CanJam at RMAF 2014: That's a Wrap!

All I can say is "Wow". CanJam this year was impressive. The main CanJam room was pack to the gills and about eight exhibitors overflowed out into the atrium area. The aisleways between booths seemed smaller to me this year, but the truth is more likely that it just felt that way because they were crowded with attendees much more often than in the past. Booths were so well attended that getting face-time for a report was not very easy in some cases. Yes sir, the level of interest in CanJam seemed stronger than ever.

I said it in my intro, but I'll say it again, huge thanks to Marjorie Baumert, Director of RMAF, and Jude Mansilla, Founder of Head-Fi.org, for putting on a terrific show. Big props also to Warren Chi of Audio360.org, and Head-Fi members bearFNF (Bob), drgajet (Jim), jw111 (John), longbowbbs (Eric), mscott58 (Michael), and shiorisekine (Andre) for all the work designing and putting up the signage. The strong CanJam attendance was surely in part due to RMAF attendees being strongly aware of the headphone presence this year. Oh, and the signs looked terrific!

Okay, attendee interest was high...but did the exhibitors deliver on that interest? Oh my, did they ever!

I don't remember ever being at a show where in every second or third booth I was stopped in my tracks with something that was unexpectedly cool. Prototypes, for example, were abundant, and many booths were showing pre-production and first production run products that are unavailable for purchase yet. Basically there was a lot of new stuff to see. The headphone business is hoppin'...I could have used another day to take it all in.

Things I'm pissed I missed in my reports? Schiit's Ragnarok amp and Yggdrasil DAC were high on my list. They sounded great, but I was never at the booth when Mike Moffat was free for a chat, and then *poof* the time was gone. I also stumbled into the iFi booth as they were packing up for a last minute listen to their Retro system. A very cool looking complete two-channel stereo system with all manner of interesting bells and whistles like Bluetooth input and "3D" sound controls for both headphones and speakers. Here's a little article on it. I came back to check for an opportunity at least five times, but in the end totally missed the Vinnie Rossi Lio. Argh.

Another thing that struck me was it seemed like in general the headphones were better sounding than I've heard at shows previously. Shows are really not a good time to listen critically, so I can't tell you how much better the headphones were, but there were far fewer times I did a mental "Blech!" in a booth. That used to be fairly common for me...not so much at CanJam. I think headphone makers are beginning to get really serious about good sound. In addition to InnerFidelity, there are now numerous places on the web, both pro and amateur, where headphone measurements are being taken and discussed. Enthusiasts know pretty quick when a headphone maker makes a boo-boo, I reckon they're aware of that and have been trying a bit harder to perfect their designs. Whatever the case, the headphones at RMAF sounded quite a bit better in general than I expected.

On a sad note, the hotel shut down Todd the Vinyl Junkie's very generous micro-brew beer giveaway at the Saturday Night Beer Social. I get it...liquor license...not allowed...blah-blah-blah. Damn, Saturday night just won't be the same without that Todd's great beer. Ah well, that's life.

Well, that's it for me. Looking forward to next year! Hope to see you there!

Now, to dig through the pile and figure out what headphone to review next. Hmm...

COMMENTS
vertical2's picture

From my view, your coverage was wide and deep. I liked the personal anecdotes (e.g., beer) and the booth videos helped tangiblize (not sure it that's a word) it further. Makes me want to attend in the future if I can swing it. Thx again.

ManiaC's picture

4.4mm plug is a great idea!

tony's picture

Well , nobody else seems to be reporting much about the New Schiit Stuff either , except the Darko lad from 12 hours away land ( he says he was sworn to secrecy about the DAC despite Dr.Moffatt wearing an "Ask me about my Big DAC" T-shirt ) , none of those Schiit people looked all that busy in your UE Video .
You're coverage seemed very good to me . You've broken the ice with your Alex Dykes style of reporting , to the point that all the other coverage seems rather , hmmm , flat . :
I think I'll like to try Bill Clinton's guy's iem , the Cardis thing seems worth trying , I looked up Todd TVJ on the internet and saw a video of him and his turntable - he seems a real person - up there in the frozen north like he is , holed-up with a VPI , $5,000 phono cart and 12,000 Vinyls , his little house doesn't seem large enough to house the products he offers for sale ( he must have a Barn or some other Space to work out of ) .
Turning off the sound on your Videos kinda reveals the Background activity which at times looks enthusiastic and at times looks like off hours . The various Photo coverage of the Upper Floors and Hallways looks like the Show was a dud for those exhibitors . I'm feeling that this Show is for Manufacturers to show to you journalists ( people like me see this Show thru your eyes and the eye of your Camera ) . I was hoping to learn about Mike Moffatt's Yggy as it might save me from a $10,000 MSB Analog DAC purchase ( or may not ) . I read that your JA presented a AK240 loaded with his recordings to the dcs Vivaldi people who played same on the Medium sized Wislons and VTL thereby creating the Best Sound of Show . If so , Digital has finally become "The Source" for Audiophilia and vinyl will settle into being a "vintage collectors" format .
Mark Waldrip covered the AES and has plenty to say about the state of things in the Professional World of music .
I think the Biggest thing coming out of all this week's Shows is that Apple and iTunes are staying with lower resolutions and they are releasing new iPads and A8X .

Tim Cook = "The Man"

Tony in Michigan

Impulse's picture

Apple would be the first to jump on a new high res format IF they thought demand was there and it'd help them drive device sales... They'd lock up exclusive albums for iTunes in the blink of an eye etc.

Clearly either the demand isn't there or they think the timing is not right. If anyone could get everyone to agree on a former that makes sense it'd be Jobs tho (RIP), he did get all studios to sell tracks at the same price...

I'm just thankful they haven't tried to position Lighting as a headphone connector.

Impulse's picture

What, no Fulla Schiit remarks? :p

tony's picture

Hello Mr.Impulse ,
Fulla isn't so much a story , it's kinda their Bread & Butter type product , they may sell 100,000 of em , everybody has something like it , although it may be a great performer and I may own one and love the little thing .
The Yggy is what I'm waiting for , hoping it to be a break-thru .
So far , Schiit seems very high quality , they may settle out as a US version of Electrocompaniet , I think they have the Engineering Foundations and Principals needed to mature into a Force somewhere in the Audio Spectrum of Industries , they may become Investment Grade .
I see them showing an Earned Confidence .

Tony in Michigan

tony's picture

AES , Antelope have just released a $2,200 version of their DAC , I think it's called Pure 2 .
Here we go , prices are falling , just in time for Schiits Yggy's release to be in the Shadows .
Tony in Michigan

Three Toes of Fury's picture

...at shows previously".

Woo Hoo! I love that comment. I also love the anecdotes about critical feedback that you've previously provided manufacturers and how the next generation of headphones has improved sonically. Better sounding cans..across the spectrum...is a big win for everyone.

Thanks again dude...awesome articles, pix, and stories.

Peace .n. Living in Stereo

3ToF

Pedalhead's picture

Thanks for your excellent coverage this year, Tyll. As a UK resident I'm unlikely to ever make it to Canjam, but having followed your coverage I don't feel that I've missed out on too much. Cheers :-)

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Sad to say, you have missed out on a lot, it was a fabulous show. Glad I could give you a little taste though.

So, in an effort to point you in the right direction, I went over to the Head-Fi meets area to see if there was a UK meet coming up that you might attend....Ha! Looks like you organized one in '09 and you're about to do it again. Good work, mate, keep it up and you'll have a CanJam in your back yard!! :)

Pedalhead's picture

Ha! Good of you to check out Head-fi for UK options. Yes, I'm considering taking up the baton again for a UK meet as progress seems to have stalled lately...haven't quite committed yet as I'm unsure of whether I'll have enough time to devote to it. hmmm... :-)

mikemercer's picture

Tyll,

Was GREAT hangin' with you brother. Thanks for the laughs, and, more importantly, our candid talks about the future of personal audio. I ALWAYS learn something new when I hang out with you. You and George Cardas are both like that :)

I look forward to seeing you at our Meet in LA in March????

Peace,

Michael

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