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Canjam SoCal Headphone and Audio Show 2019 Part 2

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Does anyone have some tips for getting the most out of a show like this? Next time I would like to be a little better prepared (i.e. music selection, research etc).
 
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Does anyone have some tips for getting the most out of a show like this? Next time I would like to be a little better prepared (i.e. music selection, research etc).
1. This is a great place to shop for headphones as you can test the feel of the headphones on you which is hard to assess remotely. To do that properly, you need to have a) your own content and b) your own device driving them. So I recommend bringing a high-power high fidelity portable source with you. In a pinch, I used my Samsung S8+ and it showed its value but did not have enough power.

2. If you are shopping for DAC/Amps, bring your own headphone.

3. I don't know how typical this was but the second day was much less busy allowing me to get into the busier booths/desks. Going when the show first opens may also beat the local crowd that may be stuck in traffic.

4. Be pushy. :) Engage the company reps and ask them your questions, ask for changes if there are options for driving units, different headphones, etc. Ask them technical questions.

5. Be pleasant to others attending. It is amazing how far you get by smiling and thanking others for letting you listen. Or offering others to listen rather than hogging the listening station.

6. If time is short, see if you can skip meals, or pick up something quick. In this case, the Starbucks had breakfast sandwiches that I ate late for both breakfast and lunch.

7. In support of #6, bring your own drink if none is available easily. Don't waste time waiting in line elsewhere to get it. Here, the LA audio society had free drinks so I was good. Ironically, most people were afraid of going into their suite, thinking the munchies were for invited people or something.

8. Not an issue at this show but be sure to take a shower, and dress nice. At other shows, some people would walk in and smell of sweat was so bad that you had to run out to get fresh air!

9. Again not an issue in this small show but wear super comfortable shoes so your feet don't get tired. I wear my tennis shoes no matter how dressed up I am otherwise. There were chairs here to sit and listen to wasn't as much of a factor here.
 

Nango

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@amirm I hear often the recommendation to listen to your own music, but: Aren't you always biased in that sense that you will like it good anyway if you already know and like your own music that much?

Isn't it wiser to listen to just another music within same genre that you don't know yet, and isn't this way more easier for one to identify what you don't like (the mistakes the phone reproduces) rather than identifying what you already know?
 
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@amirm I hear often the recommendation to listen to your own music, but: Aren't you always biased in that sense that you will like it good anyway if you already know and like your own music that much?

Isn't it wiser to listen to just another music within same genre that you don't know yet, and isn't this way more easier for one to identify what you don't like (the mistakes the phone reproduces) rather than identifying what you already know?
Problem with that is that you don't know how good the recording is, or how it's supposed to sound. The idea of using your own music is that you know what to expect. Essentially try to keep everything constant and just change the piece of gear you are testing.
 
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@amirm I hear often the recommendation to listen to your own music, but: Aren't you always biased in that sense that you will like it good anyway if you already know and like your own music that much?

Isn't it wiser to listen to just another music within same genre that you don't know yet, and isn't this way more easier for one to identify what you don't like (the mistakes the phone reproduces) rather than identifying what you already know?
The advice is so that you listen to the same track across different setups. Listening to track A on one system, and track B on another because they don't have the same library, confuses things a fair bit.

And no, I don't find bias in that regard. The music I use for testing is not necessarily music I like. I pick them because they better expose fidelity differences.
 
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Thanks @amirm
Preparing a music selection on your own portable device seems like the key. Headphone vendors paired their sets with various combos of amps/DACs while amp/DAC vendors didn't always provide a much of a selection of headphones. Music libraries were limited across the whole show. I often spent minutes at a booth just shuffling through their library trying to find songs with a wide range of instruments that I was familiar with.
 
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I often spent minutes at a booth just shuffling through their library trying to find songs with a wide range of instruments that I was familiar with.
Indeed, I went through the same, wasting time figuring out the UI for their player, etc. In this day and age, they should all have Tidal subscription. That would eliminate the need to bring one's music. But very few had Tidal.
 
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-snip-

That's literally an Audeze Mobius headset with carbon colour and HyperX stamped on it, hope they're offering a more affordable price point? I'm guessing it was a joint partnership, or HyperX helped with Manufacturing as I believe this was the first headset manufactured externally for Audeze.

1562645238106.png
1562645284123.png
 

frogmeat69

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This hifiman Jade II electrostatic headphone was so light and comfortable to wear. Here it is mated to its amplifier:

View attachment 28229
View attachment 28230

The package is $1,399. I might prefer this to my stax setup as it could get louder and had more bass.
I believe the $1399 price is for just the headphones, with the amp included price goes to $2499.
 
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I walked by this desk multiple times thinking, "oh great, another multi-channel to stereo virtualizer." The last time there was no one there so I decided to sit down and try it. I was very surprised that it came with a head tracker. Basically this is a device you strap to the top of your headphone and then tells the system which way your head is pointing. This massively improves the 3-D spatial effect. Otherwise the brain gets confused as you move your head and the standard shift in levels doesn't not occur.
View attachment 28238

What I also liked was how clean these were.

Above is the user interface. it installs as a virtual sound driver so to use it, you just point your multi-channel player (video, audio, game) to that device. And then in their control panel you tell it what your real 2-channel DAC is.

It comes with that parametric eq which they told me is quite popular.

Turns out the designer, Ryan Redetzke, is a fan of ASR so we had a great chat and he loaned me a unit to review. So look for that soon.
Can't wait for your review of this.
I almost bought the Audeze equivalent solution before...
Would be interested to see how it integrates with system using the Ambisonic format, and how much power is required on the host.
 

DDF

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Stay on me till I get it done. :).....it came with a head tracker. Basically this is a device you strap to the top of your headphone and then tells the system which way your head is pointing.
Sony came out with a headphone in the 90s with this feature. We bought it and evaluated it in our audio lab at work as I was working on auralization at the time. It certainly helped with externalizing but the position sensor would drift after 10 mins or so, especially if accompanied by allot of head movement, causing some fairly bizarre effects.

Acknowledging this limitation, Sony provided a convenient reset button. If you do test it, this would be a good use case to explore.
 

maxxevv

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Sony came out with a headphone in the 90s with this feature. We bought it and evaluated it in our audio lab at work as I was working on auralization at the time. It certainly helped with externalizing but the position sensor would drift after 10 mins or so, especially if accompanied by allot of head movement, causing some fairly bizarre effects.

Acknowledging this limitation, Sony provided a convenient reset button. If you do test it, this would be a good use case to explore.
Its exactly what the Audeze Mobius is supposed to do now though:

https://www.audeze.com/products/mobius
 

Sal1950

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Acknowledging this limitation, Sony provided a convenient reset button. If you do test it, this would be a good use case to explore.
@DDF I been meaning to ask you, what is the machine (drag bike?) in your avatar?
 

Wombat

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Back to the OT. Can audio products be credibly experienced in the artificial environment, marketing hype, hustle and bustle, distraction and limited listening time constraints of an audio show?
 

DDF

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@DDF I been meaning to ask you, what is the machine (drag bike?) in your avatar?
Some bizarre invention powered by Husqvarna chain saws. Not mine, but I get a warm feeling just knowing that such a ridiculous creation even exists!
 

Sal1950

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Some bizarre invention powered by Husqvarna chain saws. Not mine, but I get a warm feeling just knowing that such a ridiculous creation even exists!
LOL, That's insane, but I love it.
Imagine all the 2 stroke oil smoke and noise along with the smell of burned rubber.
Heaven. :)
 
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Back to the OT. Can audio products be credibly experienced in the artificial environment, marketing hype, hustle and bustle, distraction and limited listening time constraints of an audio show?
It was also my first CanJam this year.
I believe you can get a good sense of the overall performance of the gear, especially the headphones themselves. For amps and DAC it may be much harder.
I tried many headphones in one day. It allowed me to make my own rough opinion on some of the models I had only read about before from YouTube or forum reviewers. Like any other opinion, you need to understand how the reviewer think to appreciate their reviews. CanJam allows you to create quickly your own rough opinions. Sure the environment is noisy and if theamp is not powerful enough, you can hear anything (I look at you Hifiman). But most of the gear is available on multiple booth which allows you to find maybe something good enough to hear better. Typically I was able to spend quite enough time to listen to my own tracks. If I saw there was others waiting or it’s a popular booth, i was staying only like 2-3min. But otherwise you can easily stay 10min or more.
I recommend bringing your own music and possibly amp. I used my phone with a portable Oppo DAC. Worked at half of the booth. The rest had Tidal or a limited selection that was not perfect, but enough again for a rough opinion. I had a USB key as well but couldn’t use it anywhere. Also you may want to bring all sorts of USB cables of different types for all situations. I guess you could carry a small amp like a THX. That would make other attendees happy too :)
The smaller rooms are much less noisy and you can get a good feel of the gear, even the open backs.
It was also kind of surreal to be among folks that are all geeks for audio equipment and audiophile, of all ages. It feels weird the first few minutes but then you get used to people using all those weird meaningless audio terms like musicality or debating about this gear vs that gear or freaking out because they forgot the right cable for their DAP. :)


Overall for me it was a very valuable experience and it helped my mind to justify the day trip/flight. The organization of the show is great, low key but very nice (I go to 50-8000 people conferences for a living so I have quite a baseline).
It was actually quite convenient to be able to just walk from/to the airport in 15min. I skipped lunch, listened for 8h straight; had packed water and some nuts/snacks, grabbed good ramen a block from the airport after the show. And back home the evening in San Francisco. A luxury shopping experience but worth it if you can do it and are looking at spending multiple thousands of dollar of equipment in the next few years and don’t have a store next to you.

The outcome for me is that now I have a much more limited list of gear I am considering to try more and buy. I can gauge better the Youtuber opinions. I also discovered that IEM can be very very good. Those are hard to find locally for a A/B testing.

And finally you can talked to many of the people that actually design and build those things.
 

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