It certainly was an exciting year for the headphone community. For years, Can Jam at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest has always been a high point of excitement and a great place for new product releases. This year was no different. Don't miss our video wrap-up!
Sennheiser was showing off a few color additions to the Momentum on-ear product line with a fresh shiny new black, a deep red, and the classic brown brought over from the full size lineup. Our fantastic Sennheiser reps also assured us that the full size variant would be getting some new colors as well, but couldn't share with us what those were exactly as of the time of this writing. [caption id="attachment_3302" align="alignleft" width="150"]
ALO Island Outputs[/caption] ALO Audio had a fun new toy at the show, the Island portable amplifier. Sporting a cool new volume pot design, this balanced and single-ended portable DAC & Amp is sure to easily power your extremely hungry headphones while on the road. With an all metal case and switchable gain design, this is a piece that may never get a second to rest. [caption id="attachment_3287" align="alignright" width="150"]
The HP-A4[/caption] Fostex brought some new goodies, including their sexy HP-A4 amplifier and DAC supporting DSD. This amplifier can also act as its own source with a microSD slot in the back, making for a very slick piece of kit. Analog and Digital outs, as well as bus-powered USB, make this an enticing box for the discerning listener. Fostex also demoed a new T20RP that is still unreleased, and according to their reps does not yet have "production voicing". Alongside both of these goodies was an untitled prototype headphone, which you can see in our video above, and a neat little portable vacuum tube amplifier in a rock-solid case. We'll have more information on these products in the future as they are shipped to retailers. [caption id="attachment_3288" align="alignleft" width="150"]
The AK10[/caption] Astell&Kern debuted a new portable amp that blew us away. The all new AK10, a great looking and sounding integrated DAC & Amp containing circuitry from Wolfson is a serious contender for your pocket space. Sporting a much smaller price tag, the AK10 is affordable on most budgets. USB cables will be available for Laptop, Desktop, iOS (lightning only as of this writing; 30 pin cable coming soon!), and Android units, this could be the bus-powered portable DAC & Amp you've been waiting for. Montana local Todd The Vinyl Junkie brought along his new Apex Teton amp. The Teton is a fully unbalanced, single-ended output-transformer-less (OTL) vacuum tube preamplifier and headphone amp. Todd has come out with several top-notch amplifiers over the years, and the Teton is no different. This one may be a little easier on your wallet than the Pinnacle however, sporting only a $5k price tag. [caption id="attachment_3290" align="alignright" width="150"]
Prototype Audeze Amp/DAC[/caption] Audeze also had some new goods to show off, with their LCD-X and LCD-XC in tow, but there was also a little hidden prototype amp in the mix. This little Amp / DAC combo had some DSP enabled for the LCD-XC demos; and while the LCD-XC seemed promising, I couldn't help but be taken back a bit by not letting the headphone shine on it's own. That being said, the new LCD headphones look and sound great and the metal housings bring a new breath of fresh air to their usual wooden styled product line. [caption id="attachment_3291" align="alignleft" width="150"]
Beyerdynamic A 20[/caption] Beyerdynamic was also showing off a new analog-only amplifier, with a Mac Mini-esque motif. This little compact amp is sure to make a great pairing with your top-shelf Beyers, and it was shown at Can Jam powering some T1's. This new offering from Beyerdynamic really shows how strong they are in their brand identity, and an analog-only amplifier in the current landscape definitely stands out. We'll see how this plays out for them in the future. [caption id="attachment_3292" align="alignright" width="150"]
The V-Moda stand[/caption] V-Moda had some smaller releases this year, including a new self-branded metal headphone stand and updated ear pads for the M-100 line. The updated pads are available in both black and gray, and boy do they make both crossfade models a lot more comfortable. Also included at the show was their Tuono cable, a new usb to lightning connector for iPhone 5 users that have been eyeing the Vamp Verza. [caption id="attachment_3294" align="alignleft" width="150"]
Philips Fidelio L2[/caption] Philips was a surprise at the show, adding to their Fidelio line. The M1 Bluetooth and L2 are both great sonic contenders. The M1 is especially surprising, as accurate fidelity over bluetooth is somewhat new to the headphone market overall. With a lightweight but sturdy build and cool asthetics, the M1 is sure to be a hit with many. The L2 was also a heavy hitter on the show floor. Our own CEO Jamey had this to say:
"The L2 has a very well balanced sound with slightly more detail than the X1. Can't wait to get these in house for testing!"
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HiFiMAN's Player[/caption] We also got a chance to listen to HiFiMAN's new tiny portable player at the show, which supports balanced headphone output on an 1/8" jack. Very promising tech indeed. We'll have more on this player as it comes to the surface. Also on demo was the previously released HiFiMAN EF-6, a giant but incredible looking amplifier with balanced, single-ended, and line outputs. Also included are pre-amp outs for speakers and Aux/CD source selection. I for one am a sucker for giant smooth volume pots, but I'll leave that for another time. [caption id="attachment_3297" align="alignleft" width="150"]
JH Audio Roxanne[/caption] JH Audio had some very promising and interesting releases at the table this year, most notably his new line the "Siren Series". Jerry has a completely redesigned earpiece for the new Roxanne model with new driver designs, adjustable bass, and a 4 pin cable with cuff on each side. The Roxanne also sports a completely redesigned case with reverse earpiece molds for better seating, and a metal frame with a magnetic latch to keep those CIEMs safe. The case looks great and seems extremely durable. We asked Jerry about his new driver technology and while he is more confident in the new drivers and how smooth the response is, he will not be rolling this new tech back into his previous line of CIEMs. Jerry also had some "generic" comments about a new IEM that may be a great "fit" for our customers in the future! Stay tuned for more on that in the coming months. Well we had a great time as always rubbing elbows with the greats... including Jude Mansilla, Tyll Hertsens, Steve Guttenberg, Michael Mercer, and the rest of the headphone addicts from the Head-Fi community. Thanks for reading, thanks for having us, and we cant wait to help you get it Right Between Your Ears!