CanJam SoCal 2017 Show Report
The high-end strikes back!
CanJam SoCal Show Report By Dave Hanson
Noble Kaiser Encore
One good encore deserves another, and Noble Audio showed up
with their most impressive offering to date with the Kaiser Encore ($1,850).
This exceptional new in-ear combines the sweet sound of the much-loved K10 with
the reference detail of the Katana. In my opinion, this best-of-both-worlds
approach has resulted in Noble's best effort to date. The sound is crisp, clean
and unmistakably refined without sounding cold. In fact, I can't think of a
single thing I'd want to change about it. If you are in the market for a
flagship level IEM, this is one that should absolutely be on audition your list.
Atomic Floyd SuperDarts 2
Another interesting IEM was the upcoming Atomic Floyd
Superdart Black Titanium ($399). Atomic Floyd is pretty down to earth as brands
go, and did a good job listening to the personal audio community as they evolved
their product for this new generation. They tuned down the treble considerably
from the original Superdart, and this new version is actually quite mellow,
soothing and mid-forward in the tuning. This is a hybrid IEM, with one dynamic
driver and one balanced armature per side. It took a little more juice than the
average IEM to power it, but I still got plenty of volume on my iPhone 6.
Mr. Speakers AEON
Hot off their scorching debut at CanJam New York, the new MrSpeakers
AEON ($799, reviewed here) was at several booths throughout the
show. Trickling down the technologies from the ETHER Flow and ETHER-C Flow into
an efficient, portable and well-priced package, the AEON obliterates most
sub-$1K headphones in regard to both sound and value. It also provides a nice
compromise between the bass tunings of the flagship, with an excellent balance
of warm midbass and deep rumbling subbass. As an all-rounder, this latest effort
from MrSpeakers is tough to beat.
In addition to the "new and
improved" versions of already stunning gear, there were also a few wholly new
products making their debut at CanJam SoCal. Here are a few stand-out pieces.
Woo Audio WA33
Jack Wu's new flagship headphone amplifier, the WA33 ($7,999),
is an absolute stunner. It is fully-balanced, 8Watt/channel amplifier and power
supply with no cables in between – as the amp and PSU use a proprietary DC
connection. I can easily say this is Woo's most transparent amp to date. I spent
some time listening to it through the Focal Utopia ($3,999) and the sound was
lively, with exceptional punch. Depth layering and separation were absolutely
top notch, with a crazy holographic 3D soundscape to boot. Definitely one of my
favorite pieces of the show.
Jerry Harvey Audio Lola
Tuned with input from legendary Guns n' Roses guitarist Slash,
JH Audio's new flagship IEM is the beautiful looking and sounding Lola (starting
at $1,745). This is an all-new type of design for JH Audio, featuring two
dynamic drivers mounted in opposite directions inside an enclosure handling the
midrange frequencies, while balanced armatures handle the bass and treble. I
have to say, the mids here are really something special. The sound was a little
unique in that it was able to maintain a certain level of lushness through the
mids while keeping the bass and treble tight and resolving. It did a great job
of capturing the emotion of the music.
Astell & Kern KANN
The folks over at Astell & Kern really have something nice
on their hands with their new player, the KANN ($999). It has all the bells,
whistles and functionality people have come to expect from A&K, with a
bigger, beefier amp built into it. Paired with the brutally honest Sennheiser
HD800 ($999) the KANN performed with power and grace – better than most full
size amps would at that price. To think that you are also getting a top-notch
player and a high quality DAC with that, makes KANN a compelling value, indeed.
---> Next Page.
CanJam NYC 2017,
CanJam Denver 2016, CanJam London 2016,
Denver 2015, CanJam Denver 2014.