Event Coverage

Audio nirvana: Highlights from CanJam Singapore 2024

By Kenny Yeo & Ezzhan Hakim - 14 Apr 2024

What's new and hot from CanJam Singapore 2024 (Part 1)

Note: This feature was first published on 8 April 2024.

CanJam is possibly the largest personal audio show in the world and the Singapore edition took place this year on 6 and 7 April at the Pan Pacific Hotel. The show is a good place not only to check out the latest and greatest in personal audio, it's also an opportunity for showgoers to meet the founders and people behind their favourite audio brands. There are headphones, IEMs, amplifiers, DACs, and more. Here are the highlights we saw at the show.

Astell & Kern A&Ultima SP3000T

Looking for a high-end digital audio player? Astell & Kern's new A&ultimate SP3000T might just fit the bill.

Astell & Kern recently debuted their new A&ultima SP3000T flagship digital audio player at CanJam NYC 2024 and it's the player's first showing in Singapore. According to the brand, the SP3000T features the world’s first integration of a vacuum tube amp in a high-resolution digital audio player.

The audio player comes with AKM’s latest DAC, the AK4499X, and an AK4499EX for clear separation of digital and analogue signals. A Snapdragon 6125 Octa-core processor with 8GB of DDR4 memory powers it and the player operates on Astell & Kern’s custom Android operating system.

This silver-plated stainless steel audio player includes 2.5mm balanced, 4.4mm balanced, and a 3.5mm single-ended input to meet your needs. The SP3000T is also ROON-ready and can be deployed in a home audio system.

Don’t mistake this for the SP3000 variant as the "T" in SP3000T refers to the inclusion of two Raytheon JAN6418 MIL-SPEC tubes in the amplification circuit. There is a triple amp system which consists of "Tube Amp Mode" (with 3-step current adjustment), "Op-Amp Mode" and the combination of both, "Hybrid Amp Mode".

The Astell & Kern A&ultima SP3000T is set to retail for S$4,799 and will be available on AV ONE's website.

Cayin iHA-8, iDAC-8, and iDAP-8

On left is the iDAP-8, while the iHA-8 is on the right stacked on top of the iDAC-8.

Longtime followers of Cayin will know what the various abbreviations mean. For those new to the brand, these three are Cayin’s newest desktop solutions for the discerning listener. It consists of a headphone amplifier, DAC, and digital network streamer, and each component was designed to complement each other.

Let’s start with the iHA-8, which is a balanced pure Class A discrete headphone amplifier. In its full-power “Hyper” mode, it is capable of delivering up to 9.5W of power for your headphones. In other words, it can drive virtually every headphone out there – including the extremely power-hungry Hifiman Susvara. For convenience, it has three outputs for your headphones: 6.35mm, 4-pin XLR, and 4.4mm balanced. 

The iDAC-8 is a balanced DAC that uses AKM’s flagship AK1491 + AK4499EX DAC platform.  It has the usual USB, coaxial, optical, and AES/EBU inputs and supports music up to 32-bit/768kHz and DSD music up to DSD512. What’s interesting about it is that both vacuum tube and solid-state output stages, so users can pick between the slightly warmer sound of tubes or the more accurate sound of solid-state.

The final piece is the iDAP-8 digital network streamer. It runs on Android and features a 5-inch Full-HD touch display on the front panel that users can use to directly navigate to their music. You can stream music over both Wi-Fi and LAN or play them directly off an external storage device like an SD card or flash drive. It even has a built-in drive bay that can accommodate 2.5-inch HDDs or SSDs up to 4TB in capacity.

The Cayin iHA-8 is S$1,499, the iDAC-8 is S$1,999, and the iDAP-8 is S$1,799. They are all available now from Zeppelin & Co..


 

Creative Zen Hybrid SXFI and Zen Air SXFI

This is the Creative Zen Hybrid SXFI headphone. Sony fans might find it oddly familiar-looking.

The most common complaint about Creative’s Super X-Fi technology is how it won’t work with streaming services like Apple Music, Netflix, and Spotify. As you can imagine, this limitation greatly reduces the utility of Super X-Fi technology and Creative’s devices that were designed for it. That’s about to change with the release of the Zen Hybrid SXFI over-ear wireless headphones and Zen Air SXFI true wireless earbuds because these two devices will have Super X-Fi built directly into them so that the technology can be applied to whatever content you choose to play. This means you can finally enjoy Super X-Fi with content from your favourite streaming services. 

The Creative Zen Hybrid SXFI and Zen Air SXFI will be available sometime in May or June and will be priced at S$149 and S$119 respectively.

Dita Navigator

Spending plenty of time outdoors? This portable DAC/amp from Dita, the Navigator is one to add to your everyday carry. 

Featuring an aluminium build, the Navigator uses dual ES9219 DAC chips. The Navigator also has the following technical specifications:

  • Connectivity: Type-C input, 3.5mm single-ended, 4.4mm balanced outputs
  • Power Output: 4.4mm – 340mW @ 32 Ohms 4.4mm / 3.5mm – 110mW @ 32 Ohms
  • Supports: MQA 16x Native, PCM 768kHz/32bit, DSD256 Native
  • Dual FPGA-independent crystal oscillator clocks

What captured our attention about the Navigator among the sea of DAC/amp solutions at the show was its unique design. It's made out of a 6000 series aluminium construction, which, according to the brand, is the kind of aluminium alloy that you would typically find in aircraft and marine construction due to its strength and resistance to corrosion.

Within the Navigator lies the dual FPGA crystal oscillator clocks that aid in lowering jitter and reducing distortion. This is paired with the ES9219 DAC chips for a true balanced audio output. 

You can find the Dita Navigator over at Zeppelin & Co. for S$459.

Eletech Baroque Eartips

Improve your IEM listening experience with the Baroque ear tips from Eletech.

Pair your favourite IEMs with the Baroque ear tips from Eletech. The ear tips are made out of Japanese medical-grade silicon and are certified to be hypoallergenic. These ear tips feature a wide bore design and come in three sizes, small, medium, and large each with 11mm, 12.25mm, and 13.3mm diameter openings respectively. 

The ear tips boast three innovations from Eletech for a comfortable listening experience. Featuring their Tria, Flexion and Satiné trademarked technologies, they are applied to the Baroque ear tips and are created for an enhanced listening experience. Tria disperses sound waves within the tip, minimising unwanted resonances for a clear, immersive soundstage. Flexion, inspired by origami, comfortably conforms to your ear for a secure fit and reduces vibrations for accurate audio reproduction. Finally, Satiné utilizes nano-wavy lines to create a smooth, satin-like texture for luxurious comfort. These combined technologies improve the performance for both comfort and sound quality.

The Baroque ear tips are available for sale for S$30.55 online at Jaben, the authorised reseller for Eletech in Singapore. 

Flipears Aurora XXIV

One of the most impressive IEMs we've heard at the show was the Flipears Aurora XXIV. The Aurora has a "Tribrid" configuration that consists of 2 dynamic drivers + 6 balanced armatures + 2 electrostatic drivers. The two dynamic drivers are 9mm dynamic "Firewoofers" used specifically for sub-bass, resulting in tight bass response with deep extension. 

The two electrostatic drivers handle ultra-high frequencies while the six balanced armature drivers are configured as two low-mids, two mids, and two mid-highs. For technical specifications, the Aurora 24 has a Sensitivity at 124dB @ 1mW, an impedance at 21 ohm @1kHz, and a claimed frequency response ranging from 5Hz to 70kHz.

The Aurora front and back plates have their custom design with patterns that appear like curtains, rays, and spirals akin to the Aurora Borealis. They come with a standard 8-core OCC copper cable in default 2.5mm terminations but also include free 3.5mm and 4.4mm adapters.

Based on our brief listening with the Flipears Aurora XXIV, they had crispy highs, transparent mids, and were highly detailed. In terms of tonality, the Aurora XXIV leans toward a V-shaped tuning. Its bass was tastefully elevated and the treble sounded clear and detailed.

The Flipears Aurora XXIV retails for USD$2,099 (~S$2,831) and can be found on their website here.

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