I’ve still got a lot to learn about what is chic in the headphone community. So, as I roamed the sea of tangled cords and music-bar like atmosphere of the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest Can Jam (www.canjamglobal.com) arena, I let my sagacity lead the way. On to the show…
The Acoustic Research AR-M2 DAP / Headphone Amp ($999.99 USD) that I played with at the show is super attractive, super fast, sounds excellent, and very powerful at driving headphones. If only this thing made calls would we be in heaven (pictured in leather case). The AR-M200 DAP / Bluetooth Streamer ($399.99 USD) looks more like a DAP, but does something downright genius, it pairs with mobile devices allowing your phone to be wire free while your DAP acts as receiver and amp. Why didn’t I think of this?
Magnesium, Titanium, Beryllium; Three metals we all know and love. Now available in three smart-looking IEM’s ($99 USD, $199 USD, and $299 USD). Also on display was a uniquely cased (3-D Printed for the show) mini-amplifier dubbed “The Nickel Amp” also priced at ($299 USD) was sans of switches or buttons. The Nickel amp uses signal sensing to power up and power off when not in use. Again, another brilliant idea I should have thought of.
Clear Tune Monitors (CTM)
Easily the most stylish IEMs at the show, the Vintage Series of headphones from CTM, also sounded as fancy. Starting with a 2-Driver/2-way Monitor ($399.99 USD), 3-Driver/3-Way Monitor ($499.99 USD), and 4-Driver/3-Way Monitor ($599.99 USD). A really snazzy product.
This booth is where things got serious. Jerry Harvey is a name synonymous with IEMs. Originally developed while on tour for Van Halen, these monitors hold claim to the ears of more big name working musicians than hearing damage itself. Each monitor contains 12 individual drivers — say what?? Definitely something we should be interested in.
Most familiar to me, the ModWright sound. Already upstairs I was blown away by what 8 watts of power coming from the HA300 Headphone / Integrated ($8,000 USD) could sound like when driving tower speakers, so to sit down with the 3 watt Tryst Headphone Amp ($2,995 USD), familiar hallmarks were abundant. Bravo!
The most hands on approach award should go to Final Audio. Showgoers were treated to an Earphone Assembly Workshop, so as to better understand how planar technologies work to achieve low distortion sound. Most impressive was the E-Series (starting under $50 USD) of earbuds, which at their price would bring new markets to the brand, while also offering a sample of what makes Final Audio sonically special.
We can’t pretend like Koss hasn’t been instrumental maintaining the headphone craze for many decades. With all of their well known studio monitors and superbly portable PortaPro headphones ($49 USD), it’s a wise move to keep a beat on Koss. New for this year and at the show, Koss’ KPH30i ($30 USD) offer a more comfortable fit and sound that younger audiences will appeal to.
A division of Creative, E-MU produces some of the finest sound headphones I’ve heard at any show. Fully customizable ear cups not only change the look, but more importantly, drastically change the sound. Buying one pair of their Wood Reference Teak headphones ($700 USD) could in turn become like owning several. Using their chameleon like ability to swap wooden ear cups ($100 USD – $120 USD) you can expect your audiophile friends to envy their sonic versatility.