This weekend, I, shirley madoff from Headphone Dungeon, will be attending 2020’s CanJam NYC. Do not look for me; you won’t be able to find me – but I’m excited to be going anyway.
It would be difficult, if not impossible, to construct a complete list of every exhibitor at CanJam, so instead this is a list of booths I will almost certainly be at, time permitting. It’ll quickly become obvious that the list is in alphabetical order, so make sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page.
The official Head-Fi preview of CanJam is also out as of now, and it’s worth checking out for even more detail on some of these things.
Actually, rumor has it that I may be working at this booth at some point during the festivities; but we may never know. What I do know is that the one 64 Audio IEM that I’ve tried, the Tia Trio, had a seductive, powerful sound to it that immediately drew me in. This weekend, I’m looking forward to trying the rest of their stable – the U12t, the U18t, the Tia Fourte, etc. etc. What I do know is that they’ll be having a 15% sale on all their universal-fit IEMs (including all of the above). Considering the price of these things, that easily amounts to hundreds of dollars. Nice!
As a New York resident, I’ve got to bring up Audio46. One of NYC’s most beloved headphone specialty shops, it’ll be exhibiting a few pretty exciting products, new and old, including the Sivga P-II and Ultrasone Edition 15, the Strauss & Wagner TW401 and ANCBT501, a bunch of Sennheisers, and the new Dali Speakers headphones that I reviewed a few days back. It’ll also have a lot of Show Specials – too many to list, really. Head-Fi lists Final Audio, Audio-Technica, iFi Audio, Klipsch, Strauss & Wagner, SIVGA, DALI, Sennheiser, and Ultrasone, and then gestures toward the possibility of additional deals that they don’t even know about. Just…check them out.
Those who know me might know that my favorite headphone in my collection is the discontinued Audio-Technica ATH-AD2000, a relatively affordable headphone that provides an engaging, punchy, very colored sound. I won’t have much with me (after all, most of my gear isn’t portable) but I’m looking forward to comparing the AD2000 with Audio-Technica’s higher-end gear.
I’m also looking forward to reviewing a few new headphones that are coming our way next year. I haven’t heard the flagships ATH-AWKT or ATH-AWAS yet, but based on my sessions with the ATH-W5000, I’m very excited to try them out. They’ll also be exhibiting their flagship open-back ATH-ADX5000. I’ve heard these, but it’s been a while.
If you’re interested in any of these, or Audio-Technica’s other headphones, check out this booth. You might even get a chance to try a rare older ATH model if you happen to be there at the same time as me.
Chord is one of the most praised manufacturers of DACs and amps on the market. Unfortunately, most of their products fall outside my budget, so I haven’t heard the most well-loved members of their stable (though I’ve heard the Mojo, and I like it). So I’ll be looking forward to hearing what they can do with their lineup.
Chord’s new announcements for CanJam are their new 2go, allowing the Hugo DAC/amp to be made into a portable unit, and the the 2yu, allowing the 2go to be used with any other DAC, including Chord’s higher-end products. These are exciting announcements (though not necessarily to me, because they don’t fit into my system – yet). Check them out if you’re looking to listen to music in a remote corner of your house!
Dan Clark Audio
Okay, I probably won’t be there myself, because I’ve already heard most of Dan Clark Audio’s latest products. But if you haven’t, now’s a good time to check them out. Dan Clark Audio, formerly MrSpeakers, have had a reputation for making products that lack dynamism. I can understand why people said that about the Aeon Flow, but their latest round of products, specifically the Aeon 2 twins (closed and open), blow that idea out of the water. These are fantastic-sounding headphones, and they’re worth a listen. The Dan Clark Audio booth will also have their Ether 2 and Voce headphones available – both excellent in their own right.
The now-obsolete DUNU Titan 3 was the first IEM I ever owned, so DUNU has a spot in my heart – the Titan’s airy and vocal-forward presentation informed much of my current taste in headphones.
But of course DUNU makes quite a few earphones that are considerably better (and more expensive) than the Titan series. For example, I’ll be trying their new LUNA IEM with its beryllium drivers and extremely low distortion specs, as well as the much-vaunted DK-3001. Rumor has it that they have some interesting Show Specials, too.
I’ve got to give a nice shout-out to the manufacturers of my current daily-driver IEMs (and the pair I’m wearing as I’m writing this article), the ER2SE. If you haven’t heard one of these yet, you’ve got to get your ears around one of them – these things set a benchmark for budget IEM performance, and they’ll be available at CanJam for $120. Go ahead, let yourself be tempted.
I’ll also be looking forward, of course, to trying the utterly classic ER4. I haven’t heard these yet, which seems like an oversight on my part, given how much praise they’ve gotten over the years and continue to get today. At $250, they’ll be about as cheap as you can ever get them. Basically, it’s a good time to hop onto the Etymotic train.
This one’s kind of personal. I’ve heard the HeadAmp GS-X Mk2 is one of the best headphone amps on the market when it comes to driving the ATH-AD2000, so I really would like to try that out. So, you know what, I think I’m going to. In fact, the GS-X will be hugely on sale, for $300 off ($600 if you buy a headphone above $1500 along with it). If you’re thinking of going with the GS-X, now’s the time.
The HEDDphone‘s kind of the talk of the town right now, with it’s all-new, ground-breaking Air Motion Transformer technology, and everyone’s clamoring to get their hands on these things. I might give it a pass, if the line’s too long – I’m not fundamentally an impatient person. But these do have the potential to become the “world’s greatest headphone” if everything pans out, and the impressions already out there are very positive.
Hifiman is one of my all-time favorite headphone manufacturers. I own a Sundara, and the HE-1000 also makes it onto my list of favorite headphones. I think they’re great, and have a hugely appealing house sound that balances clarity and energy with a sort of laid-back, pleasant sound.
Hifiman will be exhibiting a lot of things this year, it seems, including the Susvara, which I haven’t had a chance to hear yet, and some of their more exotic electrostatic models. They’ll also be exhibiting their new Deva headphones, which look visually quite a bit more attractive than most other Hifiman products, come with an attached Bluetooth module, cost only around $250, and, knowing Hifiman, probably sound quite good.
Okay, I won’t be there. I use iFi products quite a bit already for my reviews of various headphones, and I’ve heard most of their products. But this year they’ll be showing off their all-new hip-dac. You can see that I’ve already given it a very positive review on this very website, only a few days ago, and so I’d recommend that all of you check it out. I think it’ll be a very popular product going forward, but please, let me know what you think – if you hate it, I’ll be very interested! In fact, you’ll also have the chance to win a hip-dac yourself, becoming one of the first owners.
Of course, iFi makes a lot of other good products as well, like the monstrously powerful Micro iDSD Black Label and the versatile iCAN Pro. They range from pretty good to excellent, and they all have the creamy, smooth iFi house sound.
Schiit Audio is still one of the foremost manufacturers of sub-$1,000 DACs and amplifiers, and its higher-end products have also drawn praise from many a corner of the audiophile world. Setting aside their screwball marketing tactics (including their name, which forces reviewers to essentially say “shit” on camera), their gear is well-developed and controversial.
Of course, I’ll want to try the Yggdrasil and the Mjolnir and the recently-released Bifrost 2 (in fact, I use an original Bifrost at home), all of which have their share of proponents. But Schiit’s “big thing” is their new $99 Magni Heresy and 3+, two amplifiers with which they attempt to address the constant barrage of objectivist criticism to which they’ve been subjected recently. With the Heresy, Schiit attempts to prove that they can make the absurdly well-measuring gear favored by the objectivists, they just usually choose not to. With the Magni 3+, they’ve simply updated the Magni with greater power and resolving ability.
If you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about with all this talk of “objectivism,” don’t ask. You don’t want to get into it. Just go and listen to some of Schiit’s stuff. You could even win a Magni 3+ or Magni Heresy yourself!
Look, if you haven’t heard the HD600, or the HD800S, just go listen to them. They’re still some of the best-sounding headphones on the market, and they’ll be available for demo at the Sennheiser booth.
Time for a bit of an embarrassing admission. I’ve never heard a pair of Stax headphones (or earspeakers, if you really care). That’s despite the fact that I lived in Tokyo for 6 weeks, a city where you can walk into pretty much any random audio shop and demo a pair of Stax free of charge. But I didn’t do it. I was too bashful, and I didn’t know what I was missing.
CanJam NYC is where I right this wrong. And if you haven’t heard any electrostatic headphones, you should, too. If there’s one thing I buy at CanJam, it’ll be a pair of SR-L300s. So I assume I’ll be spending most of my free time here at the Stax booth.
Violectric makes some of the best amplifiers on the market, according to many people. Though all their stuff is solid-state, it has a warm, vintage sound that draws praise from all over the place – and they have the power to drive almost anything. I probably won’t spend a long time there, as Violectric’s equipment is a bit out of my budget range, but I’m still interested to see what the fuss is about.
Woo makes some of the best-build and prettiest tube amps on the market. They’re also supposed to sound really good, but I haven’t yet heard one. I’m trying to change that this weekend. But I may not spend much time there if I don’t get around to it.
I’m excited. I’m real excited. Although it looks like I’ll have to spend a fair amount of my time working various booths, I’ve also been assigned to walk around and check out what’s new. So expect some impressions from me after the end of the show – I’ll be looking forward to sharing what I’ve been up to.