CanJam SoCal 2019 – The Highlights


Hats off to the entire Head-Fi crew for producing yet another successful CanJam! The new venue at the Irvine Marriot was super easy to traverse. And no special signs required or stairs to climb.

Special thanks go out to Jude Mansilla, Ethan Opolion, and Warren Chi for making it all happen.

I’ve lost count on how many CanJams I’ve been to in the last five years. I come not only to audition the finest headphone gear in the world – but for the positive vibes. Of course, there are always a few snobs who listen to headphones with their pinky finger out. 🙂 However, the freedom to indulge deeply into all this Head-fi keeps me coming back. What I love about it is – there’s always something at a CanJam that surprises you.

I’ll go over a few of these surprises in a bit. But if your goal is to evaluate gear more seriously, one thing I find invaluable to these CanJams is to bring your own music. Even if they’re offline Tidal/Spotify files. So, even if your phone doesn’t have the best DAC – there are certain qualities (tone, resolution, etc) about the gear you could determine quickly when you have familiar recordings to work with. It’ll help you narrow down what you’re looking for in the future.

I saw this guy a few times at the show – his aura was all about the music.

I believe this was the first CanJam where I actually had to get in line to listen to popular gear. In particular, the Headamp, Mr. Speakers, Meze, and ZMF booths were always busy. Good stuff.

I’ll go over a few booths I spent more quality time at. But first, a few special mentions.

Rob Watts’s seminar about the Chord Hugo TT 2 and M Scaler. He did hint that he was cooking up something “very high-end” in the lab. 😉

If you were wondering which track Rob uses to test depth in his designs, this is it:

I was VERY impressed with this high-end, portable combination. Astell&Kern really stepped it up with the SP2000 and AK T9iE. So damn quiet, clean, and smooth. I couldn’t believe how far DAPs have gone.
Had a great time at Westone. Their ES80 was on the flatter, softer, and tubey side of the spectrum. I preferred the ES60 for its airiness and the B30 for more warm & fun listening.
Focal Stellia – Possibly my favorite sounding Focal headphone. Won’t know until I hear it on my own system. But it’s sweet and organic sounding. Harman curve FTW.
The Source AV didn’t bring as much gear – and it was still a lot. Always a popular stop at CanJams. If you ever want to check out headphones or loudspeakers in SoCal – there’s no better place to do it.
100% hand-crafted, layered Bocote wood customs at JH Audio are mesmerizing.
How do I look?
These Helm Audio buds pack a PUNCH. Probably the most bass I’ve heard from a true wireless earphone.
dCS’s Bartok ($15,000) makes an appearance at CanJam. Paired with the Meze Empyrean and you get sone of the most transparent and tactile sounds out there.


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Jay Luong

Mr. Audio Bacon himself. An open-minded electrical engineer and software developer by trade. I have an obsession with the enjoyment of all things media - specifically in the realm of music and film. So much heart and soul (and money) go into the creation of this artistry. My aim is to find out which products get me closer to what the musicians and directors intended.

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