The final day of CanJam Socal 2019 was packed with visitors. The attendance for this show was one for the best I have seen for CanJam. The Marriott was a surefire winner for this event with reasonably priced food and accommodations.  Sunday, usually a slower day for attendance, was anything but at this year’s SoCal CanJam. The place was swarming with people and the day packed with attendees making the show the most successful CanJam I have attended, setting new attendance figures for the SoCal event. Jude Mansilla and Ethan Opolion put on a show for the ages.

The weather was exceptional and our team was on point with our coverage. Larry Borden from Distinctive Stereo sponsored our coverage for this year’s event and made it possible for us to get three of our writers to the event and provide coverage.  Thanks to Larry I was able to cover the entire CanJam with our team of dedicated Gurus.

Meeting old friends and making new ones is always an experience and makes traveling to shows exciting for me. The members who attend these shows are a committed bunch of enthusiasts who enjoy headphone and portable listening. The shows keep getting better with higher attendance and new and innovative products are always launched at CanJams. Since my involvement in personal audio dating back to 2008, I have made numerous new lifelong friends.

I am grateful to Jude and Ethan for their ongoing work in providing the best personal audio shows in the world and for enriching lives with their creative shows and making CanJams the place to be for personal audio listening.

CanJam SoCal 2019

Steve Smith from dCS  was showing their new digital masterpiece.

CanJam SoCal 2019

The Bartok, priced at $15000, was making music using a variety of different headphones.  The class A amplifier incorporated a network DAC using the latest dCS digital processing platform and Ring DAC. The high quality amplifier will drive both low and high impedance headphones easily. Steaming services built-in included Tidal and Spotify. The Bartók network DAC with Class A headphone output is able to upsample or decode DSD with its selectable filters, built in a high quality chassis with twin main transformers and will be firmware upgradable to ensure the user that it will not become obsolete. Built by a world-class company dedicated to building the best digital solutions, the Bartok was impressive and sounded fantastic.

CanJam SoCal 2019

Ken Balls  Campfire team was busy the entire show showing their complete lineup of universal IEMs and the Equinox Custom earspeakers.

Ken Ball, one of the early pioneers in personal audio, is one of my favorite people to talk with and he was explaining his new and first custom made design, The Equinox.  The custom-fit body design incorporates a scan of the impression and then the internal acoustic chambers are incorporated into a 3D model. Right now, depending on the area you live in, it is still in Beta form and priced at $1499. I predict the Equinox will be a major success and a product many would be proud to own. With Campfire Audio’s universal IEM line, starting with the $599 Jupiter going up to the $1499 Solaris, users have a choice of exceptional earphones designed to meet any single individual listening preferences.

CanJam SoCal 2019

Empire Ears, always busy at shows with their outstanding custom made earspeakers.

The  Legend X is available in either a universal or a custom design. Incorporating 7 drivers in the design, it uses 2 for the low, 3 for the mids, and 2 for high. The 10-way synX crossover network ensures a balanced sound with outstanding bass and a pristine treble. The sound is exceptional playing all different genres and ensures the listener a reference design that is a fantastic listening experience. Priced at $2299 for either universal or custom design.

CanJam SoCal 2019

Joseph Xing Mou Managing Director and founder of Jomo Audio. The company, located in Singapore, is another new manufacturer of fine quality Custom and Universal IEMs.

The Game  Raider is a gaming in-ear monitor designed especially for professional E-sport competition and casual video gaming. Ergonomic housing designs employing the latest in 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies promising a comfortable wearing experience for hours-long gaming sessions without fatigue. Excellent noise isolation allows the player to focus on the game without any distraction from ambient noise. The company is offering many different ear monitors in both universal and custom designs. Their top of the line universal is offered at $2800 and is a unique design. The drives include 1 dynamic and 4 balanced armatures with 2 electrostatic drivers. The US distribution is being done by Audio 46 in New York City.

CanJam SoCal 2019

Dan Wiggins and his team were busy showing their Periodic Audio IEMs with the in house designs starting at $99. The Be IEM ($299) has a 100% pure beryllium foil diaphragm that includes PEEK surround. The sound is exceptionally balanced and is outstanding for listeners who want balanced sound with an excellent mid-range and offers exceptional sound for the price. New for the show was their C (Carbon) IEM ($399) which utilizes a lab-grown diamond layer (8 microns) on their own proprietary high-temperature polymer substrate. Built in house and designed by Dan, they offer good value for the money.

Ted Denney CEO of Synergistic Research was doing demos with his Foundation series of cables with using stock cables and then using the Foundations. Listening to both the stock cable and the Synergistic line the differences were immediately noticeable. A Monolith by Monoprice Tube headphone amplifier/DAC and a Blue Sound music server were the components Ted used for the demonstration. I noticed with the Synergistic the sound had more clarity and the Foundation series had more inner detail retrieval and layering was more defined. The differences were not subtle. Cables make differences and in this case, the results were easily heard by anyone taking part in the demos. Beautifully constructed the sound was much improved using Ted’s cables.

The Synergistic Foundation Headphone cable is priced at $1499 and uses a high quality HT Carbon interface and silver in their design.  The Power cable is priced at $549.00 and Foundation interconnects start at $499 for RCA terminated 1 meter pair and $599 for XLR terminated 1 meter pair. The conductors are 99.9999 pure monocrystal conductor.  The RCAs use 4 conductors and the XLRs use 8. The Silver braid-quantum tunneled shielding and the dielectric is air sealed.

CanJam SoCal 2019

Kevin Venable, a dear friend and former contributor to, was in deep concentration and enjoying the Manley Absolute tube headphone amplifier. Kevin played in the United States Marine Corps band and is an astonishing musician who knows great sound when he hears it and was totally impressed with the Absolute amplifier and Utopia headphones.

EveAnna Manley is one cool lady who gets it and understands what the music enthusiast wants in their products. The Absolute Headphone Amplifier is designed with 2 12AX7 and 4 6AQ5A (EL90) driver tubes. The Absolute has a triode Tube output stage and is switchable to single-ended or Push-Pull. The unit is also a preamplifier and offers 2 RCA inputs with one preamp output. The output is adjustable to 16, 62, and 200 ohms so it will accommodate most headphones. The output and jacks are all rear designed making this an excellent choice for desktops and top of rack placement. The design took 5 years to develop and is one of the best designs released in 2019. The adjustable stages make listening to your favorite headphones tunable to your desired sound. Powerful and graceful the Absolute by Manley is a total listening experience that is addictive and magical

Next door to the Manley booth was MrSpeakers and EveAnna had her absolute amplifiers doing some of the work at the booth. The $799 Aeon had listeners engaged and totally entranced with the amazing musicality from the Dan Clark designed masterpiece.

The Aeon is offered in both open and closed designs for the same price.  The booth was packed with listeners who were engaged with the MrSpeakers planar headphones.

CanJam SoCal 2019

Two of my favorite gals at shows Sue Regan and EveAnna Manley were busy with side by side booths. Sue is the wife of MrSpeakers President Andy Regan and good friend of EveAnna. The two ladies were busy showing both companies products and made the show a terrific experience for attendees. I had a blast talking with these ladies and they were both showing outstanding designs from their perspective companies.

CanJam SoCal 2019

Rocky Sharma CEO of AKOUSTYX  was showcasing the terrific earspeakers made in Nashville Tennessee. Rocky told me he spends hours on building the designs by hand himself in the good old USA. The company is located in San Jose California and Rocky is building the products in Nashville Tennessee performing the hand made assembly. The company is dedicated to bringing the best sound quality in their products priced for the everyday music lover, unheard of pricing for handmade IEMs in the US. Starting at $99.

The R120 is priced at 219.99 pair. Rocky incorporated studio reference acoustics in the design, along with dual balanced armature drivers by Knowles. The cable is detachable and the IEM uses a polycarbonate casing. The 3-button inline mic works with both IOS and Android. The Comply T100 tips are included with a nice carrying case.

Clear Audio from Germany was showing the Concept turntable with their magnet bearing tonearm. The table sounded excellent with the Concept moving magnet cartridge. The design is manufactured in Germany and the cost is $2800 which includes the table, arm, and cartridge.


That wraps up our coverage for SoCal CanJam and one of the best shows that Ethan and Jude have produced.  Great to see many new vendors at this show with new and exciting designs. The CanJams are fun to attend and always go so fast.  People who have never attended a CanJam need to get to one to experience the excitement and energy the show brings to the community. We at Headphone.Guru are committed to continue sponsoring CanJams and providing our readers with the best in personal audio reviews. Our sponsors make all this possible so please support the companies who help us help the community by getting to shows and reporting on the best in personal audio listening. Check out Distinctive Stereo featuring the best in headphone and Hifi listening. Larry Borden creates a musical experience that is memorable, check out their  website located here:   

Next up for us is CanJam London coverage by me and Freddie best known as Toffee Cat on See you there!!!!!!!

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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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