CanJam NYC 2022

Grell Audio.

Grell Audio was one of my first stops at the show where a legendary Axel Grell showcased his first product under own brand name. I’m sure the pressure and expectations from a man behind such famous headphones as HD600, HD650, HD800, and almighty Orpheus will be high, thus many were surprised his debut release was a pair of Grell TWS-1 true wireless earphones. Without a doubt, the consumer demand for TWS is still very high, and putting together a consumer product with an audiophile tuning is a bonus.

This pair of $199 TWS earphones was built to meet IPX4 splash proof requirements and features ANC, a decent battery performance (8hrs with ANC off, 6hrs with ANC on, and 4 more charges with a case), as well as BT support of aptX, SBC, AAC, and LHDC codecs. Unfortunately, only a few TWS currently support LDAC. The tuning of its 10mm DD had a good punchy bass, lean transparent mids with clear and detailed vocals, and crisp hi-res treble. This was not your typical bass-heavy consumer tuning. When I asked Axel why such revealing tonality, he told me it’s a baseline for audiophiles. Then, people are encouraged to use SonarWorks SoundID to customize the sound to their liking. Grell TWS-1 supports SoundID profiles which you can download and set as a default sound tuning for any source paired up with these wireless earphones.

As a disclaimer, I have read a number of Grell TWS-1 impressions after my report and noticed they all talk about warm and less resolving sound.  All these impressions do refer to Drop x Grell TWS collab, not the original Grell model.  So, I’m not sure if Drop uses a different custom SoundID or the one I tried in NYC had a custom SoundID loaded, but the pair of original TWS earphones I tested at CanJam didn’t sound bassy to my ears.  And I tested it with my Xelastec eartips, so definitely had a good seal.

Dunu.

At the Dunu table, it was great to see Tom again. He was glowing with pride talking about their upcoming hybrid IEM, Vulcan. I didn’t see the official spec anywhere, got carried away listening and talking about the tuning, and forgot to ask about the driver config. There were actually 2 pairs at the show, still in prototype phase, each one with a slightly different tuning. It was great to see Dunu being interested in collecting the feedback from the visitors at the show before finalizing the tuning.

From what I heard while auditioning both pairs, the first one had a bassier, natural tonality, with more emphasis on deeper bass, smooth organic mids, and a more polite treble extension. The second sample had less sub-bass and more transparency in mids, making them more revealing and resolving. For me personally, I enjoyed the mids and treble from the second sample and the bass from the first one. Will be interesting to see which way the final tuning turns out to be. Also, the shell looked great with a Damascus-like finish pattern.

Other IEMs on the display were Zen Pro, Falcon Pro, EST112, and SA6. But the one getting a lot of attention was a new Titan S, $79 budget priced reboot of the classic Titan series, featuring new looks with a cyberpunk theme. Its 11mm DD driver features polycondensate LCP (liquid crystal polymer) diaphragm, and comes with 2pin detachable premium cable with a mix of copper and silver-plated copper and modular plug system with 3.5mm included stock and other plugs available optionally. Titan S has a punchy fast neutral quantity bass, more revealing mids, and hi-res crisp treble.

During the CanJam show, many Dunu IEMs were offered at a special discounted price of up to 20-25%. Just something to keep in mind for future shows where in addition to being able to audition various products, you can also score a sweet deal.

Meze Audio.

I’m quite familiar with Meze RAI Penta (reviewed) and Empyrean (reviewed), and Empyrean has been featured in a lot of my DAP reviews to showcase the pair up. But I was curious about one of their latest releases, Liric, close-back planar headphones featuring MZ4 Isodynamic hybrid array driver with a dual shaped voice coil, similar to the one found in Meze Empyrean. Open back headphones are great when you are enjoying music in a privacy at home where the sound isolation and leakage doesn’t matter as much. But in public or at home where you don’t want to bother people next to you, closed-back is more appropriate.

These new headphones look stunning, no surprises here. Antonio Meze and his team pays as much attention to the design and aesthetics as they do to the sound tuning. For someone who is mostly into IEMs, I can still appreciate the comfort of full-size headphones and the privacy of closed back design. The tuning was very resolving, crisp, with deep punchy bass, neutral reference mids, and crisp non-harsh treble. Of course, when dealing with full-size planar headphones, pair up and selection of a source is crucial, thus tuning could vary, especially if you are using DAPs or planning to use desktop amps equipped with tubes. But overall, for a portable use while driven from an “average” DAP, expect a more reference revealing tuning of these stunning $2k closed back planar headphones.

There was also a lot of buzz at the table with people trying a pair of Meze Audio new upcoming “109” open back headphones. The waiting was taking too long and I wasn’t sure if these were semi-final or final prototypes. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to even take a picture or to find out more about it. Then, there was another surprise, an all-new IEM that wasn’t revealed at the show officially yet, and I only had a chance to audition it in private. Unfortunately, I was asked not to reveal its details. I know, it is unfair that I’m talking about two new products without being able to reveal the details of the design or the sound tuning. But I just wanted people to be aware that something new is coming from Meze.

Empire Ears.

I always look forward to stop by and say hello to Jack and Dean, though this time Dean didn’t attend the show. I took a number of shots but they turned out to be all blurry, so I’m “borrowing” one of the pictures EE shared on their social media (the one below wasn’t taken by me). EE table was very busy with many people stopping by to audition Odin (reviewed) and the latest EVO (reviewed), as well as the rest of their full line up. Since I’m quite familiar with all IEMs at the table, reviewed many in the past, there wasn’t as much for me to hear, but Jack still managed to surprise me with one of the prototypes of something new Dean is working on. Can’t wait to hear how it turns out to be when finalized!

canjam_nyc-2022-empire_ears-2-EE

64 Audio.

Since I’m very familiar and have reviewed most of the 64 Audio IEMs, there wasn’t as much for me to hear at the table either. But I do want to mention that 64 Audio area was crowded, as usual, with many people trying to audition their latest Duo (reviewed) and U18s (reviewed) models. I tried to take a few pictures as I walked by their table, but everything was semi-blurry and out of focus. The picture below is the better one, sorry about that. But one thing I did notice, people were stopping by the table in hope for a new flagship which 64 Audio is definitely overdue for!

canjam_nyc-2022-64audio_table

Page 1 – Intro.
Page 2 – Grell Audio, Dunu, Meze Audio, Empire Ears, 64 Audio.
Page 3 – MMR/JOMO, Eletech, Bloom Audio, Lunch break.
Page 4 – SoundCore, InEar, Linsoul/ThieAudio, FAudio.
Page 5 – CEntrance, HiFiMan, Chord, JH Audio.
Page 6 – Musicteck (Cayin, FirAudio, EA, VE, Oriolus, UM, Aroma, SoftEars, Lotoo, and more).
Page 7 – Final thoughts.

One thought on “CanJam NYC 2022

  1. Thank you very much for your comprehensive CanJam NYC report. I was so upsetted that I can’t attend this show in person. Your show report has filled me in, and I am looking forward to meet you next year.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s