Another successful CanJam! A huge thank you goes out to all the organizers, designers, exhibitors, and attendees who have collaboratively made this event such an enjoyable experience. The best part of these events is the shared passion, love, and energy in the air when meeting up with old friends and making new ones.
- Wells Audio Headtrip Reference amp + Aqua HiFi La Scala MKII + JPS Superconductor cables + Abyss AB-1266 headphones
- The Wells Audio Reference amp is just incredible, a worthy step up from the original Headtrip. I’ve never heard a better SS amp (at least paired with the Abyss)…period. Authority is one thing but with this reference amp, you get this undeniable realism and warmth I’ve never heard from any other setup. I couldn’t quite pinpoint what I was hearing so I had to revisit the booth a few times. It just sounds “right.” You just have to hear it.
- Woo Audio WA5 LE + Sophia Princess 300B tubes + JPS Superconductor cables + Abyss AB-1266 headphones
- The Woo Audio setup was hypnotic and dreamy. The amount of air, sweetness, and depth you get without compromising details is extraordinary. The Headtrip is more “true” but with the WA5 LE you get a surreal, romantic, and evocative experience.
Great work to both Jack Wu and Jeff Wells. I hope to get these babies in for review soon.
I did spend most of my time with the electrostatics as they’re more difficult to obtain for in-home auditions. I see what the craze is about. I’m an Abyss kinda guy but I must admit the speed, detail, and ridiculous transparency of the Stax is immensely enjoyable.
- The Stax 009 + Headamp Blue Hawaii setup was quite impressive (especially for vocals) however I firmly believe it to be quite lacking on the low-end. Personally, that’s a deal breaker as I feel a certain amount of low-end heft is crucial for broader musical tastes outside of classical and acoustic.
- The HiFiMan Shangri-La had a bit more low-end (still not enough for my tastes) and sounded very pleasant to my ears. From memory, it had a more natural tonality compared to the 009 + BHSE setup. I spent a good 15-20 minutes critically listening under the show conditions and there weren’t many faults I could pick out besides wanting more bass. I preferred it over the Stax SR-009.
- The MrSpeakers Electrostatics (prototype) did have the qualities you would expect from electrostatics. The midrange and treble regions were conveyed with finesse and speed. I didn’t find it as engaging as the other electrostatics but admittedly I didn’t spend more than 15 minutes at the station. Not sure what the pricing is for this can but it definitely wasn’t at the level of the SR-009 or Shangri-La.
Surprises from the show:
- Airist Audio’s Heron 5
- They paired this with the Sennheiser HD800 and I thought it sounded quite good. Pitch black blackground and incredible sound. For the price tag under $1,000…I had to do a double take. Of course a more in-depth review will be in order and I will be contacting William Tse soon.
- Woo Audio WA8
- Big sweet, lush, and seductive sound from a small transportable device. Amazing.
- Meze 99 Classics
- What a fun pair of headphones. My primary objective during the show was to find a new closed portable. I immediately fell in love with these. It’s too bad they don’t fold but the case looks sturdy. The price to performance makes this a no-brainer.
- The Beyerdynamic T1 (2nd Gen) also sounded fantastic. I’m a bit confused as to why the T5P is identically priced as it sounds obviously inferior to my ears. Horses for courses.
- The Audeze EL-8 Platinum was also memorable.
The most advanced DAC in the world with 164,000 taps and the best noise-shapers in existence. Please don’t listen to the Chord DAVE because you’ll probably want to sell your car or kids to get one.