Since Rocky Mountain Audio Fest is primarily designed for consumer audiophiles, the buzz on the floor ranged from new products to component tweaks to which room was the best. Many of the people I spoke with were window-shopping and considering their next serious buy, so there wasn’t one particular item or room that ruled the floor conversation except CanJam. Even the speaker and cable manufacturers I spoke with shared their excitement about it.
Tucked back just beyond the hotel’s fitness center was a large banquet hall in which you could find nearly every headphone on the planet presented by over 35 vendors. It felt like a college library on the eve of final exams – people everywhere and lots of indistinguishable murmuring, which has to be attributed to the quality of headphones on display.
One of the overriding thoughts about high-end headphones is that they allow younger and more financially-strapped folks to indulge in their love of quality sound without having to spend a huge amount of money or remodel their home in order to fit a new system. Joe, an attendee from Oregon, echoed the thoughts of some of the other audiophiles I chatted with. He said, “I’m not sure if it’s ageism or elitism, but a lot of the big rooms refused to let me demo their gear with my music; it’s the exact opposite in CanJam. In here, people ask you if you have your own music to test their phones!”
Being in a similar boat myself, I agree with Joe. I was absolutely delighted to find Moon Audio, an Audiogon Featured Dealer, in CanJam with an extremely involved set-up. From a wide variety of music to headphone amps to headphones, I had no qualms about sitting down and playing with different options. Just behind me, Audiogon’s President, Steve Clay was trying out some Ultimate Ears Custom In-Ear Monitors. Normally, Steve avoids close-range listening – but these, as well as other exhibitors’ phones like Cavalli Audio, are so sophisticated, his perception is changing quickly.
I spoke at length with John Peterson from Monster, you can catch a little bit of our interview below, and he also believes the perception is changing. Headphones/Earphones aren’t just for kids on the schoolbus anymore – the science and technology behind the latest high-end models gives the listener access to affordable high quality audio reproduction without waking up the whole house.
So what do you think? Is it possible to get great sound out of headphones or earphones? Do you feel that this segment will help keep the hobby going? Let us know in the comments!