SSI 2010

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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 26, 2010 2 comments
SSI 2010 also marks the North American debut of the active-suspension, self-powered DSPeaker Servo loudspeaker ($3500/pair), designed and manufactured in Finland and distributed in the US by Simplifi Audio. Lead designer Toni Liitola explained that the use of Active Suspension Compliance Management works to tame acoustical and mechanical non-linearities of the driver/enclosure system, while DSP-based waveform shaping enables a “transient-perfect sound.” The Servo uses Seas drivers made to DSPeaker’s specifications; internal amplifiers are made in-house. In addition, the speaker’s built-in Anti-Mode room correction eliminates room resonance, allowing the speaker to be placed almost anywhere in a room. In support of his claims, Liitola was happy to share several waterfall plots and step-response graphs.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 26, 2010 0 comments
The DSPeaker Servo loudspeaker ($3500/pair) is also available in matte white finish. Here, we see a rear view. The speaker cabinets are made of MDF and feature several different internal damping materials.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 26, 2010 2 comments
With the Joseph Audio Pulsar ($7000/pair), introduced at the 2009 CES, Jeff Joseph’s goal was to turn his top-of-the-line Pearl into “a convenient, single-serving size speaker with real bass slam.” The Pearl’s 1” tweeter is mated to a magnesium-done woofer made by Seas to Joseph’s specs. Joseph explained that the Pulsar is designed to radiate sound evenly over a very wide angle to avoid wave interference, and make for simple placement and good sound throughout the listening room.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 26, 2010 3 comments
Here's another view of Jeff Joseph's beautiful Pulsar loudspeaker ($7000/pair), finished in Pommele Sapele.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 26, 2010 0 comments
Hathor Acoustik takes its name from the Ancient Egyptian goddess said to have the ability to “cure humanity with her song,” explained designer Luc Allair (right). Salon Son & Image 2010 presents the debut of Hathor’s Reference loudspeaker ($20,000 CAN). Partnered with an elegant, all-Naim system, including CDX2 player, NAC 252 preamp, and NAP 250 amplifier, the Hathors produced a warm, inviting sound, marked by an especially wide and deep soundstage and fleshy, well-focused images.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 26, 2010 4 comments
Hathor Acoustik takes its name from the Ancient Egyptian goddess said to have the ability to “cure humanity with her song,” explained designer Luc Allair (right). Salon Son & Image 2010 presents the debut of Hathor’s Reference loudspeaker ($20,000 CAN). Partnered with an elegant, all-Naim system, including CDX2 player, NAC 252 preamp, and NAP 250 amplifier, the Hathors produced a warm, inviting sound, marked by an especially wide and deep soundstage and fleshy, well-focused images.
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Robert Deutsch Posted: Mar 26, 2010 0 comments
Faithful readers of these show report blogs may recall that last year I missed the Toronto–Montreal train I was scheduled to take, and had to wait two hours for the next one. This year, I was determined that history was not going to repeat itself, and I ended up getting to the train station nearly an hour before the train's departure. Maybe next year I'll find a happy compromise. . .
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 26, 2010 2 comments
I walked into the Reference 3A room to be greeted by an impressive orchestral piece. I heard massed strings and scintillating cymbal crashes and booming percussion, all presented with great impact, drama, and scale. Speakers were the Reference 3A Grand Veena ($7995/pair), rated at 89dB efficiency and utilizing five “seamlessly integrated drivers,” including a Murata Exciter for the highest frequencies. Designer Tash Goka explained that the angle of the Grand Veena’s front baffle and the precise positioning of the speaker’s drivers work together to achieve a coherent phase response.
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John Atkinson Posted: Mar 26, 2010 3 comments
Like Art Dudley below, I started my first day at SSI at the Coup de Foudre room featuring DeVore speakers and Leben amplification. And like Art, I was impressed by the sound, listening to LPs of Skip James and Gil Scott-Heron. (John and Jonathan never play audiophile favorites.) And note the judicious use of the hotel's bed heads, usually hanging on the wall, in front of the window alcove to tame the room acoustics. Good Show sound benefits from the prepared mind—or something.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 26, 2010 0 comments
The Antique Sound Lab AQ 1001 Mk.II integrated amplifier ($1995) did a fine job of driving Reference 3A’s Grand Veena loudspeakers to concert hall levels. The AQ 1001 Mk.II is rated to deliver 50W in pentode mode and 25W in triode mode, and offers manual bias adjustment for each tube. The latest incarnation of this long-standing design incorporates new output transformers with no negative feedback and a choke-regulated power supply for “a faster and more dynamic sound,” Reference 3A’s Tash Goka told me.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 26, 2010 1 comments
I started my day the right way: listening to a good LP of acoustic music. In one of three Coup de Foudre rooms I listened to Skip James's final album on a system comprising the new Brinkmann DD turntable (price TBD) with an EMT TSD 15 fineline phono cartridge ($1800), Auditorium 23 step-up transformer ($995), Leben RS30 EQ moving-magnet phono preamp ($2595), Leben CS300 XS integrated amplifier ($3495), and DeVore Fidelity 3XL loudspeakers ($3700/pair without stands), the latter of which were capable of allowing the music to sound surprisingly, delightfully big. Cables were all by Auditorium 23, and the source and amplification components were supported by a typically beautiful Sapele rack from the Box Furniture company.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 26, 2010 15 comments
Of one room I can honestly say: The sound pulled me in. A succession of convincingly deep, tactile drumbeats caught my ear, and I followed the thwacks to Cabasse, where the Sphère ($150,000/pair, more or less, and reviewed by Michael Fremer a year or so back) held court, driven by Cabasse's own Bel Canto-sourced amps; the Cabasse outboard digital crossover; and McIntosh's C2300 preamp and MCD500 SACD/CD player. No less impressive was Christophe Cabasse himself (left), who patiently led me through the Sphère's impressive technical background—in English, I'm thankful to say. Monsieur Cabasse also reminded me that his company celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, having been founded by Georges Cabasse (père) all the way back in 1960.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 26, 2010 9 comments
Next door to Cabasse, Samuel and Jean-Pierre of L'Atelier-Audio had somewhat less English—and my command of French is virtually non-existent. But I had no trouble understanding the music played through their Ocellia Calliope 30 Twin Signature loudspeakers (exhibited in pre-production form, price TBD), driven by their Quaero 300B push-pull amps ($15,000/pair) and Quaero Signature preamp ($9000). As with all Ocellia loudspeakers, the very efficient Calliope 30 Twins use high-sensitivity drivers from the French company Phy, and the exquisitely beautiful cabinets are built with intentionally very thin walls, braced in a manner not unlike a guitar or violin, and equipped with an adjustable port/open baffle system for matching the loudspeaker to the volume of air in the listening room. The performance was lovely, insofar as I could tell in such an unavoidably setting, and I've requested a pair for review.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 26, 2010 2 comments
Because I have a review pair at home, I was eager to hear how the new Wilson Sasha loudspeakers ($26,995/pair) would sound under show conditions, in the largest Coup de Foudre room. Driven by a Brinkmann Oasis turntable ($13,700), Brinkmann 10.5 tonearm ($6300), Brinkmann EMT cartridge ($4300), VTL TL5.5 preamp ($8000 with phono), Berkeley Alpha D/A converter (45700), Pathos Adrenaline amplifiers (price unknown!), and all Transparent Audio cabling, the Sashas were just as colorful, dramatic, and involving today as they've been for the past several weeks in my own listening room. Of course today's performance owed a great deal to the quality of the recordings made by master recordist Peter McGrath of Wilson Audio (left), whose sessions with Cuban-born pianist Jorge Luis Prats were nothing short of sensational. On the right, making sure I didn't miss the VTL preamp, is VTL's Luke Manley.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 25, 2010 6 comments
From the perspective of an attendee, Salon Son & Image 2010 may be the ideal hi-fi show. While the Hilton Bonadventure is a massive, sprawling location, the exhibitor rooms on the main floor are clearly marked and easily identifiable by a specific color referred to in the official show guide: There are green, purple, red, and blue halls, all with pleasant lighting made to match. In the green hall, just around the corner from my own room, we find Audio D’Occasion, Cardas Audio, Hathor Acoustik, Joseph Audio, Sensational Musicale, and Verity Audio.

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