CanJam Global is the premier headphone and personal audio expo and is produced by Head-Fi.org, the world’s largest website for headphone and personal audio enthusiasts. After 10 years of CanJam events, Head-Fi.org has finally brought the event to Singapore, the first ever CanJam in Asia.
Attending this once-in-decades event is truly an ear-opener for me. Dozens of internationally renowned headphone brands gather in a small area, awaiting to be auditioned by attendees. For the 2-day event, I was only able to attend the Sunday morning, so I could only visit a few exhibitors.
To be brutally honest, I cannot readily tell some of the absolute details like how some of the online forumers described. The noisy environment definitely contributes strongly to the inability for me to enjoy the minute sonic tonality. The following comments on each of the products are meant as a personal journal of what I had experienced, and no means a review that should be quoted or referred.
This brand needs no introduction, synonymous with audio equipment both in the consumer and professional segments. Founded in 1945 Germany.
Orpheus HE90 – it is supposed to be the best headphones in the world for the past 2 decades, until it is bettered by its successor, the HE1060. Given with only 10 minutes to test and with limited music choice, I auditioned the Eagles Hotel California “live” version. I was not able to fully enjoy the headphones on-location due to ambient noise. I don’t feel that I am immersed in the “live” environment like I would at home over my other cans. But what I caught during the brief encounter is its transparent quality, close soundstaging, bright tonality, humble bass.
HD 800 S – balanced details, bright treble somewhat metallic, bass does not overpower.
HD 630VB – the first closed-back headphones made by Sennheiser, designed for smartphones, with a switch between iPhone and Android devices, and track controls on one side of the earcup. There is a dial to adjust the bass response. Even after turning to the max, the bass is still comfortable, and did not go into “mega” bass type of sound. The treble sound does not sound as naturally clear.
IE 800 – I spent a great deal of time on this, because it is thoroughly enjoyable. Though tweeter is slightly thin, overall it delivers great audio, with bright treble and strong responsive bass.
STAX is founded by Naotake Hayashi in 1938, it developed the world’s first electrostatic headphones in 1959. Technically-speaking, STAX headphones are “earspeakers”. The following headphones require special amplifiers and cannot be powered by ordinary audio jacks.
SR-009 – this is another legendary headphones (or “earspeakers”), I enjoy its soundstaging and clear treble, while bass is natural without the kick.
SR-L700 – the first SR-Lambda headphones debuted in 1979, and has never changed its signature rectangular earcups since. I find the bass is more prominent than SR-009, while encountering some mid-frequency boom.
A well-known brand found in 1925 by Sidney N. Shure in America, popular for its audio equipment on stage and in professional studios.
SRH940 – clear treble, flat bass. Nothing stands out during the audition.
SE846 – this IEM delivers warm sound with slightly dark treble.
This brand is rounded in 2007 by Dr. Fang Bian in New York, it produces the full range of audio equipment and headphones.
HE1000 – this headphones need special amplifier to drive it, just like Sennheiser Orpheus. It is strong in treble details.
Originated in Berlin Germany in 1924, it produces audio, microphone and conferencing equipment.
DT 1770 PRO – it delivers warm tonality that is not aggressive, with treble that is not too bright.
T 5 p – this is the 2nd generation model, and it sounds more aggressive than DT1770PRO. The treble is transparent, but the interesting part is the bass, where it does not boom heavily unlike most other headphones.
What is my takeaway from the experience? There is no need to seek the “best” audio headphones, because they do not necessarily sound significantly better. Another critical factor is the source quality: how good is the audio file or the amplifier? If you listen to mostly compressed files, then you can’t get much out of it even when playing with premium headphones and amplifiers.
There is a time and place for different headphones. When traveling, I would want my headphones to have more bass detail and noise isolation so that I can turn up the volume and listen without fatigue. At home, when I needed to analyse a piece of music, I would want a neutral-sounding headphones with slightly wider soundstaging so that I can listen the details. For listening to classical pieces, I would like my headphones to have sparkling treble, but the same headphones would be too overbearing for modern pop genre.
Some people are satisfied with $30 earphones, others have more demanding aural senses. With hundreds and brands and thousands of products, there will always be one that will meet the needs and budget of one individual. Don’t be too concerned if someone snubs at your purchase, perhaps they are just worried that you have made a better choice at a better price value.