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CanJam NYC 2023: High-End Audio Has A Future — Just Not The One Some Companies Envision

CanJam NYC 2023 was a resounding success. A game changing event that proves high-end audio needs to evolve or miss a golden opportunity.

Crowd at CanJam NYC 2023

High-end audio has a rather bright future if it learns anything from what transpired this weekend in NYC. Long live Head-Fi. Those who take exception to that statement were not present at CanJam NYC 2023 this weekend. Having covered more than 100 consumer A/V shows going back to 1998, I’m willing to call the “Bedlam on Broadway” this weekend the best Hi-Fi show I have ever attended for a myriad of reasons.

CanJam NYC 2022 was the first of its kind in the post-pandemic world, but with the exception of the venue and city — the 2023 NYC CanJam was a completely different event.

I left New Jersey at 7 a.m so that I could be one of the first inside at 10 a.m on a very cold Jersey Shore morning. NJ Transit had other plans. Nothing like a 45-minute delay in the cold on the exposed Long Branch train platform.

CanJam’s Ethan Opolion and I have been friends for years and he looked slightly bemused when I came off the escalator on the 6th floor — five minutes after the show had already started.

“It’s already nuts inside,” he remarked as we shook hands.

“It just started,” I replied.

“This year is different,” he shot back.

Attendee at Focal / Naim booth at CanJam NYC 2023

Bedlam on Broadway

CanJam events can look and feel very busy because the show exhibitors usually cram the event into a large ballroom or series of large hotel rooms on a few floors. The 2020 NYC CanJam took place only weeks before the COVID lockdowns and the absence of Chinese companies was a huge loss to the show and it left a number of empty tables in the ballroom. The show wasn’t a huge success.

Skip forward to 2022 and we had a relatively good show even with the masks, sanitizer, and COVID testing. Some people got sick during the show and post-event, but it was still a welcome return to normal life for most of the vendors and attendees. Russia had just invaded Ukraine and I spent the hour before the show with the Meze Audio team who had made it in from Romania. Meze’s manufacturing partners are based in Lviv, Ukraine, and some of the staff had already been conscripted into the army to fight in the war.

Meze Audio did not have a booth at CanJam NYC 2023 which was surprising, but their headphones were being used all over the show.

Attendee at HiFiMAN booth at CanJam NYC 2023

Nobody really knew what to expect this weekend, but to say that the attendance on Saturday was record breaking for any CanJam event would be understating it.

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Having attended 8 CanJams over the past 7 years and many more Head-Fi events in different parts of the country, it’s become very clear that our industry has an “enthusiasm” gap. 

What do you mean Ian? Did you not see the crowds last weekend in Tampa? So many older white men came to listen to the same products that you guys write about. All of you. Every single magazine.

Attendee at Ampandsound booth at CanJam NYC 2023

Having attended consumer A/V shows for almost 25 years — none of them compared to the enthusiastic sea of humanity that descended on #CanJamNYC2023 on Saturday.

White, Indian, Hispanic, African-American, Asian, Muslim Women in Hijabs. 

25-45 year-olds who love music. But not the way we’ve sold it for the past 4 decades. The lines were endless yesterday, so I took advantage of the time to ask questions. 

Why are you here? What do you own? What would you buy in the future? 


“I want to take my music with me.”

“High-end audio products are too expensive and don’t appeal to me.”

“More headphones.”

“Desktop amplifiers and DACs.”

“Wireless loudspeakers.”

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Attendee at RME booth at CanJam NYC 2023

Pay attention manufacturers. If you think these people are the future buyers of your $40,000 amplifiers and speakers — think again.

Some will. The majority don’t share your views.

Some will argue with me that the Head-Fi crowd are just a giant clique of Millennials who just want to enjoy music as a solitary pursuit and that they will eventually see the light and buy huge stacks of high-end equipment. 

The past 5 decades of audiophiles have been predominantly men who wanted a “solitary” listening experience. 

Those huge stacks of high-end equipment are going on their desks.

Including the awesome dCS stack.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jase Ponce

    March 1, 2023 at 9:16 am

    very informative articles or reviews at this time.

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