Musicteck already established themselves as a “regular” at CanJam shows. And while this was their 4th CanJam NYC, they made appearances at other US CanJams too, like SoCal show. This year, their presence was even more noticeable across 5 tables along the back of the showroom, representing multiple dozens of popular IEMs, DAPs, and cable brands, even being the exclusive US distributor for some well-established manufacturers. As I already mentioned before, while my coverage of CanJam NYC show is mostly focused on portable audio, overall, you will find more desktop audio gear manufacturers attending this show, a polar opposite of CanJam SGP which is just around the corner. In a way, visiting Musicteck tables at CanJam NYC is like a teaser of what to expect next in SGP.
I will try to go over newer products I saw at their tables. The lines are usually long and people end up sitting on both sides of their tables. You can easily spend two days in there and still won’t have enough time to hear everything. We are talking about IEMs from Unique Melody, Oriolus, Aroma, VE, Empire Ears, Noble, FatFreq, Elysian Acoustic Labs, Nostalgia Audio, Meze Audio, Melodic Artification, SoftEars, and more. Then, DAP manufacturers like Lotoo, Cayin, Shanling, Hiby, L&P. And cable brands like Effect Audio, Eletech, PWA, Liquid Links, and the latest additions from Brise Audio. I was quite familiar with a number of products already since I have reviewed many of these before, thus I will focus mostly on new additions.
Before the NYC show, UM announced the upcoming update of their popular Mest series iems, MK3 model. The pictures of their new ceramic “blue” shell started to circulate literally a few days before CanJam, creating a buzz and a speculation if we are going to hear these at Musicteck table during the show. And lo and behold, there was a pair of the final pre-production version available for audition. Based on what I heard, these have quite a big soundstage, deep extended bass down to a nicely textured sub-bass rumble, more balanced fuller body lower mids complemented by more transparent clear detailed upper mids, and a clear detailed treble. It was a quick audition and I didn’t have a chance for any A/B comparisons, but the tuning sounded somewhere between Mest MK2 and Mest Indigo, probably closer to Indigo tuning. It was interesting to note that driver config was also similar to Indigo due to 4ESTs. I was told this MK3 model will be priced somewhere between MK2 and Indigo. Can’t wait to hear and to spend more time with the final production unit.
As I was moving on to other IEMs, Andrew (the man behind Musicteck), asked me to check out another Mest model with a switch. As we all well aware, Mest was the first model that implemented Bone Conduction drivers. As a sidenote, it’s funny how usually a new tech gets trickle down to lower models, while in this case it trickled “up” to their flagship Mason and Mentor. But the question always remained, what is the effect of BCD driver in terms of the sound contribution to the tuning. We can all speculate, but there is no way to hear it… until now. UM made a special MK3 model, just for the show, with a switch to enable/disable BCD driver. A number of people tried it, saying they couldn’t hear the difference in tonality, and they were partially right. But if you focus on the technical performance in a quieter corner of the CanJam showroom, it jumps right at you. With BCD enabled, the vertical dynamics of the sound was more expanded, with the sound being more layered, also affecting imaging which spread wider and deeper. With BCD disabled, the sound felt more compressed and imaging felt more centered and intimate. And I have to add, since I didn’t know the purpose or the position of the switch, to my ears it was truly a blind test when I noted these changes.
FatFreq Maestro SE and Grand Maestro were other two highly anticipated “bass cannon” additions to Musicteck product lineup, available at the show for audition. I heard a lot of praises of these “IEMs with a huge sub-bass lift”, now curious to hear it myself, especially how it will affect the rest of the tuning. Right away, I noticed Maestro SE requires more power, but it is still manageable to be driven to their full potential from any “average” DAP. And yes, you can certainly expect a huge sub-bass lift which surprisingly doesn’t interfere as much with mids and the rest of the frequencies. Lower mids are on a leaner side, and upper mids are clear and detailed. Treble compensates the sub-bass lift with a crisp bright tonality, not harsh but on a brighter side, as I hear it. Regardless of exaggerated bass, this U-shaped tuning with extra emphasis on sub-bass and treble just works, and after a while of listening becomes quite addictive.
While Maestro SE has only one tuning, the Grand Maestro comes with a switch to adjust the bass quantity. With the switch up, sub-bass/mid-bass reaches the level of Maestro SE, though Grand Maestro mids sounded a bit more forward in comparison to SE. As a result, the sound was more balanced. It still has a massive bass slam, but the perception of the bass is not on the same level as in SE, and you also get more clarity and better retrieval of details from mids. Plus, it had the same sensitivity and needed a bit more power, just like with SE. But with a switch down to reduce the bass, the tuning became more mid-forward, with bass losing some of its power. It sounded more “regular” which kind of lost its basshead magic. Still a good tuning, but I preferred switch up to bring out more bass. Interestingly enough, with switch down, the sensitivity was higher and I didn’t need extra volume to drive them loud. Between Maestro SE and Grand Maestro, for me personally, Grand Maestro with bass boost was my favorite.
There was a lot of other IEMs to check out. Collection of Empire Ears with Odin always getting people’s attention, Vision Ears with the latest Phoenix, Phoenix LE, and EXT getting a lot of ear time, the ever popular Oriolus Traillii and Aroma Jewel which still remain in the spotlight, as well as UM’s Mason Fable Sound and Mentor Multiverse with the latter one gaining a lot of attention lately. And while Elysian Audio Labs had their own table next to EA, Musicteck now offers Annihilator and Diva to their customers. With the prices of flagships going up, not everybody feels comfortable with blind buys, regardless of glowing reviews and impressions. Being at the show where you can bring your own source and eartips and go through all the top flagship IEMs, comparing them side by side is priceless. Also, Musicteck offers a loaner program for those who can’t attend the show.
And speaking of flagships, Noble Ronin also made its official debut at the show, including Musicteck tables. As I already mentioned on Head-fi, relative to their other flagship releases, such as Kublai Khan and Viking Ragnar, Ronin had a different tuning. Their other latest releases had more neutral mid-bass with deeper sub-bass rumble, a leaner lower mids, and a lot more forward energetic treble. Ronin complements this with more focus on mid-bass impact, fuller body more organic mids, and natural smooth treble. It’s probably the most balanced and smooth tuned Noble I heard in a while. Still quite detailed despite being more colored. To my ears and relative to Kublai Khan and Viking Ragnar, Ronin is tuned to sound more natural, more organic, and smoother in a treble region.
Another recent addition to Musicteck line up was from Nostalgia Audio, their flagship Camelot model (2DDs, 4BAs, 4ESTs). A smoother natural tuning with a slightly elevated bass, organic detailed mids, and smoother clear treble. Nostalgia Audio also had an upgrade cable “Lancelot” to complement their Camelot iems, and for those who are cable disbelievers it was a good opportunity for a blind test where that cable added more sparkle to the sound. But not only mega-kilobuck flagships were getting attention. FAudio Mezzo LE with its balanced tuning and natural revealing tonality offers 3 switches to adjust the tuning to your liking, not some gimmick but actually offering a noticeable change in tuning. Another one I enjoyed was Melodic Artification Eclipse with its U-shaped signature, warm tonality, and a deep elevated bass. You can feel the weight and the presence of the bass, but it wasn’t on basshead level. Its lower mids had a fuller body, and upper mids were warm and organic along with a smoother tuned treble.
Either if you are or not a cable believer, you can make up your own mind if you do or don’t hear a difference by taking your time to cable roll with all the top offerings from Effect Audio, Eletech, PWA, Liquid Links. The latest addition to Musicteck cable line up came straight from Japan, Brise Audio cables, including their Yatono series flagship cable which generated quite a buzz due to their raw transparent tonality with zero coloring. Musicteck even had their Tsuranagi portable amp at the show. PWA collection also expanded with more exotic name cable models. Considering that Peter Wong (the name behind Peter Wong Audio) not always clear about the exact composition of his cables, this is a great opportunity to find out which one you like or if you even hear a difference, including many being curious about the effect of shielding vs non-shielding versions. And if you think the eyewatering prices of some of these cables are unapproachable, Liquid Links offers cheaper versions that sound on par with some other flagships and have the same premium look and hardware build. Last, but not least, while both Effect Audio and Eletech were at the show with their own tables, it was still nice to have these at Musicteck table for side-by-side comparison.
DAPs were also well represented at Musicteck tables, and I noticed a lot of interest around non-Delta-Sigma dac models. Every time I walked by MT tables, I’ve seen people listening to the latest Hiby RS8 Android flagship DAP with R2R discrete DAC design. For those who don’t care about streaming and prefer a focus on audio only playback, Luxury & Precision models, LP6 and P6 Pro, always gather attention with people putting audio playback ahead of a primitive interface found on these DAPs, though L&P next release will be modular and with a new improved GUI. For those who are more budget conscious, there were plenty of Shanling and Hiby mid-fi DAPs to check out, with majority of those being delta-sigma dac designs. Hiby’s latest R6 III actually offers quite a feature-packed fast Android performance under $500.
2 big DAP debuts at the show were Cayin latest N7 Android DAP design which I happened to borrow for a week+ before the show from Musicteck in order to share my first impressions about this 1-bit direct DSD discrete DAC design, fully balanced architecture, and Class A/AB amp modes with a very natural analog tonality and a huge soundstage expansion. I noticed quite a few people comparing it to RS8 due to curiosity about discrete DAC designs between these two DAPs. Another big surprise was Lotoo showcasing its Asgardian hammer – Mjolnir, they upcoming transportable DAP model. I believe it is still in prototype stage, getting closer to pre-production level. This is one cool looking desktop DAP with a transportable functionality since it is battery powered. I walked by it quite a few times, but couldn’t get even close, not until a very brief auditioning around 6:30pm after the show. It is really hard to judge the overall tuning due to a brief time spent with this DAP. And it did look like it was built around LPGT touch interface integrated into the top of the Mjolnir. From a brief listening, it had a natural detailed tonality and a very big soundstage. I guess the design will accommodate both regular IEMs and demanding headphones. Perhaps I will get a chance to spend more time with it, but in a short encounter it looked like a solid build unit with LPGT interface and hi-res natural tuning.
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”
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??
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??
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 😦
Got you. From a reviews I found out that u4s is not so slightly changed version of a4s. Thank you for the reply
Isn’t u4s interesting? New release in these range
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
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.
No, unfortunately didn’t have a chance to try it. Wasn’t T version similar to SP2000T? Need to research more.
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.
Can you compare ronin and alpha Ti? I’m interested in both
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.
Thanks for your reply, I will choose between it and Elysian Anni