On the weekend of 4-5 February 2017, Hi-Fi+ was pleased to attend the first ever CanJam event held in New York City, and what an event it proved to be. Held in the Marriott Marquis hotel in the heart of Times Square, CanJam NYC was one of the best-attended CanJam events to date, meaning it was an unqualified success both from the standpoint of exhibitors and of show attendees.
Importantly, the show featured a number of press events, one from the sponsoring parent organisation Head Fi.org to provide an overview and context for the event, several from manufacturers and technologists with new products or product concepts to introduce, and several from the music industry and other content creators.
During the show, I split my time between (some of) the press events and the exhibit floor. I was able to visit most though not all of the exhibitors on hand and in this report I will present a three-part photo-essay to show some of the many new products I saw and heard.
As always, I offer apologies in advance to any manufacturers I was unable to visit during the show.
The Chinese firm 1More has earned widespread accolades for its excellent and remarkably low-priced Triple-Driver earphone, which sells for just $99, but for CanJam NYC the company rolled out its brand new Quad-Driver earphone, which offers even higher levels of performance at the still modest price of $199. Like all of 1More’s top models, the Quad-Driver was voiced by studio ace Luca Bignardi. 1More’s Quad-Driver earphone sports one dynamic bass driver with DLC diaphragm, plus three balanced armature-type drivers that handle the midrange and treble workload, with one driver serving as a super-tweeter. Completing the package are OFC cables with internal Kevlar reinforcement, plus a very broad array of useful accessories.
The Quad-Driver is arguably the least expensive quad-driver earphone on the market (by a considerable margin), in keeping with the firm’s stated policy of offering “disruptive pricing”. Watch for an upcoming Hi-Fi+ review of the 1 More Quad-Driver earphone.
The Vancouver, Washington based firm 64 Audio focused its CanJam NYC efforts on highlight two new top-tier models: the tia Fourté universal-fit earphone ($3,599) and the A18 Tzar custom-fit in-ear monitor ($2,999). Interestingly, both models features 64 Audio’s new ‘tia’ (tubeless in-ear audio) technology, where the firm has created new ‘open’-type balanced armature drivers that forego traditional can-type enclosures, resonance dampers, and sound outlet tubes. Instead, these new tia open-type drivers feature cutaway enclosures where the normally enclosed balanced armature diaphragms are instead exposed to the open air and deliver sound directly to the wearer’s ear canal.
The tia Fourté features four tia-type drivers with an internal passive radiator plus an internal ‘apex’ (air pressure exchange) system, with each drive housed in an appropriately tuned chamber within earphone’s aluminium enclosure system. The result is an uncommonly natural and open-sounding earphone.
The A18 Tzar is more of a hybrid design featuring one tia-type high frequency driver, one tia-type high/mid driver, eight balanced armature-type mid drivers, and eight balanced armature-type low-frequency drivers. Like the tia Fourté, the A18 uses 64 Audio’s ‘apex’ technology, which in this instance is implemented via a capsule type module built in to outer wall of the CIEM earpiece. Apex technology is said to relieve excess pneumatic air pressure in the wearer’s ear canals, while also improving soundstaging and minimising ear fatigue.
Abyss is best know for its exclusive, premium-priced AB-1266 planar magnetic headphone, but there is a new Abyss model coming: namely, the new Diana model which was on static display at CanJam NYC and that can be characterised as a ‘thin-line planar magnetic’ headphone (~$3,000). In a talk with Abyss president Joe Skubinski Hi-Fi+ learned that Abyss has only recently acquired some of the new machine tools that will be required for efficient production of the new Diana, so that it make take a while to optimise production processes and procedure for best results. We eagerly await the Diana’s arrival later this year.
The Portland, Oregon-based firm ALO Audio is known for its innovative headphone amplifier designs, so it was no surprise to see the firm rolling out its new valve-powered Continental v5 portable headphone amplifier, priced at $799. Specifically, a single NOS 6111, dual-channel triode valve powers the Continental v5. In a sense, the Continental v5 leverages a a simplified and cost reduced version of the amplifier circuit used in the firm’s flagship Continental Dual Mono portable headphone amp/DAC.
In a CanJam press event, Audeze co-founder Sankar Thiagosamamudrun gave an overview of his company’s products, while discussing new directions Audeze will be taking in terms of producing a Virtual Reality-specific version of iSine planar magnetic in-ear headphone, called the iSine VR.
On the show floor, most of Audeze’s models were on demonstration, but the ones that most caught my eyes and ears were the iSine 20 planar magnetic in-ear (on-ear?) earphones ($599), which typically ship with the firm’s Apple-device-ready Cipher Cable—a powered cable that incorporates a built-in 24/48 DAC, a mic/ADC module, and a DSP-controlled amplifier wrapped up in one nice, neat package.
Interestingly, the iSine models are the lightest, smallest, and most affordable of all Audeze headphones, but they also claim the lowest distortion levels. Further listening is definitely indicated.