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CanJam London 2017 show – part three

CanJam London 2017 show – part three

In the third part of our definitive multi-part round-up of the best personal audio products on show at CanJam London, 2017, Chris Martens and Alan Sircom cover everything from HeadAmp to Mr Speakers!

HeadAmp

Who: Peter James, Sales and Marketing Manager, HeadAmp

Product: Blue Hawaii electrostatic headphone amplifier

When available: 4-6 weeks

Price: $5,800-$6,800

Description: Not much need be said about the Blue Hawaii. It’s a popular, tube-based alternative to the energisers used by Stax and others. The big change is that a reworking of the production engineering techniques used at HeadAmp has brought the waiting list down significantly to a matter of weeks instead of an enthusiastic reading of ‘several months’. On the more conventional headphone amp front, a new c$500 entry-level headphone amp from HeadAmp is on the way, via the medium of Massdrop, but this was not available at the show.

What are you listening to? Book of Souls by Iron Maiden

HiFiHeadphones/DITA Audio

Who: Steve Holeman, HiFiHeadphones

Product: DITA Dream earphones

When available: Now

Price: £1,675

Description: The balanced Dream in-ear monitor/earphones in their titanium black finish and black and white presentation case is not an easy thing to photograph, but this single-driver, reference tuned design uses silver solder and  van den Hul Truth cable throughout, comes supplied with ‘Awesome’ 2.5mm TRRS balanced and 3.5mm TRS single-ended connectors, as well as an extensive range of small, medium, and large-bore tips and double flange tips.

What are you listening to? The soundtrack to Heiße Spur by Walter Kubiczeck

HiFiMAN

Who? Michael Ramos, Resident Product Consultant, HiFiMAN

What? HiFiMAN RE800 earphone

When available? Now

How much? $699

Description: Positioned one model from the top of HiFiMAN’s universal-fit earphone range, the RE800 shares essential technologies with the firm’s flagship RE2000. Like its big brother, the RE800 uses a 9.2mm dynamic ‘Topology Diaphragm’ driver. The ‘Topology’ driver uses a dome shaped diaphragm, but with the important difference that the diaphragm receives an ultra-thin nano-particle coating that is applied in a very precise geometric pattern with precise control over the thickness of the coating. The coating, in turn, helps control diaphragm resonance and reduces distortion in audible ways. The RE800 earpieces are made of brass with 24K gold-plated outer surfaces. Signal cables in the latest release RE800s are detachable and user replaceable, and they feature silver-coated crystalline copper conductors.

What are you listening to? Tori Amos’ ‘Pretty Good Year’ from Under the Pink.

 

iBasso Audio

Who? Marcus Johannes, friend of iBasso

What? iBasso DX200 Reference DAP (digital audio player)

When available? Now

How much? £750

Description: iBasso’s DX200 Reference DAP is offered as a celebration of iBasso’s 10th anniversary and represents a very big step up features, functions, and performance from the firm’s earlier DX100 model. Specifically, the DX200 incorporates dual ESS ES9028PRO 64-bit DAC chips, and an 8-core ARM Cortex-A53 COU supported by 2GB of LPDDR3 memory. The DX200 is based on Android 6.0, offers a 125dB signal-to-noise ratio, claims THD+Noise rated at -114dB, and can support PCM files up to 32/384 and DSD files up to DSD512. Then, the DX200 offers provision for a number of types of plug-in ‘amp card’ modules that connect to a socket in the base of the DX200 chassis. In short, the DX200 is one capable and versatile DAP, which also can work very well as a standalone USB DAC.

What are you listening to? Tanita Tikaram’s Little Sister Leaving Town

Kennerton

Who: Valentine Kazanzhi, CEO, Kennerton

What: Kennerton Zeus planar magnetic headphones

When available? November

How much: €3,000

Description: Initially planned as an upgrade on Kennerton’s Odin flagship design, the new Zeus now stands above the popular heavyweight Russian headphone. The key changes to the design (which looks to the outside almost identical to the Odin) are a lighter diaphragm with a new membrane, and replacing some of the aluminium bracing components with Kevlar. This makes for a similar sound to the Odin, but with claims to higher resolution and better bass, and a noticeably lighter headphone on the head.

What are you listening to? Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen

Kuos

Who? Tom Halliday, Chief Technology Officer, Kuos.

What? Kuos RealAmp USB DAC/headphone amplifier

When available? Approximately six months.

How much? Price TBD. Estimated price ~ £760 or $999

Description: By the time you read this an Indiegogo campaign for Kuos’ innovative RealAmp will have launched. By intention and design, the RealAmp is a streamer/USB DAC/headphone amplifier that is all about sound quality. Accordingly, the RealAmp incorporates a powerful and very quiet headphone amplifier and a very capable 32/384-compatible DAC. Noise isolation/elimination are major parts of the design and so the RealAmp provides an isolated USB input as well as noise isolation between the built-in battery and amplifier circuitry. The design is fully balanced meaning that essentially no noise is transferred between the DAC and amplifier sections of the RealAmp. With an eye toward sound quality, the RealAmp DAC section includes and anti-pre-echo filter and also includes a proprietary (that is, non-Bluetooth) bit-perfect wireless streaming system. Based on a brief listen to Kuos’ prototype, we would say the RealAmp offers a clear, well-defied, and authoritative sound that is likely to win friends and admirers.

What are you listening to? Tipper’s ‘Reverse Dross Maneuver’, from Forward Escape.

 

Labkable

Who? Edmund Yiu, CEO, and Novelle Au, Marketing Manager, Labkable

What? Labkable Titan headphone signal cable

When available? Now

How much? Starting at $2300

Description: Labkable is a manufacturer of ultra-high-quality bespoke headphone signal cables. A perfect case in point would be the firm’s Titan cable, which features ten conductor wires consisting of a mix of pure silver and gold-plated OCC copper conductors. Alternatively, there is a ‘high-res’ version of the Titan cable that uses OCC silver conductors only. While undeniably expensive, Labkable signal cables have the ability to take already excellent transducers such as the Westone W80 earphone to the next level of performance.

What are you listening to? Westlife’s You Raise Me Up

Lake People

Who? Fried Reim, CEO, Lake People electronic GmbH, and Christof Mallman, Synthax GmbH

What? Lake People DAT RS 05

When available? Now

How much? €649, base model; €250, USB option; €200, Femto-clock option: €250, remote control option.

Description: The DAT RS 05 (where DAT stands for ‘Digital Audio Tool’) almost defies categorization because it is a proverbial ‘black box’ that can perform a number of useful digital audio tasks. Specifically, the DAT RS 05 can serve as a standard clock generator (phase jitter < 10 x 10-12 s—or pico seconds), an optional Femto-clock generator (phase jitter < 10 x 10-15 s—or femto seconds), a resampler, a reclocker, a jitter eliminator, a format converter, a digital volume control, and—as an option—a remote controlled digital front end for your system complete with switching for inputs and sample rates, plus a motorised volume control.

What are you listening to? Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and The Eagles Long Road Out of Eden.

Meters Music, by Ashdown Engineering

Who? Dan Gooday, Marketing Director, Meters by Ashdown Engineering

What: Meters OV-1 self-powered headphones with automatic noise-cancelling capabilities

When available? Now

How much? £279.99 or $365

Description: The name Ashdown Engineering will be familiar if not legendary to the electric bassists in our community of music lovers, but now the world-famous bass amp manufacturer has spun off Meters Music, which is offering a range of full-size headphones and earphones. Perhaps the most eye-catch of these new offerings is the full-size OV-1 headphone, which is offered in three different variants: rose gold metalwork with white protein leather trim, silver metalwork with black faux leather trim, and silver metal work with tan protein leather trim. No matter which version might appeal to users, the dominant styling motif found on all three is a set of large, illuminated, old school VU meters positioned on the outside of the headphone ear cups (the VU meters are an homage to Ashdown Engineering, whose amps almost always incorporate similar meters). Apart from looking cool, the meters serve the purpose—concerned parents take note—of giving an external indication of playback levels (if the meters are going in to the ‘red zone’, it might be a good idea to ask your teenager to throttle things back a bit in order to preserve his or her hearing…). The OV-1 features 40mm dynamic drivers, a built-in amplifier (rechargeable via USB connections) and offers three operating modes: passive, active with noise cancellation, and active with noise cancellation and EQ (with an attendant degree of bass boost). While the OV-1 is reasonably revealing, our take on it is that it is less a ‘purist’s headphone’ and more a headphone for simply having fun and enjoying the richness of music.

What are you listening to? The Stranglers’ ‘Golden Brown’, from the album of the same name

MrSpeakers

Who: Mark Dolbear, Managing Director, Electromod

Product: MrSpeakers Aeon Flow closed back headphones

When available: Now

Price: £800

Description: Perhaps the hardest working man in the headphone world, Mark Dolbear’s Electromod company distributes Dekoni, MrSpeakers, Schiit, and more. But it’s the MrSpeakers Aeon Flow closed back planar magnetic headphones that most impressed our Mr D at the show, because he was selling them at an alarming rate. We have tested these excellent headphones in issue 147.

What are you listening to? Automaton by Jamiroquai

Tags: FEATURED

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