CanJam SoCal 2023 Impressions Thread
Nov 5, 2023 at 4:08 PM Post #466 of 481
For the London badge I have to claim in the other topic? 😬
Nov 5, 2023 at 4:09 PM Post #467 of 481
If that's what at all what was happening here, I don't think you'd be getting any of the backlash you've gotten.

But, as you've rather conveniently left out, the brand involved in this "spat" is guilty of basically none of the above issues. They've publicly disclosed their driver typing/array, frequency response, sensitivity, and nominal impedance (as well as that the impedance curve is flat). They have a wonderful staff that has handled people much worse than you with complete courtesy and professionalism, to say nothing of their swathes of happy customers. As is evidenced by positive public perception, they clearly make excellent-quality products that also just so happen to be rather unique products.

The only thing they are guilty of... is not letting a person they had no familiarity with measure one of their engineering samples. As said previously, they had no way of knowing you weren't just some rando with an off-spec clone coupler with uncalibrated SPL who was gonna take a clipped, noisy, poorly-seated, or otherwise unrepresentative measurement and publicly post it as representative of the experience. (It literally happens all. the. damn. time.)

That is not only a completely valid position for them to take, it's literally a direct response to one of the biggest issues with public measurements right now. Enthusiasts can get their hands on "squiggly line gear" for cheaper than ever and there's basically no control over what gets published and subsequently digested by enthusiasts as "bona fide" data. No one is saying you aren't competent or able to take a decent measurement (in fact I'd say the inverse is obviously true to anyone familiar with your measurements), but Subtonic had no way of knowing that. They don't know you, and frankly it seems like that is what they're being punished for above all else.

I see no reason to continue trying to punish a brand for making what is in my opinion not only a fair call, but probably the smart call in 2023, other than you feel your ego was bruised and that you deserve retributive justice for not being catered to.

If you wanna talk about "what's good for the consumer," Subtonic has basically done as much right as they could. They publish the data that would be relevant to most consumers and I have personally seen them make it extremely, almost annoyingly clear at every point I've seen them partake in measurement-relevant public discourse that the measurement is, of course, no substitute for hearing the IEM in person. That is the definition of a brand making sure the correct information is out there for consumers to make their own decisions as best as possible.

It's really confusing to watch you pretend this is in any way about Subtonic deceiving consumers or being emblematic of some trend of duplicitous manufacturers. They've done nothing wrong, all they did was make a well-tuned IEM that a lot of people like and then didn't let you measure it for your website, opting to instead assist someone they were familiar with in measuring a unit that was more likely to be representative of the experience customers would get (a retail unit, not an engineering sample).

To paint yourself as this hero of the people, advocating for consumers, when you're really just using them as an excuse to argue against a brand you felt insulted by personally because you didn't get to measure what you wanted, is the only duplicitous or deceptive behavior I've seen surrounding this circumstance. To say nothing of the fact that you've addressed literally none of the (IMO valid) criticisms of your behavior and actions.
So glad that STORM is living rent-free in everyone’s minds.
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Nov 5, 2023 at 4:48 PM Post #469 of 481
For the London badge I have to claim in the other topic? 😬
We invite everyone to check out the first post of any CanJam-related thread for profile badge requests. Beginning earlier this year, we added a quick and easy link for Head-Fi'ers to request a badge to be added to their profile for that show.
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Nov 6, 2023 at 12:51 AM Post #470 of 481
Finally collected my thoughts about everything I got to hear over the past two days. What an absolute whirwind of an experience. Amazing getting to run around from vendor-to-vendor listening to all these incredible headphones and then chatting about it with the people who made it, or the people sitting next to you demo’ing at the same time. Absolute must experience for any audiophile and I look forward to next year.

While I listened to some headphones on the second day, I am primarily an IEM guy and came to CanJam with the express purpose of checking out the dozens of IEMs I’ve always wanted to hear but lacked access to without blind buying. My secondary purpose was to identify what my next IEM will be, with a special interest in CIEMs as I’ve never owned a set before.

My library is made up of electronic/house/ambient stuff, metal/metalcore, modern hiphop/pop, indie folk and rock etc. No Kpop/Jpop/Classical/Jazz etc. My CanJam playlist that I was cycling through had songs from Christian Loffler, Fejka, Lorde, Bon Iver, TTNG live, Feist, Jesus Piece, Underoath, Earl Sweatshirt etc etc. If you’re now going “Who are those people” or “man this guy has trash taste”, that’s OK, now you know why my impressions or approach to listening does not line up with your own. Feel free to disregard, or to use me as a helpful resource to do the opposite of.

With that in mind, I do want to be up front about a few things:

  • CanJam listening means you mostly have to rush through stuff. Its noisy, and frequently other people are waiting for you to finish up – or something else that you wanted to listen to free’s up and you have to drop what you are listening to currently to grab it before someone else does (depending on how busy it is). With that in mind, these aren’t reviews and they barely even qualify as thorough impressions for the most part. Lets just call them “Vibe Checks” and go from there.
  • Generally when demo’ing for my own purposes, I have some test track segments that I am looking for very specific things on and it functions as a bit of a check/fail situation. It only takes a minute for me to figure out if something isn’t going to work for me – and again I have to stress that I was approaching all of this exclusively from the perspective of “what am I going to buy, for myself, to listen to my music library”. Because of this, I frequently “checked-out” of listening to something once it was clear it wasn’t going on to my shortlist and would have put it down quickly after so not to hog it for other people. I’ll probably wax poetic about the things I liked and be flippant about the things I didn’t care for. Apologies in advance if I heard something you are interested in but can’t give you much clarification on what I thought of it beyond what is written.
  • I tend to be more of an “overall presentation” listener, than one who is going to talk about the microdynamics, or midrange resolution or whatever. I probably have a decent tolerance for tonal jank that some others don’t - so long as I like what the set is doing overall and nothing is immediately bugging me with the music I throw at it.
Generally, when demoing quickly, what I index for while listening is:

  • Bass contrast, quantity, impact and texture – As much as you can give me all of the time. I want lots of impact on things like kick drums, and lots of deep rumble afterwards. I cannot stand midbass bloat that reduces impact for the sake of volume, or excessive warmth that makes the music feel sluggish. The dividing line between my perfect bass response and one I dislike can be pretty fine and probably somewhat arbitrary which is why getting the opportunity to demo this stuff in person was such a privilege. From here on out I’m going to say “bass” about 700 more times. You’ve been warned.
  • Vocal clarity – I don’t mind a little warmth in the vocals, but too V-shaped and I start to crank the volume trying to hear. Too warm and its boring. Compared to some people, I probably have a high tolerance for upper-midrange glare/shout.
  • Soundstage/Imaging – IEM’s that have a totally “in your head” presentation always fall a bit flat for me. Not at these prices…..
  • Smoothness/lack of (big) peaks – Because of the variety in my library, if something has a big peak somewhere in the mid/treble I’ll generally find it once I switch to my trashy metalcore music and it sounds like the IEMS are trying to kill me.

Vibe Checks, in mostly no particular order:

All listening done out of my Shanling M8, balanced 4.4 (except for Odin and EXT which where 2.5), with whatever gain was appropriate for what I was listening to at the moment. FLAC files from my SD card, streaming was a nightmare the whole time anyways.

Subtonic/Nightjar Acoustics joint table

Right at doors open on Saturday I beelined it for this table. Storm is not in the cards for me moneywise, but it was at the very top of my “must hear” list if I could find it. Since I got there early, I got to spend a bit time with it without people waiting behind me which was awesome.

Storm: As advertised – Neutral but with great dynamics. ”Fun neutral”. Fantastic center image and separation. Ultimately not as much bass quantity as I’d want, but what was there kicked like a mule. I threw some crappy recordings at it too just to see if it was a bit too clinical and would make them harsh, but it handled those perfectly well and I was banging my head along with it. I liked the shells better in person than I expected to, and they had a new vs old comparison to check out. Not for sale at the time - they showed up all the way from Singapore just to flex lol. They used the words “overwhelming demand” when describing trying to catch up the backlog. Good for them, they deserve the success they’ve earned. Really special set.

Singularity: Nice bass heavy set that pulled off lots of bass while retaining vocal clarity and treble sparkle. Smaller than I thought they would be and fit nicely. Wanted plenty of power. Didn’t listen for too long because Duality free’d up and I wanted to grab that while I had the chance.

Duality Prototype: Similar party tricks to singularity in terms of lots of great bass but with present vocals and treble. Kicked up a notch with the treble quality and separation it seemed like. Before I left, they gave me an adapter that took the bass to hilarious levels, and I was sitting there cracking up at it while they were sitting there cracking up at me cracking up at it. Great fun from a basshead set, hopefully they include the adapter with the final product.

Symphonium Audio

Seated right across from the Subtonic/Nightjar table, so I stopped there after. I have owned the Helios in the past and enjoyed it, but sold it along due to the fit. Currently own the Helios SE which I quite enjoy. Crimson was on my “need to hear” list.


On first listen, it sounded like my Helios SE but with the midbass scoop removed, but there was something about the treble that was a bit hot for my liking. They said “hold on” and switched the tips for me to a more open bore set, and I don’t know if I had a bad seal the first time around or if the tips made all the difference but the treble issue was gone in in its place was some great soundstage and imaging. I think if people liked Helios/Helios SE, but wanted just a bit more midbass and some extra technicalities this would be a great set to check out. Before I left they gave me a giga cable that was basically a massive version of the stock cable to check out Crimson with it which was hilarious. Both this table and the previous did a great job making the listening sessions low stress and tons of fun.

64 Audio:

Back in the day when I first joined Head-fi as a fledgling audiophile, and 64 Audio was 64 Ears, the U12 Adel was my first high-end set of IEMs. I think I paid $1400 for them in 2016 with a holiday discount of some sort, which was insane at the time even for a TOTL product (little did we know……). I enjoyed it but was always bugged by bass being not quite what I needed. These were simpler, less degenerate gear flipping times, and so I listened to them exclusively for several years until I really felt I got my money’s worth and as such they are probably my most listened to set of audiophile IEMS ever. I have heard exactly 0 other IEMS from 64 Audio since.


I liked these. Nice center image and layering. Took the edge off of everything and made it sound good. Not a set that immediately stands out, but can understand people appreciating these the more they listen to them. I liked the bass response. Could kick when it needed to. A bit too neutral for me. Awesome that these essentially cost what I paid for my U12 adel’s 7+ years ago. Given the acclaim, 64 Audio probably could have pulled off a couple big “inflation, you know?” price raises on these over time. Kudos.


They had the M20 module in but I had them switch it to the M15 before listening. Shells are beautiful looking. Retained the “nothing hurts” style presentation of the U12t’s mids and treble, but add a DD and some extra warmth to it. I think it lost something in the process, and this crossed the line into a bit boring to me. Preferred the U12t, even in the bass regions despite the BA’s. YMMV.


The Mk2’s were my second real set of high-end IEMs, my first hybrids (not that there were many options back then), and the first bit of audio gear that blew me away. I can probably credit these for cementing this hobby for me and they’ll always have a special place in my heart. Bought them used here on Head-fi, and the DD in one of the monitors crapped out about 6 months or so later. What can you do. Tried to send them back to Japan to get fixed, but being a lazy 20-something who said “who cares, they’re already broke”, stupidly sent them without tracking, and they were never received. I still have the nice PW audio cable they came with sitting in a bin somewhere though lol. And a few years ago a broken and re-glued set popped up in classified for a few hundred $, and I bought them just so I can have them and occasionally pop them in for a quick listen. I have not heard anything else from Oriolous up until this point.


I knew going into it that these weren’t going to really “work” for my library, but man I totally get it. Incredibly pleasant and enjoyable to listen to, nice warmth and clarity at the same time. Engaging,a little bit of kick to the midbass but ultimately the subbass is hampered by the drivers. Honestly loved these, not surprised they’ve become a classic.


No idea how they managed to jam 4dds into such a small shell. Had a decent rumbly low end but didn’t do much else interesting. I was whelmed, especially after Trailli. I don’t think that was an uncommon reaction to them and I quickly zoned out before switching back to the bird for a final quick listen. Maybe for someone else and a different library.

Elysian Acoustics:

I’ve owned the Diva’s in the past, which I liked as a mid-forward set but which ultimately none of the bass settings worked 100% for me. And having a switch on my IEMs makes me neurotically insane, and I just constantly fiddle with it going “this is better, no this is better, actually this is better.” Please just do the switching for me at the factory and give me 1 setting, so I don’t drive myself crazy.


I think these were the 2023 version. I liked these a lot but didn’t LOVE love them. Great imaging, treble is present but non-peaky so it never bothered me much. Great clarity the whole way through which is very nice. Bass curve was nice but not mind blowing. Worth the $ for sure, and I wish I listened to them a second time.

Unique Melody:

I’ve owned the Mest Mk.something in the past and enjoyed them. Did not listen to any of the new mests because I thought the shells looked goofy and wanted to move on…..Vibe checks people, vibe checks.

Mentor Multiverse/Amber Pearl:

Similar to Trailii I knew going into it that these weren’t going to land on my “buy” list just based on the bass response criteria. But having seen enough written online about Mentor online I wanted to check them out. Really liked these. Caveats about not particularly present BA bass that you’ve all already heard before, these were so natural, pleasant, and spacious sounding. I think I preferred MM’s presentation to Amber Pearl’s, but can’t remember exactly why. Amber Pearl was the punchier set, but I just remember having them in my ears and side-eying whoever grabbed MM after me, wanting to get them back. Ultimately not for me and my library, but I can appreciate these and see why people love MM and will love Amber Pearl.

Aroma Audio:

Came in knowing people really liked the Jewel, but have not heard anything from this brand myself. Man the build quality is just not there for the price.

Fei Wan:

Not for me, there was a peak or something bugging me somewhere in the response and I was finding them grating to listen to with my library. I think they were going for energetic neutral? Didn’t stick with them for long - They weren’t doing anything for me and Jewel was available to try. Shells design is….something.


I’ve read lots about these and was expecting something a bit more from them? They seemed fine, unoffensive neutral with good clarity, but I couldn’t tell what if anything they were doing particularly well. Certainly not $5k well. Nothing about them bothered me like the Fei Wan, but after reading so much about their soundstage in particular……. I didn’t hear much of any of that. Must be for a different set of ears.


Plenty of experience with moondrop stuff, which I don’t find particularly exciting, but no hands on time with any Softears sets.

Enigma Prototype:

These were in a prototype shell design that looked exactly like the Studio4 but with a matte finish on the ear-facing side. Musicteck said they rushed them out to get them ready on time for SoCal so was cool to get a chance to hear. But at the same time, the final shell design that they’ve shown is wayyyyy different from a studio4, to the point that I think I asked 3 separate times “So this is the enigma prototype?” just to confirm it wasn’t a mix-up lol. I have to imagine changing the shell design THAT much is going to affect the final sound, so not sure how much of a conclusion can actually be made about what it sounds like vs the proto. They have to be somewhat close, otherwise why would they bother right?

I enjoyed these the first time I heard them. The bass dynamics and rumble had me tapping my feet a bit while listening, and it seemed like an energetic set. Second time around, in the afternoon, I liked them a bit less and found something in the mid-trebleish area a bit annoying? Tired ears? Possible. Unreliable listener. Definitely. Wait for the reviews in the actual shell? For sure.

Campfire Audio:

I’ve owned and enjoyed the Solaris SE, Vega’s, and Andromeda’s back in the day. Moved on to other things and haven’t heard anything from CA since I sold the Solaris SE. It’s a shame I did not realize the Bonneville was Solaris-esque, or I would have checked it out too.


I wanted to like these badly. The new customish, highly contoured shells are awesome and fit my ear perfectly. The orange color was great. The sound was… A little bit of that planar thing going on in terms of texture, but not a ton of it. CA soundstage presentation. There was a terrible glare in the midrange that made them a bit too hot for me and I couldn’t keep listening. Too bad so sad.


If I speak, I am in big trouble.


Was, probably unsurprisingly if you read my “about me” at the top, very interested in checking these out finally. Have not heard anything from them before this, but on paper its right up my alley.

Maestro SE/Scarlet Mini:

Honestly? Eh. For all the giant bass curves, they aren’t very punchy with my library and a bit too "in my head" sounding. Lots of rumble unsurprisingly but this kinda hits to what I was talking about in the intro regarding how fine and arbitrary the line is between “great” and “too much”. They are fun, and lots of people love the Maestro SE’s, but not this people. For me, this confirms that highly contoured bass is preferable to just shear elevation in the low end. Punch & rumble, not bloat. Scarlet Mini is going to sell a million units though and was still pretty fun just to check out.

Grand Maestro:

Other side of that fine line. Not sure what module or whatever was in it, but these were as advertised. Totally kickass. Tons of rumble and punch with my library. Great fun with a nice open presentation, and the vocal switch is a great party trick that shows you how confident they are in the tuning. Seems to drop out the bass elevation to normal levels, and then suddenly? It still sounds good. Neutral exciting with big soundstage. Great set. Surprised I had such a different experience with these vs the previous two. The shell is more contoured so maybe a better fit and seal? Listening with my eyes? Could be. Its my post I’m allowed to if I want to.

Vision Ears:

I’ve owned the Elysium in the past and enjoyed them. Bass was ultimately not extended enough for me, and something in the upper treble/air region caused my ears to ring after listening for a bit so I moved on from them. The bass response in those always had more “kick” to it than people credited them for, even if they couldn’t really rumble. Kind of started me onto thinking more about the bass response contour, and less about the overall elevation. Havent heard or owned anything else from them.

VE x AK Aura:

The remarkable: The amazing looking gold and grey shells, the price tag.

The unremarkable: Everything else? I feel…..not much. They aren’t bad, its just, these sort of remind me of the “take no risks” moondrop style response. Plenty technical though. Pleasant enough, very pleasant even, at $200. Add a 0 to the price tag, then double it for fun, and it loses its charm. Was funny seeing these gorgeous, machined shells sitting at 4k right next to the more expensive cheap plastic Aroma Audio stuff. The pricetags make no sense sometimes in this hobby.


I liked these. Also a great looking set. Does the warm thing well. Not very congested for sounding so warm. Solid bass response. Not 100% what I’m looking for but I wouldn’t be upset with these. I cant imagine anybody being upset with these.


Really loved how these fit, they locked into my ears. I guess other people didn’t because they immediately dropped this shell style lol. The presentation of these definitely caught my attention. Something about them draws you in, but the bass response is just fine (a so close and yet so far type deal), and treble was frequently a little too sharp for me. I think the commonly repeated strengths and weaknesses for this set ring true here. Still there is something here and hopefully VE iterates on these again. As the Elysium -> EXT, VE8 -> VE10, Phoenix -> Phoenix LE pipeline shows, they generally don’t just throw the baby out with the bathwater and like to iterate and improve on their old models when they can. So…….EXT Extended when?


Its Sennheiser, do I really need to write an intro for them? Ubiquitous. I’m not going to say anything you haven’t heard 1000x already from better people with better ears.


Tiny but didn’t love the fit. Was hoping for more from the bass after reading much about it, it was fine….safe… Not contrasty enough for me. Mid dip didn’t bother me, but I listened to these at the very end of Saturday after everything else so fatigue had fully set in and my ears were broken at this point. Treble a bit spicy but not enough to totally put me off. Cable is the most garbage of all garbage, and I’m not someone who normally cares about that.


Take all of the interesting parts out of the IE900. Boom. IE600.

Noble Audio:

I have not heard anything from Noble previously, and I did not come into CanJam with any real intention of seeking out any Noble sets, knowing that they tended to a more reserved bass presentation that was probably not going to be for me. Viking Ragnar fell under the “find it if you can cause the shells are cool looking but you’re not gonna like it so don’t go crazy looking for it” criteria. I just made that criteria up for this intro.

Viking Ragnar:

The shells are cool looking but I’m not going to go crazy here I didn’t like it…..

Way too bright for my music selection maybe a bit peaky too? Reserved bass. Not for me.


Heard this at the end of Saturday too and it was….supremely pleasant? Wasn’t expecting that at all. After a long day of listening to other stuff, with tired ears, absolutely nothing about this annoyed me. Mids/timbre were very very natural sounding for me. Bass unsurprisingly took them out of contention for me but I don’t think anybody could dislike these.


Where did this come from?

I was waiting to listen to a different set at the musicteck table (I think Trailii for the second time) and these were basically all that was left to listen to that I hadn’t previously demo’d. I knew nothing about them and couldn’t be bothered to look it up at the time. Just sort of put them in my ears to pass the time so I wouldn’t look like I was hogging a chair doing nothing (there was nobody waiting behind me for the chair, but it never hurts to be prepared). A minute later zoning out and I noticed I was sort of tapping my feet? Spacious as anything else I heard that day, a bunch of awesome bass on tap. Nothing that bugged me. Genuinely liked these a lot. Cool driver config. Probably my biggest regret from the show was that I did not have time to go back and hear them a second time on Sunday. I really wanted to take these over and do an AB with some of the UM stuff I had heard earlier. Something about the presentation of Spartacus really made me want to do that…..I’ll have to get my hands on a set for another listen at some point.

Empire Ears:

I have the incredibly dubious honor of having owned and sold Legend Evo on 3 separate occasions. I will forever love the bass response on those, but the midrange launch ramp does not work well with certain trashy parts of my library. And I never could listen to them for longer than 45 min or so at a time without my ears starting to hurt. But still, that bass….


I first listened to these early on Saturday at the musicteck table, and I’m guessing that whatever tips I grabbed from the bin did not let them seal well enough. I quickly ripped them out and went “eh that’s too bad” and moved on. Later in the day, I saw the EE booth had a chair open and went to go check out Odin. While I was there, I asked for Raven a second time because why not, its free real-estate. They handed them to me with the tried-and-true Final E-tips, and I got a seal this time because ohhhh boy.

Everything I ever wanted (and tried to convince myself 3x) Evo to be. The Evo always had this great bass timbre too it, almost like a powerful “whirring” that I could never quit. Raven has maintained this. But where Evo got shouty in the mids and decided that treble was non-sense you didn’t need, Raven is….normal? Good? Great? Despite the elevated show-off bass response, the mids were slightly warm but still plenty clear for me. I didn’t notice any particular elevations that bugged me when rapidly switching genres of music. Treble was plenty detailed and extended, and again without any annoying peaks to bug me. Big soundstage, which should be expected since you’re basically strapping two small raven-themed rooms to your ears. These are some big birds, but surprisingly comfortable? Fit much better than Evo. I asked/begged Dean for a custom version anyways and he laughed, said “let me see your ears” and then laughed again lol. Not looking good for me on that front haha. I think if I had to critique these, they may suffer a bit from that same “overly grand and serious all the time” type of presentation that Evo has. Not quite to the same degree, but I think its there.

Did not like the gold shells, and would wait for black version. Shame about the whole explody-cabley-connecty thing. Seems like EE cannot catch a break on their recent releases, and some people seem to revel in that for odd reasons…. These are small companies and you have to be sympathetic when stuff like this happens. Genuinely hope they can figure something out, or that its much ado about nothing, because I really enjoyed this set. Went back to the musicteck table again later that afternoon and demo’d using my own tips to confirm what I heard at the EE table. And then AGAIN the next day to be safe. Loved loved loved these and they did not put a foot wrong for me.


Kind of a high-clarity high excitement response, but too light on the bass for me + the occasional uncomfortable glare. Would not work with my library.


I was super interested in these, after hearing Raven, because they measure essentially the same on the graphs I’ve seen. Bloom had a set in their room, so on Sunday after hearing the Raven for the fourth (lol) time, I ran over there and auditioned Odyssey. Despite the measurements and my best hopes, they do not in fact sound the same… all. Over-warm, over-boring, none of the great muscular bass timbre thing somehow. I kept fiddling with them, jamming them into my ears and holding them in place with my hands going “surely they can’t sound this different” and thinking it was a fit issue. No dice. Not for me. Interesting revelation about just relying on frequency graphs for me.

Fir Audio:

These were on my short list to hear due to the weirdo bass-tech and availability of customs. I couldn’t find them Day 1, and then saw they were available in the Bloom room once I got home. Mostly spent day 2 listening to headphones, but found these at the end of the day to check em out. Unfortunately my wife wanted to leave to get burgers & beer, and who am I to say “no”, so I didn’t get as much time as I really wanted.

Electron prototype:

Lots of powerful bass and great treble sparkle on top. A bit V-shaped for me, so I was doing the “turn-up the volume” thing when trying to listen to stuff with vocals. But these are a ton of fun and I think people are going to really love them once they come out.


Oh man, I listened to these as the last thing I heard at CanJam and created some problems for myself. At the end of day 1, I was unsurprisingly 100% all in on getting Raven. After hearing them again on Sunday I was 110% all in. And then I walked over to the Bloom room, confirmed Odyssey would not be an easy substitute, listened to Electron, and then screwed all that up for myself.

These are great. Its basically everything I loved about Raven. Slightly warm but clear vocals, bass that makes you go “OMG WHAT”. Big open presentation. At one point I felt the treble got slightly hot somewhere, but couldn’t find it again when I went searching for it. Cool venting module system that would probably drive me insane fiddling with. Customs available……… 10 minutes with these was not enough - really wish I had found them day 1 now. Never before have I regretted burgers & beer, and I hate that these have made me do that.

Overall takeaways:

What a great opportunity. Getting to hear lots of things and really figure out what is worth it for your listening style and library, and what isn’t, is a ton of fun. Really jealous of the people that live in areas with such accessible + expansive audio stores. You all get to do this all the time? In a less hurried and noisy environment?? And some of the places give you food & beverage??? Spoiled rotten.

Ultimately it shouldn’t be surprising, but I am stuck between Raven and RN6. Stick with my original plan of getting my first set of CIEMs, or pivot to the set that I spent half the time chasing around for another listen? Either way, the one thing I am absolutely sure of is that whichever one I get, the other will live rent free in my head.

Till next year. Hope this ramble helps…..we both know it didn’t.


Raven, RN6, Storm, UM MM, Grand Maestro

Surprise of the show:

Noble Spartacus

And with this post, I have finally lost my "New New Head-Fier" tag after 7+ years here. Such a shame, I was hoping to make it to a decade.
As a fellow TTNGs fan I’m disappointed by your findings on certain iems but like you said “must be for a different set of ears”.
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Nov 6, 2023 at 6:50 AM Post #472 of 481
Apologies in advance. I'd promised not to further derail this thread, but unfortunately I've never been very good at not freely voicing my opinion and have some more thoughts on where all this is headed. It seems my original post on this thread ruffled a few feathers. I'll try to summarize for any who missed it - I'm a rascally rabbit who's not to be trusted, a noob who doesn't know how to get an IEM to seal properly in the ear canal, a cheapskate using a worthless counterfeit coupler whose squiggly lines would do irreparable harm. And I'm entitled. I do agree with that last one. I think every consumer is entitled to know what they're paying for. In which other industry is that not the case? Lottery scratch cards??

The consumer in this industry - or at least the upper end of it - seems to be headed for an unfortunate future. Yes, companies have a perfect right to deny any form of measurement. (Thanks to those that felt the need to point out the obvious.) But here's how this works. In a well-established (arguably, overcrowded) market that already contains a large number of reputable companies, many of whom are already producing excellent-quality products that are somewhat unique and/or reasonably-priced, who are fully transparent about their products, and whose staff are perfectly professional and courteous - when a new company comes along checking none of the above boxes, any consumer also has a perfect right to a) not purchase from them and b) not recommend them.

I'm not unsympathetic to new companies wanting to make a living, feed their families, etc., and I get that shifting a lower product volume means you need larger profit margins and therefore higher prices. But at what point does that price to lack-of-transparency ratio become exploitative? The answer can't be 'never'.

There's no scenario where the best source of information for the consumer is a safe-space echo chamber restricted to the purely subjective discussion of over-priced pet rocks that are graded only by some YouTube influencer's 'technical-performance' rating and the number of zeros behind the dollar sign. Those claiming to take the moral high ground here apparently see nothing disingenuous with this form of marketing. It's clear why some in the industry would love to perpetuate this, but if you're a consumer advocating for your own lack of knowledge, you've been spending too much time in the echo chamber. This is like roaches fighting for their collective right to free and easy access to Raid. There's nothing virtuous in fighting for a system that exploits the vulnerable and the gullible.
Oh come on bro, Its Dallas CJ soon and u are hung on this from SoCal CJ. Learn to be an Elisa, accept your mistake and L E T I T G O
Nov 8, 2023 at 9:24 AM Post #474 of 481
There’s a difference between criticisms and attacking people’s character. I said things that I didn’t care for in my thoughts at the show, but I didn’t make a personal attack at the makers or the people who put on the show.
Nov 15, 2023 at 3:45 AM Post #476 of 481
Post 1/3

Welp, just in time for CanJam Dallas impressions to roll in, but better late than never. It's been a crazy few months for me, but I think things have finally settled down and I'm caught up with things in life. So now I can take the time to write up my CanJam SoCal experience. This was one of the busier CanJam events I've been to, and it was quite crowded on Day 1. It was great to see the high attendance.

This was only a quarter of the ballroom:

My usual method of 9001 photos won't cut it on Head-Fi posts, so if you want the complete 100+ list of full-resolution photos, you can find them here:

As it has been for me with CanJam events, I try to make the most out of this event by turning it into a weekend retreat. As it happened to work out, I got to meet up with some friends from the AAMML thread, including one from outside of the USA, and it was great to catch up with them. We ended up booking a hotel room in Anaheim next to Disneyland. The foot-traffic in the area there is pretty crazy, but we were entertained by the crowds. Disneyland's Halloween-themed festivities were in full effect, which felt a little weird being September still.

As per tradition, we made a trip to Hollywood to visit the new-ish Amoeba Records store, which has a huuuuge collection of CDs, magnetic tapes, reels, vinyl records, and other rare collectibles of the sort. I ended up buying a CD from since I really like her voice, and especially so on the vinyl record setup I hard at the earlier this year. We ended up getting American BBQ at Gus's Barbeque afterwards, which satiated the hunger of our fellow non-American in the group. Likewise back in Anaheim, we got the classic American Cheesecake Factory dinner fix in the middle of the Disney crowd. It was quite an experience for our fellow non-American.

On the morning of Day 1 of CanJam, friends and I stopped by the Bodhi Leaf cafe to grab something to eat/drink before heading out to the event. The croissant was just OK, but their cafe latte was pretty good, with fruity notes in the beans. I'd go back again for the coffee.

I volunteered to help at the CanJam event, so the first half of Day 1 for me was getting exhibitors and attendees into the right places with wristbands. I like talking and saying hi to folks in the industry, so I really enjoy volunteering for the morning shift in that regard.

I basically wandered into whatever booths had an available listening spot, so the following impressions are in no particular order starting on Day 1.
Woo Audio happened to be the first room with a spot, so I listened to the new Abyss Diana MR for a few moments. Like other versions of the headphone, it has quite a poor fit on my head and the bottom of the earpad makes no seal whatsoever for me. With my hands pressing on the bottom of the earcups to get a complete seal, they sounded quite good out of the WA23 LUNA with great bass texture and a smooth frequency response overall. Instrument separation was among the best I've heard in recent times, so it's a shame the design isn't compatible with my head. The sapele wood earcup design is absolutely stunning to me and I think it's one of the best-looking headphones out there.

The tube amp dongle was pretty interesting to see. Sound-wise, it sounded warm and tubey, which is the goal for a transportable real tube DAC/amp. I can't believe they make tubes this small though!


In the same room, STAX was there. STAX needs no explanation, but they were celebrating their 85th anniversary and had a bunch of promotional material there such as the original SR-3 headphone, which I had never heard of before. Their designs have come a long way from


^ that's at the Headamp booth, but the SR-900X is one beautiful-looking headphone

Drop+[Axel] Grell's headphones were something I was interested in hearing; the HD800 is an interesting headphone and even though I'm not a fan of it myself, I can appreciate its design. The OAE/1 headphone was pretty disappointing to say the least. Like the Abyss Diana headphones, the earpads made no seal whatsoever on my head and the earcups hardly swiveled enough to even press against my head with my fingers. The result? No bass. The soundstage was fantastic on the other hand, as to be expected from a displaced-angled driver. It's too bad the earcup design doesn't fit my head; the HD800 still remains one of the most comfortable headphones to use even though the earpads engulf my face.


I'm honestly not a fan of the house Audio Technica sound, they're usually quite warm and bright or sibilant to my ears, but I have always admired their wood earcup designs. For instance, when I first got into the hobby, I really wanted a pair of the ATH-ESW9 purely because of the aesthetics of the earcups. Even their higher end offerings like the ATH-AD500x are too sibilant to my ears.

But my oh my does the ATH-W2022 look stunning in person. Photos really don't do it justice.

FiiO and I go a ways back to CanJam NYC 2017 when I worked at their booth for the event. It was a lot of fun seeing them at this event again after a few years of absence, and I'm always excited to see what products they bring to the table, literally.

I ended up listening to the not-yet-released BTR15 Bluetooth adapter dongle. Dongle-fi is an increasing market I feel like, and the BTR15 is the perfect companion for me. I've tried USB dongle DACs before and they always break for me after a handful of uses, so I stray away from the USB dongles now. There's a bunch of USB dongles out there, but really only the iFi GO blu, Shanling UP4/5, and the BTR5 out there for Bluetooth adapters (at least in my limited experience).

Being the only Bluetooth adapter without a volume dial, I appreciate the simple design of the BTR5/15. I'm not a fan of having volume knob adjustments in my pocket, as opposed to physical buttons, but I might be in the minority here considering most DAPs and the other Bluetooth adapters out there have volume knobs.

Paired with the FX15, the combo sounded fantastic to my ears: very balanced sound, great instrument separation, adjustable tuning options. Normally electret drivers in in-ear designs are really obvious to me in that they sound disjointed from the other drivers. I think FiiO did a great job integrating them into the default sound (switched on) as the treble didn't sound out of place.

Later on, I listened to their FT3 headphone on the R7 desktop combo and I was pleasantly surprised with its sound. It's very competent-sounding overall and I had no complaints about its sound. I didn't know the FT3 is only $300; not too shabby at all!

At CanJam SoCal 2022, xMEMS debuted their full-range MEMS transducers to the audience in the form of 3D-printed in-ear earphones. I was surprised at how good they sounded for being a single MEMS driver. They sounded pretty bright, but the housing, damping, amplification, and overall tuning were prototypes.

Fast forward to CanJam SoCal 2023 and they had the same prototype in-ears on display, but they were paired with a custom iFi Audio iDSD Diablo-X DAC/amp. iFi Audio needs no introduction, so it was awesome to see the two companies working together. The sound of the xMEMS prototype was more or less the same as what I remember from last year, but with a more solid bass response likely due in part to the Diablo-X.

They had a vinyl setup with the new Skoll. I might consider getting one of these if I get a turntable setup; the remote control option is very enticing.


I went to 3 of the seminars this year, and they were all pretty different topics from what I've seen at previous CanJam events.

Note: each of the videos' descriptions has the time stamp locations for specific topics/questions within the seminar. These are also mostly for the audio recordings as they are recorded in binaural audio, but I took photos of the presentation slides for the video.

Air Motion Transformers (AMT) Transducers: Lighter, Faster, Stronger, Better?
I previously had no knowledge of AMTs other than they were a folded, accordion-style diaphragm. This was a more theoretical talk, so it was heavier on the technical aspects.

Pro Audio vs Audiophilia — Two Worlds Collide
To me, pro-audio has always been what I've strived to achieve in music reproduction systems. What the mastering engineer hears is what the ideal sound is. This talk was an interesting take on the engineers versus what audiophiles want.

I ended up buying a pair of the AirPods Pro after the CanJam event in hopes that I could experience the Spatial Audio with Apple Music (I have yet to try this).

New Audio Quality Metric for Humans
When I got into the hobby more seriously, how we hear sounds and how to measure that aspect of audio has been a mysterious topic to me. I talked with Vince at CanJam SoCal 2018? (when it was at the LA Live Marriott); super friendly and knowledgeable guy. I thoroughly enjoyed his seminar, and is really some good food for thought. The aspect of distortion, and the demos provided, were pretty eye-opening.


Sadly, Meze forgot to bring their cable bracelets to the event this year. I missed out on getting one the previous 2 years, so I'll wait for next year.

The closed-back Liric was a headphone I was eyeing at one point, and I tried it out on the Ferrum Audio stack. Wow, just wow. The Liric is easily one of the best-sounding closed-back headphones I've heard. It has the classic Meze Audio warm sound, but it's very smooth in the frequency response. Likely due to the awesome Ferrum stack, the instrument separation was among the best I've heard for a closed-back headphone.

I didn't get a chance to listen to anything in their soundbooth (which is the perfect solution to have for a noisy CanJam event for auditioning gear), but their setup always had a line of people waiting to hear them.

It's a @jude ! He's always talking to people at these events.

Day 1 continues on the next post
Last edited:
Nov 15, 2023 at 3:52 AM Post #477 of 481
Post 2/3
Day 1 continued
Outside of the Bluetooth adapter dongle use case, true wireless in-ears have been an interest to me. I've tried the Sony ones, which were too big and heavy for me. I've tried the Moondrop Alice, and the same result. As mentioned above, I ended up buying the AirPods Pro after the CanJam event, but their fit is still pretty loose for me and they have fallen out of my ears. I settled on the Final ZE8000 since those have a really solid fit in my ear and I can jump up and down while wearing them and they won't budge at all.

I was hoping the same for the Svanar, and I'm pleased to report that they do indeed fit in my ear without falling out. Perhaps in part due to the R-2R architecture, but I'm not a fan of its sound; it sounded overly warm to me, almost muddy. The fit and ANC aspects of it were pretty good otherwise.

Similarly, I tried the Aryia Organic and it sounded good from the bass up until the upper-midrange, which was almost sibilant bright. I'm not sure what the headphone stand/DAC/amp combo was, but the volume knob felt loose to turn/adjust.

Apart from those, it was neat seeing Dr. Bian attending these meets again. It's been a while since I've seen him in-person and I think it's great for these audio company founders to be so involved in the community.

Being a fan, and still an owner, of an Austrian-made AKG K 701 I was curious to see what Austrian Audio had to offer. To note, Austrian Audio is separate from MySphere; different projects (K-series vs only the K1000), different engineers, different company founders.

If you've felt the K-series headphones, the Composer headphone from Austrian Audio feels very familiar, and is built like a tank. Even the drivers have the same ridge-like pattern as the K-series headphones.

Sound-wise, it reminded me of the K812, so the Composer is like a modern iteration of that headphone even with the metal earcup ring design. The magnetically-attached earpads, the ability to fold flat, and the removable symmetrical cables are a nice touch.

If you know me, you know I like electrostatic headphones. I preferred the sound of the Voce over the SR-009, and I was super excited to hear the Corina. Holy moly does it sound smooth! Probably in large due to the AMTS system, the Corina is now my new favorite e-stat. It's completely different-sounding from the SR-9000X, so there's not much in common between them outside of that they're both e-stat headphones that use STAX's pro-bias voltage.

Bass was well-extended, midrange wasn't too laid-back like I find a lot of DCA headphones to be, and the treble was super smooth, yet detailed. The transient response sounds more relaxed compared to the offerings from STAX, but that makes the system sound more believable to me and less ethereal (if you understand that sound terminology for e-stats). I was really impressed with its sound.


I was surprised Yamaha was at this event; I haven't seen them at a CanJam before. Their new YH-5000SE flagship headphone has a beautiful industrial-looking design. Something about the exposed screws and yellow cable connector are appealing characteristics to me. The driver is orthodynamic (planar magnetic).




Sound-wise...I was disappointed with it. It sounded quite bright and harsh to me coming out of their own beastly DAC/amp. At $5000 for the headphone itself, that's pretty disappointing.

Day 1 was a wrap at CanJam, and the group was hungry. Food options around the venue are plentiful, but we always get stuck debriefing the day for a few hours. We got a table at the nearby Hiro Nori ramen restaurant right before they closed. Before that, we stopped by famous Duck Donuts to grab a sugary creation.





Afterwards, we met up with another anime-fan friend back at the hotel, who brought over some delicious pineapple cakes from overseas. We spent some time chatting and debriefing the day and catching up on life.

Day 2 was much less focused on listening to gear and more talking to people, but there are still impressions to be written.
As long as this CanJam event is held in Orange County, there will always be the tradition of getting chicken and waffles (and molten hot coffee) at the Bruxie restaurant. We absolutely love the chicken and waffles there.


Day 2 continues on the next post
Nov 15, 2023 at 3:57 AM Post #478 of 481
Post 3/3
Day 2 continued
I heard on this thread that Dunu has a Mirai in-ear. I drive a Mirai, so I was naturally curious about this just because of the name. The appearance is stunning; it looks like a piece of jewelry made of jade.

Soundwise though, it wasn't my cup of tea sadly. It sounded U-shaped to me with an emphasis somewhere in the 9-10 kHz region to make it sound too crispy. I guess no Mirai for the Mirai.

The Glacier in-ear though? Yooooo, this gets the best in-ear of the show to me. It's very coherent-sounding without any major frequency peaks or valleys; instrument separation is pretty good, and they're quite comfortable to fit in my ears. I really liked the sound of the Glacier.

I like Questyle's products; they sound transparent and neutral to me and are pretty much as close to a "wire with gain" as I think their products get. The CMA18 was no exception. Paired with a Susvara, the pairing sounded fantastic to my ears.

The transparent faceplate of the CMA18 reveals the inner workings of the device, and I'm a big fan of the transparent top. Having the volume indicator with the SMD LEDs is inconvenient to read, but cool as heck.


Friends and me got a chance to talk to Sankar of Audeze for a good chunk of time. It was a lot of fun getting to know more about Audeze and its direction moving forward with its recent acquisition by Sony Entertainment, specifically with the Maxwell, which worked quite well when playing their Doom Eternal (XBONE) and FF XVI (PS5) demos.



And learning more about the pro-audio market of Audeze a la Manny Marroquin's line of headphones.

Back in CanJam SoCal 2019, Moondrop Audio was at the event and I would have purchased the KXXS on the spot if they had any in stock. I ended up getting it in 2020.

Fast forward to 2023 and, again, I almost bought the Kato on the spot because I liked its sound so much. However, I basically never used the KXXS, so I kept the money in my wallet for now. I didn't realize the Kato is the successor to the KXXS, so they share many similarities.

I liked the general layout of their booth. They really showcased the artwork on their product boxes.




I didn't get a chance to really listen to the Venus as the unit I heard had a pretty bad channel imbalance, but the feeling of the headphone wasn't that good. The machined metal was quite rough to the touch, almost like a dull-blade kind of scratchy feeling. This is not the Moondrop quality that I'm used to seeing

Dekoni usually has a station setup with the same headphone paired with different material earpads on the same Mackie pre-amp. The setup is a great idea to have for letting people listen to the same thing at the same time with the same gear but with different earpads. I liked the "spin the wheel" game idea they had for people who stopped by and casted their vote for which earpads sound the best.
^ I like the sound of the elite fenestrated sheep skin earpads. That's what I preferred last year too and ended up buying a pair to replace the stock K 701 earpads that were basically falling apart.

I attended the AMT driver seminar as shown above, so it was time to give the HEDDphone One and Two a listen side by side on the same RME DAC/amp.

To be honest, I'm not a fan of either headphone's sound, but I prefer the sound of the HEDDphone Two. HEDDphone One sounded way too crispy and crunchy on the top end to me, and HEDDphone Two doesn't have that problem, but sounded nearly sibilant to my ears instead, which is not a great tradeoff in sound. HEDDphone Two sounded a lot less resolving and almost muddy-sounding in the lower-midrange compared to the HEDDphone One. The earpad/headband design still didn't work very well for me with glasses (the clamping force is still quite tight).

As the day came to a close, we stuck around for a few hours to wait for friends to finish up at the event. Chatting and debriefing with friends led us to being starved yet again, so we drove to a local pizza place to get some massive and tasty pizza, and to try hot honey for the first time (at least for me).

The next day was mostly saying goodbye to friends and getting one last bit of fun before going back to the daily grind. Since we me online on Head-Fi as anime fans, we went to a mall that has the USA's flagship store for an anime goods retail chain from Japan. Good times.


Thank you to the Head-Fi crew for making this event possible. I always have so much fun at these events and getting to meet other people in the industry/hobby.

One of the highlights of the event for me was seeing someone from Shenzhen Audio help a newcomer in the hobby. The newcomer wasn't sure about which in-ear to purchase and the person manning the booth was saying if you can't hear a difference between blah 1 and blah 2, just get the cheaper one and save your money. It's a small gesture, but I thought it was a meaningful one. This hobby isn't about buying the most expensive thing out there, it's about enjoying and appreciating one thing at a time.
Nov 15, 2023 at 10:04 AM Post #479 of 481
I went to 3 of the seminars this year, and they were all pretty different topics from what I've seen at previous CanJam events.

Note: each of the videos' descriptions has the time stamp locations for specific topics/questions within the seminar. These are also mostly for the audio recordings as they are recorded in binaural audio, but I took photos of the presentation slides for the video.

Air Motion Transformers (AMT) Transducers: Lighter, Faster, Stronger, Better?
I previously had no knowledge of AMTs other than they were a folded, accordion-style diaphragm. This was a more theoretical talk, so it was heavier on the technical aspects.

Pro Audio vs Audiophilia — Two Worlds Collide
To me, pro-audio has always been what I've strived to achieve in music reproduction systems. What the mastering engineer hears is what the ideal sound is. This talk was an interesting take on the engineers versus what audiophiles want.

I ended up buying a pair of the AirPods Pro after the CanJam event in hopes that I could experience the Spatial Audio with Apple Music (I have yet to try this).

New Audio Quality Metric for Humans
When I got into the hobby more seriously, how we hear sounds and how to measure that aspect of audio has been a mysterious topic to me. I talked with Vince at CanJam SoCal 2018? (when it was at the LA Live Marriott); super friendly and knowledgeable guy. I thoroughly enjoyed his seminar, and is really some good food for thought. The aspect of distortion, and the demos provided, were pretty eye-opening.

Spotlighting this for all of the folks who were looking to see some of the seminars. Thanks @miceblue!

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