While much of the head fi crowd was already eager to see the new planar magnetic creations from headphone company Audeze, the LA-based headphone manufacture still had a few surprises up its sleeves. The highly anticipated closed-back variation of the company’s successful open-back LCD line that was revealed at last year’s CanJam did in fact make another appearance this year. While early reports revealed that there would be an additional open-back newcomer added to the line as well, little was said about the DAC/AMP/DSP module that subtly appeared on the show floor.
The two new headphones are part of the companies new “X” line. The closed-back XC was developed with a completely new driver at the helm. This driver sounded so good to the guys at Audeze that they decided to implement a fourth headphone tucked in between the LCD-2 and LCD-3. The DSP component they have created pairs directly with a single pair of their headphones and will be offered as an add on when purchasing a pair from their site. The DSP is set up to correct frequency, phase and other elements against the selected headphones. The result is intended to be a true correction of any anomalies or frequency imperfections that plauge your specific headphone (they currently measure every pair before they send them out). The DAC/Amp box will be able to receive updates in the future, possibly allowing for even more fine tuning to personal taste. My personal experience with the box and the LCD-XC it was connected to was similar to the Abyss and Woo 234 combo I had heard earlier. They both sound extremely high-end, well thought out and unique.
Although you could see the LCD line connected to some of the top-tier headphone amplifiers in the world strewn about the show, the company had the new LCD-X running directly from an Astell and Kern AK100 player as a demo. For those of you who don’t know, this is totally possible and quite a nice experience especially considering the relative size of the setup.
While the flagship Studio 6 from ALO audio was the talk of the town this past year, the new guy on the block from the company is a bit more reserved in appearance, but no less impressive. The new Island ($300) is a more portable version of the companies DAC/Amp line that allows for USB input and balanced (and SE) headphone output. I like the look of this new unit. Its new portable-with-a-big-knob design is a slight deviation from the company’s traditional stylings. The Island also comes in a wider selection of colors including blue and gold.
I was really impressed with the innovation of Apex’s latest portable creation called the Glacier. Not limited to only the mobile domain, Pete Millet is perhaps more widely know for high full-size premium headphone amplifiers. The newest of which is the Teton ($5k) which is currently available, although slightly backordered.
Beyerdynamic had their flagship T1 on display attached to their somewhat low-key amplifier line. The newest entry to the line was a more portable pair of headphones called the T51P ($290) connected here with the new A20 head amp.
High-end speaker manufacture Focal recently decided to partake in the headphone side of audio with the recent release of Spirit One ($280). For CanJam the company also unveiled two additional headphones called the Classic ($400) and Professional ($350) which should become available in the next few weeks.
I have read quite a bit about the bargain bin Koss Porta Pro ($80) but never heard it until this weekend. The stylings of this headphone remind me a great deal of the very first pair of headphones I ever owned that came free with portable stereo radio I had when I was young. I loved that thing, but thankfully these headphones are a big step up from those classic devices. While not the last word in resolution or imaging, the headphone does have big bass. Not and easy feat to achieve for a headphone that really doesn’t require a seal of any kind (unlike traditional closed-back designs or IEMs).
Dan from Mr.Speakers has put a great deal of thought into his modified Fostex T50RP model the Maddog. His newest update forgoes the entire outer shell of the headphone and opts for a fully 3D printed covering to house the Fostex driver. The Alpha Dog is available now for $600 but has a 6 week lead time according to their site.
Fostex themselves had a few new products on display, the newest of which was the HP-V1 still in prototype form. This headphone amplifier employs the use of tube technology and does not yet have a release date.
One the other side of the table, visitors could find the well-reviewed closed-back flagship TH900 headphone. The new HP-A4 also rounded out the company’s headphone DAC/amp line, landing between the HP-A3 and the larger HP-A8C.
Phillips also had much of their mid priced Fidelio headphone line on display, including the new L2 and bluetooth models.
Check out even more coverage of CanJam and Rocky Mountain Audiofest 2013 here: