This is my second visit to a CANJAM, and I couldn’t be happier that I returned. Earlier this year I attended SoCal 2018 with very little understanding of what CANJAM had to offer, but walked away knowing that I wanted to come back for more. Chris and I were both able to attend; it was great to have my partner in crime and get his take on all the gear on display.
The RMAF CANJAM ran concurrently with the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in a ballroom at the same hotel. It was a very similar set-up to the L.A. show, but this time it poured out into the hotel atrium. Here we met an incredibly kind and enthusiastic Jim Withorne hawking his beautiful anti-vibration wood slabs from his company aptly named Butcher Block Acoustics. These very heavy, solid, attractive pieces of hardwood come in a variety of species including maple, walnut, and teak, so if you’re in the market for an audio platform and want warm, sophisticated natural wood, look no further.
As I walked the aisles checking out headphones, DACs and amps, I stopped to chat with vendors I’d met in L.A. Then I stumbled upon JDS Labs’ small sparse booth. Still being new to the exciting world that is CANJAM I had no idea that JDS Labs are a pretty big deal with a great story to tell. CJ Harawood explained that John Seaber started the company with an upgraded version of an open-source headphone amplifier designed by Chu Moy. Ingeniously, John encased this first product in an Altoids tin. Seaber decided that every product and its parts would be manufactured and assembled in the U.S.A. — no small feat for this type of tech. Plus, they keep a lean crew of long-time friends that run the company together. Oh, just one more thing — they also make great products at reasonable prices. The Element, a single-unit headphone amplifier/DAC combo, carries a price tag of $349 and is well known for its pitch-black sound and natural representation of the music. I definitely want to pick one of these up.
The next table that caught my eye had a few guys in lab coats standing in front of what looked like a periodic table. Upon closer investigation, it was more than just a periodic table — it was Periodic Audio. These guys offer affordable in-ear headphones that they claim are made better by the diaphragm materials they use. These ear-bud headphones come in three different materials offering different sound signatures. Magnesium ($99) is relatively neutral, titanium ($199) is very aggressive with enhanced bass and treble, and beryllium ($299) is quite neutral with strong bass and a balanced top end. I was very impressed with the Mg (magnesium) — great transparent sound quality and you can’t beat the price.
The CANJAM for me is an overall learning experience as much as it is a trade show. Rarely do you get to sit down with tech creators and hear their vision; that is the magic of CANJAM. We here at 360º Sound look forward to many more visits and becoming an integral part of the personal audio community.