Canmania – Capital AudioFest 2014

As is the popular trend, Capital Audiofest had its own collection of personal audio called Canmania. A excellent showing of vendors made the trip out to our nation’s capital to present some of the best headphone gear the world has to offer.

iFi Audio made another appearance in the head-fi space with their deep product line of audio accessories that span the gamut from USB filters to head amps to phono stages. Their product offerings have become so diverse that the company now also produces a small racking system of sorts to keep everything together in one place. The iRack ($150) on display at the show also housed the spec-generous, budget-conscious iDSD Nano ($190) DAC and a smaller battery-powered headphone amplifier called the iFi iCan Nano ($170).

Newcomer to the circuit was CIEM company CTM – Clear Tune Monitors. CTM hails from the professional audio sector, and while they are not necessarily a new company this was their first venture out into the wild of the audiophile show tundra. The lineup consists of tiered driver arrangements up to 6 per side. The company doesn’t offer anything in the way of universal fits yet, but some new creations may be on the horizon as the company grows.

Woo Audio is making the rounds with plenty of great tube gear for every occasion. Some of the best physical builds and tight analog sounds can be found at their table. A nice presentation filled out the display this year, included some of their electrostatic Stax amplification and even their digital offerings (DAC and CD transport).

Full impressions of the above Woo Audio WA7d with WA7tp tube power supply can be found in our review [here].

Jimmy and Owen from Astell and Kern kept things lively with the entire line up of digital players from the iRiver company. They always have an amazing selection of headphones to pair and sample their players with that really makes the whole listening experience shine.

The company currently offers a very organized set of price points that still includes the original AK100 and AK120, but now adds on the new Mk IIs as well as the flagship AK240. Astell and Kern also offer a smaller DAC/Amp companion for cell phones and standalone players called the AK10.

Chicago native Michael Goodman was sporting his portable DAC/Amp combo from Centracne called Hifi-M8 ($700) along with the new slimmer Mini-M8 ($700). Both devices are Apple compliant.

Jolida is typically known for their tube based loudspeaker amplification that ranges from mid tier pricing to budget (for the loudspeaker market). The company has recently branched out with a few products that carry out their tube tech roots, but attempts to address a modern digital audiophile need. The new DAC pictured above was seen in prototype form a few shows ago, but has recently moved its way to a more fully flushed out stage. The glass FX line includes both the new DAC and a standalone headphone amplifier.

Upscale audio manufacture Viva Audio has recently taken a stab at cost-no-object headphone amplifier. Pictured above, the amp is as extravagant as its price tag ($9,500). Very showy and no doubt a great conversation piece, the Viva Egoista has drummed up some interesting buzz in its last few show appearances.

Not something a typical desktop junkie may dive into, the flagship piece still makes for some intriguing eye candy. The italian-based Viva is represented by Profundo regionally and is powered by a pair of 845 output tubes and weighs a whopping 100 lbs.

Dana cables can usually be found touting their massive snake-like loudspeaker cable around shows, but this time the graced us with an appearance in the headphone section as well. Their cable offerings extended into interconnects, power cables and USB.

Another colorful option came from this purple Blue Hawaii Stax amp from Headamp. It was quite eye fetching from its predominate corner in the entry way. Whether this particular shade is your preference or not, I found the shake up from the typical audiophile black and sliver tones quite welcome.