The Best Of What I Saw From CanJam 2022

CanJam NYC 2022

Another Can Jam is in the books, and there is a lot to talk about from this year’s showcase. The event was held this past weekend in NYC, and I had a blast representing MajorHiFi checking out all of the new headphones, IEMs, amps, and accessories. There were a ton of different brands, some familiar, and some that I am very new to that had exciting products that I haven’t been able to try before. There’s a ton to cover from the show, so without further ado here’s everything I got to see and hear at CanJam 2022.

Saturday was definitely the busiest day of the show, and although the pandemic kept the crowd from being less sizable than past events, there was still a great turnout. However, I did get the feeling that it was a little too easy to get around the show floor without bumping into people, unlike most events like this. With that being said, the atmosphere was still very inviting, with both attendees and exhibitors being friendly and passionate about good sound.

One of the first tables I visited was MEZE Audio, where they brought their best for all to experience. The Empyrean, Liric, Elite, and 99 Classics were all out on display for people to listen to. I’ve written about some of these headphones extensively, but I’m very much a fan of virtually all of Meze’s output. What’s was special about their showcase was the presence of a new prototype for the rumored 109 Classics that I got to listen to. I enjoy the original 99 Classics, but from what I heard out of the 109 prototypes, I think it’s going to offer a considerable improvement. They share a similar style of build, so they were just as comfortable, but the 109s have an open-back design. Sonically, the most substantial difference was its clearer timbre and more neutral tone. There was still a slight warmth to it, but the frequency information was noticeably more revealing and transparent than the 99. According to Meze at their booth, the 109s aren’t going to release for a few more months, and they’ll be priced around $700. From what I heard listening to the 109 prototype myself, I think it will be a welcome addition to their catalog.

Even though there were still tons of different brands to check out on the show floor, there were some noticeable absences like Sennheiser and Astell & Kern that were missed. Regarding A&K, thankfully Audio46 was there to demo two of their latest releases. The SP2000T and ACRO CA1000 were both available for demo, and I was happy to test both of them out. I already had the chance to test out the ACRO extensively when I reviewed it recently, but the SP2000T was one that I haven’t been able to get my hands on until now. With a great library of music, I tried the SP2000T with a few IEMs they had on display from SeeAudio, but what I was really impressed by was the NE5 from BGVP. I also reviewed the NE5, but with the SP2000T, it may as well have been a new experience. Here I got a much more realistic version of its textured sound signature, and its usability has never been smoother. The SP2000T seems to be more than just an offshoot of their flagship model and I’m looking forward to trying it out more in the future.

In addition to A&K, Audio 46 was also carrying a brand called T+A. They had two very high-end open-back headphones with them, the Solitaire P and P SE, as well as their HA 200 amplifier. I was extremely pleased with what I heard, especially their flagship Solitaire P model, which made a big impression on me, as well as a lot of attendees. I wouldn’t expect less from a German manufacturer, but these headphones were on a different level. Not only was there a rich amount of detail to be had across the frequency spectrum, but it supplied a warmth that you could feel deep within you. You can expect an in-depth review of the Solitaire P on MajorHiFi soon.

Another brand I checked out for the first time was MMR(Metal Magnetic Research), an IEM manufacturer from Singapore. They make both custom and universal IEMs in the high-end range, and they all carry a fascinating design that’s unlike any other IEM I’ve seen. One of the Ms in MMR stands for metal, and that’s exactly how I would describe their look. Their occult aesthetic is something that I personally find cool, so they jumped out at me while on the show floor. At their booth, I listened to three different UIEMs, the Balmung, the Thummim, and Gal Bolg. Those are some pretty sweet names, but how did they sound?

The first one I tried was the Balmung. It features 12 balanced armatures and goes for $2,699. Getting to listen to it for some time I thought the bass had great control and had a clean timbre, while the midrange was exceptionally rich and the treble was textured and sparkly. It also had a great fit despite how the outside looks.

The next one I listened to was the Thummim, which is their most expensive model coming in at $4,499. This one is a 9 driver hybrid and has a unique titanium shell with an edged design. This IEM was a bit leaner in the bass and midrange but kept the highs nice and crisp. The details weren’t as emphasized or textured as on the Balmug, but they still retained a strong resolution. Its soundstage was the most impressive part of it, as it was able to display a vast dome of spatial properties that exceed what an IEM should be able to do. My only gripe was the fit, as they didn’t sit as naturally in my ear as the others.

The last one I heard was the Gol Bolg, which seemed to have the same body of the Balmung but with a different faceplate design. This IEM fit just as well as the Balmung, and it was the one I listened to the longest. It has a 5 balanced armature system and costs $1,199 making it the most economical of the selections I demoed. Out of the three, the Gol Bolg was the fun one. Here I heard a much thicker bass presence that retained fidelity and provided a sizable impact. While the mids still flattened out, the highs were very well-tuned, making me believe the company can’t make a bad high-end response. The soundstage was also great but not at the level of the Thummim.

Keeping with IEMs for a bit, I got to check out two from Dunu’s booth at the show. I was looking forward to hearing the Zen Pro the most, and when I finally did it didn’t disappoint. The original Zen is one of my personal favorites that I have reviewed here, and the pro version pretty much improves on every single one of its characteristics. However, what I was really shocked by at Dunu’s booth was the Titan S. At only $79, it might be easy to overlook, but you shouldn’t. This is probably one of the best bargains you’re going to get out of an IEM, with its superb level of texture and detail. It’s also one of the widest and most life-like sounds you’re going to hear on an IEM in this price range, with a hefty amount of sub-bass that just puts the cherry on top.

To top things off, one of the last products I got to demo was the CRBN from Audeze. I have never gotten a chance to listen to the CRBN before CanJam, and I was excited to hear what Audeze can do with an electrostatic headphone. Suffice it to say I was completely blown away by almost every single facet of its sound. It just oozes purity and provided me with an absurd amount of spaciousness, adding layer upon layer of dimension to every track I listened to. I would love to do a more extensive review and hope to soon, but for now, I can say that the CRBN might be one of the best headphones I’ve heard in a very long time.

There was a lot more to see at CanJam 2022, but for now, this is what I found to be my most notable experience for this year’s show. I had a great time at the event and am already looking forward to next year. For more news and reviews about the latest headphones, IEMs, and audiophile gear, keep checking back to MajorHiFi.

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Alex S. is a sound designer and voice-over artist who has worked in film, commercials, and podcasts. He loves horror movies and emo music.