Just as last year, CANJAM NYC took place again this year Saturday and Sunday, February 17-18, and at the same venue in the theatre district of Manhattan, NYC: The New York Marriott Marquis, at West 46th Street and Broadway. I arrived on a clear, sunny, lively Saturday 17th (but oddly, by 6PM it was cold and there was a snowstorm!); the streets were bustling with tourists and locals. To the right of the venue was showing the famous play ‘Hamilton’ at the Richard Rogers Theatre.
CANJAM NYC is one of the CanJam Global premier shows that are produced by Head-Fi.org, the world’s largest headphone and personal audio community. This year it was sponsored by Meze Audio and Sennheiser. Located on the 6th Floor of the hotel, it took up the huge Broadway Ballroom, and a handful of smaller rooms on the sidelines. When I arrived at 11:00 a.m. (opening time) there already was a huge line of anxious enthusiasts registering; I was once again (as last year) warmly greeted by Marjorie Baumert (more widely known for organizing the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF), Denver Colorado) who was working the registration area, and making sure all was going smoothly—it was.
When one enters the ballroom, it is very disorienting because of the huge size and mind-boggling array of exhibitors. Headphones over the ear, on the ear, closed/open, headphone amps from tiny to colossal with and without vacuum tubes, small handheld music players, thousands of in-ear monitors (buds); wireless or wired, bluetooth enabled or not. Prices ranged from under $10.00 to tens of thousands of dollars. As someone who generally does not use headphones on a regular basis, it took some time to settle in. I decided to just wander around, take some photos, and in particular try to stumble upon some new exhibitors and products of interest. Covering more than that would be almost impossible. I report here a medley of what I witnessed.
Klipsch 'Heritage' Headphone Amp ($500.00—above photo) displayed with a clear top for show use only; when sold it comes with a brown wooden top. I suggested that they offer that clear top as an option; it looked so cool!
In the USA for the first time, Singapore based company Dita Audio came to NYC to show their in-ear monitors. ‘Music is a harsh mistress, there can be no compromises’, says Dita. I had to investigate. The available connector plugs are not typical adaptors, they connect directly to the end of the cable itself. Even possible is a special balanced 4.4mm plug for use with the Sony WM1-A player which I used in my photo with their top-of-line ‘Dream’ buds ($1799) made of all Titanium; very solidly made and they come with exceptional (no compromise) custom made Van Den Hul cabling. Impressive sound with deep bass. I also checked out their less expensive ‘Awesome Troupe SE’ model ($1099). Darren Goh (right in photo), was a very friendly and knowledgeable fellow.
Serbian company Auris Audio was showing several unusual looking vacuum tube based headphone amps, with leather/wood designs; also a DAC and even a CD Player (to be released sometime soon) to be used with their equipment. Tijana Marjanovic (Brand Manager) gave me a nice overview; I listened to Pink Floyd’s The Endless River (CD on the CDT-1 CD player—1000 Euros) with the HA2 Amp (which has 3 line inputs) (2200 Euros) using Sennheiser HD800 headphones; luscious sounding, I wanted to stay longer.
Hifiman was showing off its new ‘Shangri-La Jr’ tube based headphone amp ($8000), which although expensive, is considerably less expensive than its father, the $50,000 Shangri-La. Both models include headphones in the price. The Jr came with ‘Shangra-La’ headphones.
New York based company Advanced had remarkably low priced, elegant looking–and fine sounding in-ear monitors (sold online only). Prices ranged from $25.00 to $80.00. M3 is a very nice Bluetooth model that can be used both wirelessly or with wires ($79.99), while the M4 ($39.99) is a steal, and even the S2000 which is for stage performers is an absolute bargain ($24.99).
Mytek’s Michal Jurewicz was showing his new $1000 Liberty DAC, and Clef ($299): a very small and portable but powerful MQA amp/DAC with AAC Bluetooth. I used it with Jurewicz's iPhone as source (Bluetooth to iPhone) and with Audeze LCD-XC closed back headphones. It sounded surprisingly good; smooth, musical and with lots of body (review forthcoming).
Periodic Audio were displaying their about to be released tiny (smaller than a 9-volt battery) and light (about 1/2 ounce) headphone amp, the Nickel (Ni), at $299. Typical mobile phones (or iPads, etc.) do have good built-in DACs, but their amplification is not good. The Nickel allows one to bypass the player’s own amp and instead use it as a volume control. The power comes from the Nickel; it has a 3.5mm audio input jack, a 3.5mm output jack for headphones, and a micro-USB port for charging the battery which can last up to 10 hours. I used it with an iPhone and Periodic Audio’s Be (Berylium) in-ear monitors ($299); nice (review forthcoming)!
Once again, a great CANJAM right in the center of New York City.
Even if headphones are not your main thing, it is worth checking out; you will surely find something of interest among the wide variety of exhibitors.
The space is really excellent too: comfortable, just the right size and surprisingly quiet. This CANJAM seemed particularly well attended, too, and the crowds seemed to be enthusiastic and energetic; must have picked that up from the natural spirit of New York City. I hope CANJAM comes again next year.