CanJam NYC 2023

Empire Ears

I look forward to stopping by Empire table for many reasons.  Always happy to chat face to face with Jack and Dean, though Dean didn’t make it this time due to traveling logistics mix up.  EE area at the show is always super busy and, with the amount of people they get, one table is absolutely not enough.  Besides chatting with Jack, I always look forward to hear their upcoming prototypes.  CanJam shows is a big part of EE “crowd-tuning” of new releases where they collect feedback from audiophiles to implement it in the next round of prototype tuning.  Some companies release new IEMs and then collect feedback afterwards, EE likes to get their customers involved during the process of creating their new products.  And from what I hearing, they are close to the final stage of tuning for the next big release of one of their iems which is overdue for an update.  Can’t wait to hear the final tuning!

Other IEMs at the table, such as LX, EVO, and Odin I’m intimately familiar with and have reviewed in the past, but I’m still amazed how even 5-year old LX still generates fresh attention from bassheads.  One new IEM worth mentioning is Odyssey.  It was recently introduced at CanJam SoCal last year, and it is a collab between Empire Ears and Astell & Kern.  I’m very sad it is only a limited-edition release because Odyssey is probably my 2nd favorite Empire Ears IEM after Odin.  Odyssey has a bass with a similar impact and weight as EVO, positioning its low end tuning somewhere between Odin and LX.  Upper mids are tamed down relative to EVO, lowering the pinna-gain region which puts Odyssey midrange between EVO and Odin/LX.  To my ears, I find Odyssey to have a balanced tuning with a natural detailed tonality that will hit a sweet spot even with picky audiophiles.

Unfortunately, a few pictures I did take around the table turned out to be blurry, so I’m only using one of their table shots from a distance before the show started.


Effect Audio / Elysian Acoustic Labs

I haven’t seen Effect Audio since their last appearance at NYC show in 2019.  SY couldn’t make it this time, but Jordon was here, covering both EA and Elysian tables.  There were no surprises for me at EA table since I have covered all of their cables in the past, everything from Centurion, Chiron, Signature Series, Cleo II octa, and their recently introduced Code 23 pure copper cable which I’m yet to review though have been discussing on head-fi already.  With a thick 16.5 AWG copper wire design, you can probably call this cable a transportable rather than portable.  Yes, you can wear it as a regular IEM cable, but it is on a heavier and a stiffer side.  C23 has a super transparent detailed tonality with a zero hint of coloring.  Also, I found it to improve the soundstage perception of many IEMs I tried it with.  The cable is equipped with ConX modular iem connectors to give you the ability to use it with any type of IEMs.  There is also an option to build it with headphone connectors.  It also has TermX modular termination which switches between different popular headphone plugs.  Due to its size, the cable even comes with its own custom travel case.  And as I usually say, you don’t have to take someone else’s word for it, just bring your own DAP and IEMs, and take a listen to different cables, to see if you can hear the difference.


And speaking of IEMs, after their latest collab with Elysian Acoustic Labs, which gave birth to GAEA, SY (EA) and Lee (Elysian) decided to continue their partnership and I heard they will have more joint releases, including EA being involved in helping with manufacturing of future Elysian iems.  Between the craftmanship of Lee’s tuning and SY’s many years in audio business, I think this partnership has a bright future.  As a matter of fact, at the Elysian table, adjacent to EA table, they already showcased 2023 version of Elysian’s popular Annihilator and Diva models.

I didn’t have a chance to hear the original version of Diva thus not sure about what has changed, but their ’23 version had a rather impressive tuning with color-coded rotary switch (3 positions) to adjust the quantity of sub-bass and mid-bass.  With either switch positions, the mids were very transparent and detailed, very clean with a slight forward presentation of a typical 2k-4k pinna gain region.  And the same with the treble, being clean, extended, and very detailed while remaining almost the same as you rotate the switch.  The soundstage was very spacious, expanded.  With switches, you get a baseline “red” with a fast articulate neutral bass, “white” with a boosted sub-bass rumble, and “blue” with a boosted sub-bass and mid-bass.  As much as I like more weight in sub-bass and stronger impact in mid-bass, I actually preferred Diva tuning with its neutral “red” setting that brought up more focus to mids and treble.  Sub-bass boost of “white” added a nice analog rumble, but I went back to switch it off to enjoy the clean tight bass of the neutral setting.

Elysian Annihilator gathered a big following among many audiophiles since its original release, to the point where people didn’t even mind a rather long waiting build period.  Hopefully now, with a help from Effect Audio, we are going to see a higher production volume of their ’23 Annihilator version.  Again, I’m not too familiar with the original one, and the ’23 version could be similar in tuning, but I can definitely see why so many people praised its hi-res treble tuning.  These iems have a very open airy sound with a wide soundstage expansion and nearly holographic imaging.  The bass has more emphasis on a textured sub-bass rumble while mid-bass is tight and fast, being more neutral in comparison to sub-bass.  Lower mids are also neutral, maybe even south of it, very lean and transparent which brings attention to more revealing and micro-detailed upper mids.  Lower treble is tamed down, bringing more focus to mid- and upper-treble, crystal clear, detailed, extended, and also non-fatigue.  Overall, the sound is a little colder, more analytical in tuning, just super clean, clear, and transparent.

Another thing to keep in mind about Elysian Audio iems, they do use Pentaconn (Ear) connectors which are similar to mmcx, just more robust but not backward compatible with mmcx.  Coincidentally, Effect Audio now offers ConX modular connectors with many of their cables, including these specific Ear connectors.  Perhaps, we are going to see more EA cables bundled with Elysian Audio iems in the near future, just like they did with GAEA.  Also, both iems (Annihilator and Diva) are harder to drive, but not by a lot.  I noticed that I needed about 10 more clicks of volume in comparison to my other average sensitivity iems.


FirAudio at the CanJam was a big surprise since I was finally able to meet Bogdan in person.   And as a bonus, he was joined by his brother Vlad whom I met in the past at 64 Audio tables.  So, there you had it at FirAudio table, two former 64 Audio CEOs, Bogdan and Vlad Belonozhko, now leading FirAudio and celebrating their 5yr anniversary with a new release from Frontier Series, Radon 6 (RN6).  Last year FirAudio stepped it up with introduction of Neon 4 (NE4), Krypton 5 (KR5), and Xeon 6 (XE6) as part of their all-new Frontier Series which generated a lot of buzz, thanks to their “analog” bass tuning and quite a few design innovations, including a powerful Kinetic DD driver.  RN6 was the highlight of their table and it generated a lot of attention as the IEM with a driver config of XE6, yet with more audiophile-friendly tuning.

I found RN6 to be a “leaner” version of XE6, the change which made a world of difference bringing up a tighter punchier bass without losing the power of the original impact and sub-bass extension.  Those who want more clarity in mids/vocals when listening to XE6 will be pleased with RN6 to have more neutral lower mids which creates more contrast between the bass and the upper mids, giving the bass more control and better articulation and even having the same perception of impact as XE6.  In contrast, XE6 bass has a complementary tuning that sounds fuller and more relaxed due to a longer decay of notes.  A few people already asked me if RN6 is an upgrade of KR5 or XE6.  To me, RN6 is more of XE6 side-grade with a new flavor of basshead audiophile tuning, probably being my new favorite FirAudio IEM.

Another surprising highlight of FirAudio table was visitors discovering red atom module.  As many are aware, all Frontier Series iems have interchangeable atom (air transferring open module) pressure relief system which reduces ear fatigue during extended listening and at higher volume by venting pressures that build up in a sealed ear canal.  All those Frontier Series iems come with a set of 3 modules (smaller ones for unis and bigger ones for custom): gold (16dB), silver (15dB), and black (14dB) with corresponding isolation.  Red module (10dB) was introduced later and available as an optional accessory.  Some people were either not aware of it or just dismissed it, but this is another very useful “tool” to help you with finetuning of the sound, just like you do when trying different eartips.  I heard quite a few people at the show discovering red atom and talking about how much they enjoyed it with RN6.


Final Audio

Straight from Japan, I was glad to see Final Audio making their NYC show comeback, and it was a pleasure to talk to Kyo again, their Director of Global Business Development.  Final Audio is well knowns for IEMs and headphones, as well as their Type-E eartips you can find as part of stock accessories with many popular IEMs.  I’m not as familiar with their headphones, though have read a lot of praises, and I have reviewed their B-series and A8000.  I did hear about their E-series which also got covered by Erik on Tw6, E4000 and E5000, and was aware about their tuning being more natural and smoother in tonality.  But the highlight of Final Audio table at CanJam NYC was their… true wireless pair of earphones, their new ZE8000 flagship tws model.

I actually had a chance to spend some time with ZE8000 before the show and didn’t know what to expect when I first received it considering I’m quite familiar with A8000 and thought ZE8000 will be a wireless version of it.  Well, the only thing they share is “8000” in their name which, btw, refers to high resolution like in 8k TVs.  And sometimes we assume that high resolution means revealing brighter tonality which is true with A8k.  ZE8000 followed the sound tuning of E-series, having a very natural organic tonality with a high-resolution tuning processed by internal DSP.  I will put together a separate review of ZE8k in a very near future, because these tws definitely deserve one.  What impressed me the most about these true wireless earphones is not just the organic detailed tonality, but also a huge soundstage with holographic imaging.  The design is also quite unique and very effective at keeping these earphones secure and comfortable in your ears, though you do have to deal with included custom eartips.

And when it comes to tws earphones, it’s not just about the sound tuning, but also the functionality.  These offer active noise canceling (ANC) along with other sound modes.  For example, Ambient sound mode mixes in the external sound to raise the awareness of the surrounding so you are not as isolated from the outside world.  Voice Through mode pushes the music into the background while prioritizing the “voice” of the sound around you to be more forward when talking to people.  Wind-cut does a great job when you are moving around, running, fast-walking, or riding a bike outside, literally cutting down the annoying noise of the air/wind around you.  ANC doesn’t need introduction, and it is quite effective to cut down the outside noise.  The provided app also offers a custom EQ, the volume step optimizer for a more granular adjustment, and enabling/disabling the hi-res “8k sound+” DSP mode if you want to prioritize battery life.

I was also able to audition their other tws model, ZE3000 which is great as well and offers a similar natural organic tonality with a big size soundstage.  ZE8k does offer higher resolution for picky audiophiles, but ZE3000 is not too far off.  ZE3k shell has a more traditional A-/B-series shell design, it doesn’t offer ANC, and doesn’t have app support to change the EQ.  But, ZE3k is smaller, comes with a more compact battery charging case, and has a more robust and intuitive touch controls in lieu of its more traditional shell shape.  I personally like both ZE3k and ZE8k.  These tws are not tuned like other bloated bass releases geared toward a general consumer crowd.  In my opinion, these Final tws earpieces were definitely tuned for audiophiles.

Page 1 – Intro and Overview of the showroom.
Page 2 – Empire Ears, Effect Audio, Elysian Audio, FiR Audio, Final Audio.
Page 3 – Bloom Audio, Campfire, JOMO, Eletech, Lunch break.
Page 4 – Vision Ears, Sennheiser, Letshuoer, ThieAudio.
Page 5 – Musicteck (UM, Noble, Nostalgia, FatFreq, Cayin, Lotoo, and more).
Page 6 – Final thoughts.


12 thoughts on “CanJam NYC 2023

  1. I’ve read a lot of reviews you’ve written and I’m getting help.
    I want to see a comparison of the 64audio Fourte series. By any chance can you do that??


  2. I received a lot of help from your reviews. I want to see a comparison of the 64audio fourte series. By any chance can you do that??


    1. Not really sure what you mean by that comparison? I covered original Fourte and later Noir in the past. No plans to review Blanc, 64audio didn’t send out review samples. And, unfortunately, 64audio hasn’t released anything truly new since 2017 😦


      1. Got you. From a reviews I found out that u4s is not so slightly changed version of a4s. Thank you for the reply


      2. U4S is uni version of A4S they released before. Just like Nio was uni version of custom N8t they released on the past. I would have loved to hear U4S, but they didn’t introduce it until 3wks later at CanJam SGP


  3. The show looks really great! Btw, have you got a chance to try the AK ACRO CA1000T? Seems that it is available at the AK boot. I would like to hear your opinion about it, especially when compared with the AK SP3000. Thank you.


      1. Yeah, the model is an improved version of the previous AK ACRO CA1000 model (Similar to SP2000 -> SP2000T). Furthermore, it has 8 selectable choices for OP Amp and Tube Amp sound blending modes. You can blend between very precise, and sharp with warm and smooth sounds from both Amps’ outputs almost freely.


    1. Two different iems. Alpha Ti has a healthy bass slam and lift in upper frequencies, fun-tuned sound sig. Ronin is a smooth and warmish, more neutral bass and tamed down treble.


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