CanJam NYC 2020 Report

Beyerdynamic

Since nothing has changed, I’m going to copy’n’paste the same paragraph I wrote last year in my CanJam NYC 2019 report about Beyerdynamic:

Every year I stop by Beyerdynamic table to talk to Pete in hope to discover the follow up to Xelento and T5p 2nd gen, but end up seeing more consumer-oriented products. Even the new Xelento version is the same flagship IEM with a Bluetooth wireless cable. I hope Beyer is not resting on their laurels and maybe will surprise us in a near future with something new from their German labs.

Actually, thing have changed, but more in favor of wireless consumers with an itch for higher quality headphones. In addition to their Lagoon ANC headphones, this year Amiron Wireless headphones were refreshed with a new Copper version which I found to sound quite good. Featuring they signature high end dynamic TESLA driver, these Bluetooth headphones support aptX HD and LL, have a 30hr playback time, touchpad controls, and work with MOSAYC app to customize the sound to your hearing. In my brief testing, I found the sound to be very balanced with a natural detailed tonality. The bass was deep and well rounded, mids sounded natural and detailed, and treble was well controlled and natural as well. I had a little bit of trouble with earpads seal, which I assume has to do with a headband that needs to be adjusted to fit my head shape better.

Before I left the table, Pete reassured me again that a new audiophile IEM is in the works. I just hope it will be based around AK T9iE which Beyer manufacturers for A&K. Or maybe even better. So, let’s keep our fingers crossed because Beyerdynamic is definitely overdue for a new flagship IEM under their own brand name.

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Soundcore by Anker

I wasn’t even aware that Anker spun off their audio line of products under its own Soundcore brand name. Of course, who hasn’t heard of Anker, considered to be the industry leader in portable power-banks and all kinds of usb chargers. I was aware of their Bluetooth speakers and earphones, and have reviewed some in the past. But always considered them to be aimed at general consumers, not audiophiles.

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At the show, Soundcore was presenting their new True Wireless earphones, Liberty 2 Pro, and it had a very impressive original design. Not exactly a small compact shell that goes right into your ears, but more of an elongated shape that sticks out (like Sony), I found Liberty 2 Pro to fit very comfortably and secure. They offered a hybrid design with 11mm DD and BA, 8hr playback time on a single charge and 4 more recharges from the case for a total of 32hrs of playback time. They even offered a quick charge time where you can get 2hrs of playback after 10min of charging, and the battery case could be charged from either USB-C or Qi wireless. The sound had a deep bass with a strong impact and clear airy mids and treble, with a default tuning being more fun v-shaped.

But the real fun supposed to start when you load their HearID hearing profile app to customize the sound and controls. There are multiple available EQ presets and sound profile settings, plus you can customize your own. And once you done, the setting stays with Liberty 2 Pro earphones even when you connected to another device without HearID app. Pretty much you can permanently change/customize the sound to use with any device and from any app. Also, these TWS earphones have a single control button on each side which could be customized for various applications, from playback and skip to volume controls, and with either short or long or multiple presses.

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Noble Audio

While the “Wizard” himself wasn’t at the show, his brother Jim Moulton and Jim’s wife were representing the Noble Audio at CanJam NYC show. Among others, the featured products at the table were Khan and Tux5 iems, and Falcon TWS earphones. I didn’t get a chance to hear Falcon earphones since I was in a rush, but I did spend a little bit of time with their flagship Khan and its sidekick Tux5.

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Noble Khan features their tri-hybrid design with 10mm DD, 4BA, and 10mm piezo electric driver, and a beautifully crafted shell. As I mentioned last year, it was great to see Noble getting out of their comfort zone of all-BA designs, and trying something new. Khan has a very wide soundstage, powerful bass impact with a great extension down to a deep sub-bass rumble, and a very crisp and airy treble, lifted to bring more energy to upper frequencies of the tuning. For my personal taste, I found the treble to be just a bit too vivid, but this seems to be a popular tuning signature nowadays.

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On the other hand, Tux5 and its 5-driver hybrid design with 10mm DD bass woofer and 4BAs for mids and highs, offers a more fun tuned alternative to Khan. With a mildly v-shaped signature, I found Tux5 to have a deep elevated bass, organic detailed fuller body mids, and well controlled natural treble extension. Those who enjoy more bass emphasis in your IEMs will certainly enjoy this signature.

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Sony

While I typically visit the Sony table to check out DAPs, earphones, and headphones, last year their Bluetooth noise canceling WH-1000XM3 caught my attention because I felt Sony was trying to bridge the gap between wireless convenience for consumers and natural-sound tuning for audiophiles. This year, I even forgot to check out their latest anniversary NW-ZX500 DAP series, and instead waited patiently in line to hear their WF-1000XM3 TWS.

Not exactly a new offering since it was already introduced last year, I think it’s one of the most underrated TWS releases that flew under the radar of many audiophiles who considered it to be another “consumer” release. Last year TWS made a big splash with a ton of releases, but majority were disappointing cookie cutters with a generic consumer tuning. Once I tried WF, I quickly realized it’s not just another TWS. These 6mm DD true wireless earphones use a dedicated QN1e noise-canceling processor and upscale the audio using their proprietary DSEE HX sound enhancement engine. So, even without a support of aptX and LDAC, the sound was very resolving, balanced, and detailed without a bloated pounding bass.

These earphones were designed to meet the latest TWS requirements with simultaneous left/right earpiece transmission to eliminate any delay, use adaptive sound control and proximity sensor with resume playback functionality, noise canceling and sound decoding optimization, and a very good battery life. With Noise canceling off, you get 8hr on a full charge and up to 32hrs total battery life with a charging case. When using Noise canceling, you still get a decent 6hr playback time on a single charge and up to 24hrs of total battery life with extra charges from a case. But what impressed me the most was audiophile quality TWS performance.

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Empire Ears

For the last 3 years, Empire table always felt like a family gathering with a dynamic father/son duo of Dean and Jack, and I remember even seeing Dean’s wife at the table as well. This year, Vang family didn’t attend the show, and instead I was greeted by the rest of “Empire” family at the table, finally meeting Josh in person.

Despite not being a new release, Legend X from X-series and Phantom from EP-series are still gathering a lot of attention at the show with people stopping by Empire table to hear and to compare these popular IEMs. Recently, Empire’s line up of IEMs were updated with new EP-series flagship Wraith and the new addition to X-series, tribrid (DD/BA/EST) Valkyrie.

Of course, in a rush I forgot to test Valkyrie, but also heard a rumor Empire is working on a new flagship. Can’t wait!

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Astell & Kern

Astell & Kern table is always busy. Jason, who many are familiar with from Head-fi answering all the support questions in every single A&K thread, was there… to continue answering all the support questions about every single A&K model. I’m already familiar with most of their DAPs, so didn’t spent much time at the table, but did enjoyed the view with all of them lined up in a row like a shiny solders in colorful leather outfits, from the latest SP2000 SS/CU flagship, to SP1000 SS/CU, SP1000M, SP1000M Gold, SE100, and SR15.

People ask about the difference between Stainless Steel (SS) or Copper (CU) chassis versions, or how does the sound of SP1000M compares to full SP1000. Many are skeptical if chassis material can make a difference in sound. At CanJam you get a chance to answer these questions by listening and comparing these DAPs yourself. At the show, every A&K DAP was pre-loaded with the same playlist of lossless high res tracks, making it easier to do a true A/B comparison while playing the same song across different DAPs.

And in addition to DAPs, they also had a selection of special edition A&K branded headphones and earphones from JH and Beyerdynamic. But one thing I forgot to ask about was their recently introduced SA700 DAP, the one A&K refers to as “Past Meets Present” since they took the original AK120 design and turned it into a new updated 2020 version. I’m not even 100% sure if it was available at the show, but still looking forward to check it out in a near future.



And just like that, it was already 6pm, the show was over, the day was done…

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Final thoughts.

Every year while visiting CanJam NYC show I get a chance to see old friends and to meet new ones, I get a chance to talk about old gear and to listen to new one, I get a chance to share my accumulated audio experience with others and to learn something new, and I get a chance to see old school desktop gear and old time audiophiles under the same roof as new school portable gear surrounded by a younger crowd. Maybe I’m getting a bit sentimental here, but to me every CanJam NYC show I visited so far has been a unique experience, connecting the old and the new, a bridge between where I have been and where I’m going, and how much I have grown as a reviewer and as an audiophile during this journey. I know, some are going to find this cheesy, but that’s how I felt at the moment.

Attending CanJam is always a unique experience for me because audio gear physical shops in US are very rare. Furthermore, after writing my report last year, I received a lot of positive feedback from those who were not able to attend the show and were able to relive it through my eyes. Last year the focus of the report was on “reporting” of what I found at the show. This year, I wanted to expand it with some brief impressions so you can also hear it through my ears. But no matter how many reviews and impressions you are going to read, nothing can substitute the first hand or the first “ear” experience when deciding on your next gear investment based on what and how you hear it.

And as always, last but not least, Big Thank You to Jude, Ethan, Joe, Brian and the rest of Head-fi crew and volunteers for bringing CanJam shows to us and giving the opportunity to enjoy this hobby to its full potential!

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One thought on “CanJam NYC 2020 Report

  1. Always enjoy seeing CanJam reports! Nice job with coverage, pictures and impressions! I checked prices of the Lliad cable, wow on the price of these things!! I’m a cable guy, don’t get me wrong 🙂 And, I love silver for a lot of my cabling where I can afford it! It’s beautiful for sure…
    Interesting to hear on the R8 – and all the Beryllium infused goodness happening 🙂
    Thanks!

    Like

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