Capital Audiofest 2014 saw a very interesting evolution this year with the introduction of CanMania, a dedicated headphone/personal-audio show-within-a-show, organized by Audio360‘s Warren Chi and PTA Alum Frank Iacone. This is something of a trend, now, and the one I hope to see a lot more of at upcoming audio shows.
CanMania was, to my mind, a huge success. Almost two dozen “display and demo stations” were available to browse, engage with, and be challenged by.
My first stop was the sprawling table set up by Drew Baird and the Moon Audio crew.
Moon Audio is a based in Cary, NC, and focuses on headphone-related gear. They’re one of the best-known retailers in the US for high-end headphones and related gear, and also offer a sought-after custom headphone cable, the Silver Dragon series, to customers looking to take their head-fi setups to the next level.
The sheer variety that Drew and team carted up to CanMania was completely daunting, but I was able to sit down at several points along their u-shaped station and listen to some gear I’ve only read about previously. I spent some time with the magnificent Fostex TH900 headphones that John Grandberg fell in love with. He’s absolutely right — these are just dynamite cans; gorgeous, light-weight, and comfortable. Yes, they sound pretty great, too. Ha! Moving to the opposite end of that table took me to the B.M.C. PureDAC, here paired with some Audeze LCD-X headphones. I was struck by how fine that all-in-one (if you’re a headphone guy) system was — DAC + amp, with balanced outs, and seriously, you’re done.
But what caught my eye, both initially and finally, was that stunning Cary Audio CAD-300-SEI Drew had out front-and-center. Apparently, this is a heavily modded-up unit, done at the factory by Cary, based on Drew’s requests. I was listening to Drew articulate all this while falling into a trance, staring into that automotive paint finish. The amplifier, a legend only in part for its fantastic headphone output, was matched up with some new Grado PS1000e, and listening to that pairing, fronted by a PS Audio DirectStream DAC, and my heart was filled with impure thoughts. Ahem.