These are pretty freaking amazing. I felt like Marty from BTTF when he's standing in front of that giant speaker and strikes that chord that sends him flying! The Solaris are not for the faint of heart. They have a massive, vivid, powerful sound that will knock you back in your seat. I absolutely loved them!

    Fiio FH7 ($449) - Definitely the most highly resolving IEM Fiio has ever made. Actually, they kind of sounded like a 'Solaris Jr'. They have a very vivid and upfront presentation just like the Solaris, with no major FR issues, but they lack the Solaris' overall refinement. I can see these being really fun for shorter listening sessions, but they might become fatiguing if you are listing for longer periods of time. Still really liked them. FYI, they only had the Balanced filters available, so that's how I heard them.

    Periodic Audio C [Carbon] ($399) - I thought these sounded a lot like the Be but with more sub-bass and a little more natural sounding mids and treble. Unfortunately, I had a serious issue with the driver loudly crinkling whenever I inserted them into my ears, so they won't work for me, but I asked several others who had tried them and none of them had the same issue. They sounded really good once I got them in my ears though.

    My Top 3

    Moondrop KXXS ($189) - These are the just-released successor to the already great sounding Kanas Pro. The KXXS pretty much fixes all of the small SQ issues that the Kanas Pro has. They seem to have the exact same voicing as the Kanas Pro but with a much cleaner sounding mid and treble range. These really blew me away for what they offer for the money. I'm definitely getting a pair!

    Astell & Kern Billie Jean ($349) - Holy crap do these sound good! I honestly wasn't expecting much since they only use 2 BA's but I was shocked by what I heard. Deep, tight bass - fantastic mids - clear, fatique-free treble. Track after track, the Billie Jean's delivered incredible SQ for the $$$. These get my highest recommendation. For a more detailed assessment of them, check out Warren Chi's excellent review of them here: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/astell-kern-jh-audio-billie-jean-impressions.878444/

    Empire Ears Legend X ($2299) - These are now in my Top 5 List of TOTL IEMs! These are legit fantastic. What impressed me the most about them was that they pull off the seemingly impossible task of sounding both ultra-revealing while at the same time being totally fatigue-free. And their bass is deep and powerful without overdoing it. I have no idea how they pulled off this magic trick but they did and they sound amazing.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2019
  2. Somatics
    I've posted on several threads and the 64 Audio Facebook page. Can anybody confirm what the new 64 Audio IEM is please?!!!! Don't leave a brother hanging.
  3. Watagump

    Parking was $10 for show people, you had 2 ways of getting that done, I posted 1 way. The CanJam team had stickers that also gave you the discounted rate.
    beholdclarity likes this.
  4. Darthpool
    My highlights were meeting @zach915m and @BooUrns, Ken Ball, 64audio also awesome chill folks that for some reason I have "Gary" stuck in my head :wink: and some fellow forum members @Luckbad I am sorry I meant to chat some more but the ADHD got a hold of me along with having to go check in on the daughter and wife =) we will have to talk gaming and music some more! I also really enjoyed talking with the Manley folks.

    Zach and Bevin were probably the biggest highlights, as I'm a new fanboy for their headphones lol (Aeolus and Verite in Ziricote), but they deserve all the praise, as they are extremely easy to chat with and are a lovely couple =) I'm looking forward to my next purchase from them...maybe something rumored lol. Also if you haven't heard the Verite, or Aeolus...do yourself a favor and find someone that has a pair and get a good listen in...they have me selling off a lot of my other headphones...Focals in my collection have been put on notice...and my HD800(SDR) has been relegated to only Bottlehead crack duty, but even then I prefer the ZMFs.

    Gear wise, I really liked the A&K gear...I'm not the biggest DAP guy, but I really was impressed with the SP1000, and the SP2000. I will probably dip my toes in with the SR15 here in the near future. I liked there T5p2nd gen Beyerdynamics colab...first Beyerdynamics I've liked overall...I might even consider grabbing one as a good pairing with the SR15.

    Probably the most exciting thing for me was the Audeze LCD-GSX it looked good, sounded outstanding, for the price point and worked well across the gaming and audio I listened to, all while being the lightest Audeze I've worn outside of the Mobius. It will be an instant buy when it drops in July. (I'm a sucker for audiophile gaming headphones, indiegogo'd the Mobius, and I was in the top 100 for the Vokyl headphones kickstarter)

    Other notable listens... Crosszone CZ-1 was super unique and accomplished pushing the image out front and not just in my head... had great bass and treble, without in my short listen being too bloated or piercing. A fun listen.

    64 Audios new not named "Gary" IEMs were really excellent, I think they fell for me somewhere between the Campfire Andromeda and the Solaris, but take with a handful of salt as I'm not an IEM guy, and have a hard time with them in general(IEMs that is). They were clean and impressive. If I was more of an IEM guy I would be eyeballing that July timeframe pretty hard...I still might be...don't you judge me!!! lol

    Chatting with Ken Ball about the CA line, I really am a fan of these as well...probably because for whatever reason the Andromeda has been the only IEM I can keep in my ear holes for longer than 3hrs without having earaches for the next 6hrs lol. I really enjoyed my time with the Solaris that I had for a preview for a couple of weeks, and they were amazing! to the point, I was on the verge of just dealing with the pain for that sound! Just an amazing experience especially coming from an IEM...Holographic and ethereal sound, while still having some excellent bass presence that was clean and on point.

    Least favorite part mistiming my flight departure and having to run around with my daughter in the lobby for two hours when I could have been at CanJam still (honestly it was a highlight, as tired as I was, it is always a joy to play with the daughter unfettered)...I just hope we didn't disrupt too many people with her antics of running from the lobby to the convention floor. Or riding on our luggage yelling "go horsey go!" as I pulled her around lol.
    Passenger11, Sp12er3, Wes S and 6 others like this.
  5. singleended5863
    I did listen to the new ones which are very impressive but one thing I don’t like that there is sibilant in the high maybe due to the cable or it still needs to burn in (?). I doesn’t have name yet because it is still a prototype.
    Whitigir likes this.
  6. SammYyYyY
    Personal favorites from the show:
    Meze Empyrean: Extremely smooth and pleasant to listen to without feeling congested, ever. Also, the most comfortable headphones I've ever worn (for me). The temptation to pick up the Empyrean is real.
    Abyss Diana Phi: Visceral impact and estat level resolution (for me at least), with comfort drawbacks.
    Campfire Andromeda: Beautifully balanced and coherent IEM.
    Raal Requisite: The airiness of the imaging on these was unreal.
    Sendy Aiva: Unbelievable detail retrieval and addicting intensity for only 600 bucks.
    Stax SR-009S on the BHSE: Need I say more?
    THGM, Odin412, Beagle and 2 others like this.
  7. kdphan
    I hope you guys were able to pick up the Moondrop Kanas pro for $60 when ShenzenAudio was selling them.
    They're returns from amazon. Mine was in perfect condition with all the accessories.

    Best $60 I've spent :)
  8. SammYyYyY
    I was eyeing them and decided to pass. I'm kind of regretting it not gonna lie.
  9. raypin
    Mm....where are the lady headfiers? :triportsad:
    Sp12er3 likes this.
  10. shadowplay0
    Aww, sad that I did not witness the daughter shenanigans! Sounds cute as heck.

    I second talking to the Manley folk, and how freaking nice Zach and Bevin are. I "impulse" purchased a set of show demo Eikons, and I'm happy as a clam. Listening to them right now in the hotel. Looking forward to taking them to work and comparing them with my beloved AFCs
    Sp12er3 and Darthpool like this.
  11. kdphan
    hard to find a great sounding IEM for $60
    I couldn't pass
  12. LoryWiv
    Terrific Canjam, as always but even a bit better this year. Thanks to Jude, Ethan, and all who helped put this together. Head-fi is such a welcoming, stimulating and fun community of folks with a shared passion for music and the gear that brings it to life. Canjam SoCal embodied that so well this year.

    I'll offer some brief impressions below:

    IEM highlights for me included TOTL 64 Audios (Trio, U18t, U12t) and Noble Khan. These 4 sounded phenomenal but I do most of my serious listening with full-sized headphones so don't generally want to spend 4 figures for IEM's. I own some 1st generation 64 Audio A6 customs and definitely heard the step forward in mid / upper frequencies and soundstage with the A6t, Even the A4t's were pretty terrific and I may upgrade once I recover from today's show purchases. A tier below 64 Audio in price were the Moondrop 8 IEM, really nicely balanced reference sound but a bit boring. Newcomer Akoustyx demo'd a planar-dynamic hybrid IEM prototype. These were currently voiced a little too much to the low frequencies but Rocky at their booth had some great ideas to tune them for better balance while retaining the fun signature. I look forward to their final release.

    IEM's can isolate well for travelers or those who listen in noisy environments, but no IEM I tried this weekend shut out the show noises like the Lagoon ANC at the Beyer booth. I've generally found Beyer's bright and bass shy but no so with the Lagoon, pretty balanced across the frequncy spectrum and I don't think they'd be fatiguing with extended use. Quite comfortable as well on my medium-sized noggin.

    For full-sized cans I liked the Meze Empyrean more than on prior listen, perhaps in part due to the amazing DCS dac / amp I auditioned through as discussed below. The Empyrean are beautiful to behold as well. The newer Focal Stellia are also attractively styled, but sonically didn't impress me that much, bright for my taste. I always appreciate auditioning the Focal Utopia, impressively quick and resolving. I think I respect it more than actually enjoy it, however, and find it's tonality a bit sterile / clinical. The closed back Sennheiser 820 did nothing for me, but to my surprise the Sennheiser 800S was more musical than I'd remembered from prior auditions of the original 800. it appears the effort to bring up the lows and tame the peaky, fatiguing upper frequEncies was successful. Finally, the Abyss Diana sounded quite nice but i wasn't too crazy about their form factor, somewhere in between an over-ear and on-ear and never quite felt comfortable.

    MrSpeakers Aeon headphones were being demo'd with the Gilmore Lite Mk2, and if I were looking for an amp and headphone with great synergy at an affordable price, I'd look no further than this combo. Really good value proposition for this quality of sound.

    Moving up the price continuum I felt the RAAL RequIsite ribbon headphones bested the Woo MySphere in this "off ear" category" duplicating a speaker-like, 2 channel experience. Both had great stage, but not surprisingly were a little bass shy. The RAAL did have a lot going for it, and I believe is priced a bit less. Speaking of Woo, I was disappointed the Woo WA22 wasn't at the show as I'd heard it once before and wanted another listen, but the WA8 Eclipse is an impressive tube amp / dac in a compact, attractive form factor. Sounded musical and warm but while it did everything well, it didn't really affect me emotionally as it's big brother Woo WA22 had previously.

    For those looking for an affordable but great streaming DAC / Amp, the Matrix Element X was about a fraction of the price of the Bartók discussed below but definitely still a strong performer. I enjoyed it with all the headphones at the Matrix booth but more with slightly warm-leaning headphones.

    If money were no object, though, the DCS Bartók network DAC / Amp paired with the above mentioned Empyrean was mind blowingly good, demonstrating incredible control and command of the music: powerful yet tuneful bass, beautifully voiced mids, extended but sweet highs, and detail retrieval for days but with no hint of lesser solid state amp's clinical, analytic sound. When I win the lottery....

    But back to reality, I have no complaints. After a quick check in with the wife back in SF Bay Area (my listening station is in a main part of our house, no man-cave for me, so she gets to approve the aesthetic or at least humor me), I bought the Feliks Audio Elise MkII to pair with my ZMF Auteur. I've been super happy with the Auteur but hearing them through this amp added a level of warmth, musicality and sheer joy I hadn't experienced with them before. Euphony is the only single word that describes the synergy between Auteur<-->Elise, but without any of that gooey warmth that obscures detail as I'd encountered with other tube amps. Guess I'm officially on OTL tube guy now. Personally, I also think the design is simple, elegant and handsome. Ah, glowing tubes against a black metal background. It's amazing how we learn in this hobby and continually evolve in "what we know." I had previously run a fully balanced configuration and was convinved that was the preferred config., but the single-ended Elise made me realize it's the implementation, not the technology, that defines quality and greatness. So time to change out my XLR balanced interconnects. If anyone has a recommendation for some affordable RCA interconnects to replace the XLR's, and a quality adapter for my XLR 4-pin terminated headphone cables to 1/4 inch male, I'd welcome suggestions. Importantly, thanks to Evan and the great people at Upscale Audio booth for allowing me a nice long listen.

    Another CanJam in the memory banks, and with all of the gear and great listening, what I appreciate the most are the nice people who populate this grand hobby of ours. Of course, the Auteur singing sweetly through the Feliks Elise will be a nice reminder as well.

    Cheers, and happy listening.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
  13. LoryWiv
    I am amazed how consistently headfi'ers shout out to Zach and Bevin, and it would be annoying if it weren't so very, very true. I've owned two ZMF's and loved them both, and the experience of working with and supporting such talented and nice people makes it even better.. Safe travels back to the Windy City, Zach and Bevin!
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
    Darthpool and Odin412 like this.
  14. Somatics
    Thank you so much! Do you (or anyone) know if they're a multi BA or multi TIA IEM, or some other hybrid?
  15. NovaFlyer
    I'll second that, the Legend X is an awesome IEM.

    I listened to the Valkryie and it was awesome as well. A little less bass and rumble than the Legend X, but a little more than the Phantom. On the treble side, I thought the EST gave just a little more sparkle for the treble. I used a SPK1M as my source and a variety of music - Phil Collins, Star Wars and The Dark Knight soundtracks, Def Leppard.
    ajyagle and Vitaly2017 like this.
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