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The sights and sounds of CanJam SoCal 2016

California dreamin’. The leaves weren’t brown but the sky was grey as each of CanJam SoCal’s two day run in Costa Mesa kicked into action. Immediately across the road from one of the largest high-end shopping malls in America, the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel hosted over seventy of the biggest names in headphones and personal audio.

For a $20 entry-fee attendees could audition veritable mountains of headphones, in-ear monitors, headphone amplifiers and DACs in a single location. No high street retailer could match this breadth of opportunity.

Get a load of this lot:

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1964 Ears/64 Audio
Airist Audio
Ampsandsound
Aqua Hifi
Astell&Kern
Atomic Floyd
Audiofly
Audeze
Audioquest
Ayre Acoustics
Beyerdynamic
Bruel & Kjaer
Campfire Audio
Cardas Audio
Cavalli Audio
Cayin Audio
Chord Electronics
Comply
DanaCable
Darin Fong Audio
Echobox Audio
Emotiva
Empire Ears
Enigmacoustics
Final Audio
FiiO
Gingko Audio
Grace Design
Headamp Audio
Hifiman
JDS Labs
Jerry Harvey Audio
JPS Labs
Linear Tube Audio
Listen Inc.

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Meze Headphones
Mitchell & Johnson
ModWright Instruments
Mr Speakers
Noble Audio
Onkyo
Oppo Digital
OSSIC
Pendulumic
Pioneer
Puro Sound Labs
Questyle
Radius Earphones
Radsone
RHA
RIVA Audio
Schiit Audio
Sennheiser
SoundMAGIC
STAX
Taction Technology
TekFX
The Source AV
Torque
Ultimate Ears
Verisonix
Warwick Audio Technologies
Wells Audio
Westone
Woo Audio
WyWires

And because listening is tucked away behind headphones, cross-talk between demos rarely becomes an issue, which in turn allows for tightly-packed rooms that lend the show more of an intimate, community-driven vibe than equivalent two-channel events. That particular C-word is thrown around LOUD and often. See this DAR Instagram post for exemplification.

Could that be because CanJam Global is the commercial spawn of Head-Fi.org’s community meets and get-togethers?? Jude Mansilla, interviewed as part of the video below, heads up both companies but it’s one Ethan Opolion who takes care of operational matters (read: hard work).

Pulled from the CanJam website: “Since 2006, CanJam events have been a community showcase for Head-Fi.org, as well as the best opportunity for exhibitors to share new product releases and have meaningful interactions with the enthusiast community and audio industry press.”

CanJam Global now run shows in London, Denver (as part of RMAF) and, most recently, Singapore. There are rumours of an east coast event – maybe New York, maybe Boston. Louder than distant murmurings are plans for Hong Kong.

In Costa Mesa, attendee numbers don’t reach the tens of thousands that show up to e-earphone‘s or Fujiya Avic‘s Tokyo-based events but CanJam SoCal certainly doesn’t want for vendors: four large rooms on Level 2, three smaller spaces on Level 3 and the odd upper-floor outlier doubled down on the number exhibitors showing in the large exhibition hall.

The demographic at headphone shows in the US continues to mirror that of Japan: the average age is far lower than RMAF or T.H.E Show Newport. A slightly higher percentage of females show up to listen. As Mansilla himself concedes, “[CanJam] is still a dudefest though!”.

As per the majority of weekend audio shows, Saturday is busier than Sunday; a blessing in disguise for those trying to get a sit down at the Schiit or Chord Electronics table. And as we shalll see from the manufacturer-specific coverage to follow, there was considerable buzz surrounding Mr Speakers’ and HiFiMAN’s forthcoming electrostatic headphones. Beyerdynamic and Sennheiser have reasserted their position in the high-end headphone game with warmer-sounding second gen takes on their respective T1 and HD800 planar-magnetics. Smartphone compatible DACs that don’t require rubber-strapping to the host device are also tipped by this commentator to become more of thing this year and next.

Video and verbiage on these matters (and more) to follow.

Further information: CanJam Global

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CanJam Global’s head of operations Ethan Opolion.

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Written by John H. Darko

John H. Darko

John is the editor of DAR, from whose ad revenues he derives an income. He is also an occasional contributor to 6moons and AudioStream and currently resides in Berlin, Germany.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
Instagram: DarkoAudio
Facebook: DAR

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