CanJam SoCal 2017 Show Report
The high-end strikes back!
CanJam SoCal Show Report By Dave Hanson
You could chalk the new 1More Quad Driver In-Ear ($199) up as
another of the new and improved products, but it is really a different design
than its ever-popular little brother, the Triple Driver In-Ear ($99). These
headphones offer some of the best price-to-performance ratios in the business,
and unsurprisingly the 1More booth was quite busy every time I passed it. I
found the new Quad driver has a powerful, bassy and dynamic sound that makes
them a great choice to grab on your way to the gym. They're a very easy earphone
to like, particularly if you enjoy electronic music.
FiiO X5 Gen III
The FiiO X5 Gen III is an incredible value at $399 and does
pretty much anything you could want a DAP to do. It includes balanced and
unbalanced drive modes, digital and analog outputs, a nice AKM AM4490 DAC and a
pretty user-friendly Android operating system – and that's barely scratching
the surface. I sat down for a little listening session with the X5 Gen III
powering the somewhat picky ZMF Atticus in balanced mode, and was surprised to
hear the FiiO matched up with it perfectly. Don't let the compact size and big
feature set fool you, this is a legitimately sweet sounding piece of audio gear.
Things You Might Have
Finally, I want to call out a couple of tables that, for one
reason or another, people might have missed at the show. Here are three
manufacturers that had some very solid offerings that might have flown under the
Cayin was sort of stashed away between several other brands at
The Source AV's mega table, but Global Marketing Director Andy Kong made his way across the
Pacific with a couple of nice pieces of gear. I got to spend some time with
several pieces in the Cayin line-up, including the HA-1A MK2 tube amplifier
($999). It had a warm and buttery sound and made me wonder, "Why the heck haven't
I listened to this before?" I also listened to the authoritative combination of
the iDAC-6 and iHA-6 Amplifier ($999/each) and found that to be incredibly
enjoyable, as well.
The Little Labs Monotor ($600) was an interesting surprise
from the pro audio world that made its way into CanJam SoCal 2017, and I must
say, it sounded quite good. The Monotor offers several source analyzing modes
including mono modes (as you may have caught from the name), stereo reversal and
phase reversal. The sound was very crisp and neutral, and aside from the
novelty, this was a very capable little amp. Coming from the pro audio
side, I don't think they got as much traffic as some of the other booths, but I'm
sure many of the audiophiles who gave them a chance came away impressed.
The Ossic X ($499) is one of those rare headphones that seem
to make more noise in the outside world than it does in the headphone audio
community, however, their 3D audio demo was interesting and quite fun. They had
a VR-based game that did a great job of showing off the headphone's
capabilities. The Ossic X calibrates to the listener's individual HRTF and uses
motion tracking and a four-driver array in each earcup to give the listener an
immersive headphone surround sound experience. While few people will confuse the
Ossic X with a similarly priced audiophile-quality headphone, and it isn't quite
as immersive as the Smyth Realizer A16, the value is still clearly there when it
comes to VR, movies and gaming. This is a very, very fun headphone.
If CanJam SoCal 2017 showed us anything, it was that the
spirit of innovation is alive and well in the personal audio industry. Overall,
this was a fun show, highlighted by some really riveting high-end flagships and
filled out with a strong showing of products across the board.
It is incredible how diverse the quality offerings are these
days and how much the individual product categories have advanced in the last
couple of years. It wasn't all that long ago that headphones like the AB-1266,
Utopia and LCD-4 didn't even exist, or that the selection of really good DAPs
was limited to just a couple of select players. The growth has been rapid and
massive. Personally, I can't wait to see what comes next.
---> Back to beginning of
CanJam SoCal 2017 report.
CanJam NYC 2017,
CanJam Denver 2016, CanJam London 2016,
Denver 2015, CanJam Denver 2014.