CanJam New York 2018 Part 1

Ed Note: I'm now of the opinion that the CanJams are the only truly worthwhile trade shows for headphone enthusiasts. Jude and crew have done an amazing job of putting the world of headphones under one roof. Well...many roofs...all over the world. If you're interested in attending one, check out the schedule here.

I needed to buckle down and get a bunch of headphones reviewed, so CanJam New York wasn't in the plan for me, but Jana Dagdagan heard the siren call. Here's the first of two posts where Jana takes us along for a visit to the show.

Final Audio
Final Audio showed the final production version of the D8000 ($3799), a planar magnetic headphone that features their new Air Film Damping System (AFDS) technology. AFDS’s aim is to combine the deep bass typically achieved by dynamic drivers with the more subtle high frequencies that planars typically excel at. (There are really interesting diagrams on Final’s website that show this in detail.) I found the D8000 to be organic and well balanced, with a nice full low end. Quite enjoyable.

Final also told me about their TANE DIY IEM kit, which isn’t actually that recent, but hasn’t received that much coverage. It seems like an interesting project for entry level audiophile DIYers who want to have fun and learn about basic IEM construction.

Abyss Headphones
Abyss had final production versions of the Diana headphone ($2995) out for listening. Coming from the Final D8000, the Diana is a completely different planar beast! It’s definitely one of the more funky headphones I’ve ever experienced—both sonically and ergonomically.

I first experienced a prototype of the Diana at last year’s Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, where I mentioned to Abyss that there was way too much clamping force on my temples, and that the tops of my ears were too closely pressed up against the top of the earcups—even at the smallest setting. They were very kind and informed me that they were listening to feedback and would be making many changes to the Diana before its release. However, when I tried the Diana on again at CanJam, I was disappointed to find that they were still uncomfortable and clearly designed for a larger head. (For the record—I have never actually encountered this problem before. My head is small, but not abnormally so.) The clamping force was noticeably lessened and the ear pads more comfortable, but the Diana still sat awkwardly atop my head, with the tops of my ears still feeling the pressure of the headphone’s weight.

They were very enjoyable sonically—wild, soulful, and sensitive—but I wasn’t able to fully enjoy them because I had to hold them in place to achieve the proper fit.

Periodic Audio
At last year’s CanJam in New York, Periodic Audio made their debut as a company with three affordable in-ears (the Mg, Ti, and Be) all featuring a dynamic transducer design, varying only in transducer metal. In the time that’s passed since Periodic launched these in-ears, they’ve received a lot of feedback from listeners and have made cosmetic and ergonomic adjustments to the Mg, Ti, and Be. Adjustments include changing both the splitter and 3.5mm jack from metal to urethane, using a less tangle-prone cable, and making the back of the Ti’s a little darker. No sonic changes were made to any of the models. These changes were implemented in November 2017.

Periodic also showed their newest portable amplifier, the Nickel ($299), which features 150 mW into 50 Ohms, a 4 layer SMT board, a fixed 3 dB of gain, and a two-stage power supply system. Nickel contains a 220 mAh battery that lasts for 8 hours and only takes 20 minutes to reach a full charge.

I asked Periodic’s Founder Dan Wiggins how attendees were reacting to the Nickel being an analog amplifier without a DAC, at $299. (For reference: think about FiiO’s lineup of mobile products or the AudioQuest Dragonfly Red.) His response was that most smartphones and tablets actually have a pretty decent DAC, and that it’s actually the amplifier that follows the DAC that compromises the sound. Periodic Audio continues to be a very intriguing company.

Jerry Harvey Audio
Jerry Harvey Audio had their full lineup on display, including their two newest additions: the Lola: JH Audio’s first and only hybrid IEM, featuring 8 driver per side (“proprietary dual low B.A, D.O.M.E technology with dual dynamic 4.9mm drivers, proprietary quad high B.A.”), and custom fit earplugs, which were just announced a couple months ago! Although I did not purchase or receive anything to warrant getting my impressions done, I thought it might be interesting to learn more about JH Audio’s process!

stevenswall's picture

Did you get a chance to listen to the Lola? They have universal units to demo at the convention.

I'm going crazy waiting for someone with a lot of experience to write up a review!

mariscosyketchup's picture

Tyll, please review the D8000 :)

Maybe's picture

The D8000 is certainly one of the more exciting kilobuck headphones that are being released.

sszorin's picture

I do not understand what the words "wild, soulful, and sensitive" mean. Plain technical accuracy please, and not poetry.

HalSF's picture

For some reason I understood exactly what she meant.

"accuracy: the ultimate objective of an ideal sound system , which everyone claims to want but nobody likes when he has it" — J. Gordon Holt

sszorin's picture

So what exactly the words "wild, soulful, and sensitive" mean ? I guess "wild" means the frequency response is wildly uneven - there are peaks and holes in the frequency line. That means that parts of the sound are choked and others are wildly screechy. Probably the bass frequencies are wildly over the top and wreck the lower middle frequencies. In the middle frequencies there is probably volume hole and the vocals sound choked/recessed. Or the high frequencies are so wild they make for screechy treble.
Indeed, in the dictionaries the word "wild" is defined as : uncontrolled, unrestrained, uncultivated. I prefer headphones with controlled and cultivated sound presentation and not those with the wild one.
As for the word "soulful" - I do not think that discussing its overt or hidden meanings would lead us anywhere. We might spend years arguing and still get nowhere. The discussion on things related to "soul" was really set into motion by Platon, over 400 years before Christ, and it keeps going unresolved.
Briefly, in order to initiate possible waking up of your thinking faculties : does "soulful" relate to appetite of a soul, 'spirit' of a soul or awareness of a soul ?
The word "sensitive" is ambiguous. Sensitive to what ? To a sound distortion or 'ringing' ?
It is unfortunate that a young woman was chosen to be a tour-guide through audio products show. Women have a tendency to steer away from technical precision and clarity of language into the foggy field of emotionalism and witchcraft.
That is all.

philipjohnwright's picture

Then just say you 'prefer objective not subjective'. Four words versus however many you took to have a below the belt shot at Jana.

passingthru's picture

sszorin, you sir can keep your remarks to yourself. You obviously have a huge problem with women doing anything.I suppose you also believe women should not listen to music because it might make them emotional and that women should not own any audio gear either because they don't know what they are doing.
I have read several of Jana's pieces and find them insightful. Sure, she doesn't get into what capacitors and resistors and transistors and such are used or the measurements, but that is not her gig. There are plenty of others who do all that. Audio is almost 100% subjective. Jana writes from a more left-brain stance and writes well. I am also a journalist and I wish I had even 1/4 of her ability to write that way.
Besides, she was writing to paint a picture for us of what the event was like and mentioning gear is part of it as is using the language she did.

I do not know Jana and have not met her.....yet. (That may happen in June). As far as I am concerned though, she is a smart girl and a very good writer and she knows what she likes. Audio is NOT strictly a man's world! You would be shocked to know how many women are in the hobby and how smart they are. (Better than a lot of us guys, I can tell you).
So I do not appreciate the awful remark you made at Jana. Totally uncalled for!
Now crawl back in your hole and come out when you are more human.

DanWiggins's picture

At one time, audio was about passion, emotion, feelings. Artists sought to convey messages and move people with words and notes. Music still is that for many. But apparently for others, it's now broken down to graphs and charts and equipment.

I personally strive for gear that moves me, moves others, brings smiles to faces. And then I use those graphs and charts from my measurement gear to catalog what I have achieved so I can reproduce it again. But at its core - it's about the emotion a person feels when they listen to the music.

If soulful, wild, and sensitive don't work for you, so be it. For most people, though, they would relate better to those terms than to a value like < 0.037% THD+N over an 11 octave range...

jpelg's picture

Curious how the new Final Audio D8000 model stacks up against their top dynamics? Price-wise the new planars fall between the Sonorous X and VIIIs.

mariscosyketchup's picture

Much better than the dynamic headphones. The dynamic models were made following the vision of the original founder, who died 3 years ago. Those models sound awful, all of them, like a broken horn speaker in a bathroom.

The D8000 was made with real sound quality in mind, and they were helped by Yamaha and NH Labs. The D8000 is the spiritual successor of the Yamaha HP-1, and the sound is the most balanced and tonally correct you can find in a headphone (in my opinion, for reference, my tastes in sound reproduction tend to align with Tyll'S)

Pharmaboy's picture

I have to agree with another post here... After being terrifically impressed by the sound of the Final D8000, I tried 1-2 other, less expensive models (dynamics vs the D8000's planar design). What a disappointment! There seemed to be zero connection between the "voicing" of the D8000 and the others. The D8000 makes music; the others, not so much.

Martin.'s picture

Adam FTW!