CanJam at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2018 – Coverage sponsored by Kimber Kable PT1

Though towards the end of the year rather than at the beginning, Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest and the CanJam contained there within does seem like the main event, and CanJam at RMAF 2018 is no exception to the rule. Thanks to the generosity of our good friends Ray and Nate at Kimber Kable, Headphone.Guru is able to bring you in-depth coverage in five parts by Lee Shelly, Eric Neff and myself.

Attendance at the show was good, and the pace was brisk as there was nary an empty chair at any table nor in any room, I entered. In keeping with a show of this prestige, there were plenty of special events and new product launches to keep the Personal Audiophile entertained.

PSB, NAD, Bluesound

The show began for me at 9:30 A.M. on Friday with a special live MQA streaming performance by Jazz vocalist Zara McFarlane at RAK Studios in London. The performance was reproduced using Bluesound networking components such as the Node 2i Wireless Multi-Room Hi-Res Music Streamer ($499 USD) and the Vault 2i Hi-Res Network Hard Drive CD Ripper and Streamer ($1199 USD) and played back on NAD electronics and PSB loudspeakers. All you had to do was close your eyes and the performers were in the room with you. This led me to go visit the PSB, NAD and B&O Play booth down in CanJam to see their exceptional PSB M4U 8 Wireless Active Noise Cancelling Headphones ($399 USD), one of the more unique ANC systems as activation does not change the tonal balance of the headphone, as well as the NAD Viso HP70 Wireless Active Noise Cancelling Headphones ($399 USD) also designed by Paul Barton to produce that signature NAD sound, and finally the amazing M4U TW1 wireless IEMs ($149 USD).

Bluesound, NAD, PSB system used for live streaming performance
Bluesound Pulse 2i Wireless Multi-Room Music Streaming Speaker, Pulse Flex 2i Wireless Multi-Room Music Streaming Speaker, Node 2i Wireless Multi-Room Hi-Res Music Streamer and the Vault 2i Hi-Res Network Hard Drive CD Ripper and Streamer
PSB Imagine XB Bookshelf Speaker, NAD D 3045 Hybrid Digital Amplifier, NAD C 558 TurntablePSB, NAD and B&O Play
PSB, NAD and B&O Play
PSB M4U 8 Wireless Active Noise Cancelling Headphones being run wired
PSB M4U TW1 Wireless Earphones
Node 2i Wireless Multi-Room Hi-Res Music Streamer, B&O H9i Headphones, B&O E8 Headphones
Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i Wireless Multi-Room Music Streaming Speaker, Node 2i Wireless Multi-Room Hi-Res Music Streamer, NAD Viso HP70 Wireless Active Noise Cancelling Headphones, B&O H4 Headphones

Schiit Audio

Of course, I needed to visit my friends at Schiit Audio, famous for producing well made American Manufactured, High performance, Audiophile quality, Budget Personal Audio DACs, and Amplifiers at a price that would shock the Chinese. In the CanJam room they had their entire Personal Audio line on display including their brand new Modi 3 DAC ($99 USD) and my all-time favorite the Vali 2 Tube Headphone Amp ($149 USD), as well as the unmatchable Lyr 3 Configurable Hybrid Headphone Amp/Preamp ($499 USD) with their amazing Multibit DAC module ($200 USD), and their flagship statement pieces the Yggdrasil Multibit DAC ($2,399 USD) and the Ragnarok Headphone/Loudspeaker Amplifier. Not only that, in a separate listening room they were debuting their new soon to be released Aegir Loudspeaker Amplifier ($799 USD).

Schiit Yggdrasil Multibit DAC and the Schiit Ragnarok Headphone/Loudspeaker Amplifier
Schiit Mjolnir 2 Headphone Amplifier, Schiit Gungnir Multibit DAC
Schiit Lyr 3 Configurable Hybrid Headphone Amp/Preamp
Schiit Jotunheim Configurable Balanced Amp/Preamp
Schiit Valhalla 2 Pure Triode OTL Headphone Amp/Preamp, Schiit Bifrost DAC
Schiit Vali 2 Tube Headphone Amplifier, Schiit Modi 3 DAC
Schiit Magni 3 Headphone Amp/Preamplifier, Schiit Loki Mini EQ and Schiit Modi 3 DAC
Schiit Fulla 2 DAC/Amp/Preamplifier
Schiit Aegir Amplifier
Schiit Gungnir Multibit DAC, Schiit Freya Preamp, and Schiit Vidar Amplifiers

Kimber Kable

Displaying in their own Ballroom as well as a private listening room upstairs, not to mention providing cables for a large portion of the other Personal Audio along with two-channel manufacturers, Kimber Kable once again made quite a splash at the show. On top of their selection of world-class cable, Kimber Kable was highlighting the Dragonfire Acoustics Mini Dragon Near Field Audio System ($10,000 USD) which incorporates Planar Magnetic Speakers, Automated Room Correction and USB Volume Control. Designed by Dr. Dragoslav Colich, the system consists of the Mini Dragon Planar Satellites ($4995 USD), the MD-4 Amplifier/DAC/DSP ($2995 USD), an 8” Subwoofer ($495 USD) and a set of Kimber Kables ($1495). The sound quality is a must hear to be believed experience and will revolutionize what you think a desktop system is capable of.

Kimber Kable cable display
Kimber Kable cable display
Dragonfire Acoustics Mini Dragon Near Field Audio System
Dragonfire Acoustics Mini Dragon Near Field Audio System
Dragonfire Acoustics Mini Dragon Near Field Audio System
Dragonfire Acoustics MD-4 Amplifier/DAC/DSP

Questyle Audio

Always a crowd pleaser, Questyle Audio was showing several new products, punching it up to eleven or twelve as it may be. Along with the award-winning and popular Questyle Audio CMA 600i Current Mode DAC/Headphone Amplifier ($1,299 USD)and Questyle Audio CMA 400i Current Mode DAC/Headphone Amplifier($799 USD), Questyle Audio introduced the Questyle Audio SHB2 Wireless Super Hub ($2,999 USD including Questyle Audio QP2R) and the Questyle Audio CMA Twelve Wireless Receiver/DAC/Current Mode Headphone Amplifier and Preamp ($1,499 USD). Using their patented 5GHz wireless technology utilizing their own proprietary FCC licensed 5GHz broadcast channel the system is capable of transmitting and receiving up to quad DSD, making it a first in wireless audio. For those wishing true reference quality sound, there is also a Questyle Audio SHB2 Master Wireless Super Hub ($2,499 USD) and a Questyle Audio CMA Twelve Master Wireless Receiver/DAC/Current Mode Headphone Amplifier and Preamp ($1,999 USD) fitted with ceramic circuit boards for unparalleled performance. All four pieces are available in either black or gold finishes.

Spirit Torino Twin Pulse Isobaric Open Circumaural Headphones, Questyle Audio SHB2 Wireless Super Hub, Questyle Audio CMA Twelve Wireless Receiver/DAC/Current Mode Headphone Amplifier and Preamp, Focal Utopia Headphones
Spirit Torino Twin Pulse Isobaric Open Circumaural Headphones, Questyle Audio SHB2 Wireless Super Hub, Questyle Audio CMA Twelve Wireless Receiver/DAC/Current Mode Headphone Amplifier and Preamp, Focal Utopia Headphones
Questyle Audio SHB2 Master Wireless Super Hub
Questyle Audio SHB2 Master Wireless Super Hub and Questyle Audio CMA Twelve Master Wireless Receiver/DAC/Current Mode Headphone Amplifier and Preamp
Questyle Audio SHB2 Master Wireless Super Hub and Questyle Audio CMA Twelve Master Wireless Receiver/DAC/Current Mode Headphone Amplifier and Preamp
Questyle Audio SHB2 Master Wireless Super Hub
Questyle Audio CMA 400i Current Mode DAC/Headphone Amplifier, Questyle Audio QP2R, and Questyle Audio CMA 600i Current Mode DAC/Headphone Amplifier
Questyle Audio CMA 600i Current Mode DAC/Headphone Amplifier and MrSpeakers Ether 2 Orthodynamic Headphones

Headsonix

Sharing space, as well as, their President Bruce Ball with Questyle Audio was Headsonix representing four very unique Personal Audio lines. First on the docket was the Bluewave Get Wireless HiFi Headphone Amplifier ($129 USD) featuring aptX HD and Bluetooth 5.0 for high-resolution sound and enough power to drive most over the ear headphones. Next up was the ever popular M&O Electronics MOZERO Beryllium Acoustic Bluetooth Headphones providing outstanding performance for only $149.99 USD. On the high-end side, Headsonix is proud to premiere a new reference Headphone line out of Italy, Spirit Torino. Offering four models including the Grand ($1,999 USD), the Superleggera ($1,999 USD), the Twin Pulse ($3,200 USD) and the Ragnarr Edition ($3,400 USD) with a familiar look but a completely unique design presenting the world’s first Open Circumaural Twin Pulse Isobaric System Headphone delivering some of the best sound you will ever hear from a dynamic headphone. Custom made, the Spirit Torino Headphones are available in a choice of colors and headband leathers (including snakeskin).

Spirit Torino Grand Circumaural Headphones, Spirit Torino Superleggera Circumaural Headphones, Spirit Torino Twin Pulse Isobaric Circumaural Headphones
Spirit Torino Grand Circumaural Headphones, Spirit Torino Superleggera Circumaural Headphones, Spirit Torino Twin Pulse Isobaric Circumaural Headphones, Spirit Torino Ragnarr Edition Twin Pulse Isobaric Circumaural Headphones, Audio-Opus Opus 2 DAP, Audio-Opus Opus 3 DAP
Spirit Torino Twin Pulse Isobaric drive unit
Spirit Torino Twin Pulse Isobaric Circumaural Headphones
Spirit Torino Superleggera Circumaural Headphones
Spirit Torino Twin Pulse Isobaric Circumaural Headphones
pirit Torino Ragnarr Edition Twin Pulse Isobaric Circumaural Headphones
Spirit Torino Ragnarr Edition Twin Pulse Isobaric Circumaural Headphones, M&O Electronics MOZERO Beryllium Acoustic Bluetooth Headphones, M&O Electronics Grab & Go Stand, Moden Audio Lympha IT-HA1 Headphone Amplifier, Bluewave Get Wireless Headphone Amplifier, Focal Elear Headphones
Bluewave Get Wireless Headphone Amplifier
M&O Electronics MOZERO Beryllium Acoustic Bluetooth Headphones
M&O Electronics MOZERO Beryllium Acoustic Bluetooth Headphones, M&O Electronics Grab & Go Stand
Audio-Opus Opus 2 DAP, Audio-Opus Opus 3 DAP
Moden Audio Lympha IT-HA1 Headphone Amplifier

Moon Audio

One of the premier high-end Personal Audio retailers, Moon Audio always has an impressive spread, and this year they were presenting a host of new debuting products including Focal’s first-ever closed back Headphone, the Focal Elegia ($899 USD). Also on display for the first time were the Spirit Torino Twin Pulse Isobaric Circumaural Headphones ($3,200 USD), the Questyle Audio SHB2 Master Wireless Super Hub ($2,499 USD) and the Questyle Audio CMA Twelve Master Wireless Receiver/DAC/Current Mode Headphone Amplifier and Preamp ($1,999 USD), along with many old-time favorites like the Dragon Inspire IHA-1 Tube Headphone Amplifier ($1,699 USD), the MrSpeakers VOCE Electrostatic Headphones ($2,999.99 USD) and the HiFiMan Shangri-la Jr Electrostatic Headphones ($4,000 USD) with the Shangri-la Jr Tube Amplifier ($5,000 USD).

Focal Elegia Closed Backed Headphones
Warwick Acoustics Sonoma Model One Electrostatic Headphones, HiFiMan Shangri-la Jr Electrostatic Headphones, MrSpeakers VOCE Electrostatic Headphones
HiFiMan Shangri-la Jr Tube Amplifier
Warwick Acoustics Sonoma Model One Electrostatic Headphone Amplifier
Questyle Audio SHB2 Master Wireless Super Hub, Questyle Audio CMA Twelve Master Wireless Receiver/DAC/Current Mode Headphone Amplifier and Preamp, Questyle Audio QP2R
Dragon Inspire IHA-1 Tube Headphone Amplifier
Chord Hugo 2 TT DAC/Headphone Amplifier, Chord Hugo M Scaler
Mytek  Brooklyn DAC + Headphone Amp, PASS Labs HPA-1 Headphone Amplifier
Mytek Manhattan II DAC/Headphone Amp, Aurender ACS10 Music Server/CD Ripper
HiFiMan HE1000SE Planar Headphones
Aurender N100H Music Player/Server
Spirit Torino Twin Pulse Isobaric Circumaural Headphones, Spirit Torino Superleggera Circumaural Headphones

Auris Audio

Out of Serbia comes what may be the best sounding Headphone Amps currently available. The flagship model Auris Audio Headonia 2A3 Single Ended Tube Amplifier ($9,200 USD) is as beautifully constructed as it sounds, which is fantastic, as is the aptly named pure class A EL34 based Auris Audio Nirvana Single Ended Tube Amplifier ($5,250 USD) and just to show its power capabilities they were running a pair of HiFiMan HE1000s and HiFiMan HE6se headphones simultaneously, and the sound was exquisite.

Auris Audio HA-2 SE Single Ended Tube Amplifier, Auris Audio D2D DAC
Auris Audio Headonia 2A3 Single Ended Tube Amplifier
Auris Audio Nirvana Single Ended Tube Amplifier in white
Auris Audio Nirvana Single Ended Tube Amplifier in Black

Cardas Audio

Cardas Audio has been a leading Audiophile cable manufacturer and one of my favorites since the nineteen-eighties, basing his product designs on the non-harmonic Fibonacci numbers, George Cardas makes some of the most transparent and phase coherent cable out there, hence his launch into the Personal Audio market has been accompanied by many accolades. On display, they had their Ultra Linear Cardas Audio A8 Ear Speakers ($349 USD) as well as some of their custom headphone cables. In their sound rooms, they were featuring their brand new Cardas Audio Nautilus Power Strip (TBA)

Cardas Audio A8 Ear Speakers
Cardas Audio A8 Ear Speakers, Cardas Audio 4181US US Duplex Outlet
Cardas Audio Nautilus Power Strip

ifi Audio

ifi Audio has always had one goal in mind, providing you with the best sound in the way that you want it. Whether it be widgets to improve your existing system, or portable DAC/Amplifiers or state of the art desktop systems that offer switchable tube or solid state outputs, the emphasis is on the user and providing the experience that makes them most happy. They are also a forward-looking company and in that vein the displayed two future products, an amazing and beautiful as yet unnamed compact lifestyle system (TBA) with active imaging control software to create a larger three dimensional sound field, and a no holds barred statement piece DAC called the Diablo DA (TBA), due to issues in transport neither was available for audition, but they certainly made for great eye candy and a glimpse into tomorrow. Certainly available for your listening pleasure was the sexy xDSD Portable Bluetooth DAC/Amplifier ($399 USD) bringing audiophile sound quality to the portable market.

Unnamed ifi Lifestyle System
ifi Diablo DA DAC
ifi iEMatch, ifi Ear Buddy, ifi iPurifier3, ifi SPDIF iPurifier, AC iPurifier, ifi iDefender3.0, ifi iSilencer3.0, ifi Groundhog+
ifi xDSD Portable Bluetooth DAC/Amplifier
ifi xDSD Portable Bluetooth DAC/Amplifier
ifi nano iOne, ifi micro iTube2, ifi micro iPhono2
ifi Pro iDSD DAC, ifi Pro iCAN Solid State/Tube Headphone Amplifier, ifi Pro iESL Electrostatic Headphone Amplifier

FiiO

No one has embraced the evolving portable Personal Audio industry like FiiO. Producing a new product practically every month, they remain at the forefront of the budget DAP, Portable Amplifier, and IEM market, with products that provide great reliability, usability, and sound at incredibly modest prices. Their newest entry is the FiiO M9 Smart Hi-Res Music Player ($299 USD) which is equipped with bidirectional Bluetooth allowing it to receive signals from a Bluetooth source as well as send to Bluetooth headphones, along with WIFI and USB connectivity, making it one of the most versatile players out there. It offers both a 3.5mm single ended output as well as a 2.5mm balanced output for those hard to drive IEMs and incorporates a modified version of their “Music Only” Android OS to facilitate functionality. Also for your edification, they were demonstrating their brand new FA1 Single Balanced Armature IEM (TBA) and FA7 Four Balanced Armature IEM (TBA) which are both compatible with their RC-BT Bluetooth Wireless Headset Cable ($49.99 USD)

FiiO X7 Mark II DAP, FiiO FH Quad Driver Hybrid IEM
FiiO M9 Smart Hi-Res Music Player, FiiO M3K Portable Hi-Res Music Player, FiiO FH Quad Driver Hybrid IEM, FiiO FA1 Single Balanced Armature IEM
FiiO M7 Hi-Res Lossless Audio Player, FiiO M3K Portable Hi-Res Music Player, FiiO  FA7 Four Balanced Armature IEM, FiiO FA1 Single Balanced Armature IEM
FiiO μBTR Bluetooth Receiver, FiiO BTR1K Bluetooth DAC/Amp, FiiO BTR3 Bluetooth DAC/Amp, FiiO Q5 Bluetooth/DSD-Capable DAC/Amplifier, FiiO F9PRO IEMs

To Be Continued

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Gary Alan Barker

Gary Alan Barker is a writer who has been a member of the Audio Industry since 1978, having acted as technical writer for several high-end audio companies, and been an electronics hobbyist since 1960. He has also been a musician and writer since the mid 1960s.

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  • CanJam at RMAF 2018 | CanJam
  • 2018-10-23 16:44:57
  • […] Attendance at [CanJam at RMAF 2018] was good, and the pace was brisk as there was nary an empty chair at any table nor in any room I entered. In keeping with a show of this prestige there were plenty of special events and new product launches to keep the Personal Audiophile entertained.Read more. . . […]
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