Continuing coverage of CanJam at RMAF 2016, my last visit in the tent was with Echobox. They produce an excellent inexpensive IEM called the Finder X1 Titanium Earphone ($229) and a soon to be released streaming media player named The Explorer ($599) which is available in Mahogany, Ebony, Zebra Wood and Maple. The release version will come with a complete build of Android 6.0 Marshmallow run on a Rockchip RK3128 Quad Core 1.6 GHz Processor with 2GB of ram and sport a Burr Brown PCM 1792 DAC.
Echobox Finder X1 Titanium Earphone and The Explorer Streaming Media Player in Ebony and Maple
Echobox Finder X1 Titanium Earphone and The Explorer Streaming Media Player in Zebra Wood and Mahogany
Echobox Finder X1 Titanium Earphone and The Explorer Streaming Media Player
As I understand it, when there was not enough space in the tent to fit all of the manufacturers who wanted to participate in CanJam, Ray Kimber stepped up and gave up one of his rooms in order to accommodate the overflow, so when I was done in the tent I moved to the CanJam extension inside the hotel, where I found one of the most unique companies of the show.
E-MU is a fairly old pro audio manufacturer specializing in digital electronics; in fact they made one of the first digital synthesizers the E-MU Emulator. So it was rather unusual to find that a builder of digital musical instruments had moved into manufacturing headphone, especially since the primary component that they are manufacturing is wooden enclosures. Handcrafted wooden enclosures.
They make two models; the Walnut ($150) with a 40mm Bio-cellulose diaphragm and the Teak ($450) with a 50mm Bio-cellulose diaphragm, but don’t think you are limited to those two woods, this is where the fun comes in as they sell replacement enclosures in a plethora of exotic woods and finishes, all of them beautiful and each offering unique sonic characteristics (they will also fit the Fostex TH series headphones).
The E-MU Walnut Headphone
E-MU Teak Headphones with alternative enclosures, a “Walnut” enclosure in bamboo atop a bamboo section, Creative Soundblaster X7
One off custom E-MU “Teak” enclosures and a section of the tree from which they were made, E-MU Teak Headphones with alternative enclosures
E-MU “Teak” enclosures
Ever want to use active noise cancelling IEMs but occasionally need to hear what’s going on around you? Then Santa Cruz Audio SC1000 ($1,150) was made for you. Each earphone comes with a small attached microphone that not only enhances the active noise cancelling, but with a flick of a switch allow you to hear your surroundings. Fit and comfort wise they are more like ear buds in that they have a short throw and remain in the outer ear but the noise cancelling appears to be excellent.
Santa Cruz Audio SC1000
Fred DeKalb of Santa Cruz Audio
One of my favorite stops of the show was Ampsandsound. Justin Weber was there with his Mogwai ($1,850), Leeloo ($1,850) and Agartha ($3,600) single ended Class A Triode Tube Headphone / Speaker Amplifiers. Each amplifier is lovingly hand built in Southern California from U.S. sourced parts, and is designed to take full advantage of its particular tube set. It was a pleasure to compare the lush and musical characteristics of each amplifier in one place.
Ampsandsound Mogwai single ended Class A Triode Tube Headphone / Speaker
Ampsandsound Leeloo single ended Class A Triode Tube Headphone / Speaker
Ampsandsound Agartha single ended Class A Triode Tube Headphone / Speaker
Ampsandsound’s Justin Weber
I ended the show with a visit to Kimber Kables room which they shared with Meitner, MrSpeakers, Sony, Questyle Audio, WBT and Woo Audio.
Kimber Kable’s Wall of Cable
Kimber Kable were showing off the new AXIOS AG Silver ($2,850 and up depending on configuration) and AXIOS HB Silver/Copper Hybrid (($1,824 and up depending on configuration) custom headphone cables. Beautifully made with their wood clad connectors the AXIOS Cables are a must hear for anyone trying to get the most out of their headphones.
Kimber Kable AXIOS AG Silver Headphone Cable, Sennheiser HD800 Headphones and Pass Labs HPA-1 Class A MOSFET Headphone Amplifier
Sony TA-ZH1ES Heaphone Amplifier/FPGA DAC driving SonyMDR-Z1R Headphones with a Sony NW-WM1Z Walkman DAP as digital source demonstrating the difference between Kimber Kable AXIOS AG Silver Headphone Cable and Kimber Kable AXIOS HB Silver/Copper Hybrid Headphone Cable
HeadAmp Blue Hawaii Special Edition, STAX SR-009 Electrostatic Earspeakers, MrSpeakers ETHER C Flow Headphones and MrSpeakers ETHER Flow Headphones with Kimber Kable AXIOS AG Silver Headphone Cable, Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies and Ray Kimber
Questyle Audio was demonstrating their incomparable “Gold Stack” Reference System, composed of the CAS192D Golden Reference True DSD DAC ($3000), the CMA800P Golden Reference Current Mode Amplification Preamp ($3500) and two CMA800R Golden Reference Current Mode Amplification Headphone Amplifiers ($3000 each). Also on display were the CMA600i True DSD / Current Mode Amplification DAC / Headphone Amplifier ($1299), and the QP1R True DSD / Current Mode Amplification Portable Music Server ($899).
Questyle Audio QP1R True DSD / Current Mode Amplification Portable Music Server (in Gold and Space Gray), Meze 99 Classics Headphones, Audeze LCD-XC Headphones
Another surprise was Meitner Audio whose table was hosted by Amadeus Meitner son of Ed Meitner the designer for Meitner / EMM Labs. Front and center was the EMM Labs DA2 DAC ($25,000) which up converts all signals to 16x DSD, this was fed into an EMM Labs PRE2 Preamplifier ($15,500) to which they connected a pair of SonyMDR-Z1R Headphones directly to the balanced line outputs.
Amadeus Meitner displays the EMM Labs DA2 DAC
EMM Labs PRE2 Preamp and TX2 SACD Transport
My final destination for CanJam RMAF was Woo Audio. Their table in the Kimber room was dedicated primarily to the WA8 Eclipse Portable Headphone Amplifier ($1799), but the real treat was upstairs in the tower where they had a room shared with Abyss Headphones highlighting the new WA-22 Fully Balanced Output Transformer Coupled All Tube Drive Headphone Amplifier ($1995) driving the Abyss AB-1266 Deluxe Headphones ($5495).
Jack Woo and the Woo Audio WA8 Eclipse Portable Tube Headphone Amplifier
Gary Alan Barker is a writer who has been a member of the Audio Industry since 1978, having acted as technical writer for several high-end audio companies, and been an electronics hobbyist since 1960. He has also been a musician and writer since the mid 1960s.