Also new from HiFiMAN was a very ambitious new earphone called the RE-600 Songbird ($399), which is a high-end dynamic driver-based model where the driver features motor assemblies based on extremely power rare earth magnets and diaphragms made of an exotic, dual-layer, Titanium-based materials. The RE-600 also uses conductor cables made of high purity silver/copper. If it seems odd for HiFiMAN to base its top-tier earphone on a single dynamic driver (where many manufacturers are instead using multiple balanced armature drivers), note that no less an earphone authority than Sennheiser has just made a similar choice with its new flagship IE 800 earphone.
Jaben is a fascinating, international distributor/retailer of a very wide range of headphones, earphones, and headphone-related electronics. A cursory look at Jaben’s brand list is most impressive, because the firms sells products from Alessandro, Audio-Technica, Beyerdynamic, CEntrance, Corda, Crossroads, EarSonics, Feels Electronics, Final Audio Design, FutureSonics, Goldring, GoVibe, Grado, Graham Slee, Hippo, Hippocase, Klipsch, Koss, Ordnance, Phonak Audeo, Radius, Sennheiser, and Sony. For Can-Jam, though, the firm focused on showing small portable electronics products from two of its suppliers: GoVibe and Hippo.
I don’t have space to cover in detail all of the models shown at Can Jam but a small smattering would include the GoVibe PortaTube+ tube-powered headphone amp with 24/96 DAC (we didn’t catch the price, but the amp-only PortaVibe sells for $658), the GoVibe Vest+ portable solid state amp with built-in 24/192 DAC ($438), the Hippo Biscuit MP3 player, and the Hippo Cricri+ portable headphone amp with 24/96 USB DAC ($168).
JH Audio is one of the world’s premier makers of custom-fit in-ear monitors, but for Can-Jam the firm’s biggest news was not so much a new product but a new technology that dramatically improves the firm’s two top-tier monitors: the JH 13 PRO ($1099) and JH 16 PRO ($1149). The technology to which I refer is JH’s new freqphase time/phase alignment waveguide (patents pending), and here’s why it is significant.
Like many custom-fit IEM makers, JH Audio is a proponent of using multiple balanced armature drivers in its monitors: six per earpiece in the JH 13 PRO and eight per earpiece in the JH 16 PRO. Through careful design it is a relatively straightforward matter to give these monitors smooth, even frequency (or amplitude) response. However, achieving optimal time/phase coherency has—until now—proven a much more difficult problem to solve, with earpieces typically exhibiting substantial phase shifts over the audio spectrum.
With its new Jerry Harvey-developed freqphase waveguide, however, JH Audio is now able to give its top models exceptionally smooth, even phase coherent response from 20Hz on up to 20kHZ. Can you really hear the difference? Judging by what I heard from a demo set of new-generation JH 16 PRO’s at Can-Jam as compared to the sound of my personal, earlier-generation pair of JH 16 PRO’s I would say the difference is audible, large in magnitude, and entirely beneficial. Expect a full review of the next-generation JH 16 PRO within the next several months.