CanJam @ RMAF 2017 (October 6-8, 2017) Impressions!

  1. bronco1015
    oh man, what a show! This was my first ever, and while I realize looking through this thread there was a lot I missed that I forgot about, I listened to a ton of stuff some for quite a while. E.G. the final Audio D8000s and the MR Speakers Aeon open. Spent hours just between those 2. so many reps and attendies were awesome to talk with as well. other things I listened to, I now know what DAC and amp i'm getting, schiit Audio Gungnir and jotunheim. Those guys were sooo awesome! And honest. Enjoyed the hiFi man Edition X 2, the Audeze MX4 which I didn't expect to enjoy tbh and the XC were quite good as well. I love my HD800S, so loved hearing a pair on the hDVD820. incredible! phiio and a&K were great visits, phiio had an Auteur, unfortunately got talking to jeff and Brian so didn't get to hear that headphone much at all, but really liked what I heard for the little I did listen. Audiotechnica SR7 and SR9, not bad, but not priced compeditively for the sound. Blue Satelites wipe the flor with both of them. That said, I did kind of like the sr7 and if it were $200 rather than $300, it would be a steal and really compeditive imo. the ADX 5000 was really nice to listen to honestly, in colored and really balanced well. even though the DAC is less than half the cost, I think they'd sound pretty awesome with the DAC3 from benchmark. Wouldn't put the ADX at $5,000. They could use a touch mor bass i'd say, but not much, and I think everything else about them could be maintained. Also they fit oddly on my head. Therres a curve on the band that hugs the outside of the top of my head in a weird way that didn't bother me necessarily, but I would not buy it with that kind of fit. Heard the PSB M4U8 and i'll be selling my QC35s likely once it comes out. Some of the switches could use a bit mor travel on them, but the ANC was truly top notch and there a very versital pair that will run Wired, bT and USB. Theres an NAD version as well, but thought the design was different which is fine, but weird to me. Also had a mor closed sound imo. Checked out Shures BT cable for their IEMs and imo they don't lose as much fidelity as I thought they would in BT. not going to buy it, but had to know since I have some 425s.
     
    marhol and HeadphoneAddict like this.
  2. HeadphoneAddict Contributor
    I'm not much of a photographer, so sorry for little to no photos. On Sunday my son and I finished up our tour of the CanJam room.

    As planned, we got to try the HiFiMan ShanGriLa with an EF-2 amp as a preamp to boost the input voltage to the electrostatic amp, and it did make a very noticeable difference in the dynamic range and headroom of the headphones. We also switched to the CEntrance HiFi-M8 as the source with lossless music on the iPhone connected to the digital dock, which gave us even more gain on the amp input (along with a little extra clarity). I imagine that with a world class source and preamp the ShanGriLa performance can be quite a bit better. Fang is working on their own in-house DAC, so I look forward to hearing it again with the best source possible, although it's still way out of my price range.

    Then we tried the HiFiMan Sundara which were very nice headphones for the $500 price tag, and I expect they'll give Audeze a run for the money with their $599 LCD-2c, but I wasn't able to do a side by side comparison. I'm sure someone will get that done soon, if not already. From memory, I think they might be slightly more forward than my HE-560, and slightly less presence in the treble, and so a wider audience should be able to appreciate them. These eliminated their need to keep the HE-400i and HE-560 in the line-up. We did think the Edition-X were a bit better in side by side comparisons, but at 2.5x the cost.

    We listened to the HiFiMan Susvarna with the EF-1000 amp, and it does seem to be a fairly un-colored and neutral headphone, but it's so difficult to drive at 83db/mw that it was hard to do an A/B comparison with more efficient headphones. My HE-6 can sound absolutely stunning when connected to the speaker terminals of a 55-80w 2-ch amp, and I suspect that the Susvarna are going to need a similar amp to perform their best - it's like trying to drive a Stax SR-007 with anything less than a Headamp Blue Hawaii amp. It might be simpler to just enjoy the HE-1000 or Edition-X with the lesser and more forgiving EF-100 amp (or any amp because they're easy).

    Speaking of Headamp, they were right across from the HiFiMan booth, and so we visited there next. We listened to the Headamp GSX Mk2 balanced amp with the Focal Utopia and ZMF Auteur headphones, and I found them both very enjoyable. The ZMF didn't seem like they went as deep, and had a little bit of a mid-upper bass hump, but that wan't a deal breaker for enjoying them at the show. The Utopia were energetic and fun, quite detailed, and I'm sure that they could put the music under a microscope (in a similar way to the HE-1000 Mk2, but without the larger soundstage of the HE-1K). I got to listen to these with an excellent DAC and amp, with good program material, so I didn't find anything to pick apart with them.

    The Utopia also seemed slightly mid-forward with a narrower soundstage than our HiFiMan Edition-X on the Gilmore Lite in A/B comparison, but overall didn't seem to do anything wrong and I could live with a pair just fine. Both the Utopia and the Edition-X remind me a little of each other in their aggressive and energetic sound signature (rather than being laid back). But the Edition-X mids are slightly less forward and put us in the 5th row instead of on-stage like the focal, and the Edition-X are a little more forgiving. I was very impressed with the Gilmore Lite Mk2 amp for $500, and it's 1.5 watts of power should be able to drive most headphones (except maybe phones like the LCD-4, and especially HE-6 and Susvarna). It certainly did well with our Edition-X.

    When we compared the Mr Speakers Ether c Flow to the Utopia on the GSX, the Mr Speakers were a little more laid back and less forward as well, with a bigger soundstage, but slightly less micro-detail or ambience and air. But the speed and response seemed equal, and the bass was slightly more enjoyable on the Mr Speakers. But we wondered how much of the ambience of the CanJam room coming into the open Focal headphones contributed to the difference in soundstage and air. It's almost like an artificial injection of air and ambience into the open headphones that isn't in the recording.

    I'd still have to say that the Mr Speakers are my favorite closed headphones with excellent isolation, with the Fostex TH-900 being a little more aggressive and slightly brighter, putting more of a spotlight on the details, but letting in more ambient sound. My highly modded Denon D7000 would be closer to the Fostex in sound signature and isolation, but maybe not as fast or detailed. And it's not that the Ether c Flow aren't detailed, but they just don't grab you by your shirt collar and say, "Hey look at me and see what I can show you in the details and space between notes!"

    I liked the Ether c Flow and Fostex enough that I didn't bother with other closed cans at the show, with so little time to see everything. If my LA7000 die someday, I have an idea of where to start looking for closed cans, although I've always had a preference for open headphones.

    If I was comparing the sound signature or "house sound" of these phones, I'd say that the Utopia were more like an LCD-MX4 type of sound (forward mids, smaller stage), and the Mr Speakers Ether c Flow were more of an LCD-3 kind of sound (bigger stage, smoother sound). I still prefer the LCD-3 over the more difficult to drive LCD-4, but would like them to be as light an comfortable as the Edition-X or their new LCD-MX4 (diaphragm of the LCD-X I think, with the magnet structure of the LCD-4, in a light-weight magnesium frame).

    This is all moot when I preferred the Stax SR-009 driven by the Headamp Blue Hawaii over all the headphone rigs in the CanJam room.

    Outside of the Canjam room we visited the PS Audio room which won my heart, with the Focal Sopra No.3 and a pair of some incredible dual woofer subs - I was blown away with goosebumps. The Sopra No.3 are about as good as you need your speakers to be, with incredible detail, speed, and imaging. We also checked out the Focal room using NAIM gear to drive the Focal Kanta No.2 speakers, and those were also very good at half the price ($10K vs $20K).

    Unfortunately my wife would never let me spend enough money to buy a car for just speakers ($20K), and I can get close to that sound (but not imaging) with the best IEM that Westone or JH Audio have to offer, or the Stax SR-009 on the Headamp Blue Hawaii for that matter. But the headphones simply don't have the presence, imaging, and soundstage of speakers. Where I see the biggest benefit of these IEM and headphones is that I can the quality of a $20K speaker at a fraction of the price, and enjoy it privately without disturbing others (see last years review of the Westone ES60 vs Gamu-T speaker rig).

    We also spent quite a bit of time in the Audioengine room listening to more affordable gear, where we started acting and working like part of the crew, selecting music for the visitors and telling them about all the gear that was being demo'd. It turns out that my son and I are quite knowledgeable about their products, considering that we own most of them between the two of us.

    Their HD6 speakers are outstanding for a budget powered bookshelf speaker, and packed with features like analog input, sub out, BT wireless and a built-in DAC. For $749 you'll be hard pressed to find a separate amp and speakers that can match this, let alone adding a DAC and wireless on top of that. The bass extends pretty low, volumes can be pretty high, and the soundstage and transparency of the system really makes the speakers disappear with very little room treatments.

    The smaller HD3 still sound very good when placed on pedestals and de-coupled from the table, but with less bass impact and depth, and a more colored mid and upper bass, although the built-in headphone amp paired with the Edition-X was quite good and more balanced sounding. I believe that they used HE-500 to tune the headphone amp - I introduced them to my high-end headphones several few years back after I loaned them my HE-500 for a weekend at RMAF to demo their D3 DAC.

    They added a high-res DAC to the HD3 vs the 16bit in the A2+, as well as a "bass reduction" switch so that they'll strain less at high volume when used in conjunction with a powered subwoofer. The main trick to get the best sound from the HD3 and A2+ is to decouple them from the table, and use stands. Our A5 at home are significantly less affected by sitting on a desktop vs our A2, but they still shine when used with speaker stands.

    Finally, my son and I got to try the Mysphere 3.1 headphones at the very end of the last day of RMAF, and we walked away very impressed. OMG we almost missed these! They were so much better than my previous re-cabled AKG K1000 that it's not funny. I was driving the K1000 with an SAC-KH1000 amp, which was quite powerful and it still seemed borderline in the bass region. My Eddie Current ZDT amp was too soft with the K1000, even though it can drive my HiFiMan HE-6. The Mysphere 3.1 CAN BE DRIVEN BY AN IPHONE 7+ WITH ADAPTER.

    The Mysphere 3.1 are probably going to end up in my top 5 headphones of all time - they were smooth, detailed, refined, spacious, punchy, extended, and I could not find anything to complain about. You could make them sound more intimate and bassy by folding them in tight against the ears (well controlled and not bloated), and more spacious by folding them out (still tight, deep, and present bass).

    There was only a very small change in the bass volume between positions, and very little change in bass quality. No, they still don't perfectly mimic the sound of a speaker's soundstage, but I think that it's the closest you're gonna get with a headphone, unless you have the Smyth Realiser sound processor (an amazing device). The headband is unusual when compared to other headphones, as the band sweeps forward towards your hairline instead of being just ahead of the crown of your head (no pun intended).
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2017
    Currawong, Sp12er3, marhol and 8 others like this.
  3. ctaxxxx
    How was the bass of the Auteur? Is it still as hard hitting as the Eikon? Is it sub-bass (Eikon) or mid-bass (Atticus) focused? Been looking for an open back that can do bass as good as a closed back, without the highs of a closed back.


    I may have to keep an eye out for this one. Large soundstage and bass without the highs of the fostex?! Sub-bass or mid-bass focused with bleed?
     
  4. Fastnbulbous
    I surprised how little talk there is of the MrSpeakers Ether E. And what's the scoop on the Sennheiser HD 660S???
     
    Jodet likes this.
  5. verbositynow
    Yeah, I didn't get a huge amount of time or comparative listening done, but the bass on the Auteur was closer to the Eikon (to my ears) than the Atticus. All the usual "open-backed headphones at a show" disclaimers apply, so it may not be the best comparison for you, but it was what I was able to hear. I think I'd want to listen in a quieter environment to really study the bass, but I didn't feel that it was lacking from my listen.
     
    ctaxxxx likes this.
  6. gr8soundz
    Did anyone at the show get a listen at the Fostex T60rp?
     
  7. Allanmarcus
    I spent quite of bit of time listening to the MrSpeakers E in the Mojo Audio room with a bespoke amp from Exit Level Audio, Mystique v3 DAC, and Mojo music server.. It was awesome. Very balanced and musical. Bass was sort of typical for an electrostatic, not slamin', but balanced and musical. It sounded so good Tony from Exit Level Audio said he might. It sell the amp, and instead just buy the headset; it sounded that good.

    They had two tunings of this headphone. One with more bass than the per. They were taking a survey to see which was preferred. I preferred the balanced version, not the bass crap version. I'm not sure which was preferred overall by the end of the show. Because of the comparison, I didn't really listen to it critically.

    I did listen to the TH610, which sounded very little like my old TH600. Much warmer then the 600; a whole new tuning. I did compar it to the TH900, which I still own, and the 900 has much better and deeper bass, but is also has much more pronounced treble. I would say TH610 is worth considering if you can get it for $450
     
    phthora and gr8soundz like this.
  8. Zeeke
    I agree with the original poster, I liked the Aeon, both close and open, but they are not even close to the Ether C. But at half the price what can you expect right. Of the two flow, I actually prefred the closed and I listened to them two different times to verify my opinion.
     
  9. Jodet
    I'm an open guy. Always have been. Always will be. But I keep hearing from people who prefer the Ether C flow to the open....
     
  10. Zeeke
    To me it was really nice, but after listening twice, once Saturday and once Sunday, I like the closed better. At least in that big open room with background noise. Sunday was a lot quieter as I listened to them closer to close and now many there, but I still preferred the closed.
     
    Kneel2Galvatron likes this.
  11. Zeeke

    I honestly wasn't that wow'd with the Sundara. I actually walked about thinking that I had expected a lot more from them. At 500ish I can think of others I would rather have. I listened to 4-5 songs fully, maybe I missed something.
     
  12. ahmadfaizadnan
    I find it close to TH610 IMO but TH610 is fuller with better bass (haven't heard the bass version of the t60rp)
     
  13. Vigrith
    I'm sort of relieved to hear that, strangely - the 500-1000 market is looking very interesting lately and I'm looking to get something around that price for a secondary setup I'm putting together; with the AEON, the LCD2C, the Elear (since it's dropping in price), etc I feel like the Edition X V2 is actually the one that should be competing with those rather than the Sundara.
     
  14. Jodet
    The Elear is dropping in price? Where did you hear that?
     
  15. twiceboss
    Did u listen to your fav songs on that? I brought my own DAP to try with it!
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2017

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