CanJam NYC 2019 Report

HiFiMan.

Hifiman area was so busy that I noticed people listening to their headphones both at the table and feet away from it.  I know their planar magnetic headphones draw a lot of attention due to a wide price range which goes down to a very affordable level, and there were many audiophiles testing and comparing their latest full size cans.  Since I’m more familiar with their portable range of products, the only thing that interested me the most was their latest R2R2000 streaming DAP.

With a design based around R2R DAC, I knew what to expect from the on-line impressions I read, but in person (in my hands) it felt even smaller.  Following the footsteps of the original pocket friendly HM700 and SuperMini, don’t expect the advanced touch screen functionality with R2R2000.  Instead, HiFiMan continued their minimalistic design approach with more emphasis on sound quality.  I believe there is still more work to finalize the firmware, and HiFiMAN putting more emphasis now on streaming part of the functionality, encouraging R2R2000 users to pair up wireless with a smartphone using LDAC protocol.

While I didn’t see it up close, the other big news from HiFiMan was introduction of new wireless products, including BA1000 Wireless Speaker based on 30-watt amplifier design and playtime of 72hrs (as I read it on-line in their promo announcement).  Also, they introduced the first planar magnetic wireless headphones, a Bluetooth version of Ananda-BT with 13.5hrs battery playback and aptX HD support.  According to HiFiMan, they were able to find a built in wireless solution to drive Ananda-BT to its full potential.

Unfortunately, the pictures I took at HiFiMan table were out of focus.

Westone.

Westone table was another hot spot with many people crowded around it.  Their CanJam visit to NYC was aligned with Westone’s introduction of v2 update of their popular W-series universal IEMs.  While last year Westone revamped their UM Pro series line up with v2 update, this year it’s W-series turn to receive a facelift, and I mean it in a literal way.

After updating their W-series line up, heavily based on the feedback from their customers, Westone W-series v2 will now include W10, W20, W40, W60, and W80 IEMs.  They (W40, W60, and W80) will feature all new more durable metal faceplates, no more plastic faceplate clips (except for W10 & W20), and all of them will include a Bluetooth Cable, allowing you to “cut the wire” and use your Westone IEMs wireless, connected to your smartphone using aptX HD codec.  In addition, W40 and W60 will include a premium bonus silver plated cable, while W80 will continue to feature ALO Ref8 premium hybrid cable and will bump Bluetooth Cable to the latest v2.  Also, regardless of these bonuses, the price on all W-series IEMs will remain the same.

Of course, some might question, what happened to W30 and why W50 disappeared a year ago?  They are both coming back, reincarnated as B30 and B50 universal IEM models, focused more on bass performance.  As you might have guessed, B in this model name stands for more bass emphasis.  I have been talking to many basshead audiophiles lately, and there is definitely a demand for this sound signature.

Also, as I already mentioned above, W80 will included the latest version of Westone BT v2 cable, which is a revision of their original one.  While still featuring aptX HD, this cable steps up to include a portable charging dock to extend battery life on the go and to enable contact charging ports for a full IPX5 certification.  Also, cable has pre-shaped flexible earhooks for a more comfortable wear.  Another noticeable difference was stepping up to Bluetooth 5.0 and using CSR8675 latest chipset which according to the spec could be fw upgradeable to support LDAC.  I really hope Westone will explore this option in a future.

This was another table where the picture didn’t come out right.

Effect Audio.

Always a pleasure to see Eric and SY at the show, and to talk about the latest news in the audio world.  Effect Audio doesn’t just sell their cables to consumers, but also works with many different manufacturers to supply premium “stock” cables.  I’m starting to notice a new trend where many IEM manufacturers starting to realize the demand for a better quality cables, besides those cheap OFC wires in black plasticy shielding.  Regardless if you do or don’t believe in cables, when you invest hundreds or thousands into your monitors, customer would like to see a more premium look with a more comfortable fit when it comes to cables.

Realizing this, Effect Audio came up with an idea of a new EA Origin budget cable, based on silver plated copper (SPC) wires.  It still has a premium design with EA-branded elements, but this cable has a very affordable price and Effect Audio also introduced a trade-in program.  With this program, when you trade-in your old stock cable, you get $40 credit toward the purchase of EA Origin.  EA Origin cost a fraction of some of the EA premium cables to begin with, and with trade in, you can get it for around $50 with either 2pin or mmcx and 3.5mm or 2.5mm termination.

But if you are into exotic cables with precious metal materials, EA offers an extensive line up of premium cables as well.  While sitting at their table, I noticed a number of people stopping by to check the wires, with some being quite skeptical to begin with.  Many were curious about their latest Leonidas II release, and I also had a chance to hear their 8-wire Leo II upgraded cable.  One thing I always appreciate when talking to Eric and SY, they never force their opinion on you and instead just want you to hear the difference for yourself, to draw your own conclusion.

Jomo Audio.

Making its NYC debut, Joseph and his Jomo Audio were present at the show, right next to Effect Audio table.  Of course, it wasn’t their first CanJam, but it was their first show in New York City.  While they have a very broad selection of IEMs, my focus was on their latest two high end models.

Jomo Audio Trinity flagship IEM comes in two variants with either stainless steel or brass nozzle design.  This latest hybrid features three different type of drivers with Duo Electrostatics drivers with internal transformer, Quad Balanced Armature drivers, and a Single 8mm Dynamic Driver.  All 7 drivers are arranged in a four ways crossover network, and it comes with a premium cable.

Their other high end IEM, Flamenco, has Eleven Precision Balanced Armature Drivers, partitioned into 1x sub, 2x low, 4x mid, 2x high, and 2x super high BAs.  Also, it has 5-way crossover network, and features two analog toggle switches with Bass Boost and High Boost, allowing you to select four sound signature combinations.

Empire Ears.

Empire table always feels like a family gathering with a dynamic father/son duo of Dean and Jack.  Though introduced last year at CanJam NYC, their latest X-series and EP-series still gets a lot of attention, with people trying to decide which tuning suites their taste better.  Most of the people who come to their table usually start with flagships, Legend X (from X-series) and Phantom (from EP-series), and then move down the line.

For those who are not familiar, Legend X has 7-driver hybrid design with 2 dynamic lows (twin W9 subwoofers), 3x BA mid drivers, and 2x BA high drivers, and a unique 10-way crossover.  The Phantom is their 5-driver all BA design with 2x low, 1x mid, and 2x high driver design, and corresponding 5-way crossover.  Both can be ordered in either universal or custom IEM design, with lots of finish options.  And if you are going for Custom design and need ear impressions, Jack is always ready for you at the table.

LUNCH Break.

I know it sounds silly to bring this up, but for 3 years in a row I had a pleasure of eating at Marriott Marquis Hotel 8th floor food court where they have a fantastic $22 all-you-can-eat buffet with an excellent selection of food and deserts, like on a cruise ship.  Every time I bring this up to people, they tell me they were not aware of it because once you go up to a food court, they sit you down and bring a menu where you can spend on a basic lunch meal at least 2x as much.

canjam_lunch_buffet-01

64 Audio.

64 Audio table is another busy site of crowd gathering to hear their U18t, Fourte, N8 and the latest addition to the product line-up, U12t and Trio.  They also have other lower driver models, but I think these five are in highest demand to test and to compare.  It always amazes me that U18t and Fourte were introduced over two years ago, and the interest to hear them at CanJam shows is still very high.  Plus, for those living in US, 64 Audio offers a loaner program to audition some of their flagships at home if you can’t attend the show.  Or, you can stop by at audio46 store in Manhattan to see if any demos are available.

Since I’m familiar with all their IEMs, I didn’t stop by their table, but did note a lot of people around it, waiting for their turn to hear 64 Audio IEMs.  One thing I do want to bring up to people’s attention, periodically 64 Audio has B-Stock sales with deep discounts on popular IEMs, at nearly 30% off.  Most of them are still in a very good shape, some are like new.  So, it’s a good idea to check from time to time their B-stock sales page.

Pictures here didn’t come out right either.

Noble Audio.

After skipping NYC show last year, though Noble was there in 2017, this year they were back and with a brand new flagship IEM – Khan.  Ironically, I think the real star of this table was Head-fier Watagump who was helping Noble at the show, and prior to that spent a week pumping everybody up on Head-fi, promising pizza and candies.  It was fun chatting with Wata (Eric), and I left the table with Twizzlers treats!

As expected, their table was filled with all the latest and current IEMs, everything I’m already familiar with, except for their latest hybrid flagship Khan.  This latest tri-level hybrid design by John Moulton, a.k.a. Wizard, has 6 drivers partitioned into 10mm DD to cover the lows, 4x BA drivers to cover mids and highs, and 10mm Piezo electric tweeter.  I’m glad to see Noble Audio breaking the mold of their previous all BA designs, introducing something new to jump back into the spotlight.

Campfire Audio.

This was another table, or in reality a set of tables, that always gathers a huge crowd of audio enthusiast ready to check out Ken’s latest creations.  This time, Caleb was alongside with Ken, and they were quite busy directing the traffic of people wanting to check out Solaris, Comet, Andromeda, Cascade, and other Campfire Audio IEMs, all of which come with Ken’s ALO cables.

Without a doubt Solaris, their latest hybrid flagship with a single DD and 4x BA drivers, was the star of the show.  Ken is very proud of this design and mentioned numerous times that unless there is a new development in driver technology, it will be hard to top Solaris.  In addition to Solaris spotlight, literally with a banner that is hard to miss, their single Dynamic drive Comet and a very popular 5x BAs Andromeda were also getting a lot of attention, just like their full size dynamic driver Cascade headphones.

campfire_audio-01

Page 1 – Intro, Cayin, Meze, Dita, Woo Audio, ABYSS, Audio-Technica, Sony, oBravo.

Page 2 – HiFiMAN, Westone, Effect Audio, Jomo, Empire Ears, 64 Audio, Noble, Campfire Audio.

Page 3 – MusicTeck, Unique Melody, Astell & Kern, audio46, qdc, FiiO, Beyerdynamic, Focal, Domo Audio, and Conclusion.

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6 thoughts on “CanJam NYC 2019 Report

    1. Often impressions are based on a personal biased sound preference when you’re there for 5-10min at the table, and it either hits the sweet spot or doesn’t. You know what I mean. In the past, some of my early impressions were taken out of content, with people quoting me “twister6 didn’t like this or that”. So, I learned my lesson 😉

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  1. In a few words…and without compromising future reviews…
    How is the coherence of the new electrostatic hybrid race (jomo, noble, aaw)?
    I think this maybe is the first problem everyone may fear

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    1. you are right, coherence is compromised with too many different drivers and tech behind it. Khan was more coherent, but I wasn’t too crazy about its bass, more laid back and not as articulate as I expected.

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