CanJam New York City 2023 - Official Discussion Thread

Yes!!! Ditto….and don’t freeze to death!!

Ohh…and awesome shirt, I wants one. Maybe one of you NYC guys can smuggle me one (I’m usually a L but I’m not sure what size that is in Canadian) :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Is anyone landing at LGA around 7:30? and happen to be staying general times square area + want to split rideshare?

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Omg, I love it and I must have one. :smiley:

There used to be an express bus shuttle from LGA to Times Square called the NYC Airporter then subsequently called the NYC Express Bus. Not sure if it’s still in service, but it was only like $15. You can also catch a lot of hotel shuttles to/from LGA, ask your hotel about it. And whatever you do, DON’T go to the “taxi stand”. You’ll get ripped off 100%. Use Uber before the taxi stand.


Thanks man, I really appreciate this. I’m always on the hunt for good places to eat when visiting and I’m definitely bookmarking this for future reference, CanJam or not.


Besides the yammy another belle has entered the conversation:

Waiting for room to be ready so getting some work done in the lobby.

Go Blu with the Hifiman Susvara is surprisingly decent. Volume is completely maxed out on it though :wink:


Just sitting in a hotel lobby wearing Susvaras. This is the Canadian Gordon Ramsay :smile:


CanJam NYC 2320



Just got home from CanJam. I wanted to stay longer and potentially actually meet more of you, but I get antsy in crowded places after a few hours and by 2pm I had had my fill.

A few brief thoughts on my experience…

  • Torino Valkyria, $12k. I wanted to hate it. I wanted to be like “twelve thousand dollars my a$$.” But then I listened to it… first jazz, then bass heavy electronica, then delicate vocals, then hard hitting hip hop. 10s across the board on all counts - truly stunning. They had the Pulsar (one-notch-lower model at half the msrp) next to it for comparison, and IMHO it wasn’t even close. Their new planar is amazing, too, though not on the same level as Valkyria.
  • Oriolus Traili, “The Bird”. As impressive with vocals as everyone says it is, definitely unlike anything I’ve heard before. Worth $6k? Maybe if female vocals are the core of your music collection.
  • FatFreq Maestro SE, the “new kid on the block” in the battle for basshead dominance. Great sound, great bass, but not in the same league as Legend EVO at all. Competitive with Monarch probably.
  • EE Odyssey. Gorgeous. Materially better than Legend EVO (or Odin)? Not sure. Would need more time to direct a/b.
  • Abyss Diana TC. Loved it. Definite contender for my endgame planar. Loved the prototype Abyss closed back, too. Hits just as hard as TC with nearly as much width.
  • Newtopia: unsurprisingly great, but not materially better than the OG for my money.
  • Hifiman Shangri-la: hands-down the best e-stat I’ve heard so far. I a/b’d it vs Stax X900, CRBN, & DCA’s new one. It’s hard to say which is “best” because they are all very different - so much so that I’m almost left wondering what the common thread among e-stats really is? But anecdotally without significant analysis, it’s the Shangri-la that I kept coming back to because it just wowed me.
  • Raal circumaural: Wowy wow wow! Only $2k for all that resolution?? Sign me up. I’ve listened to Miles Davis “All Blues” a gazillion times, but even in the loud environment that is CanJam I’ve never heard the cymbals sound so lifelike before. The exhibitioner was super nice and we had a really good conversation, too.

I was kinda disappointed I couldn’t find a Warwick Bravura anywhere (unless there was one at the headphones. com booth and I just couldn’t get close enough to find it?). And disappointed that they brought their quiet booth to LA and not to NYC. I would really have liked to get a few minutes in a quiet booth with these particular hype beasts.

I bought the weekend pass “just in case” I felt inclined to to back tomorrow, though I doubt I will. But I might. We’ll see how I feel about it in the morning.


I was the same way.

I went in thinking “unholy-bordering-on-obscenely-overpriced” fancy-Grados.

They’re actually really rather good (even in the context of their price tag).

But at $12K, with non-removable cables, I passed (and will continue to pass). I have cats, again, now (didn’t for several years). Cables are a consumable item. No swappie-no-buyie.

Make the cables pluggable, and I’ll buy a set (even as someone exiting the headphone side of the audio hobby).

I don’t know.

But I do know I didn’t care for either of the Shangri-La cans.

If I only listened to four-piece chamber music, solo/vocal jazz, or very simple acoustic/vocal ensembles, then maybe.

And it’s not that they’re bad sounding. They’re just piss-poor value, with wimpy/limpy bass/slam/impact. I’d have a VERY hard time getting past the highly lackluster builds on either of them (even at the significant discount I could get them for, new).

SR-X9000 or CRBN, with a little EQ, and the HiFiMan’s are nowhere (for me).

But I’m also an HE-1 customer, so that tilts things. A lot.

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Yeah, $12k IS obscene, and probably out of reach for me unless I have a sudden bout of temporary insanity. Still, after one listen I can kinda almost see why someone might pay that. Truly amazing.

And yes, it’s the “what would I actually USE these for, and how often?” question that gives me pause about e-stats. They’re fascinating, but so are 8K tvs, but I don’t really need to own one because I have no real use for it. :wink:

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I had the exact same experience. I loved the Valkyria. I switched to Pulsar for like a minute and it was immediately clear why it was half the price. The bass was very special, not necessarily on quantity but very refined and just felt right.

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The immediate, though possibly wrong, thought I had was “is this a BETTER Utopia?” All the resolution, better FR, and even more dynamic. Or maybe I was caught up in the moment. Who knows. :wink:

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I did not end up going back today and I’m kinda irritated that I just found out there’s a HE-1 there this afternoon. I guess you had to know a secret handshake or something to get in on the secret? :face_with_diagonal_mouth:

The Valkyria continues to gnaw away at my brain today. I feel like it’s going to nag me until I somehow find a way to justify it. :wink: lol

Multiple have sold on headfi used for $6k - $6.5k. I would highly recommend going that route.


Was a very fun show! Its late but impressions and feedback on gear will bs going up soon

We brought a ton of new faces from to the show, from content to CS to e-commerce! Check out the whole team below!


As a side note it was great to finally meet @andris in person. Just as amazing in person as he is on this forum!


Dude - you guys are all so awesome! The entire crew was just so incredibly friendly, knowledgeable, welcoming, and fun to chat with. I kept repeatedly coming back to the booth, and only sometimes to listen to audio gear. The conversations were the main draw. :slight_smile:

Can’t wait to see everyone next year!!


so here it goes, my first canjam… impressions of gear I listened to, thoughts about gear I currently own, questions on where to next, and general commentary about canjam as an experience all to follow below.

tl;dr - it’s a great social/hobby experience but very mediocre experience to actually evaluating gear (most gear, depending on what and where though). I will go probably every year now. Unless something new comes out that I can’t wait to try or for meeting friends, I see little point in going to more than one canjam a year.

disclaimer - I would take everything written below with huge skepticism, it’s very hard to listen on the main floor, especially with open back headphones or comparing amps. All I listened to is high end and it’s all probably already good so it’s more a matter of taste and preferences over something being bad. That makes it harder to compare and harder for you to believe me. I tried to listen to most of this list more than once to get a few different perspectives and experiences to make sure what I thought makes sense to me


  • ZMF Caldera [ZMF and Woo rooms, mostly with DCS Lina stack] - First listen was with a Woo Audio OTL, it was terrible. Shouty, uncontrolled, nothing I was expecting. Quick discussion with a nice head-fier led me to believe it is the only ZMF that works better with solid states. I later confirmed that with the ZMF team and their personal preferences with it as well. On the second day I listened to it with the Cayin solid state for a few minutes and it did not fair well with me so I moved to a full DCS Lina stack with it and it did much better. Generally speaking I’m not a fan of the idea that it needs such a stack to perform well to my ears. Bass was plenty detailed and quick but not very weighty, clear separation between it and the mids. Highs were present and much nicer than the day before. It’s definitely closer to neutral than I’m used with ZMFs which takes the mind some time to get used to (ZMF bias I guess). Overall - far from my favorite ZMF (I rank it probably 4th with the VO), I don’t feel it’s really a competitor to the Susvara or my Final D8KPLE. Not for me, won’t follow up with more listening

  • ZMF Atrium Closed [ZMF room and Woo rooms, mostly Feliks Envy] - I really liked this one. Impressed me with both a Woo Fireflies and later even more with the Feliks Audio Envy where it really shined. It was noisy with medium and high impedance settings but I’m not sure if that’s the amp or the headphones or the pairing. Mids were a little recessed, bass is impressive. It’s the more oomphy type. Meaty and large compared to the VC’s more accurate and tight but it’s totally a matter of preference and music generes. Guitar timbre was better on the Caldera. Notes were clearer on the Caldera as well (especially trailing). I personally prefer it to the VC but I can see how others will feel differently. I also prefer the Atrium open because of stage and air. If I ever need a closed back, this is probably it. Olive wood is gorgeous

  • Solitaire P [main floor, with T+A HA200] - Comfortable, interesting bass, I had higher hopes for it. My D8KPLE was more enjoyable to me. Not worth it for me, won’t follow up with more listening

  • Yamaha YH-5000SE [main floor, with the newer RME balanced] - Wow was this a dissapointment and I seriously don’t get what others are finding in it. Warm tilt, treble rolled of more than I’d like, mids a bit too much recessed. They look great and are very comfortable. Maybe it’s the RME that held them back but I doubt it. Felt mid-fi and definitely not worth the asking price for me. Hard no thank you very much, unless someone convinces me I’m completely wrong, I have zero interest in trying it again

  • Audeze MM500 [main floor, with Weiss 502 I think] - Step back LCD-5 but too much clamp for me. I wanted to like it considering how much I liked the 5 but was really not comfortable and I took it off quickly. Might be very good for smaller heads and smaller budgets. I’d stick to the LCD-5 if possible.

  • Dan Clark Corina [side room, with BHSE or Grand Cayman] - quite a short listen, wasn’t really impressed. There are other estats that are so much better than this one that it’s a pass for me.

  • Audeze CRBN - it’s a no for me. I prefer the Stax sound by a lot or the LCD-5 to stay with Audeze stuff. Nope.

  • Stax X9000 [Woo room with 3ES, Main floor with Viva STX] - A true contender for best in show for me. Extremely comfortable, disappeared on my head. It’s controlled, balanced, crystal clear and crisp but far from analytical or dry. Excellent bass for an estat. Synergy with 3ES was excellent but that could be the room lower noise helping. I took my brother with me on the first day, he has zero experience with our hobby. When he listened to the X9K/3ES combo he was mind blown. Mentioned how much better it was compared to everything else he heard that he also enjoyed. It’s really special. I’m going back and forth on if this is a definite buy for me, only because of wait time and investing in estats as an end game. Zero doubts on the sound quality and if worth the price. It is.

  • Hifiman Shangri La Sr [Headamp room with Grand Cayman] - I’m sorry Shang, my heart belongs to the X9000 and it’s probably turning me against you. It’s not you it’s (probably) me. But I call the shots here. It’s now been a few times I heard it, I’m still waiting to hear what everyone else hears. It’s bright and technical, a tad boring for me, and bass was non existent. I’m sure it’ll sound much better with the T2 or STX. It’s out of my budget anyway, but I’ll keep going back and trying it every time I get a chance

  • Meze Elite [Woo room with WA23, Main floor with HM1 and Viva 845] - Scroll down to see what award this has won. It’s the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever tried. Truly remarkable how it disappears on my head. I wish it were more technical. I can see how for many it’s truly end game. I could listen to it for hours it’s so fun and lush and just right. I noticed what I’m missing the second I switched to my D8KPLE on the same chain with the WA23 and was suddenly a bit sad. I was sad my Final wasn’t as comfortable and I was sad the Meze isn’t a little more technical and with a bit more grunt. It’s a matter of preference, I’d love to own one if I had the spare cash, most comfortable ever, we will meet again one day.

  • Warwick Bravura [headphones dot com booth at the main floor] - the gain switch broke on its way to canjam, really couldn’t listen to it with all the noise and volume turned to max. Maybe next time.

General thoughts on the headphones - My current stable is probably perfect for me (Susvara, D8000 Pro Limited Edition, HD650 and Mysphere 3.2). Only thing I really think about are the Stax X9000. I enjoyed more time with Audeze, Abyss, Focal and Sennheiser this weekend but I don’t miss any of them. Made me feel great about my journey and selections.

Amps, DACs and Chains:

  • dCS Lina stack - First time I listened was at the headphones dot com booth, I wasn’t impressed. Conversations with people around me made me believe that the amp is the weak link. I wanted to try the DAC with the WA23 at the Abyss table but couldn’t get to it. When I tried it the second day with the Caldera it was better to my ears. The room was also much quieter obviously. It’s impossible to test this stack in these conditions. I doubt I’ll feel it’s worth the $30K, but I want to listen again because I’m curious

  • Enleum HPA-23RM (with TT2 Mscaler) - drives the D8KP easily with great synergy, bass powerful but not very accurate or extended, female vocals are good, small stage, not piercing at all but plenty detail on top. It is TINY. I love the form factor and with a DAP I could see this a really great portable rig but also desktop end game for a lot of people. I tried it with the Susvara, that should be left for its bigger brother. I tried the HD800S as I was told the current drive will make miracles with it. I didn’t feel like it did that but it was still a good pairing. Regular voltage output was meh. I wish I could justify a use case for it as I love the house sound and how it’s built. Not for me (for now).

  • ZMF Decware OTL collab - tried it at the ZMF room with the Atrium Closed Olive, it was fun but no match to the Feliks Envy. Can’t say much more at the moment.
    IMG_1557 Small

  • T+A HA200 - Wow I loved it! The build is immaculate, it sounds terrific, total control of the Soli P and my D8KPLE. If I were ever to downsize my system, this is probably the top of my list. I asked if I could take one home, we will meet again for sure

  • Feliks Euforia Evo - tried it at the main floor with a Utopia 2022 and my D8KPLE. It sounded good with both, better with the Utopia. I hoped for more magic but impossible to tell with all the noise. Doesn’t fit my headphones collection but left a good impression

  • Feliks Envy - to be honest I didn’t love it with the Utopia 2022. I enjoyed it much more with the ZMF Atrium Closed. Personally for me it’s not worth the asking price, see one below to understand why. Very nice but a pass for me, better options for the money personally

  • Eksonic T2 - Kerry was super friendly and we had a great chat. The 007 sounded really really good with the T2. Too bad the DACs weren’t on par with it (Soekris and Denafrips Ares). I hoped he’d have a X9000 but he couldn’t get one for the show. It’s too expensive for me considering I’m still a planars first type of listener but I can see how that’s the way to go for anyone dedicated to estats or just with more free cash to spend on this hobby. Neck to neck with the Viva STX for me. Liked it a lot. Probably worth the money

  • Viva STX and Viva 845 - these are HUGE. To a point where it’s not something I’d like to own. I appreciate they went all out on source gear. Serious stuff going on but deserving of a side room to better listen to it. Appreciate from a far for me.

  • Woo Audio WA23 - Oh wow did I fall in love with this one. Just the right amount of tubiness and I kept coming back to it. Granted it was paired with a Mola Mola Tambaqui and I tried it first with the Meze Elite (warm and lush complete sound to die for) and afterwards with the D8KPLE (step up in technicalities, still amazing tonality). I left truly impressed and this competes for best of show for me. tbh I’m not a huge fan of how it looks but the size of it compared to what I’m used to with the WA33 really stunned me. It’s definitely a piece of art/decor and not only an amp. 100% will meet again, it’s making me rethink some of my gear plans

  • Holo Audio Bliss with the Holo May - As far as I know it was the only Bliss at the show, tried it at the Audeze booth with the LCD-5. It took the May a step in the right direction in my opinion. A little more technical. Added nice textures and speed. It’s really hard to say more with all the noise around but generally speaking I left impressed. Felt like it matched well with the LCD-5 and balanced some of its quirks that I was used to EQing. Not a fan of the size and build. Happy I tried it, even happier with my personal solid state decision for this year, see below

  • Zahl HM1 - If I were to listen to only a single piece of gear it would be the HM1. This entire weekend and the whole reason I came for canjam was to validate my blind decision of committing to buying one when it’s available later this year. I’ve listened to it four times over the two days with the Susvara, my D8KPLE, Meze Elite and regular D8KP. The first day - something felt wrong. I wasn’t sure if it was my ears, my headphones, the amp or the Weiss DAC connected to it. It was distorting the bass. It was the first thing I went to listen to. It wasn’t even 11am on Saturday and to say it was a rocky start is an understatement. I turned away and figured I’ll come back again. I came to test it out to decide if I’m keeping my order or passing it to whoever is the potential lucky #26 in line. Second time around it was made clear to me that the +15db gain mode on the back isn’t working properly. It might be a bad match to the rather hot Weiss 502 or simply this unit. Turning it to 0db or the Weiss to minus-a-lot quickly fixed everything. We also switched to the second input just to make sure. Smile was back on my face. I now understand all the impressions and everything I read about it and Michael Zahl the last few months. Also had a great conversation with the staff about it. It sounded marvelous. Full control of everything I threw at it. Bass was similar to what I remember feeling of how the WA33 controlled the Susvara. D8KP was a great pairing. Meze stepped up a notch in technicalities (still not enough though). The EQ was noticeable even though it’s subtle. The soundstage knob a bit less with the noise around me, I’ll need to revisit it. I’m keeping my order. The feature set, basically having two amps in one with the servo vs pure class A options, the build, and most importantly the sound - it’s exactly what I feel I’m looking for in my main chain amp. I’m excited I’ll be spending much more time with it. Haven’t heard a better solid state ever. Planars + Class A will always be my favorite

General thoughts on gear - it’s very hard to judge any of it with the noise conditions, especially on the main floor. I was happy to see more higher end DACs compared to what I heard previous canjams had. It’s probably impossible to compare DACs here. I’d love to see some more high end servers/streamers around. Maybe next year. As for next steps - I have some thinking to do. WA23 left an amazing impression on me. HM1 sounded amazing. Do I really want to chase estats this year? Is my money better used by changing my LTA Z10E to a WA23 considering the savings of not buying a X9000 and selling the LTA? First world problems!


  • Most surprising - Meze Elite (for comfort and build quality)
  • Most disappointing - Yamaha YH-5000SE (hot take mid-fi)
  • Best Headphones - Stax X9000 (but is it worth it?)
  • Best Amp - Zahl HM1 (Don’t you love it when a plan comes together)
  • Best in Show - Wa23 / Mola Mola chain (synergy at its finest)

@andris It sounds like you were the hit of the show. :star_struck:

If you take yourself out of the equation, did anything stand out for you?