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CanJam NYC 2018 Show Report
CanJam NYC 2018 Show Report
Show Report By Dave Hanson


Right across the aisle ZMF was displaying their growing lineup of dynamic headphones including their new flagship, the Auteur ($1,599 teak, $1,899 blackwood). Preorders for the Auteurs are finally shipping out, and the final finishes for both woods looked absolutely phenomenal at the ZMF booth.



The Auteur is ZMF's most neutral and spacious headphone yet, showcasing fantastic depth projection and layering, sharp imaging, a sweet midrange and a punchy bass response. It's a headphone that leaves very little to be desired, and paired with a good tube amp, it's pretty tough to top. Be sure to check out our review of the ZMF Auter.


Campfire Audio
Campfire Audio has become one of the premiere names for in-ears, but CanJam NYC 2018 saw Campfire turning a new page with their first over-ear headphone, the Cascade ($799). The Cascade is a closed-back design that uses beryllium drivers for their excellent damping and powerful dynamic response.



The Cascade bears a strong sonic resemblance to the Campfire Vega in-ears ($1,299), which is to say I liked them A LOT. The sound veered on the warm side with a little sparkle up top and a ton of bass slam. The drivers sound pretty speedy and resolving, and the headphones themselves offer very good isolation. Neutrality seekers will probably want to look elsewhere, but for genres like heavy metal and EDM, this headphone is going to be a lot of fun.


HiFiMAN made an impressive showing at CanJam NYC 2018 by debuting their newest electrostatic system, the Shangri-La Jr. ($7,999). This system includes both the headphone and amplifier, and at first listen, it was pretty impressive. Unfortunately, it didn't have the benefit of a quiet room, like many of the high-end systems so my impressions were somewhat limited. Nevertheless, it is good to see the folks at HiFiMAN beginning to trickle down the Shangri-La's technology into more affordable products, and rumor is, Shangri-La Jr. is just the tip of the iceberg.



HiFiMAN also brought the finished version of the Sundara ($499), and while I wasn't blown away by the prototype, the production version was actually very, very good. The sound was pretty balanced overall and managed to avoid any glaring issues in the frequency response. Bass was fast and brought some pretty good impact when I demo'ed some electronic music with it. I definitely felt it had the potential to be a great all-rounder.

Their planar flagship, the Susvara ($5,999) was also available in abundance at high-end amplifiers across the show, and showcased some really incredible scalability with a few systems. More on that later in the report.


MrSpeakers shared a side room with HeadAmp, pairing their new Voce electrostatic ($2,999) with the phenomenal Blue Hawaii (Starting at $5,799). This offered listeners a great opportunity to hear the Voce and Stax SR-009 back-to-back in a relatively quiet environment off the main show floor.



It was an interesting comparison between the two, which I found to be surprisingly complimentary of one another. The Stax had a razor-sharp transient edge, while the MrSpeakers was a little bit more laid back. The MrSpeakers Voce had a good bit more bass and a harder dynamic thrust than the SR-009. It was a nice 1-2 punch, and the Voce is clearly a good bit more dynamically satisfying than the standard alternative, the Stax SR-007.


Empire Ears
The folks at Empire Ears have recently refreshed their whole lineup and their booth saw heavy traffic as people test-drove the new models. I got to spend some time with the new flagship Legend X ($2,299), an IEM with seven drivers and a 10-way crossover network.



I have to say, the Legend X absolutely blew me away with one of the best midrange presentations I've ever heard. The mids were silky and sweet without being over-inflated – they were just naturally beautiful and musical without obscuring the truth of the music. The sound overall was super engaging and the Legend X added some nice bass punch and clear, sparkly treble for good measure. I look forward to hearing more of this one, because I think it is going to be special.


1MORE always impresses with their line-up of high performance, low-cost products. While they are mostly known for their IEMs, 1MORE has just launched a few nice over-ear products that were definitely worth a listen.



The Triple Driver Over-Ear, which they debuted last year, has finally hit the market, and the final version is very good for the humble price of $249. The bass radiator is not only fun and powerful, but also gives the headphone really crystal clear bass separation – particularly for a headphone of this price.

I also got a chance to demo the $149 Spearhead gaming headphone. The Spearhead connects directly to your computer's USB port, and provides 7.1 surround sound along with a number of DSP options. It also uses some interesting technology with a 50mm magnetically-levitated graphene driver, which resulted in incredibly physical bass impact, without skewing the frequency response.


While they didn't have a booth at the show, Kennerton managed to sneak in a prototype of their upcoming planar magnetic flagship Thror ($3,500 projected MSRP) in the room shared by Cayin and Meze.



Thror had an interesting fit mechanism, with locking screws that let you adjust it to the precise angle, height and width of your ears – locking in a perfect fit. While I haven't heard their current flagship, Odin, recently enough to make a nuanced comparison, Thror shared many if it's same traits: huge dynamics, lots of fine detail and a slightly warm sound overall.

No word yet on a release date for this headphone, but it seemed to be a pretty promising flagship entry, as I tried it back-to-back-to-back with the HiFiMAN Susvara and Focal Utopia, and Thror held its own pretty well.



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