CanJam 2019 Part 2 Sponsored by Kimber Kable

Tony Crocker is the chief designer and CEO of Swan Song Audio. The Oklahoma based company specialized in building custom products for customers who want the best performance from their gear built to their individual musical preferences. Tony likes to design each product for his customers by hand and build them to order for the customer who wants to achieve maximum sound quality tailored to their individual tastes and systems. Spending some time with Tony, I was impressed with his designs and more so the man himself. The bare circuit board, as well as the amplifier to the right of it, is the Cygnet Class A Headphone Amplifier. Priced at $1600 it has a fully Class A BJT output stage and delivers 800 milliwatts into 20 ohms. The unit has a 32 bit 384hz DAC fed via 2 Toslink, 1 Coax and 1 USB connection. The upsampling version cost $1850.

The Cygnet USB Advanced Headphone amplifier is 275 milliwatts 20 to 200 ohms and includes a Burr-Brown 24 bit 96 kHz upsampling DAC priced at $1250. Both amps provided exceptional transparency with outstanding musicality and drove the  Audeze LCD 3 and  LCD XC easily, and were dynamic and had everything you would want in a reference grade amp/DAC combo/ Impressive!!

The integrated amplifier outputs out 5.5 watts into 16 ohms and uses all discrete parts. Distortion is a low .01 percent at 1 watt into 16 ohms. The standard inputs are 2 Toslink, 1 coaxial and 1 USB. RCA input is available as well and it can be made with any input the customer wants in the amplifier. The price is $3400 for the amp without upsampling and $3650 with. The speakers are highly efficient and feature solid Mahogany and Maple cabinets and a single 4-inch Faital Pro driver and are priced at $1500 for the pair. They have a bass boost module available for an extra $500. Swan Song Audio Silver cables shown are priced at $600.

The amplifier incorporates a  Burr-Brown DAC which is 32 bit 385 Hz. There is an upsampling unit which can be installed in the unit to do full 24 bit 96hz. The unit can be ordered with a glass top as shown above with the Swan Song Logo or without.

The music server shown here is $1200 and uses an Intel Skull Canyon NUC configured for Windows 10 with an I7 Quad Core processor, 16GB Crucial Ram and has a solid stage 500 GB hard drive.  Mac users can have the server built for your Mac computer. The system displayed showcased all of the Swan Audio products and was impressive in sound quality. I will be reviewing the system and looking forward to the experience of Swan Song’s outstanding line of products in my listening room.

Angela Cardas Meredith and Her husband Josh were showcasing Cardas products which included their award-winning Ear Speakers designed by George Cardas. The Cardas EM 5813 is priced at $425 and the Cardas A8, priced at $349, is one of the best sounding universals and won our Budget Product of the Year award for 2017.  Also on display were the Cardas Clear headphone cables starting at $600 and Cardas Clear Light starting at $ 370. The Clear Light cable offers better high-end extension and transparency at a more affordable price. Cardas has a long history of designing some of the finest cables available.  The company is working on another refined cable so stay tuned for more exciting products to come from the Cardas team.

Zack and his lovely wife Devin were showing the outstanding wood designs of ZMF.

Devin showing one of the ZMF designs starting at $1099 for the Silk Atticus to $2499 for the new open-backed reference Verite. Zak has some of the finest sounding designs. The wood is magnificent on all the models and all are exceptionally dynamic designs.

Mytek was showing the new Brooklyn Bridge priced at $2995 is identical to the award-winning Brooklyn DAC+ in terms of audio circuits and performance but has the addition of a built-in Network Streamer. The AES/EBU digital input is replaced with an Ethernet network connector, added WiFi antenna and a USB port for an external music hard drive. 

The Brooklyn Bridge can stream Qbuzz and Tidal music and decode digital up to 384 kHz PCM and Native DSD256. The MQA decoder is a high-quality chipset chosen to get the most out of the new recording format.

Cherbon told me that you can also add a phono stage and it offers a dual balanced headphone amp for personal audio enthusiasts. The ESS 9038 Sabre DAC chip is excellent with great transparency and one of the finest DAC chips available employing a precision clock for the best in digital conversion. Add a tablet or any other portable device and the system is ready to stream via USB or Wifi.  Adding the phono stage makes it the centerpiece of a complete audio system. The sound was liquid, musical and exceptionally transparent and sounded magnificent while listening with headphones. The Brooklyn Bridge is built in NY with the finest parts and carries on the Mytek tradition of reference all-in-one designs that sound spectacular.

The Mytek Liberty DAC/headphone amplifier impressed me with its sound, especially for the $995 price. The single ended design of the headphone amplifier was impressive, incorporating the ESS 9018 Sabre Dac chip it was making music and is an outstanding product for anyone who wants to experience Mytek’s sound at an affordable price. The performance of the Liberty was exceptional with great tonality and dynamics. If you looking for a terrific and affordable amp/DAC combination make sure you check out the Liberty.

My daughter Michelle was having a blast at the show and more so enjoying the food at the Marriott Marquis. She was excited to be in NYC and especially as a musical geek, she was looking forward to a night with the Lion King.

My lovely wife and Managing Partner of Headphone.Guru  Paula Iacone was with me to share in all that CanJam had to offer and was enjoying a relaxing lunch break with me and Michelle.

MrSpeakers and HeadAmp were sharing a quiet room for listening, showcasing products from both companies. The Blue Hawaii Electrostatic amplifier priced at  $5999 with the $2999 Voce designed by Dan Clark offers a magical listening experience. The Voce electrostatic headphone offers outstanding transparency and has what most other stats do not have, exceptional bass with outstanding texture. The Blue Hawaii EL 34 based tube design is the best amplifier I have heard for driving the Voce and make this combination one of the best sounding systems the world has to offer. Peter James from HeadAmp was demonstrating Justin Wilson’s magnificent amplification products. If you are looking for the ultimate in headphone listening you need to experience this dynamic duo. The designs from these two great companies had some of the best sound at the NY CanJam.

Dan Clark was showing me his new headphone pad that was interchangeable by the user and it had self-sticking backs making it easy to put on and off the MrSpeakers designs. The soft and comfortable leather pad was light and comfortable making it great for long listening sessions.

The room was one of the busiest at CanJam. Every time I checked on the room over the two days it was crowded and listeners were all excited about the products from both companies.

The GSX Mini available in a variety of colors is the first GSX design to use both a single-ended and balanced design. The price depending, on your choice of volume control, starts at $1795 and with the upgraded step control is $1995.  HeadAmp expects this to be shipping end of March. The prototype sounded exceptional and should be another exciting fully discrete product from the mind of Justin Wilson. Preorder now if you want to get in on this exciting new design that is dynamic and musical with exceptional build quality.

Cayin and  Meze were sharing a quiet room showcasing the best in designs. The $2999 Empyrean featuring a Rinaro designed driver made exclusively for Meze was being showcased with Cayin amplification. Shown above is the long-standing production model of the HA-1 MK 11 headphone amplifier. The EL 84 design priced at $1000 is compact for a desktop and the wood sides make this a spouse-friendly design that sounded exceptional.

The 300B  single-ended design of the HA-300 has 8 watts of triode magic.  The sound was liquid and transparent while listening to the Meze Empyrean headphone. Pair this with a high-efficiency speaker and you have that famous single-ended tube magic that 300B tubes  offer. The $3999 amplifier has a separate power supply and sounded dynamic with amazing transparency  The inner detail retrieval was exceptional and had excellent Cayin build quality.

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Frank Iacone

Frank started his journey in high-end audio in 1978 and was quickly hooked. Frank’s passion for music and great sound reproduction is stronger than ever. His main focus is with high-end headphones and portable related gear. He is a regular contributor and is a co-founder of Headphone.Guru.


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