Hifi Pig’s Millennial Scribbler Harry Smith pops along to Can Jam 2019. Read more…

CanJam, the top of the list for any head-fi enthusiast with the biggest and best of the headphone audio industry attending. Thankfully I eventually made it to the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge with plenty of time to spare after a few train delays and cancellations. (Cheers East-Midlands Trains !)

Many people say that Hifi is an old man’s game but it was great to see a great mix of people of all ages at the show. Talking to enthusiasts in their early 20s showed me that Head-fi, in particular, has a lot of reach towards a younger audience.

Headphones are my main way of listening to music so having the chance to experience what everyone has to offer is very exciting, especially at the higher-end. So as I settle down on the long train journey home, here is my report of the CanJam London show 2019!

Innuos

I noticed that quite a few of the exhibitors at the show were using Innuos streamers and although they didn’t have anything brand new to show off, they brought their A-game. They were also able to reveal some very exciting plans regarding new products and that they plan to launch their very own media player app in the near future.

Woo Audio & Kimber Kable

Founded in 2003 and based in New-York, Woo Audio were showcasing their WA33 all-tube headphone amplifier. Definitely on the very high end of the scale retailing at just under $8000. This was a great sounding system and definitely a great alternative for someone who doesn’t have the space for a speaker system. Designed and assembled in New-York, this amp oozed quality. They also were showing off their WA11 Topaz portable Class-A amp/DAC paired with a Kimber Select USB-C for those wanting to up their portable hi-fi game from a smartphone.

Cardas Audio

Straight out of Brandon, Oregon, Cardas Audio showed off their range of cables along with their very own in-ears the A8. They also had an all-valve headphone amplifier from Conrad-Johnson that paired very well with the Hifiman Susvara and Cardas’ cables. It was great to finally meet Josh and Angela after hearing so many good things from the rest of the HifiPig team.

Jomo Audio

Singapore based in-ear brand Jomo Audio brought along their some very detailed handcrafted monitors. I’m a big fan of the design of these earphones, especially on the Tango model.

Qobuz

New kids on the block in the streaming world Qobuz were present all around the show. They were the streaming service of choice for many of the other exhibitors and are also are my personal preference. Being able to stream 24-bit Hi-Res audio over the wifi on the busy show floor was very impressive across the different booths and on my own device while trying out various headphones.

dCS

I had the chance to try out what dCS had to offer twice as they had a stand in the main hall and also a large suite on the floor above the show where I was able to have a more in-depth listen to their Bartók DAC that is available with or without an integrated headphone amplifier. Steve, a veteran of the CanJam shows was very friendly and talked me through his products and his thoughts on how the show has changed over the years and also how the London show compares to the American and Asian ones.

Hifonix

Hifonix were showcasing a great number of brands (Audeze, Focal, Chord, Audioquest…). Aseem Hussain was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the brands he distributes. I had a listen to a pair of Focal Utopia headphones paired with a DCS Bartok DAC and was very impressed. It has to be said that Hifonix has a great selection of premium brands.

Electromod

This is some deep Schiit ! (pardon the pun). Electromod brought a lot of the Schiit range with them to the show this year. Having already owned the entry-level Magni 3 amplifier, it was great to be able to try out the more expensive amplifiers like the Ragnarok and I was definitely not disappointed. I also loved the fact that all the products names come from Norse Mythology with names like (Asgard, Valhalla and Mjolnir). Plugged into the Schiit hardware were headphones from MrSpeaker that were very good and also offered some great value for money.

FutureSource Consulting

A little bit of a departure from the rest of the show. There were a few seminars with industry insiders in one of the suites above the show. Luke Pearce gave a very interesting presentation about how the headphone industry has evolved over the years and how it has been impacted by the introduction of new technologies such as streaming. He also talked about the different demographics targeted by headphone brands and how they have adapted to stay relevant to a younger audience.

FiiO

Chinese brand FiiO was a very busy stand. Their M11 portable music player bringing the convenience of an android device along with a great sounding music player under the hood. It shows how high the demands are of audiophiles on the go.

InEar

The German company InEar are known for their highly acclaimed high-end ProPhile 8 Earphone. The StageDiver series is now also available in a variety of new finishes. They were also doing a giveaway of a limited edition Union Jack finish of their earphones.

Campfire Audio

Campfire Audio had some of the most striking in-ears that I’ve seen in a while with angular designs and bold colours. I was recommended to try out their Solaris earphone as I love electronic music and Daft Punk’s “Homework” sounded amazing on them.

Rupert Neve Designs

Rupert Neve Designs decided to debut their brand new Fidelice range at CanJam London this summer. I have to say it is some of the best looking equipment I’ve seen at the show. Somehow both retro and futuristic at the same time. The range is made up of the Precision DAC, Precision Phono Pre Amp, and Precision Headphone Amplifier. They plan to release the headphone amp and phono preamp at the end of August with the DAC shipping at the end of the following month.

Chord Electronics

Chord was another one of those brands that I saw all over the show. I can say from my experience in retail that their Mojo portable DAC and headphone amplifier flies off the shelves. I also saw a few people walking around the show with them too. All the products look absolutely bonkers and are very eye-catching. I’ve heard Chord’s products many times before and I’m never disappointed.

RHA

Scottish headphone manufacturer RHA brought a large range of different in-ears. They’re a pretty new company but already have a great selection of wireless and truly wireless earphones. I was especially surprised how compact they’re trueConnect earbuds were. They are making some very affordable earphones with prices starting at just under £60 on the wired models.

Hifiman

Even though they had their own stand featuring a wide range of headphones, Hifiman were everywhere used by many of the other brands and I think that says a lot about the quality of their products. I had a listen to their Jade II Electrostatic Headphone and amplifier and I was very impressed. Even more impressive though was the Shangri-La Jr that was also at the Innuos stand.

Beyerdynamic

At Beyerdynamic, I tried a pair of Lagoon Anc headphones. At £359 they are quite affordable and feature active noise cancelling that did a fantastic job at blocking out the noisy show floor. I also found the touchpad controls very intuitive and with a 24h battery life with noise-cancelling active (45h without noise-cancelling active) definitely a great choice for long journeys.

Meze Audio

I actually own the Meze Audio 11 Neo in-ears and use them as my daily drivers when I’m out and about so trying out their more expensive over-ear headphones was very interesting. Although it wasn’t probably the best environment to listen to open-back headphones, the Empyrean with its hybrid magnet array was very immersive. I also have to mention the Meze 99 Neo that were recently by HifiPig’s Paul Hoskin.

SCV

Focal’s new Stellia headphone is up there with some of the best closed-back headphones I’ve heard. I listened to them plugged directly into a portable music player courtesy of Queststyle (although I wouldn’t personally choose to wear almost £3000 worth of kit outside the house). Teamed up with the new Focal Arche DAC, class-A amplifier and headphone stand is where they really shone. The Arche features custom presets for a range of their headphones (Utopia, Stellia, Clear, Elegia, Elear) and is a great option for home listening. Focal’s full high-end lineup was on display thanks to SCV distributions along with new products from Fostex, Questyle and Benchmark.

Warwick Acoustics

To demo their Aperio and Sonoma headphone systems, Warwick Acoustics had the genius idea to put a little listening room in front of their stand. I didn’t get a chance to have a listen to them due to the fact that there was always someone in the demo room but I heard a lot of good things about them and the fact that it was always busy must be a good indicator.

I would like to thank all the staff, organisers and exhibitors for putting on such a good show. I would recommend going to any headphone enthusiast or anyone wanting to learn about one of the most rapidly expanding and innovating spaces in the Hifi world. It’s a shame I couldn’t stay an extra day to try out the rest of the products that I missed out but I had a blast reporting on the show.

Until next year CanJam London!

Harry Smith (Millennial Scribbler) 

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