CanJam NYC 2023 Commences

CanJams are about much more than skull-testing the newest headphones. They are the best places for all audiophiles to audition innovations in amplification, file servers, and digital converters and to jabber and bond with students, hipsters, gamers, and brainiacs from every part of the demographic spectrum. When the Jam is in New York, at the Marriott Marquis, it's like a being in a secret stadium lit neon-purple with white, vinyl-covered lounge chairs sheltered from the 100dB cauldron of Times Square tourism.

If you've only been to mainstream audio shows, you might be surprised by the CanJam demographics. A majority of CanJam NYC 2023 attendees were under 45 years old, and diverse in the extreme along ethnic, social, economic, and gender lines. Saturday morning, as the show opened, I sat in the lounge area on one of those white vinyl 'cube' stools drinking coffee, watching five college-age non-binary students camped on two little white sofas with at least eight or ten boxes of not-inexpensive in-ear monitors (IEMs); best I could tell, they were swapping the headbuds around, doing comparisons, and sharing their impressions while at the same time swapping and comparing hookup wires. When nonbinary 18-year-olds are comparing hi-fi cables at 11am Saturday morning, you're probably looking at the future of our hobby.

I saw women, alone and in small groups, table-hopping: auditioning some of the finest transducers made.

Before I finished my coffee, a dapper, self-described billionaire and a scruffy 20-something young man stopped to chat. They told me they read my Gramophone Dreams column every month, which choked me up with gratitude. The scruffy youth showed me his DIY headphones, saying, "I fabricated everything you see, except the drivers.

"I have fifteen headphones, but only one pair of speakers," he told me. That, he explained, is the difference between the passionate headphone crowd and other audiophiles.

That was before I even started to examine the wares at eighty display tables and in four private rooms, or to attend any of the hour-long seminars by industry brainiacs including Paul Barton (PSB), Rob Watts (Chord), Sean Olive (Harman International), and my beloved mentor Jude Mansilla ( speaking about interpreting headphone measurements and an Examination of Frequency Response Targets and How We Use Them.