Many high-performance headphone enthusiasts enjoy DIY electronics-building projects, and they are served my manufacturers like Beezar (the company was named, humorously enough, after a beloved household pet) that offer core circuit boards and parts packages or even full-on audio component kits. Examples would included Beezar’s kit for the Pete Millett/Colin Toole-designed Millett Hybrid MiniMAX headphone amp ($220), the Eric Soosalu-designed Grub DAC (a tiny inline USB “cable DAC” ($35 for parts plus PCB, or $50 for the full kit), or for an upcoming ECP Audio-designed headphone amp currently given the working title of the “L’espressivo Headphone Amp” (a cost-reduced, roughly $300 version of an amp that ECP Audio plans to sell as a fully finished product).
The German firm Beyerdynamic was proudly showing its flagship T1 Tesla headphone ($1295), which was being used as a reference ‘phone by many, many Can Jam exhibitors. In addition to the T1 Tesla, Beyerdynamic showed a host of other models, including its brand new T50P closed back headphone ($349), which uses trickle-down driver technology drawn directly from the T1 Tesla.
From the Japanese firm Blossom Audio came the BLO-0299 balanced output headphone amp ($1499), which was shown as part of the Moon Audio exhibit. The Blossom can—through Moon Audio--be ordered with an upgraded Welbourn outboard power supply module for an additional $250.
From the Australian firm came both the HA-160 headphone amp ($695) and AB-160 buffer stage ($499). Both were shown as part of the Moon Audio exhibit.
Cary product featured in exhibits both from Moon Audio and Whiplash Audio. Highlighted products included the new MS-1 Music Server ($2500), which provides 1 TB of storage, separate USB I/O and USB outboard storage interfaces, and the ability to be controlled directly from iPhones or iPads via an available app. Also shown were the Exciter Integrated ($2750), a tube-powered headphone/integrated amp with an Auto Bias circuit that enables the amp to use many different types of tubes, the Exciter DAC ($1500) featuring 32-bit internal circuitry and USB, SP/DIF, Toslink and AES inputs, and the new CD 303 T SACD player/DAC ($6500), which provides both tube and solid-state outputs and can serve as a 192/24 USB DAC. Of particular interest was Cary’s CAD-300-SEI integrated, which as offered by Moon Audio (at $6500) provides a headphone-optimized, reduced output (7Wpc), pure Class A circuit and features numerous sonic and cosmetic upgrades.
Watch for more manufacturer and product coverage in Can Jam Chicago, 2010—Part 2, coming soon.