Second day at CanJam London 2022.
Slightly tired and hungover we go to the 3rd basement level of the Park Plaza Westminster Hotel, away from the sun in the "hi-fi cellar". 😅 I have quite a list of things to watch and of course listen to and time is short.
At an English retailer's stand, I meet Justin from Viking Weave Cables, who make the great Lime Ears Anima cable. We talk a bit about our show highlights so far, finally I'm testing the Thieaudio Voyager 16 IEMs.
Image source: www.thiaudio.com
Undoubtedly a good in-ear, but Justin, I and another participant agree: There are better ones for about 1500 USD or CHF. That's not to say the Voyager 16s are bad or worth the money - they just don't really stand out from the mass of options available. Resolution, tuners, bass, all at a high level, but nothing to remember.
The other participant suggested that I test the FIR Audio XE6, FIR's top model. Great, that's what I was planning to do anyway! 😁
After a short time it becomes clear: they are not for me. 😥 Optically and acoustically, the XE6 speak their own language, which in itself doesn't have to be a bad thing - unfortunately that's not my language, that means I don't warm to the things. For the asking price of at least 3900 USD, a whole lot of things bother me.
One thing straight ahead: Yes, the XE6 have a lot of bass, especially sub-bass, but unfortunately the others in the present implementation Frequencies drowned out and also seems to be quite slow. I completely lack the mid-bass that would be necessary to make voices present and sonorous. Thus, the mids "drown" a bit or recede into the background in the action.
The resolution and detail reproduction is ok, but not outstanding given the price. Stage and instrument separation are average. In addition, the metal housing does not feel particularly comfortable, at least for my ears, and the fit is not optimal for my ears either. All in all I'm disappointed because I was actually expecting more - a lot more. Of course "hearing" is always very individual and there will certainly be people who think the XE6 is great. This is just my personal impression...
After a short discussion with those around me, I get a "hot tip": Go to Jomo Audio and listen to their new GT600! I'll do that promptly. After a short chat with Joseph, the founder and developer of Jomo, I get started and plug the GT600 into my Cayin N8ii.
Light in the dark
Image source: www.jomoaudio.com
I feel my eyes widen, the corners of my mouth curl up and grin at Joseph with a thumbs up: This is the "real deal"!
This is a flagship at an extremely high level, that isn't has to hide behind the big players in the industry.
The GT600 is a tribrid with 2DDs, 6BAs and 4ESTs with a shell that is made entirely of carbon ("Forged Carbon Shell"). In addition, a very decent cable, which shows the quality immediately. The result: My CanJam London Highlight!
Why do you ask?It's simple: the GT600 is beautifully detailed with just the right amount of sparkle in the highs, absolutely no hint of sharpness or 'sibilance' and In addition, there is a wonderfully controlled, fast bass of the extra class on top: Only very few can do that so well!Oh yes, the channel separation and stage are simply excellent and should fully fulfill the desire of many music lovers for more space.
I'll try to get a demo copy from Joseph and plan a little tour of Switzerland with it to get feedback on this great in-ear If the feedback is very positive, the GT600 will sooner or later end up at Audio Essence.
By the way, Jomo Audio also had an exciting prototype at the start, which showed that Joseph still has one or two ace up his sleeve. Anyway, I'm very excited!
My last official act before the lunch break should be the visit of dCS, who seduced their latest all-in-one marvel "Lina" here at the CanJam. They even rented a large, separate room especially for this and equipped it with a number of smaller "cubicles" so that interested potential customers could test their noble ensemble with DAC, amp and power supply in peace and quiet.
Since I had already heard the predecessor "Bartok" with the Spirit Torino Valkyria extensively at a customer's, I was of course curious to see whether the somewhat "artificial" or unnatural tonality I criticized with the successor was fixed.
So at Spirit Torino, I grabbed the Pulsar, my absolute favorite pair of headphones that I know all too well (and are technically identical to the Valkyria) and sprinted up the stairs to the screening room.
First, I had another participant who was obviously interested in the Pulsar tested. I wanted to hear what he had to say about the station wagon with the "Lina". His impression was mixed, even quite critical. What he described to me was not at all consistent with my impressions of what the pulsar is capable of.
Next I tried it myself - Of course with some of my own test songs, to make sure I got the right impression.
And this time, too, the corners of my mouth twisted almost immediately - but downwards. ☹️ I was expecting everything, just not what was presented to my ears from the combination of 6000 francs headphones with a 33'000 francs complete system.
The Pusar sounded flat, bloodless, with almost no bass. And just like with the Bartok, there was plenty of detail here, but unfortunately also this unpleasantly artificial tonality, which sounded as if the signal had been "oversampled" too often...which is probably the case here.
No, that can't be, that's not the usual sound of my beloved pulsar! I ducked down the floor again as quickly as I got there, my face probably speaking volumes as I brought the Pulsar back to Spirit Torino. Shaking my head and without further words, I sat down at your amp prototype "Sigfrid", which was only fed by Audio-GD's entry-level R2R DAC, and repeated the listening session.
My hearing didn't deceive me and everything was fine with the pulsar too. What I heard here was pure magic and I nodded at Andrea beaming. That's how it should sound!
I just have to emphasize again that everyone has different ears and preferences. For me personally, the "Lina" system from dCS was the biggest CanJam disappointment. Unfortunately I can't put it any other way.
Yes, I expected miracles, pure magic. And I guess for 33,000 USD or Swiss francs you can do that too.
Another thing that is an absolute no-go for me as an experienced user experience designer: the operation. One has the feeling that the system has touch screens, but under the large supposed touch control panels there are "touch buttons" that are only identified by a glowing dot (see image). I actually tried several times, despite better knowledge, to tap the screen to make changes and navigate through the menu.😱
The service here is simply cheeky! For 33k, dCS doesn't even manage to build in a touch screen with intuitive operation?!🤬
Never mind, enough for now. My head was pounding, I needed a break! Time for lunch...
Bye bye CanJam
Unfortunately that's it for me at CanJam, because what I thought was a short lunch break turned into a permanent stay in my hotel room. As if touched, I lay flat within an hour with a high fever and unfortunately could not go back to the exhibition. A summer flu had me firmly in its grip and also endangered my return flight to Switzerland. 🤒
But fortunately there is medication and "pumped full" with correspondingly high doses of ibuprofen I made it home the next day! 😅
CanJam London 2022 is over and it was great - especially meeting all the people and enjoying the show with them. Even though around 30-40% of the exhibitors were missing this year!
I would like to thank everyone involved for the great discussions and the good, albeit short, time together. Until next time! 🙌🤩
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