CanJam at RMAF 2015: Introduction

Big Sound was over; ten days until RMAF; I started getting the gear boxed up and ready to ship back either to their respective homes or to RMAF for use as exhibit gear. Packing up all that gear was quite the chore—just putting all the AudioQuest cables nicely back in their packaging took half a day. Equipment from JPS Labs, Woo Audio, Aurender, Stax, and HeadAmp was all going to Denver for the show. In addition, the very heavy PS Audio Power Plants were destined for Boulder, which is in the area. I decided to fill my van with the gear and transport it myself. Much less trouble for everyone concerned. It's a little over 700 miles from Bozeman to Denver, but I love driving cross-country. I find it a nice meditation, and I was ready for a break after Big Sound and doctors.

I thought quite a bit about about my upcoming time at RMAF. Is it really worth it to do these shows? Would it be better for me to use the time reviewing more headphones? It often seems like the same old thing all over again. Fortunately—as I now write this with the advantage of retrospect—I found it quite worthwhile. I saw considerably more cool new stuff than I expected. I think the Head-Fi CanJams are becoming a product introduction destination for manufacturers—they know the enthusiast audience will be there. For me, it feels more important than CES—the concentration of quality vendors showing off their latest efforts was very high.

For the first few years, CanJam struggled to fill the very large Rocky Mountain Event Center room at RMAF. Now, 7 years in, CanJam has outgrown the room and overflowed into the atrium space, and now fills it to capacity. I have no idea what they're going to do next year. The headphone enthusiast market shows no sign of slowing down.

Someone put it this way to me, "It seems like CanJam at RMAF is slowly becoming RMAF at CanJam." It's funny because there's some truth to it: headphone and personal audio is growing strong; the traditional 2-channel speaker world isn't. Traditional high-end makers are responding though with networked and wireless high-end stereo products, and with efforts in premium bluetooth speakers for the home. I'm hoping to see more unusual and innovative products arrive in that large middle ground between stationary 2-channel speaker systems and portable headphone rigs. Maybe the speaker/headphone clash will result in a cool gadget rich mosh pit without any clear divide between the traditional and the new. That would be nice.

Enough with the navel gazing. Let's get on with the show...