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Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2009, and CanJam @ RMAF – Part 2

The continuing saga of my visit to the CanJam room at the 2009 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest.

Monster Cable

[caption id="attachment_212" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The Monsters display some quite good sounding, and unbelievably good looking, headphones."] The Monsters display some quite good sounding, and unbelievably good looking headphones.[/caption] Ya know, Monster gets a bad rap sometimes, and as I've mentioned I'm a bit of a skeptic. Well, I've spent a fair bit of time talking about various and sundry things with the folks at Monster Cable over the last year and have to confess that it's pretty much been one pleasant surprise after another. For example, David Leung heads the product team for Monster headphones, and we've corresponded a few times about the new Turbine Pro. He provided numerous samples and wanted to hear our evaluations of the prototypes.
[caption id="attachment_216" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Obviously, the new Monnster Beats Solo is far more styling than I."] Obviously, the new Monnster Beats Solo is far more styling than I.[/caption] When they shipped us the final product, I'm happy to say they sounded terrific to my ears, and especially well suited to Monster's audience. Competent and competitive is pretty high praise from me, and while the Monster products certainly hit that sonic mark, it's the look and feel of some of their products that is out-of-this-world beautiful.
[caption id="attachment_225" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Beats by Dr. Dre Solo is a very cool little sealed headphone."] Beats by Dr. Dre Solo is a very cool little sealed headphone.[/caption] The just introduced Beats Solo is one of the coolest headphones I've ever seen. It's a beautifully clean and simple design in white or black with red accents that elegantly arches over your head in use, and folds compactly for storage and transport, too. Cool!

Beyerdynamic

[caption id="attachment_240" align="alignright" width="252" caption="Alan waves howdy as I hold the Tesla 1 prototype."] Alan waves howdy as I hold the Tesla 1 prototype.[/caption] Oh, I had such high hopes. Alan Feckanin of Beyerdynamic told me he might be able to get their new T1 prototype to the show, and indeed he did. Unfortunately, it took some internal damage in transit and was not in a listenable state by the time it made it to the show. Boo-hoo! The listening session will have to wait, but the cans themselves did make it and they're just dandy looking. While the housings remain very similar to previous products, the drivers are now mounted towards the front of the enclosure and are angle rearward so as to aim the wavefront of sound normal to the outer ear. Alan says these cans will make their appearance soon. Nice...a promise of something new and quite interesting from Beyerdynamic. I can't wait.

The Cable Pro

[caption id="attachment_253" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Cable Pro makes an assortment of very good cables for your portable rig, and much more."] Cable Pro makes an assortment of very good cables for your portable rig, and much more.[/caption] Dang burn it! I didn't get a picture of Ted Paisley of Cable Pro. No worries however, as it's his cables that really do the job once they're in your hands. I agreed to string up all the gear in HeadRoom's booth with Cable Pro cables and power conditioners, and it turned out rather well. Everything sounded terrific, and he made some very cool one foot XLR interconnects for our BUDA/UDAC stacks. Thanks Ted, good stuff!

Moon Audio

[caption id="attachment_268" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Send just about any headphone to Moon Audio, and Drew can re-cable it."] Send just about any headphone to Moon Audio, and Drew can Re-cable it.[/caption] Drew Baird of Moon Audio showed up with a large assortment of gear. Drew started out recabling headphones as a hobbyist and gradually turned his hobby into his job. I know the feeling. He's now carrying a variety of gear made by others, but he's famous for being the go-to source for re-wiring just about any headphone you can get your hands on. Good to see you there, Drew.

Lavry Engineering

[caption id="attachment_348" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="Marc Lavry demonstrates the DA11."] Marc Lavry demonstrates the DA11.[/caption] Marc manned the Lavry Engineering booth which featured the Lavry DA11, a very cool high-rez DAC. One very interesting feature was the Patent Pending >PiC< Playback Image Control™, that psychoacoustically widens and narrows the audio image. I didn't get to hear it on speakers, but it was quite convincing with the Sennheiser HD 800 headphones used in their booth.

ALO Audio

[caption id="attachment_351" align="alignright" width="300" caption="The ALO Audio Rx Prescription Headphone Amp"] The ALO Audio Rx Prescription Headphone Amp[/caption] Maker of a variety of things headphone and portable audio, ALO Audio's Ken Ball displayed a cross section of his products. I was interested in his Rx Prescription headphone amp, a thin headphone amp with digital volume control. We both agree that there's no need to make an amp smaller than the length and width of an iPod...but thin is good.

Ultimate ears

[caption id="attachment_357" align="alignleft" width="280" caption="Brad Jensen rocking out in the Ultimate Ears booth."] Brad Jensen rocking out in the Ultimate Ears booth.[/caption] Did you know that Logitech bought Ultimate Ears? It just goes to show you that headphones--and especially in-ear monitors--are going "big time." Ultimate has a wide range of in ear headphones, from the Metro-Fi at the low end to the custom molded UE11 at the high end. Many of these employ the patented dual-bore outlets that strive to match the acoustic impedances of the drivers and the ear canal.

Woo Audio

[caption id="attachment_360" align="alignright" width="300" caption="The Woo Audio WA22 balanced headphone amplifier."] The Woo Audio WA22 balanced headphone amplifier.[/caption] Jack Woo is nothing if not prolific and he displayed numerous headphone amps, one of which was the WA 22. A tube-based balanced headphone amplifier using a 5AR4 rectifier tube for the power supply, two 6SN7 driver tubes, and two 6AS7 power tube to drive your headphones. Yum...tubes.

Head-Fi

[caption id="attachment_364" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="You'll always get an enthusiastic responce about headphones from Jude."] You'll always get an enthusiastic response about headphones from Jude.[/caption] At the back of the CanJam room, Jude engaged all comers with an infectious glee about headphones, headphone enthusiasm, and his ever growing website at the center of the headphone world: www.head-fi.org . Jude Mansilla as I mentioned earlier was key in bringing this event to fruition in quite an abreviated time frame, and produced a substantial and laudable first effort. After talking with Jude and John "Numbers" Purtill during the event, I'm quite confident that the headphone world will be back in force for next year's RMAF, and will be doing it with even more flair, festiveness, and pizzaz. I can't wait. Can I help on the pizzaz committee?
And now for a bit of fun .... random fun and silly pix from RMAF ------->

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