A Personal Audio Odyssey 

Dan Wrights Modwright headphone amp was stunningly musical & engaging

Dan Wrights ModWright Tryst headphone amp was stunningly musical & engaging.

CanJam SoCal 2016 was a very special time for me, and it was a raging success for Head-Fi.org and the personal audio community. A good friend recently said on the phone, “Sounds like it couldn’t have gone any better,” he nailed it. But that was a far cry from last years CanJam SoCal for me. Last year’s event occurred at a particularly rough time for me personally. I had, literally, just left my now ex-wife five or so days before the show. Truth is, I had no business being there in my angry and saddened state. But it was CanJam! How could I, a bona-fide headphone phreak and music addict, fight the allure of the premier headphone event in the continental United States? Not to mention all the friends I only get to see at events like this a few times a year! So, in essence my passion for the personal audio arts unfortunately out-weighed my real need to chill, and go inward, and process what was happening to my twenty-year marriage. Bad choice. I was too depressed and angry inside to truly enjoy anything at any headphone event, and I think that’s understandable. Needless to say, I ended up in a situation I regretted last year. Bottom line: it left a gaping hole in my heart for a community (Head-Fi) and for an event that I wholeheartedly look forward to more than anything else. But a lot has changed since then, and for the better. So, naturally I was looking forward to putting my all into enjoying the hell outta CanJam SoCal 2016!

The cool thing about all that is, many of the reasons things have changed for the better are directly related to the personal audio community. Many of the people I’ve met through Head-Fi and the personal audio community at-large, were there for me in perhaps my darkest hours. As a result, I’m back on-board as staff writer at HiFi+ Magazine covering music, and my own blog: OccupyHifi (also featured here at Positive Feedback) is doing well. On top of those things, which speak to the very heart of my passion; Cavalli Audio, a brand I’ve grown to love over the years, recently approached me to help with their social media presence and brand-culture. As most Sonic Satori readers here at Positive Feedback, and OccupyHifi readers already know, this is something I do for a select few hi-fi brands (including Questyle Audio, another I’ve grown to love, and of course Positive Feedback). For CanJam SoCal 2016, the original plan was for me to help team Cavalli a bit, lend ’em my experience in show system set-up and tweaking, and maybe pull an hour shift or so at the display tables. Since I loved (and therefore bought, much to my ex-wife’s dismay) his state-of-the-art Liquid Gold headphone amp a couple of years now (a headphone amp also loved by our Commander-in-Chief here Dr. David William Robinson) after reviewing it at Head-Fi, I’ve become a sort of beta tester for Dr. Cavalli. I have his Liquid Carbon and up-coming Liquid Spark portable headphone amp prototype. Not only do I love his products, but I’m familiar with most of them.  This made me an easy choice for team Cavalli by my good friend Warren Chi, formerly of Head-Fi’s CanJam, now CEO of Cavalli Audio (and my former partner in Audio360). Warren also had dear friend and fellow Cavalli Audio mate Stan Ahn (Head-Fi handle: weirdfishes). In addition, he enlisted the aid of fellow Head-Fiers to man the Cavalli Audio tables, good souls: Andre Moore (Head-Fi handle: Shiorisekine) Dan “Stillhart” (also Head-Fi handle) Browdy and Lukas Vokrinek (Head-Fi handle: conquerator2) so it was a true community affair!

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However, our mission for CanJam SoCal 2016 started weeks before the event. Warren and I got together a few times, discussing logistics for the Cavalli equipment demos. Remember, I’m not a Cavalli employee, but if I’m helping that team with its outreach, I’d be damned if CanJam attendees didn’t, at the very least, get a taste of the Cavalli magic that won me over since CanJam at RMAF 2013. Warren feels the same way. That’s a slice of the many reasons we make a good team, beside our mutual passion for the personal audio arts and music. When we wrote together, we’d write collective reviews for Audio360 live via Google Docs – like having a conversation. We’d just find the flow together. We’re just on the same track often is all. When you’re doing something you love, and you find someone who can do that with you – you stick together through thick and thin. Warren’s a part of the personal audio community that was there for me when things got dark this last year (he’s like a brother regardless of his association with anything audio). We bask in turning fellow Head-Fiers and others onto great-sounding personal audio gear and music. We live it. We love it. Stan Ahn too, and so we brainstormed on how to take our collective passion for the Cavalli sound experience and give CanJam attendees a taste of why we love the sound of our music through Cavalli gear. It was on. I reached out to Peter Bradstock at Double Helix Cables for high-end DAP-to-amp/mini-to-mini cables for all the Cavalli Audio Liquid Spark prototypes (portable headphone amps) and his top-of-the-line XLR/balanced interconnects for the Liquid Gold rig. Warren secured enough high-end Audioquest Cables to outfit everything just in case, thanks to our friend Jason Lord, co-founder and owner of The Source A/V in Los Angeles. We broke down every rig that would be on display, selecting accompanying equipment based on musical synergy and other important factors. I knew I’d bring bags of various reference cables/wiring and tweaks (everything from high end USB cables to isolation and resonance control devices, prototype power cords designed for digital front-ends – basically a bag of my own reference audio tricks).

Peter at Double Helix Cables came through with true personal audio art

Peter at Double Helix Cables came through with true personal audio art.

We left room for changes of course (which did and always do happen). We were really pumped to do this for Dr. Alex Cavalli. In essence, our goal was to turn people on to what we love so much about Cavalli gear—how it gets the hell outta the way of the music, but at the same time engages you so fuckin’ deeply. I spent days going through my crazy hi-fi tweak collection, but set-up day was upon us before we knew it! 

Warren and I rolled into the Westin South Coast Plaza in SoCal (where CanJam takes place) on Friday afternoon in my John Cooperworks Mini packed to the 9’s with Cavalli gear and all sorts of audio gadgetry. We were comin’ armed to the teeth with a personal audio arsenal. We’d gotten word that Jude Mansilla, Founder of Head-Fi.org (owner of CanJam Global) was about to arrive, and a few of our friends and team Cavalli brethren were already at the hotel geeking out on the soon-to-be-heard Cavalli Audio Liquid Tungsten OTL & OCL tube amplifier prototype! It was time to have some fun. It was also time to get to work. This is what we do, what we live for (but not all we live for—haters out there drooling for somethin’ to pick apart). I cherish sharing time with good friends, listening to great music through our favorite cans, and Head-Fi’s CanJam has become the headphone culture destination as far as trade shows go, IMHO. I’m not saying you gotta be a Head-Fier to enjoy yourself there, but the event draws a wild variety of people from all parts of the world, united by the collective personal audio community. We actually get to enjoy the company of people, who many of us communicate with daily, (digitally) across the globe, but rarely have an opportunity to spend real time together. There’s just no replacement for sitting together, kickin’ back listening to some tunes, talkin’ about life, gear, music; whatever else’s on our minds

Stillhart, Conquerator2 (Head-Fi handles) and I gettin’ warmed up via MrSpeakers Brand-New Electrostatic ETHER.

Many people still think of the headphone experience as being solitary. They equate cans with one-person listening. Now that’s still true in some cases – we can of course listen to our personal audio gear alone, but it’s gone far beyond that. Thanks to innovation seemingly following the community-like aspects of Head-Fi.org and other online headphone culture forums like Super Best Audio Friends we have a ton of personal audio today that’s geared towards multiple listeners! This is something that was far from my mind just a few years ago. But it makes sense – given the bonds many of us form in the headphone hobby. I think it’s like that with any collective of like-minded people, all essentially chasing after the same thing. For some it’s RC cars, others Russian Dolls. For us, it’s headphones, and the music of course. That’s what events like CanJam are really about under the surface (but not all they’re about), the people. I’ve met some of my closest friends through the Head-Fi community, and I sure as shit wouldn’t have imagined that would happen back in 2009 when I joined. But there we were, a crew of headphone and music addict degenerates—gathered in a room at The Westin South Coast Plaza trying to grab some slices of sonic satori outta this Cavalli tube prototype amp—and it wasn’t even set-up day yet. This was Thursday night! The Liquid Tungsten prototype was a stunning arrangement of tubes, caps, resistors, and everything else it takes to make a serious OTL (and OCL) tube amp, just lying there with its insides out for all to gaze at, essentially a circuit board packed with stuff affixed to an aluminum plate. We got some great sound hummin’ outta that glorious thing – and there was no place I would’ve rather been at that moment (though I was wishing my girl was there with us). We knew we were the first ones to hear the up-coming Liquid Tungsten amp, an obvious advantage of consulting with Dr. Alex Cavalli—and we were gonna drink that up ’til we passed out or the damn thing blew up…

boys and their toys

Boys and their toys.

As I often say to my boys: OCD does have its advantages, especially when you’re a shamelessly music-addicted audio phreak like me. Enter my buddy Dave Hanson (a.k.a Hansotek on Head-Fi & writer for EnjoyTheMusic): Together we started breakin’ down the ancient DAC that was placed ahead of that exquisite lookin’ piece of vacuum tube machinery by Alex Cavalli, lookin’ for a better solution on the spot. Well, we found it—which came in the form of his Chord Mojo (used as DAC) with my Astell-n-Kern AK380 DAP (digital audio player). Damn, did that system open the hell up.

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I was rockin’ Stillharts’ Sennheiser HD800 (with his own DIY cable BTW – very impressive) and it sounded so good I had to sit down. Well, I was playin’ it kinda loud, as I was bumpin’ Recondite’s “Baro” off their Iffy album (which I reviewed for Positive Feedback). That track is a piece of minimal tech house bliss—and wonderfully recorded. It’s all analog synths and drum machines, so while it’s “electronic music” it’s got some phatty dynamics and soundstage trickery that makes it sound like it was designed for great headphones. Thanks to Hanson (Hansotek)—who actually wrote down what I said when the sound hit me so hard I fell into the seat! I remember hearing a lot of laughter when that happened (Sennheiser HD800s are open-back) but I didn’t remember what I said. Again, hands-raised Hansotek:

"Fuck any sonic commentary, I just had to sit down this motherfucker was so good."

“Fuck any sonic commentary, I just had to sit down this motherfucker was so good.”

That Recondite track has since ascended to my current #1 fave headphone acid test—so I highly recommend checking it out. We were gettin’ into it. Hey, to some this may sound like Uber-Geeks Gone Wild. OK, so I rock a geek card now, proudly so! I can think of far worse things to be doin’ on a Thursday night. Besides, there was plenty of work ahead of us the next day (set-up day) so we geeked out on more tunes and cans, and then cocktail hour yearnings crept in. It was time to gather and bullshit, another thing I genuinely enjoy in life, just cuttin’ it up with friends. This years CanJam SoCal was also very special to me because Mr. Jason Lord, a good friend and co-Owner/Founder of The Source A/V not only came along, but got a helluva suite to share how he’s embraced personal audio in a major way! This sent a positive signal to the personal audio community about dealers. For awhile a ton of little companies only sold direct—and that’s totally understandable, they needed the capital! But somewhere along the way I felt like dealers were almost looked at as the enemy, and coming from high end two-channel, I knew it was like anything else. There are good dealers and there are bad ones. If you’re an audio company, personal audio or whatever, having a dealer like Jason is a great thing. The man’s an acoustician, an engineer, a music lover, and, the freakin’ guy designs serious audio systems for kick-ass cars like the Shelby! I mean c’mon that’s a no-brainer. But even Jason knew he needed to learn about the personal audio community, and so with the help of fellow personal audio advocate Bruce Ball of Questyle Audio he held a couple of successful personal audio events at his store in Torrance, CA, and he understood what we’re all about almost instantly. It’s awesome having him support the personal audio arts—and I hear of more high end two-channel dealers following suit. That’s a good thing (but again, there are good dealers and bad ones—just because someone’s a dealer don’t mean he knows shit). It’s also great hangin’ out with the guy, so Thursday night we all gathered at the hotel bar and got to know each other better, and we had some laughs at other peoples’ expense. I mean c’mon, we all do it, it’s cool. The vibe couldn’t be better that night, setting the tone for what was soon to be one of my favorite CanJams ever.

Jason Lord of The Source A/V & Darin Fong of Out Of Your Head software talkin' shop

Jason Lord of The Source A/V and Darin Fong of Out Of Your Head software talkin’ shop.

Of course, we couldn’t help ourselves throughout the night. We ended up back in room 305 (the number is burned into my brain. It was also the spot where Cavalli Audio hosted auditions of the Liquid Tungsten throughout CanJam weekend) trying different cans and other headphone-related tweaks. We all went to bed far too late Thursday—but hell, all we had ahead of us was set-up day the following morning (eek)—not like that’s important or anything…

Stillhart representin'

Stillhart representin’.

However, admittedly I thought I had a solid excuse for stayin’ out late and partyin’ with the fellas. For me, the plan was to help Team Cavalli Audio with set-up by workin’ to get their rigs sounding the best I could from the power to source to Cavalli amp and headphones (of which, a lot of planning went into amassing a fantastic mix of high end headphones for attendees at the Cavalli tables). Then I was gonna do my hi-fi journalism thing, walk the show and take in all those wonderful toys and report back about ’em, and talk about the experience of workin’ with Cavalli during set-up. That was not to be (well, I got part of Sunday for listening—but anyway…). Set-up day went smoothly, occasionally producing a run-of-the-mill show problem, “Anybody remember a screwdriver?” and “are you sure this thing has a USB DAC built-in?” But everyone from Team Cavalli was there, and the vibe was light, the energy was positive. I gotta say I was feeling great, and anxious for another CanJam in good-ol’ sunny Southern Cali. Next thing you know it’s early morning Saturday (or, at least early-morning for me: like 8:30 AM). I’m employing some of my own audio tricks, learned after years in this crazy business, like cable swaps and shit like at the Cavalli tables in their shared room with MrSpeakers. All of a sudden my dear friend and now, CEO of Cavalli Audio, Warren Chi runs behind the tables and tells me “I’ve got an emergency bro, I need you”. Now, Warren’s like a brother to me, so no questions—what’s up? He said one of our teammates didn’t show up (and not a Head-Fi volunteer – all you guys ROCKED IT) and he was supposed to host the by-appointment listening sessions for the brand-new Cavalli Liquid Tungsten OTL (and OCL) tube headphone amp all day Saturday! Well, I can’t let a brother down, nor am I gonna let Dr. Alex Cavalli’s masterpiece get lost in the fray! I grabbed my boy Kevin Venable (former Tech Wizard at Audio360.org and, for me, frequent collaborator on a few joint music reviews) and jetted up to the room where the Tungsten was. I prepared a bag for this rig days before luckily, full of all sorts of cables, iso-feet, and everything else needed to get that thing singin’. I didn’t know I was going to end up also hosting the auditions all day. But these things happen at shows, and you need your wingmen. Did I mention I heard about this like thirty minutes before the auditions were about to start? Again—for those of you who’ve never worked a show before, these things happen, it’s part of the game.

So Kevin and I darted up to the Tungsten room and got down to it. I tried a couple different DACs, cables, power accessories, etc. Unfortunately, as if I wasn’t already anxiety-ridden, knowing I didn’t have much time to get Dr. Cavalli’s work of audio art soundin’ damn good, I realized we didn’t have a source! Again, OCD good for some things, others not-so-much. My MacBook Pro SSD is my lifeline. I write with it, do my social media thing for clients, I live through the damn thing. And I’d spent days providing a sick hard-drive full of tunes (some more modern music) for the Cavalli listening stations with MacBooks! But I grab my music from a powered local hard-drive at home—so I barely brought any music on my laptop. Freak-out time! Low and behold, Kevin ran down and grabbed that hard-drive full of tunes that I prepared—this time in order to put the music on my computer! Yeah, everything happens at once huh. Cool thing is: Once we got the system all dialed-in the first eager Head-Fiers started knockin’ on the door for auditions.

Love it when a plan comes together

Love it when a plan comes together.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was buggin’ out about my MacBook Pro for much of the day Saturday. I wish that wasn’t the case—but whatever Dr. Cavalli needed. I took a lesson from my days back in high end two-channel, when attendees walked through the door and got ready for an audition—I asked them to listen to the system with my MrSpeakers ETHER + Double Helix Cables Xtreme, as I set the whole thing up as a system, so I wanted them to be able to take that in first. I’d also play one of my tracks initially, then invite everybody to use some of their own music, and their own headphones if they brought em. Why’d I do this? The same reason many of us who’ve set-up high end stereo systems in hotel rooms insist that we play something of ours first during demonstrations, because we know the recording is high-quality, and like it or not, at least patrons will hear the system at its full potential. If you let someone who’s auditioning your equipment use a piece of their music first, you run the risk of them using a sub-standard recording—and blaming the resulting poor-playback on the gear! So, you present the system/component/product in the best way you know how—and then you turn ’em loose! We received some amazingly positive feedback on the Tungsten system all day Saturday. It felt great.

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You know the best part about doin’ stuff like this? Watching the looks on peoples faces when they get charged with an emotive response from the music. Plus, getting to share and discover new music! It was a lot of work, but a sincere pleasure hosting all those auditions. At times the room was packed (and we coulda’ been a lil’ more quiet at times for people listening via open-backs—so my apologies to anyone if they were disturbed). It turned out to be a listening party, and everybody seemed to have a good time. Here are a couple of reaction shots:

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Harmony Hicks a.k.a Headphone Princess – baskin’ in Stillharts Sennheiser HD800s on the Tungsten. She wasn’t a fan of the 800s before this!

Though I gotta admit, perhaps the highlight of my Saturday (aside of takin’ 4th place in my final race at the Schiit Audio Go-Karting Championships) was having Donald North of DNA (exquisite tube amplifiers), and these days RIVA, makers of the most musically engaging Bluetooth speaker IMHO—stop by, check out the Tungsten system, and tell me he loved it. Donald is a highly-respected tube headphone amplifier designer. I love his DNA Stratus amp. So when I saw the smile on his face I had to take this picture. That was it for me. I felt like pulling the George Costanza—and just leave on the high-note while I was ahead…

Donald North, respected tube amp designer, really dug the Tungsten system.

Donald North, respected tube amp designer, really dug the Tungsten system.

Another highlight (as stated above) were the CanJam Go-Kart Championships sponsored by Schiit Audio! After being tasked to race only hours before things popped-off,  I took 4th place! My Team Cavalli mate Dan “Stillhart” Browdy grabbed the podium in 3rd! I believe we may’ve, as a team, perhaps held the highest rankings? Who knows, but it was damn fun. This is also why I love events like CanJam. We were Go-Karting on Saturday night,  sipping a $150 bottle of wine, talkin’ about its legs, and foaming over R-2R (Ladder) vs/ Delta-Sigma DACs. We were workin’ it out on the race track and lettin’ go together. I’m not knockin’ a good dinner out together, but we weren’t goin’ Go-Kart racing all those years at The Alexis Park during the high end show at CES—and I’m sure Vegas has got Go-Karts galore. But there we were, competing personal audio companies, and havin’ fun while doing it. The high end two-channel world could take a lesson or two from this. Soon it was back to the bar at The Westin, some more geekin’ out on gear and music upstairs in various rooms. Sunday was upon us, and many of us didn’t wanna go to sleep, but our weary eyes and mumbling words spoke another story. Luckily I got a room nearby at the Hotel Irvine (shades of T.H.E Show Newport and dearly-missed Richard Beers everywhere) as I don’t think I coulda made the vast 7 mile trek (uh huh) back to my buddy Russ’s place to crash. Now that’s the sign of a good night.

As Sunday morning came around I was pumped. It was finally time to have some OccupyHifi-type fun, time to turn on that passion for new sonic discoveries for my Positive Feedback report. Low-and-behold—there’s always somethin’ right? The Cavalli teammate that was supposed to man the Liquid Tungsten auditions—his MacBook (intended for use during the Tungsten auditions like I’d done the day before) had no high-quality music software on it, nor music to demo with! Here we go again. Luckily I ran into my friend Ralph Schachter from Amarra Audio, (and my good buddy Jon Reichbach—founder of the company) and they got him set-up with Amarra on the spot. I grabbed the hard-drive and just in time for the first audition—everything was crackin’. Big thanks to Ralph and Jon for that by the way. I owe you guys. So, with the Tungsten demos all set, and things down in the main Cavalli room lookin’ good, it was time to help another friend with something also very special.

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Harmony Hicks (a.k.a Nomad Girl on Head-Fi & Headphone Princess on Twitter) sportin’ her customized Audeze LCD-Xs and-built by Alex Rosson, cofounder of Audeze, Headphone Princess-style.

We also asked our friend and fellow Head-Fier, Harmony Hicks if she would showcase her love for the up-coming Cavalli Audio Liquid Spark portable headphone amp prototype. Harmony’s heard the unit before, and she was already a big fan, so no arm-twisting required. She jumped at the chance, as she had something perhaps even more special to share, her customized Audeze LCD-Xs – Headphone Princess-style. Those of us who know Harmony know of her affinity for all things pink, and when my brotha Alex Rosson learned that Harmony was suddenly left without her beloved Audezes, he built those LCDs specially for her. But the pink rings are only an accent, the cream on-top. Those are no ordinary LCD-Xs. I’m not sure what he did, but they sound better than mine damnit! But good for her. Add to that her custom WyWires Red Series headphone cable (encased in Pink Techflex), Double Helix Cables Comp4 mini-to-mini for the Liquid Spark, and my Astell-n-Kern AK380 DAP (which I was happy to lend her for the event) and I think Harmony had the most rockin’ portable rig at CanJam SoCal! So that was fun—seeing her in her headphone bliss. Harmony’s been a long-time Sonic Satori supporter, and is now an official part of the OccupyHifi crew. It was an honor having such a cool crew of people backin’ Dr. Alex Cavalli up. It really felt like a team effort. However, a lil’ note to my compadres: Let’s keep the emergencies down to a minimum next round K? But overall the experience working with Team Cavalli was spectacular. And, since this essay is so freakin’ late, I can judge by the CanJam reports that others also enjoyed themselves listening to Cavalli Audio at the show. Bravo team. I was psyched to be a part of it all, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It kept things interesting, and kept me on the ball!  

As the result, for me, there was lil’ time on Sunday for the rounds, so I had to be unfortunately selective when it came down to my own auditions of new personal audio toys! At the top of my list were Dan Clark and Co. new MrSpeakers ETHER Electrostatic headphone prototype, and Dan Wrights’ ModWright Tryst headphone amplifier. Kevin Venable (good buddy mentioned above) had a ModWright integrated amp while he wrote for Audio360 that had an exceptional headphone stage. No matter what, I wasn’t going to miss those two personal audio gems! Plus I wanted to hear the new WyWires Platinum headphone cable, as we helped WyWires voice their original Red Series cable (and in an odd twist of faith, we inadvertently did it again with the Platinum series) so when I saw ModWright and WyWires were exhibiting together I was so excited to just sit down and bask in some tunes there. Alex and Nina Sventinsky of WyWires are like family. They wanted to learn about the Head-Fi community years ago, and did it right. They approached me about headphone audio, and they were genuinely interested in learning about the culture of personal audio. They didn’t wanna just come in as another high end audio manufacturer, without doing any research, and think they could knock a product outta the park. They joined the community, attended events, and got to know the people, and then they introduced their first line of headphone cables. I’m proud just to be a part of that process, and see them still having fun today.

Alex and Nina Sventinsky of WyWires - Good People

Alex and Nina Sventinsky of WyWires – Good People.

So when it was time to sit in front of Dan Wright’s latest tube masterpiece, the Tryst, I needed to properly arm myself with one of my current top reference set of cans—so I came by packin’ my MrSpeakers ETHER (1.1) open-backs and Double Helix Cables Xtreme balanced, ready to go. All sonic blah blah blah aside: Bravo Mr. Wright. Firstly, the ModWright Tryst drove my ETHERs so wonderfully I wanted to steal the amp on-the-spot. But the best part, it did so equally across a wide variety of music. From my underground electronic like Nosaj Thing to typical audiophile faves like Cat Steven’s “Father and Son” off Tea for Tillerman the ModWright got the hell outta its own way and served the music. Things were balanced and controlled, but not constricted or closed-in. It was open, dynamic, and ever other audiophile buzzword you can think of.

It takes alot to get me this quiet. Yep... I know it

It takes a lot to get me this quiet. Yep… I know it.

I was psyched it lived up to my mostly ridiculous inner-hype. Going back in time for a second: I said another must for me was Dan Clark and Co. MrSpeakers ETHER Electrostatic cans! Fortunately I got to take those suckers in on Friday (set-up day). Wow, just freakin’ wow. Dan and his team have experienced a well-deserved meteoric rise amongst the ranks of high end planar magnetic headphone manufacturers, and now, they’ve shown us again how much they love what they do by entering the world of electrostatic cans! Powering the ETHER stats with a Cavalli Audio Liquid Lightning—the resulting sound was resolving, engaging, and natural. I luck-out at ETHER demos because Mr. Clark and I have similar taste in music, so once I found Booka Shade’s “Boy Language (Interpretation)” I was lost init’—as I often say. The bass was silky and drivy, with punch and little to no overhang that I can remember. The synths were so fluid and dimensional, the sound was like syrupy goodness (not to be confused with congestion or murkiness)—wavey, textural, wide-open—but it pounded surprisingly hard for an electrostat I think. If I kept listening to that Dan wouldn’t have anything to do with me anymore for sure—because I would’ve found a way to snag that thing.

"Dude, this shit is just sick. Sorry - it is what it is"

“Dude, this shit is just sick. Sorry – it is what it is”.

I deeply regret not being able to hit the Questyle Audio room w/ ENIGMAcoustics and Westone – but I’ll be buggin’ them for gear soon enough. There are also plenty of others that I missed, but what can you do? I had a blast – the team I was workin’ with did a bang-up job—and we all got to hear some amazing gear and music while spending time together. Does it get any better than that for us audio phreaks? I’m not sure—but we’re workin’ on it. Bravo team CanJam Global: Ethan Opolion, Joe Zwik, and Mr. Jude Mansilla—and everybody else affiliated with CanJam SoCal 2016. It was another stellar year – and I’m already lookin’ forward to the next one. I know I had a good time when it took me three days to recover. By Monday night I was so dehydrated and over-tired I was near collapse. Sounds sick, but, unfortunately that’s the sign of a good time in our world. OK, maybe that’s a bit twisted, but who cares. I left it all on the field, and so did everybody else. Sometimes I still feel the high of CanJam SoCal, and I know it will fade over time—but life’s fleeting isn’t it? I’m grateful our tribes get to gather at events like this. See ya at the next one…

*Special thanks to everybody at Audioquest for comin’ through for us w/cabling for Team Cavalli. Also Special thanks to Peter Bradstock of Double Helix Cables for getting us cables and custom stuff so quickly, and for dealing with the last-minute craziness of it all. And huge hugs to Team Cavalli: Warren Chi, Alex Cavalli, Stan Ahn, and our amazing group of Head-Fi volunteers: Stillhart, Lukas, and Andre. You guys made it all possible.*

Team Cavalli & guests celebrating a great time at CanJam SoCal 2016

Team Cavalli & guests celebrating a great time at CanJam SoCal 2016.