Impressions Can Jam Europe 2016

Discussion in 'The Meeting Place' started by Deep Funk, Sep 24, 2016.

  1. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    This thread exists to share impressions and experiences of Can Jam Europe 2016.

    Today is Saturday, the first day of Can Jam 2016. Expect some descriptions and some pictures.
     
  2. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    Impressions Saturday 24-09-2016.

    For everything here keep one thing in mind. I randomly checked most things out. I was either curious or recommend. Sometimes I did not write down the amplifier or set-up components.

    AKG K340 (Sepinho's!)
    A bit wonky, good midrange, fun.

    Stax SR-L500 Pro + SRM700t II.
    This is good, so lifelike sound.

    Stax SR-L300 + SRM-353X
    Very rich and clear midrange.

    Serious' HD800 modified (his own set-up)
    Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing" sounded on point.

    Pioneer Master
    Great build quality, a bit of low-end emphasis, sounds almost flat, not very 3D though. 2000 Euros! No!!!

    AKG K872 + Violectric HPA V200
    Looks closed, sounds closed; a bit warmish, great midrange, 3D-ish sound. AKG magic.

    Focal Elear + NAC-N272
    On par with at least the HD600; does not wow me, very good though. Open design, semi-closed sound due to the ear pads.

    Beyerdynamic T1 gen II + Beyerdynamic A2 amplifier
    Very comfortable, all-round very good; a but U-shaped in sound. Sharpish treble sometimes present; in general smooth but watch out for "loudness" in certain recordings: very sensitive.

    Focal Utopia + Naim Headline + DAC + SuperCap DR
    For some reason this headphone sounds just right; a 40mm driver headphone sounds this good: this is awesome. Sounds more open and more even than the Elear.

    German Maestro 435S
    Good and even sound, forward midrange.

    German Maestro 400
    Okay, even almost bland sound.

    German Maestro 450 Pro
    Very flat sound, I like this one. More even sounding than the 435S.

    German Maestro 8.300
    I almost want one.

    Sennheiser HE1 - Sunday !
    ...

    Modified K701 + Beta 22
    Good even sound, Metal sounds awesome. This is a lot of headphone.

    Grado PS500SE + Fosgate Signature
    Vinyl source! Too bad there is only Jazz. The PS500SE sounds great with Jazz: good midrange, amazing vocals (almost shouty) but smooth sounding in general.

    Modified HD650 @trung225 , amazing set up!
    + Valhalla 2 + Gungir + streamed USB-audio
    Trung told me he wanted a more open sound with a bit more highs. The music sounds alive: smooth and powerful sound.

    NAD RP18 + (Sepinho's) Bravo Amp + (my) Sansa Fuze
    Sounds okay, needs power and EQ to wake up. Without EQ it is mostly upper bass, midrange and highs. It can handle Trance after some adjustments (more EQ sub bass!).

    LCD2 + Weiss DAC501
    Warmish, low-end emphasis, rich almost forward midrange and smooth sound. To warmish for me sometimes, lively sound.

    HifiMan HE-1000 mark I+ Jan Meier's monster amp (balanced Cardas cables)
    This is a real pleasure: smooth and powerful sound, very even and the details are lively. I like this headphone.

    HD800S + Jan Meier's monster amp (balanced Cardas cables)
    The Helmholzresonator-headphone, it sounds upgraditis good to me.

    AKG K182
    Closed sound, okay midrange and pretty even sound in general with ample of bass. More comfortable than expected, good ear pads.

    Nota Bene!
    I kept my notes short because auditioning conditions were not optimal.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2016
  3. Thenewerguy009

    Thenewerguy009 Friend

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  4. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    Nope, it hardly leaks due to its closed construction and leather-ish (I think) ear pads. Audition it before you buy it because well it is a warmish sounding headphone and for some people it can sound just right and for some people too much. It reminded me of the Sextett sound and I happen to kind of like that.
     
  5. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    Thad E Ginathom and trung225 like this.
  6. trung225

    trung225 Almost "Made"

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    My impressions of Canjam Europe:

    1. Focal Utopia
    I have two reasons to go to Canjam 2016: meeting with SBAF's and Hifi-forums's members and hearing Focal Utopia. In Canjam Europe, I heard Utopia in two different table, one by Stereoplay and one by Focal. Stereoplay's combo is very good, but since I don't know much about the music they play, so I can't comment more. Focal's combo is, well, amazing. The upstream for Focal Utopia contains Naim CDP and Headline Amplifier, and they really make the Utopia sing. There are 5 Classical samples in their test CD, and thanks to that, I can give a proper impression about the Utopia.
    I chose the fifth movement from Berlioz's Symphony Fantastique "Dream of the Night of the Sabbath" as my reference test. Utopia (and its upstream) presents the music with a wide soundstage, almost as good as @Serious 's HD800 mod and Ragnarok. Macro dynamic is amazing too. But what I impression most is how it handle detail and microdynamic in treble. One of the most unique of this music is the use of turbular bell. Having heard at least three times in live concert and countless times on records, the rendition of tubular bell on Utopia for me is the most "real" I have heard compared to live concert. Tonality is great too. And another good thing about Utopia is their forgiveness with Amplifier. Naim Headlike is definitely not a high end headamp but Utopia still sounds great on it.I think the hype of Utopia is well-deserved, and if one has enough money and wants a end game headphone, Otopia will be the choice. But for me,if I have 4000$ for audio, I prefer to invest it on speakers rather than headphones.

    2. AudioValve Luminare headphone amplifier (using my HD650 mod)
    Well, it is better than my Valhalla 2. It has more open and airy sounding, pretty noise-free, nice channel balance and better slam. Actually, as a headphones amp, I think I prefer it to Schiit Ragnarok when pairing with my HD650. The only complain for me is the DAC built-in, which made the treble sound little bit off for me. Base on the description (PCM up to 384kHz and DSD up to DSD128), I suspect it uses ES9018 or the like. A great headamp (not with DAC) but too pricey (4200€)

    3. hd-klassik Headphones Optimizer
    Well, a rational thought. A Class A Headphones Amplifier with built-in analog equalizer. I have heard the Stax headphone with/without it and it really do something good, more open sounding and better instrument clarity. I like their idea but 2000-3000€ is too much

    4. Eternal Arts
    I don't give much attention to their amplifier but really like their source, Nagra Tape recorder.

    5. Small comparison with gears from @Serious and me
    a. Ragnarok vs Valhalla 2 (my source + Gungnir Multibit + my HD650 mod): Technically, Ragnarok is better in almost every way, wider and higher soundstage, instrument clarity, more macro details and espacially macro dynamic. Hearing the moment when the orchestra go full force on Ragnarok is mind-blowing, compared to that, Valhalla 2 sounds compressed. Valhalla 2 is almost equal in stage depth, micro dynamic and micro details. But Val 2 still has one thing Rag doesn't have, "the heart".
    When I heard a solo violin play of the slow movement from Tchaikovsky's violin concerto, the Rag only gives me a clean, clear violin sounding. On the other hand, with Val 2, I really can feel the tenderness, the sadness of the music. Yeah, it is sentimental as f**k, and I know that effect is a result of (positive) distortion from tube, but that is how I feel.

    b. HD800 mod and HD650 mod, (my source + Gungnir Multibit + Ragnarok) : I prefer HD800 mod over my HD650 mod. It has better soundstage, better clarity, more resolving which is a real plus on my music. Tonality I still like my HD650 mod more though.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2016
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  7. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    Serious measured the Utopia today. Check out his impressions later today.
     
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  8. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    Beautiful pictures and really nice, pithy, to-the-point captions

    :bow:

    Again, short but sweet, with really good real-music examples

    :bow:
     
  9. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    I just auditioned the Sennheiser HE1 system, still a prototype. It is amazing. I tried some more headphones today and will post them later.

    The Sennheiser HE1 system is something else.
     
  10. sepinho

    sepinho Friend

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    Thank you all for coming, I had a blast at CJE16 and it was great to see the SBAF and hifi-forum.de communities join forces.
    That and I finally had the opportunity to actually try stuff at the event. Already looking forward to 2017!
     
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  11. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    Did you enjoy the Sennheiser HE1 system (prototype)? I hope the Sennheiser guys gave you extra time.
     
  12. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    Can Jam Europe impressions 25-09-2106

    The auditioning conditions were not ideal. Sometimes I was lucky but usually I only had 2 or 3 minutes to focus.

    Stax Stand:

    Stax SR-L700 Pro + SRM-006tS
    I thought the L500 was good. This is so much better. That midrange sounds rich, spacious and lifelike. This is a real pleasure. My feet are tapping, that is a good sign.

    Stax SR-009 + SRS007 mark II + Stream Box RS
    The Eagles' "Hotel California" is playing. I am lucky. If I had the budget and a dedicated audio room yes this would keep me happy. Fuck this is awesome. I am going to listen to the entire song. This makes me smile...

    Stax SR007 Reference mark II + SRM-272 II + Stream Box RS
    Slightly different from the 009. Sounds a bit warmer, more bass, less airy sound. More weight to the sound. Again the Eagles. The entire song and my feet are tapping. I like this headphone more than the 009.

    Qobuz Stand:

    KEF M500 + Pioneer XDP 100R + 24bits/88.2 kHz FLAC
    Daft Punk''s "Giorgo by Moroder" plays. This sounds a bit better than CD. This track is awesome. The M500 sounds bassy, decent midrange, smooth and detailed enough. Closed sound, just spacious enough in sound.

    P.S. I love the Qobuz service. They really know what they are doing. I am going to try out their services for their music library and FLAC availability alone.

    HD Klassik Stand:

    Sennheiser HD700 + HD Klassik Optimizer A2XL (analogue!) + DSD source
    Red modus = no EQ --> smooth sound, warmish and very comfortable but underwhelming.
    Green modus = with EQ --> sounds like a Sennheiser with a clean AKG midrange, much better.

    Sennheiser HD800 + HD Klassik Optimizer Pro 416-1 (analogue!) + DSD source
    Red modus = no EQ --> organ music is playing, sounds too bassy, okay sound but underwhelming.
    Green modus = with EQ --> flatter sounding midrange and smooth detailed highs. A stock HD800 can sound pretty bad.

    P.S. I did not and still do not trust the source for this guy's set up. His analogue solution is impressive but I do not trust the source. My ears told me something sounded off.

    KEF Stand:

    KEF M400 + Pioneer XDP 100R + Qobuz application
    Okay midrange, quite bassy, U-shaped but detailed enough to be enjoyable. Daft Punk's "Too Long" is playing and my feet are tapping, this is a fun headphone. EQ is flat. Good design, I am impressed.

    KEF M500 + Pioneer XDP 100R + Qobuz application
    Dub Colossus' "Dub Me Tender" is playing. Bassy with a better midrange and better extension to the highs. Good detail, decent isolation. A fun headphone with good sound. Not the most spacious sounding, on-ear design. It can handle Metal and Pink Floyd too, a pleasant surprise.

    Audioquest Stand:

    Audioquest Nighthawk (leather pads) + Lehmann Audio Linear + Burmeister CD-player
    Tool's "Forty Six & 2" is playing. This is good. Semi-closed sound, everything sounds on point, really on point. I felt like head-banging, that is a good sign.

    Audioquest Nightowl (textile pads) + Lehmann Audio Linear + Burmeister CD-player
    The same Tool song. Awesome closed sound and still everything sounds on point. I really like how the Nightowl sounds. Watch out with the volume though. Accurate and fun can mix so well.

    Nightowl (textile pads) + Red Dragonfly + MacBook running Tidal
    Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" is playing. My feet are tapping, this is good.

    Nightowl (textile pads) + MacBook running Tidal
    Faithless' "God Is A DJ" plays. This sounds fine I guess.

    Nightowl (textile pads) + Red Dragonfly + MacBook running Tidal
    Again the Faithless song. Sounds cleaner, easier to set the volume. Comparison conditions were not ideal.

    Sennheiser Stand

    Sennheiser HE1 System (prototype) + MacBook
    No Dire Straits available so yeah Daft Punk's "Too Long" plays. It sounds good, very good. Now MJ's "Thriller" and it sounds so on point.

    This headphone system puzzles me by its effortless sound. This sounds Stax-level good but I like this Sennheiser more than the 009 and 007.

    I am short on words and time. This headphone system sounds truly awesome.

    Next, the pictures...
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2016
  13. Serious

    Serious Inquisitive Frequency Response Plot

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    Focal Utopia (vs. HD800X)

    Managed to get a lot of time with the Utopia, a lot of it on my own Gungnir/Rag setup. The Utopia was the main thing I focused on for this CanJam.
    It only had the stock cable, so I used an adapter with my HD800 for my comparisons.
    Utopia+HD800X.jpg
    As you can see, my secret special HD800 is white (glossy) with orange rings.
    At this point I also want to thank Klaus Laumann from stereoplay for letting me steal the Utopia and listen to it on my own rig.

    Let's get one thing out of the way right away. In this pic you can see my two favorite headphones regardless of type.


    The Utopia is really fantastic. While I really didn't like the Elear, the Utopia is very different.
    However, like the Elear, I found them to have a special tuning, but I found it better integrated overall and more together sounding. The Utopia sounds less weird than the Elear, but they are certainly going for a house sound. Until someone finds a better name I propose to call it the "Focal shout (of war)" or the "Harman reference curve".

    I wore the Utopia slightly further down and forward like with most headphones, but so that there was still some space between the back of my ears and the earpads. The opening isn't as big as something like the HD800 and from memory I had slightly more space for different positions with the Elear, but there's some room to change the tonality and staging.

    Once again I don't really agree with the coupler measurements and think the in-ear method better captures the perceived tonal balance (mainly midrange) for me (measurememts later). And while we're at it, I thought the tonality, while not without issues, was significantly more neutral than the Elear. The Utopia does have a very noticeable 1k bump, but it seems more focused than on the Elear giving it a more "nasal" rather than shouty characteristic. One could argue the Focal is more "Français" sounding while the Sennheiser is more "Deutsch" sounding. Overall it was much less bothersome to me than the Elear midrange. Compared to the fundamentals region, the bass was clearly emphasized and like with the Elear the bass extension here was much better than the HD800X. Don't worry, the Utopia isn't a bass cannon and I'd say it's nicely integrated and balances out the 1.5k emphasis. I find the Utopia and HD800X strive for a similar target, but the HD800 is overall slightly smoother sounding.
    Especially the 200-5kHz midrange region is simply much more neutral on the HD800. The Utopia sounds laid back in the fundamentals region, with a dip after the 1.5k emphasis and then again a bump from 4-6kHz. Instruments and vocals just take on a much more natural tone with the modded HD800.

    Where the Utopia beats the HD800 is clarity and speed, but there are a number of things that are more important to me (otherwise I'd have an SR009). Actually it's probably on par with the SR009 in terms of clarity, but I wonder how much of that effect is due to the frequency response. @Bill-P mentioned that bumping up 1kHz can make something sound very fast and I felt the frequency response emphasized the "dynamic" parts of the music, making it sound more dynamic. I would like to spend some time EQing it to see if this is actually a function of frequency response or the driver. I suspect it's both. The Utopia is a little more sensitive than the HD800. I think it was about 5 clicks on the Ragnarok.

    HD800 might be more resolving, but Utopia is clearer. HD800 sounds more grey. Things pop more with the Utopia, but overall I felt that very soft claps on Hotel California stood out more as their reverb decayed on the HD800. It's really hard to tell which one is more resolving in show conditions and I would like to give the Utopia another listen in better conditions and with a better source than my Gungnir and with an XLR connector on the Utopia. For a perfectly fair fight I'd also like to see both with the same cable. I'm pretty sure the Utopia cable sounds better than the HD800 stock cable. In any case I felt that these two were the two most resolving transducers I heard regardless of type (plankton).
    I'm not sure if I remember correctly, but I also think the Utopia had slightly more isolation higher up giving it a slight advantage here (in noisy show conditions) and when putting it on the head I thought you could hear the same nasal coloration. This means it's most likely an earpads tuning thing.

    The Utopia treble is a little hard to describe for me. It certainly has a bump around 5-6kHz not too unlike the HD800, but it's shifted lower in frequency than the HD800 with more emphasis around 4kHz. It also doesn't sound nearly as bright as the stock HD800, but I thought it's less smooth than my modded HD800. This was a dealbreaker for me on a nasty Sabre DAC/AMP combo, but wasn't a big issue on my rig. I had less issues on the same nasty Sabre DAC/AMP with my modded HD800, but I could still clearly hear the SABRE sound. Both the Utopia and the HD800 are very picky about gear and I actually liked them best from my Schiit stack (from the limited gear that I tried and compared), even when only using the Rag SE output. Higher up I feel the treble on my HD800 is more present, while the Utopia drops off slightly here. The Utopia sounds more emphasized in the lower treble while the HD800 sounds like it has more mid- and upper-treble energy and generally a more neutral balance. I would characterize both as neutral leaning towards bright in an overall sense. I felt like the Utopia had another (less severe) trouble spot in the mid-treble, similar to the Elear but much less problematic. My measurements (like Marv's) show a slight resonance at 8kHz, which is what I feel I heard. Overall I had more issues with the Utopia at loud volumes than with my HD800. To give some perspective I would say the Utopia treble is smoother than a HD800 with combined SBAF and SD (and cork) mods from memory.

    I feel the two major downsides to the Utopia are the weird midrange tonality and the Focal Beryllium coloration. I could never stand the treble on the Focal speakers and the Utopia headphones are easier on my ears. It's a certain sound that never quite goes away. Probably helps that the headphones don't have a crossover in the way. I don't really know how to describe it but I heard the HD800 treble as being less fuzzy and more distinct sounding. Sibilance was generally presented more naturally with the modded HD800. I feel the HD800 driver is very low in coloration and puts itself nicely between a soft dome and a hard dome sound. In any case I'm probably used to the HD800 driver coloration, but going from another great headphone like the Utopia to the HD800 does show that the HD800 isn't free from intrinsic colorations. I feel the HD800 driver is more damped sounding.
    The Utopia on the other hand has a "hard dome" sound. I didn't mention this before but this also gives it a crazy hard hitting bass. I feel the bass is of a higher quality than (most) planars. No estat can dream of hitting this hard, but both the Utopia and the HD800 do start to distort and become more blurry at higher volumes. Not sure which one is "better" here, but the Utopia does have much better bass extension so I'd probably pick that. Low bass also causes the Utopia to move more on the head.
    (For those who don't believe that the HD800 driver is smoother sounding, I would advise you to wait until @Bill-P finishes his HD800 driver transplant project. I find the HD800 driver just draws less attention to itself.)

    Now many of the HD800 fans fear that the Utopia won't match the HD800 in terms of soundstaging/imaging. The Utopia does have more intimate staging than my modded HD800, but has good depth in relation to its width. The Utopia is special in that, because it sounds like it has a blacker background than the HD800, it manages to make the individual images sound more distinct. The HD800 can image more precisely, but can also project more diffuse images at the same time, which I think is a more realistic representation of the recording. But overall I prefer the Utopia imaging to every other over-ear headphone I can think of, including the stock HD800(S). I didn't really miss the HD800X's staging when I listened to the Utopia. When you listen to the Utopia, its staging and imaging just seem to make sense.


    In the end I felt that the HD800 and Utopia are complementary. At the moment the Utopia is the only other headphone I'd consider next to my HD800. It's really a matter of personal preferences.


    Non-Sound stuff:
    I like the way the Utopia looks and feels. The only headphone that actually feels like it's worth 4k. Feels more expensive than the HD800. This one also didn't squeak as much as Tyll's. It's a little heavy, but not too bothersome. I did feel the HD800 was more comfortable, but the Utopia (like the Elear) is a very comfortable headphone for me. What I didn't like was that the glossy black surface seems to attract fingerprints a lot.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2016
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  14. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

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    Wow, thanks Serious. I got the taste as I had just critically listened to Utopia myself.
     
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  15. TwoEars

    TwoEars Friend

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    @Serious

    That's pretty much the best "review" of the Utopia I've read so far. Modded HD800 is my benchmark so very interesting. Thanks!

    Interesting that you think the Utopia beats the HD800 for clarity and speed, beacuse the HD800 is certainly no slouch in those departments. Must be that super light Be driver and coil.
     
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  16. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    All the good photos are now online. It took a while.

    Inserting the images is too much hassle. The galleries are publicly available on 500PX.

    Gallery day one: https://500px.com/florast7/galleries/can-jam-europe-2016

    Gallery day two: https://500px.com/florast7/galleries/can-jam-europe-2016-day-2

    Personal highlighs of Can Jam Europe 2016.
    • Meeting Sepinho again and catching up. He and his wife have done an amazing job.
    • Letting Sepinho audition the KSC75 and PortaPro. He understands now.
    • Meeting my fellow audio nerds who made this event a blast.
    • Serious' HD800M for short.
    • Trung's HD650.
    • I finally understand the fuss about Stax.
    • Sennheiser's HE1 System (prototype) is really something special.
    • Auditioned the DragonFly and spoke with the Audioquest guys, such a cool company.
    • Meeting Jan Meier. Amazing man who still loves the hobby and even apologised for not having the 1985 CD of "Brothers In Arms." He had the 1992 copy with him.
    • Speaking with the Pioneer dude. A Monitor 5 is in the works he told me, but I doubt they will price it well.
    • Qobuz, that service is exactly what I have been looking for, for years.
    • The Sennheiser HD800S and Audioquest Nightowl almost gave me upgraditis again.
    • The Focal Utopia, amazing thing but I have my HD600. That HD600 is not going and does not cost 4000 Euros.
     
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  17. sepinho

    sepinho Friend

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    Will post gear impressions later tonite, kids permitting.

    But yeah, I had a blast. Awesome to meet you again @Deep Funk, always a pleasure. Fun to hang out with the enthusiast crowd. After four years, we seem to have finally found the right solution for a proper community area at the event.

    But I cannot stress enough that this was 95 % my wife's work, her team shares the remaining 4.9 %, I contributed .1 % at most, as I was only there to help out. Basically, all I did was watch over the community area. And even that was fairly easy, given that there was always somebody there. This was actually the first CJE where I got to try (most of) the stuff I wanted to try.
     
  18. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    You are a lucky man. To share your hobby with your partner and set something like Can Jam Europe up. I mean it started with almost nothing in Berlin.
     
    Thad E Ginathom and sepinho like this.
  19. Wilson

    Wilson Socially Anxious Volleyball

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    @Deep Funk , well done with your photos. Makes me feel like a child entering a newly opened candy store!
     
  20. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    It was candy land for audio nerds. Too much candy to handle...
     
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