A CanJam SoCal 2019 Prep Sheet

When preparing for any audio show, a list of needs, wants and must haves immediately comes to any travelers mind. In the case of press, the list of required gear shifts ever so slightly. It has been a long while since I have gone to any hifi show for purely entertainment, so a growing laundry list of production gear usually follows me in tow.

What I Take To The Show.

For next week’s CanJam SoCal show at the Irvine Marriott, I plan to bring the usual “big SLR”. I shoot Nikon now, but have shot Canon in the past. The weight can be crushing over multi-day shows (a lot of press have switched over to more compact solutions), but I like being being able to control nearly any aspect of the shots – and as one of my mentors once said “the automatic setting is for bitches.” While that statement is entirely meant as a joke, the idea still intrigues and challenges me.

On top of the camera, I usually bring a slew of podcasting equipment, and one change of clothes for each day of the show. There has been some extensive debate on whether one needs a change of pants for each day, but keeping it fresh never hurt anyone. One thing is for certain, you don’t want to be that smelly guy at the show. It happens more than once at every event, and it’s always an uncomfortable experience for all involved. At a headphone event like the one coming up June 23-23 in LA, its also important to keep your head clean as to avoid greasing up the headbands and such for other attendees – this includes excessive hair gels and the like.

What To Take With You.

But enough of the Dad talk, what you really need to bring is an open mind and an attitude for bonding with your fellow enthusiasts. The vibe is spectacular at get togethers like these, and the knowledge and experience you gain for your audio journey is really unmatched anywhere else. I still learn new things at every show. Bringing you own music with you is somewhat less acceptable than in a two channel listening room. With the incursion of Tidal and Qobuz to the scene, almost any song you want to hear is available in relatively good to great quality. The lack of vinyl is notably absent from all headphone exhibits, so the need for hard copies of favorite/reference albums is much less. What is fun to keep an eye out for is unique or special copies of downloaded tracks, special treasure troves of one-off DSD files have been known to pop up from time to time. What’s more important is if you do decide to bring your own music, take great care in loading it up. There has been more than one story of catastrophic implementation destroying a pre-setup source at an audio show.

What Brands Are At The Show?

Meets like the Head-Fi SoCal show are unique environments to connect with other fans of personal audio, listen to new gear and experience some of the best listening the hobby has to offer. The lineup for this year’s CanJam SoCal offers some tastes of the classic brands like Schiit, Audeze, HifiMAN, Woo Audio and more. But what you don’t always see is some of the more high fidelity brands from the traditionally speaker realm come down to share the headphone joy. This includes products like Manley’s new tube headphone amplifier, and the high end dCS Bartok DAC/amp. Also attending the show will be the even more elusive New York-based Grado brand. Known for producing everyone’s first pair of open back headphones (SR60/80), the company has long kept to itself in terms of the audio show circuit. If you have been to a CanJam before, there will be plenty of new stuff to dig your ears into, if you’ve never been before and you love headphones – welcome to your personal Disneyland.

Audio-Head will be in attendance all weekend long, podcasting, photoing, writing, and all other manner of reporting. See you there.

More info: CanJam Global