CanJam SoCal 2016: Questyle, Westone and ENIGMAcoustics






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Seal_FINAL_CanJamSoCal2016If a big stack of gear is your idea of “divide and conquer” in the world of personal audio, then Questyle is your one-stop shop.

Truly impressive was their “Golden Reference Stack”: two CMA800R Golden amps (dual mono, dontcha know), fronted by a CMA800P Golden preamp, with a CAS192D Golden DAC feeding them.

The upcharge for the “Golden Reference” version of these guys is $1,000 each ($1,500 >> $2,500), which gets you a ceramic circuit board (!) and a suite of upgraded bits-and-bobs, as well as the gold finish and bragging rights to audio awesomeness.

I’m going to need a whole lot more time to pass any sort of judgment that is clearly separable from gas, but my brief interlude was impressive. Also impressive was the real-estate needed — not a system for anyone faint-of-heart, this.

Noble Audio
Noble Audio is a proud sponsor of CanJam SoCal 2016 and Part-Time Audiophile

A bit more in line with my desktop (and wallet) was the new integrated, the CMA600i, an integrated DAC and headphone amplifier:

Baby brother to the award-winning CMA800i, the entry level CMA600i utilizes a USB port that adopts a unique 3X Clock structure. This ensures a proper sync with the premium AK4490 32-bit DAC chipset from AKM. The chipset includes a newly developed switch capacitor filter “OSR Doubler” that greatly reduces sound degradation from noise shaping, achieving a flat noise floor up to 200 kHz! The AK4490 chip obtains first-class sound performance by also reducing jitter and pre-ringing to undetectable levels. The CMA600i also features a 4-pin balanced XLR stereo output, accommodating balanced headphones with a single integrated DAC/headphone amp. Apart from the USB input, the CMA600i is also equipped with XLR and RCA pre-amplifier outputs–all supporting 24-bit/192-kHz transmission and allowing for a power amplifier to be connected, thus allowing the CMA600i to be used as a premium DAC/Preamp. The CMA600i is available in space gray now for $1,299.99.

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A little bird told me that this new guy is the value-leader in the current lineup — sporting significant trickle-down tech and some additional tweaks, making it something of a steal.

Also in-room, I found a whole bunch of Dharma headphones ($1,190) from ENIGMAcoustics— these are dynamic/electrostat hybrid headphones that do not require a specialty amplifier to drive. Neat trick, that.

John Grandberg has a set in for review, so I’ll hold off on my comments for now, other than to offer — “very exciting”.

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Last but not least, Westone dominated fully half the room with their IEMs scattered about like jewels ready for a swap meet.

The newest twists on an old theme? The Skeleton IEM.

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As the name suggests, it’s a 3-D printed IEM that’s been … hollowed out. Yes! Skeletonized, baby. It’s what happens after all the flesh-eating beetles are dumped into a bucket of in-ear monitor shells. Okay, no, but maybe it helps to think of it that way. Okay, no, but it is the way I think about it …. Hmm.

The Skeletons have up to a dual-driver complement — there’s not a lot of room in there — and retail for $249.99 for the S10 single driver, and $349.99 for the S20 for the dual driver version. Given that they’re customs, I haven’t yet had the pleasure of an audio tour but I can already feel how minimal these would be — and for those that play with the newest in in-ears, this is kind of huge. No, not for letting ambient noise in, but instead, for simply being comfortable. “Modern” in-ears add more and more stuff into the shells, making them bigger and heavier — the Skeleton, by contrast, goes exactly the other direction. And that, my friends, is audio winning.

On a related side note, Weston will be releasing a new “ambient” IEM utilizing a tech they call “SLED” (“Sonic Low Pressure Equalization”), which is designed to maximize bass response — an issue with most ambient-sound-friendly in-ear monitors. The new models, the AM10, AM20 and AM30 (with single, dual and triple balanced armatures and $189.99, $339.99 and $439.99, respectively), are due “soon” — as in now; the AM10 became available on 3/29 — the rest will be start moving out in about 30 days.

Also new, the Westone Bluetooth audio cable. The cable features an 8-hour battery life and support for the aptX Bluetooth codec. Any IEM that’s got an MMCX connector is compatible. Availability will June — expect to see it at $149.









About Scot Hull 1039 Articles
Scot started all this back in 2009. He is currently the Publisher here at PTA, the Publisher at The Occasional Magazine, and the Executive Producer at The Occasional Podcast. There are way too many words about him over on the Contributors page.