Busy weekend here at PTA! Marc is up at the Pacific Audio Fest in Seattle, while I’m a bit closer to home. But today found a few extra hours — so off to Canjam I went!
It’s been a while since my last Canjam — this was my first since 2016 in SoCal. Whazza!
What’s new, Head-Fi?
I saw some old Audio360 friends in show runner Ethan Oppolion and my old bud Warren Chi, and just as I was leaving, Jude Himself appeared. I saw “part-timer” Jameson Mourafetis briefly, and maybe a couple-hundred head-fi-ers wandering the tables.
The show, according to Ethan, is on a growth trajectory — flagship events in New York and Los Angeles are very different affairs. Here in Chicago, there was a large conference room at the Hyatt Regency in Schaumberg, with two “breakout rooms” for Dan Clark Audio and ZMF Headphones, respectively. Out in the hall, and down around the corner, attendees could catch a scheduled talk, or take in the dCS “Lina Lounge”, or if they were very lucky, they could score a demo of the new Sennheiser HE-1.
And that was about it. And that was enough! The best thing? Wait times (with the exception of the HE-1) were low. Interaction was high. Sound was great. And aside with a couple power glitches — gotta love those hotels — a good time was had by all.
dCS and the Lina Lounge
For the uninitiated, dCS has been a leader in digital to analog conversion for longer than I’ve cared about high-end audio. In recent memory, we’ve had the Bartók DAC in here (twice, actually). Since then, they’ve launched their three-piece headphone solution, the Lina. The full-monty solution includes the Network DAC ($13,650.00), the Headphone Amp ($9,750), and the Master Clock ($7,750) — the all-in price will set you back $31,150.00, and no, there’s no bundle pricing.
Headphones in this little niche room were all over the gamut — all your hard-to-drive favs from Sennheiser, HiFiMan, Audeze, and more. But the thing that centered it all was the Lina.
This little stack is a compact tour-de-force. It is, not surprisingly, breathtakingly expensive. And it sounds fantastic.
Over in the corner was another solution, the Bartók Apex. At $22,950, it’s a one-box “bargain” — and to my ears (both past and present), an excellent option.
More Show Highlights
Across the show floor, there were a lot of different solutions to check out. Here’s some of what I saw — Audeze, Spirit Torino, HiFiMan, and something wild from Ear Micro and Klipsch, called the T10. I spoke with Bear from Ear Micro about the T10 Bespoke — a “luxury wireless Hi-Fi experience”. The case is this diamond thing, hangs on a chain, and holds teeny tiny wireless headphones. The case is very customizable — the purple one on display apparently costs almost $40k, and they have Ferrari-co-branded versions, and really, whatever they hell you want. Prices start at $3,250.
But the headphones are wacky — in each headphone, apparently, there’s a teeny, tiny computer.
We call it an in-ear computer because our advanced touch, voice, head motion, and other gestures allow hands-free, eyes-free command and control over your music, apps, assistant, and other connected devices.
The world’s first high fidelity in-ear computers (IEC) are similar to a musician’s universal IEM, but packed with the latest digital signal processing, parametric equalization, ultra low-noise class A/B and D amplification, and Danish balanced armatures.
I’m gonna try and get a set. See what’s what. Stay tuned.