CanJam SoCal 2023 Impressions Thread
Oct 2, 2023 at 1:06 PM Post #181 of 485
DCA was one of the last rooms I went to and I saw device swapping throughout the day at most tables. There's a difference however between asking a potential $4,000 customer to not use their own device and yelling across the room, coming off like a huge asshole when I apologize and then while standing next to me, yelling at the room not to do what I just did. Combine that with the slight to the older gentleman with the CD + the other stuff in the thread, it seems like the problem is on DCAs side. Comparing that to the experience at ZMF is just night and day. My wife and I walked in and Zach's wife was so sweet and offered stickers that she personally put together, the crew helping with the setups were active, friendly and caring. Maybe another experience in the future will change it but for now I won't buy DCA out of spite. Meanwhile, I feel a loyalty to ZMF and damn near felt guilty that I didn't grab an Atrium Open and opted to wait till November for their new stuff.
Manufacturers must have the basic courtesy of speaking politely to a potential customer. It just doesn't make a difference if the headphone / IEM / DAP / DAC / AMP etc cost $10 or $10,000.

If a manufacturer doesn't want listeners to swap gears without their assistance, they ought to put that in writing and display it.

I don't think that anyone is desparate to fiddle with an equipment or mess with it as most audiophiles are quite careful and understand how to swap products.

Bad attitude has no cure!!
 
Oct 2, 2023 at 1:08 PM Post #182 of 485
It's really disheartening to see such negative Show experiences regarding DCA personell yet again. Has happened at a few Canjams till now.

Dan himself, DCA Support and the products are top notch. I really hope they get things sorted out for future shows
 
Oct 2, 2023 at 1:30 PM Post #183 of 485
It's really disheartening to see such negative Show experiences regarding DCA personell yet again. Has happened at a few Canjams till now.
Dan himself, DCA Support and the products are top notch. I really hope they get things sorted out for future shows
I was pretty disappointed. I had decided prior to attending I was going to buy a headphone that would be remembered as my first CanJam headphone. I was fully expecting that headphone to be the Atrium Open but preferred some of the other stabilized colors I've seen in the past and decided to wait for November's releases. With DCA being my last stop, I had pretty much decided it was going to be the Expanse or bust. I sat down and loved the comfort of the Expanse but couldn't get a feel for the sound with the music I was seeing on their old ass tablet. After that went down, I put the headphone down and just walked out. I can deal with alot of crap but I have a problem being disrespected/embarrassed in public, let alone by a company where I'm considering their products.
 
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Oct 2, 2023 at 1:47 PM Post #184 of 485
best part was being able to walk up to the headamp room and just listen to x9000+bhse and he6+cfa3, unlike sennhoiser who needs some exclusivity sign up list for the he1. Even headphones.com had an aperio without the need for any reserve slot system that fills up immediately
Isn’t the sign-up list due to demand??
Everyone wants to have a listen!!! 👍
 
Oct 2, 2023 at 1:53 PM Post #185 of 485
Another year, another CanJam SoCal in the books!

Thank you to everyone who came by the booth and stopped by to listen to gear or even to say hi. These shows wouldn't be possible without you guys and it's always an absolute pleasure myself and the Headphones.com to see everyone.

Safe travels home everyone and we'll see some of you in New York!

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We did have some casualties on the way (thanks Oratory) but no other gear was harmed!

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Oct 2, 2023 at 1:55 PM Post #186 of 485
CJ SoCal 2023 Show Report Part 1:
This was the best time I had at a show. The highlights were not the gear however, it was meeting the fellow Watercoolers and the exchanging of ideas. @Rockwell75 has created a stellar community with the Watercooler group, I am privileged to be part of it. Everyone is kind, enthusiastic, patient and eager to try new things. I was joking with @HiFiHawaii808 that the Watercooler group could create their own show with the variety of gears many of us have. If gear gets you in the door of this hobby, the Watercooler community delights you to come back.

Cayin/UM Amber Pearl (best IEM in show):
Much has been discussed about the N30LE. However the Amber Pearl IEM has been underrepresented until now, I suspect this CJ show will have a few headfiers enthralled with the Amber Pearl IEM. If we are to compare to Mentor as a baseline then Amber Pearl adds three new elements:

1. Delicate details of ambiance and fine note decay (likely EST's helping this)
2. Tuning swings closer toward Mason series
3. Bass delivery alters from subwoofer presentation to tighter and controlled presentation (less subbass)

These three elements add up to pure emotion conveyance, to the point I was in tears listening to female vocals. I could hear the strain in the voice, while it retained vibrancy with a more sustained decay. I could hear more air in the recording. UM hit Amber Pearl out of the park, and its a shame it's currently trapped in a 13k DAP combo package. In addition, it would be beneficial for UM to release Amber Pearl with a better color (sapphire/azure eg). This is a stunner.

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Cayin N30LE (best DAP in show):
I have had a on/off again relationship with Cayin releases with Cayin N8 being the best DAP I've heard from Cayin by a large margin. You can imagine my delight when Cayin announced N30LE goes back to N8's tunings. Cayin has finally refined and captured 'addictive sound' with N30LE. This DAP has the best 'all rounder' sound I've used in any player, and Hyper Mode takes 'vivid/engagement' factor up a notch. It works great with every genre I've tried on it. The best way I can describe it is:
  • more forward but textured
  • detailed yet not fatiguing
  • Perfect balanced of smooth yet engaging (in between Hugo 2 and SP3K tonality)
To me, it seems N8ii was produced by engineers insistent on capturing every detail regardless of 'musicality'. N30LE seems to be a collaboration between the bench engineers and the music lover. This is Cayin's best house sound to date imho and represents a large step forward from the Cayin N8.

Given the early production issues with this device, I would keep an eye on how successive batches of N30LE's fare out. While Cayin has provided an excellent extended warranty, futzing with repairs overseas is not ideal. If possible, I would like to see Cayin release a non Ti variant with a thoroughly tested new/improved circuit. I've never cared for Cayin's marketing, N8ii's head line of "The Incredible N8ii" had my eyes roll every time. N30LE however does deserve such a moniker. All hail The Incredible N30LE.

Mass Kobo 465 (w/ Sony MDR-CD900ST) (best :astonished: in show):
I know two folks who've ordered a 465, both have two things in common:
  • They are in relentless pursuit of the best and demand nothing else
  • Both were floored at what they heard in the Mass Kobo 465
After lunch, I rushed to Mass Kobo's booth to find an older gentlemen CanJam attendee listening to a...humble...headphone on a 17k amplifier. Looking around in exasperation, wondering why such people waste time with a lopsided pairing, I noticed something peculiar (on the banner behind the booth). See if you can find it:

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Yes, it seems Masuda-san included a photo of what seemed the same cheap headphone in MK 465 marketing material. I looked back and forth at the older gentleman using the amp and back at the promotional image, it was indeed the same. I struck up conversation with the attendee and I learned this Sony headphone is what Masuda-san used to tune the MK amplifier. Intrigued, I gave it a listen.

I enjoyed this more than DMP Z1 + MDR Z1R. Oh. And the DAC Masuda-san used, was a Topping D50s. A Topping.

This is the sound I've been searching for my whole life. It sounded so...correct. My demo was only 10 minutes fwiw, but I can't unhear what I heard. I need to rethink some things...


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It was recommended to use the Rupert Neve Headphone Amplifier with the Sony CD900ST, if a MK465 isn't in the cards. The gentleman I spoke to uses the CD900 for the majority of his listening and stated if the MK465 gets you 100% there, then the Rupert Neve gets you 90% there.

I will post an additional CJ Report later today, including some lovely experiences on the show floor. But thought I would get the 'best stuff' done first for those still at the Show. Best Regards.
It's really intriguing!
Can you elaborate on these headphones?
I see those who see them as the best there is, and on the other hand there are those who say they are really bad...
Thanks.
 
Oct 2, 2023 at 1:56 PM Post #187 of 485
Another year, another CanJam SoCal in the books!

Thank you to everyone who came by the booth and stopped by to listen to gear or even to say hi. These shows wouldn't be possible without you guys and it's always an absolute pleasure myself and the Headphones.com to see everyone.

Safe travels home everyone and we'll see some of you in New York!
Along with ZMF, I absolutely loved your booth setup and want to thank you for letting me try as many headphones as you did. I was able to try the Susvara, D8000, Headphone 2, Arya Organic. I have the He1000v2 so really wanted to compare the Susvara to it to see if it was worth the upgrade. Wasn't expecting to like the D8000 as much as I did, really love that headphone.
 
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Oct 2, 2023 at 2:28 PM Post #188 of 485
What a great show! Many thanks to everyone for visiting.


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Oct 2, 2023 at 2:32 PM Post #189 of 485
First time CanJam attendee here. Not sure if this will be helpful to anyone. As one of the attendees in the reviewer AMA panel said, I suffer from I-like-almost-everything-itis. What makes it worse is the show environment - the amount of noise around you makes it really hard to get a good impression of anything. Typically, for me to get an impression of how something sounds, I have to sit with it for an hour or so in a quiet environment. It is even better if I can do an A-B comparison. Fat chance getting either of those in a show like this. Anyway, here are my impressions for what it's worth.

I was mostly concentrating on listening to headphones and wasn't paying a ton of attention to what amps/DACs were used. I did get to try a ton of headphones. I am not at all confident in my impressions of the sound, much more so on things like fit and comfort.

ZMF:
I own two ZMFs, so this was mostly about trying headphones in their range that I hadn't sampled yet. I was most interested in their new travel-oriented headphone which I learned was called Bokeh. The sound was really excellent (did remind me of my Atrium Closed) and the fit and comfort were fine too. Seriously thinking about picking this up. I also tried listening to the Verite to see if I would have preferred it to my Atrium but given all the noise in the room, I was hard pressed to tell anything.

Hifiman:
I had never listened to the Susvara before so one of my goals was to try and get some listening time in. Turned out that wasn't a problem at all as pretty much everyone had a Susvara - so I ended up listening to the Susvara on various pieces of equipment including the new amp from Headamp, the DCS Lina and one more which I forget (should have been taking notes). I probably listened to the Susvara everywhere other than the Hifiman booth itself:relaxed:! It sounded great on pretty much everything but I feel that it sounded best on the new Headamp cfa3. What I found a little puzzling was the fit. The Susvara is considered almost universally to be a really comfortable headphone. Not that it was uncomfortable but I had this odd pressure point just above my ears which kept bothering me. I also tried the Audivina - which I had seriously considered before settling on an Atrium closed. Can't say too much about the sound other than it sounded good but the isolation was not great. I'm not saying it was as bad as an open back but it felt a lot worse than my Atrium. All things considered, I'm glad I bought the Atrium.

T+A:
This was another brand I wanted to try because I am seriously considering the Solitaire T as a travel headphone (either this or the ZMF Bokeh). Happily, the T+A booth was frequently empty and I got to spend a lot of time there. The first thing that concerned me about the Solitaire T was the size of the ear cups (they appeared absurdly small). To my surprise, they fit me exceedingly well and they sounded great too. The only unpleasant thing about them was the price. I also got a lot of time with the Solitaire P flagship. Something about the sound of these headphones reminded me of my ZMFs (something that @GoldenOne mentioned during the reviewer AMA without any prompting from me). I also found these the most comfortable pair of headphones that I have tried so far. They look great too. Once again, the only unpleasant thing about them is the price.

Summit-fi headphones:
Got to try the Sennheiser HE-1 and the Warwick Aperio (and the Bravura). These were the only headphones that I got to try in an actually quiet environment and neither disappointed. They both sounded amazing - the imaging in particular was out of this world. With both these headphones, I felt I could pinpoint exactly where the sound of a voice or an instrument was coming from much more so than with any other headphone I tried. Unfortunately, I had less than 10 minutes with each so it was hard to form any other impressions.

Other headphones:
Heddphone 2: Felt a little lacking in the bass department but otherwise great. It was also really comfortable. Probably tied with the Solitaire P as the most comfortable headphone I tried at the show.
Modhouse Tungsten: This felt a bit underwhelming for some reason. Perhaps it was because it was being run off a Headamp GSX mini which did not seem equal to the task of driving these headphones.
Dan Clark Corina and Stax X9000: This is the only A-B I was able to do at the show. Both were plugged into the same Blue Hawaii amp. The only impression I have from the comparison is that the Corina seemed a touch warmer and the Stax a touch brighter. The room was far too noisy for any other impressions.

I also listened to the Austrian Audio Composer and spent some time at the Focal, Audeze and Sennheiser booths but I cannot say anything about them because the environment was far too noisy. I also very briefly listened to the CrossZone CZ-1. This is quite interesting as it is the only headphone I know of with three drivers. In the short time I had, I couldn't really tell if the multi-driver approach made any difference one way or the other.
 
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Oct 2, 2023 at 3:55 PM Post #190 of 485
Dunu Glacier, Dunu Mirai & Truthear Nova. I'd be grateful for any impressions :)
I heard all three. I'd say all three were similarly tuned to a Harmon-ish curve. Sadly, I am very sensitive to "BA-timbre" and all three exhibited a bit too much of it for me personally. But if you don't have any problems with IEMs that use BAs, then all three were excellently tuned.

The $149 TruthEar Nova was a big standout just for the resolution level it offered for the price, while the @$1500 Dunu Glacier was also wonderfully tuned but was a bit bulky and heavy for my taste, so that would become a problem for me during longer listening sessions. My favorite of the three was the Dunu x Precogvision Mirai. It had a beautifully well-balanced tuning with plenty of resolution and very good tonal richness but without going too far off in any particular direction. It was light weight, comfortable, and didn't create any inner-ear pressure issues (which I am also very sensitive to). And at $1099, I think it's a slam-dunk for the amount of TOTL SQ you get for the price!
 
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Oct 2, 2023 at 4:02 PM Post #191 of 485
I heard all three. I'd say all three were similarly tuned to a Harmon-ish curve. Sadly, I am very sensitive to "BA-timbre" and all three exhibited a bit too much of it for me personally. But if you don't have any problems with IEMs that use BAs, then all three were excellently tuned.

The $149 TruthEar Nova was a big standout just for the resolution offered for the price, while the @$1500 Dunu Glacier was also wonderfully tuned but was a bit bulky and heavy for my taste, so that would become a problem for me during a longer listening sessions. My favorite of the three was the Dunu x Precogvision Mirai. It had a beautifully well-balanced tuning with plenty of resolution and very good tonal richness but without going too far off in any particular direction. It was light weight, comfortable in the ear and didn't create any inner-ear pressure issues (which I am also very sensitive to). And at $1099, I think it's a slam-dunk for the amount of TOTL SQ you get for the price!
Thanks for the impressions! I was especially curious about Mirai.

How would you describe BA-timbre btw? I see references to it all over, but I don't think I've seen a single definition.

I'm not sensitive to it personally so I'm curious.
 
Oct 2, 2023 at 4:23 PM Post #192 of 485
Thanks for the impressions! I was especially curious about Mirai.

How would you describe BA-timbre btw? I see references to it all over, but I don't think I've seen a single definition.

I'm not sensitive to it personally so I'm curious.
It is quite hard to put in words, but I hear it as a subtly gritty/metallic sonic artifact that is most audible in the upper-midrange and treble regions and is especially audible on female vocals. And it becomes more and more audible as the volume level increases because the BAs are being driven harder and therefore they begin to audibly distort more.

The best way to reduce this problem is to use more of and/or higher quality BA drivers, but this of course will increase the complexity, size and cost of the IEM, so it's really difficult to get everything just right.

Of all the IEMs I tried at the show (I was primarily only auditioning under-$2000 IEMs), the best sounding one I heard that also had acceptably low levels of BA-timbre (for me) was the $2300 Letshuoer Cadenza 12. There are still a few more IEMs that I want to hear, but the Cadenza 12 is currently my #1 pick. :ksc75smile:
 
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Oct 2, 2023 at 4:25 PM Post #193 of 485
As a IEM guy I'm quite surprised at how loudly some folks listen to open back headphones. There were a couple times I was in the bloom room and folks next to me or across the room had the sound cranked so loud sounded like there was a radio on full blast.
 
Oct 2, 2023 at 4:29 PM Post #194 of 485
As a IEM guy I'm quite surprised at how loudly some folks listen to open back headphones. There were a couple times I was in the bloom room and folks next to me or across the room had the sound cranked so loud sounded like there was a radio on full blast.
Id say it’s kind of relative, IEMs typically provide better isolation, thus less volume. At the show i had to play at louder volumes to drown out the sound of the convention to get the full details of the heaphone I was listening to. Also some headphones can sound extremely loud outside compared to others (looking at you hifiman).
 
Oct 2, 2023 at 4:44 PM Post #195 of 485
Id say it’s kind of relative, IEMs typically provide better isolation, thus less volume. At the show i had to play at louder volumes to drown out the sound of the convention to get the full details of the heaphone I was listening to. Also some headphones can sound extremely loud outside compared to others (looking at you hifiman).
On Saturday I walked down that hallway and it legitimately sounded like someone was listening to speakers in the Bloom room. Very annoying to try and demo something, only to have someone else's demo come in loud and clear from across the room. But what can you do.....these shows are loud and people are going to listen at the volume that they prefer to. Worry about their hearing long-term though.....
 

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