Bonus Notebook Impressions: Can Jam London 2016

Bonus Notebook Impressions: Can Jam London 2016

Ether Flow/Ether Flow C

-          The best planar I have heard yet for classic rock. Made details in Pink Floyd’s The Wall album much more noticeable such as the samples of television broadcasts and skidding tires.

-          The open Ether had more of a sparkle to the sound, but I preferred the Ether C quite a bit more. Very little, almost unnoticeable different in soundstage between the two.

-          Both didn’t reach any problematic level of treble extension while still being airy and pleasing – be it from the tubes of the Tungsten to the solid state Gold and Carbon.

-          Really fast transients made imaging quite impressive. Panning audio was second nature to the Ether Flows.

-          Overall quite clean sounding without bloat. By bloat I mean a certain overlap in the midrange and bass that can hamper detail overall. It can be fun with some headphones as a sound signature but it has its cost.

-          Medium clamp.

-          Very light.

-          Good and clean bass response but not very extended.


Focal Utopia

-          Pretty insane separation.

-          Very natural acoustic guitar reproduction. (listened to God Put a Smile Upon Your Face by Coldplay.

-          A lot of air around the piano in Coldplay’s the Scientist. Key hits ringing out clearly. Quite a live sound.

-          Quite a bit of snap to the sound. Very resolving.

-          Incredible cymbal clarity that doesn’t feel forced/artificial.

-          Not overly warm but still pleasing. Not very bright either.


Focal Elear

-          Still has a lot of the Utopia’s strengths but not as pronounced.

-          A very competitive price point considering the sound quality.

-          The same natural sound as the Utopia.

-          Brings stuff out in the mix in a similar manner, just not as high resolution.

-          Dense sound, not at all sparse or lean but rather rich in terms of lushness and detail.

-          Meaty sound, but treble not rolled off. Rather, it actually gets a little peaky in some places – a trait the Utopia lacks by comparison.


AKG Q701

-          Quincy Jones signature version of the K701.

-          Was plugged into a Schiit Valhalla 2 tube amplifier.

-          Quite a warm sound, much like the K7XX.

-          Felt a bit more refined than the K7XX however but hard to determine by how much exactly due to the introduction of tube warmth and a noisy environment.


RHA MA750i

-          Described as a relaxed V-shaped sound signature.

-          Clean sub-bass, no bloat.

-          Some good detail up top but, at times, peaky sounding.

-          Quite good for warmer electronic genres such as 90s Eurodance.

-          Instruments.


RHA T20i

-          Flagship.

-          Comes in black and stainless steel.

-          Quite a bit more resolution than the MA750i.

-          Sounded more direct and immediate. More resolving.

-          Still slightly V-shaped, but vocals were more pleasing.

-          Good air around the instruments but not as peaky as the MA750i.

-          A lot of separation and an expansive sound.

-          Comfortable.

-          T-series come with switchable filters for passive EQ. Didn’t try it myself but interesting sound-sculpting concept.

Sonoma WAT-H01/Warwick Electrostatic

-          Insane attack. Each bite of vocal startled me in a Muddy Waters track. I kept turning down the volume because it just hit like a ton of bricks.

-          Really fast transients.

-          A lot of detail.

-          Low end quite rolled off, but a full sound overall.

-          A lot of snap, once again related to the attack as sound was just pushed into my ears suddenly – very resolving.

-          Quite intimate soundstage. Could be compared to the HD600/HE400i level.


Vioelectric / Lake People HPA 281

-          Really nice synergy with the Sennheiser HD800. Didn’t morph the sound as much as the Cavalli Liquid Tungsten, but it softened the edges while maintaining the Sennheiser sound.

-          Solid state amplifier with a balanced output and three ¼ outputs.

-          Had a very 1990s style remote that moved up the volume dial.

-          Was some slight glitching/noise when moving the volume around. Representative told me this was intentionally done to make sure both channels are volume matched at all times.

-          Overall a nice listen. Honest but a little musical (benefitting the HD800).


Noble Kaiser 10

-          A lot of bass control.

-          Quite comfortable.

-          Very efficient, needed to turn smartphone down lower than half for a comfortable listening volume.

-          Clean sound, not overly peaky.

-          Listened to No Light, No Light by Florence + the Machine after switching to my Ibasso DX80.

-          Vocals sound full-bodied. Harps sounded pronounced.

-          Overall sound was pleasing and not harsh – quite musical with good detail.

Noble Katana

-          More detail but a tad harsher.

-          Even more control of the low end.

-          Listened to the delicate build-up of No One Is Ever Going to Want Me by Giles Corey.

-          Every acoustic guitar rattle and buzz rang out clearly.

-          Expansive sound and detail.

-          Song had an ethereal pairing with the Katana.

-          Key moment: a lot of control and resolution during the chaotic breakdown at the end of the song. The often-buried horn section in the mix rang out clearly.


Comparison between the Katana and Kaiser 10

-          Kaiser 10 more musical with a touch of warmth. Less detailed than the Katana but still no slouch.

-          Katana had insane control and resolution but a leaner overall sound.

Focal Listen (portable headphones)

-          A lot of detail for a portable full-sized headphones.

-          Some interesting marketing text on the headphones themselves. Quite congratulating in an unintentionally funny manner.

-          Not a lot of bass, interesting choice for headphones on the go.

-          Not much isolation either despite being closed. Still heard the show floor around me.

-          Brought out the details in pop music quite well, vocal layering and all that. Just needed a touch more bass for listening outdoors as (without noise-cancelling or a good seal) the bass can be reduced by the sound of commuter vehicles like trains and buses.

Sennheiser HD800 (Superdupont Resonator Mod)

Sennheiser HD800 (Superdupont Resonator Mod)

Can Jam London 2016

Can Jam London 2016