Okay, so I’ve been in the audio hobby for about four years by now. However, it wasn’t until February of this year that I got to attend my first audio meet, and it was none other than CanJam NYC 2023.
Spoiler Alert: as an audio enthusiast, I had a fantastic time at CanJam and now I’m really wondering why I had not attended sooner. After all, audio meets provide a very unique opportunity to really immerse yourself in the audio hobby as you’ll be surrounded by fellow enthusiasts, manufacturers and designers, as well as rare audio gear that you might otherwise miss out on trying! So, what I wish to share with you in this article are some of the tips I learned as a newcomer to audio meets, should you be interested in attending one (which I highly encourage).
Before getting started, I just wanted to point out that if what you’re looking for is Headphones.com’s recap of CanJam, you can check out this video on The Headphone Show Youtube channel.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
Plan Your Visit
Once you get to CanJam things can get pretty overwhelming very quickly, as there will be many exhibits throughout the showfloor, as well as a lot of people, particularly on the first day of the show. So, before the actual show begins, think about what your goal is when attending the convention: Are there specific people you want to meet or hang out with? Are there any products that you really want to try out?
Figuring out what your intentions for CanJam are ahead of time will certainly help you in getting the most out of your time there, as it’ll allow you to manage your time around the show more efficiently. Some resources I encourage you to check out ahead of the show to aid you in planning your visit are manufacturer and retailers’ social media channels, as they’ll often announce ahead of time if they’re attending the show and give you an idea what products they might be showing off, and you could also check out Head-Fi’s (the event organizers) YouTube channel and forums for the complete list of exhibits, as well as the floor plans that’ll detail where each station at the show will be set up.
Spending Time With Your Favorite Gear
Obviously one of the main draws for attending an event like CanJam is the fact that there will be a lot of gear available for you to try. Now, it’s very likely that during the show there will be a specific piece of gear that you’ll want to get the most listening time on; maybe it’s something that you’ve been looking forward to trying out, or it could be something that just really impressed you while you were there. In any case, chances are that other folk will also want to listen to that gear.
This might seem pretty obvious, but from my experience it was best to save the gear that I wanted to listen to most for the show's slow hours or downtime. The slower periods, in which there were significantly less attendants present at the show, were during lunch time and around the time doors closed for the day. So my suggestion would be to save the gear you want to listen to most for those periods where less people are around–don’t forget to have lunch, or at least have some snacks, though! Also worth noting that, generally, day two of the show is less busy than day one, and does allow you to more freely try out stuff and speak with vendors at the show.
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Keep An Open Mind
Ok, so this tip really ties into the previous one, since by “keeping an open mind” I mean that even though you might have a perfect plan for trying out the gear you want most, do allow yourself to experience as many things as you can that you wouldn’t normally seek. A personal example of this for me was trying out the various electrostatic headphones available for testing at the show; they’re not usually something I’m into, but someone insisted that I try them and my mind was absolutely blown– you can even see my reaction to those headphones in this video (hint: now I want Stax)! So, if you’re at the show and the gear you want to try out is not immediately available, I highly encourage you to check out all the other amazing stuff that may be on display at CanJam–you never know what may surprise you.
Don’t Be Shy
I don’t know about other CanJam attendees, but in my opinion, what’s most special about CanJam is really the interactions. It’s truly an experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the audio hobby and share it with many, many people who are just as passionate as you. From chatting IEMs, to tube amps, to ear pads, frequency response graphs, and everything else in between CanJam is an opportunity to express what audio is for you; be it by chatting with vendors, reviewers, or other CanJam attendees!
Speaking on my personal experience and even considering that I’m an introvert, I’d say that my dearest memories from my time at CanJam came from chatting with the many journalists that go to the show, speaking with the designers of some of my favorite products, as well as getting to know many of the folks who watch our YouTube videos on The Headphone Show!