Heard at one of the three SSI rooms sponsored by Montreal dealer Coup de Foudre was this serene-looking record player by Clearaudio, comprising the company's Concept Wood Edition turntable, Satisfy Carbon tonearm, and Performer V2 moving-magnet phono cartridge. Sold as a package for $2200, the Clearaudio player sounded open and engaging in a system including a Unico Primo integrated amplifier with built-in phono stage ($2450), Opera Grand Mezza loudspeakers ($2800/pair), and cabling by Transparent Audio.
Friday was Day One of a three-day show, but I'd already picked my best soundwhich I'm quite certain will not be exceeded by listening to any collection of electronic/mechanical contrivances. It was provided by soprano Sophie De Cruz, tenor Eric Thériault, accompanied by Dominique Boulianne on the piano. Standing near the entrance to the bar/restaurant at the Hilton Bonaventure, De Cruz and Thériault, sang arias and duets from La Traviata, La Bohème, Tosca, and other pieces of the Italian and French operatic repertoire.
Anne Bisson is a talented vocalist/pianist/composer who often appears at audio shows. She was at SSI 2014 to promote her about-to-be-released CD, entitled Tales from the Treetops (Camilio Records CAM2-4335.) All but one of the songs on this recording are in English (with Percy Bysshe Shelley credited as one of the lyricists). Bisson told me that, listening to the recording, she was surprised to note that her voice sounds different in English and French, a difference she attributes to the fact that French has no diphthongs, only pure vowels.
One of the not-so-secret principles audio design is that no matter how good the design of the basic circuitry, the ultimate sound quality will be a major function of the power supply. Simaudio has taken this to heart with a new product that builds on the already-excellent power supplies of the Moon Evolution series. The new 820S ($8000), pictured here, can serve as power supply for any two products in the Evolution series, providing separate power supplies for digital and analog components.
Electronics manufacturer Bryston is going full-steam-ahead with their line of speakers, which continue to impress me. The system on demo at SSI 2014 had a pair of Model T Signatures in a stylish white finish. The Signature differs from the base model in having an outboard crossover, with a price difference of $1000 ($6495/pair vs $7495/pair).
Bryston's James Tanner, shown here with the Model T external crossover, told me that this crossover also uses special components, and that the improvement in sound quality with the external crossover is quite noticeable.
The family-owned electronics chain Son X Plus sponsored a number of exhibits at SSI, including this active display of Skech wireless headphones, in a rainbow of colors. I gave them a brief trynot the pink onesand was mildly impressed at the progress being made in Bluetooth audio.
I have a fondness for electrostatic transducers, and one of my early stretch-the-budget audio equipment purchases was a pair of Stax Lambda headphones. So I was happy to see the display of Stax headphones at SSI 2014. They even had one that looked like a descendent of my Lambda: the $3495 SRS-5170. My Lambda still works, but the foam inside the earpiece has deteriorated. I should get it fixed...
One of the popular exhibits at previous Montreal shows has been the Personal Audio Zone, at which attendees could listen to a wide variety of headphones. This has been retained at SSI 2014, but with the difference that people could actually buy headphones. At least, that was the idea.
What is this replica of the DeLorean used in the Back to the Future movies doing at an audio/video show? It's to advertise a company called Le Studio Secret, which organizes office parties with a cinema theme. But this is obviously not just a business; the Back to the Future DeLorean was a labor of love for Thierry Lacombe, with some extra gadgetry that Doc Brown and Marty McFly would have appreciated. You have to admit that it looks cool.
As reported previously in Stereophile, the Montreal Salon Son & Image is now owned by the UK-based Chester Group, but with Sarah Tremblay continuing as the director of the Montreal show. (Sarah is also the manager of the upcoming New York Audio Show.) On hand at the Montreal show were (left to right) show organizer Scott Humphrey, Chester Group Chairman and Founder Roy Bird, and Sarah Tremblay.
Michel Plante, previously co-producer of SSI, and now doing marketing for Audio Plus/Plurison, sent me an invitation to a special Press Breakfast on Friday morning, at which a new project involving Rega turntables would be introduced. He seemed most disappointed when I told him that I would not be at the show until Friday afternoon, so I would not be able to attend the event. Fortunately, Art Dudley was there in time, and he has posted a report. All I can do is provide another picture.
Plurison, which distributes the products of Rega Research throughout Canada, sponsored a press breakfast in which they unveiled a series of Rega turntables that had been transformed by the Quebec artist Zilon (seen above). On display were three RP1s and three RP3s, the plinths and platter hubs of which were painted using Molotow oil-based markers; 100 copies of each of these six originals will be madeby means of silk-screeningand sold, with more designs to follow.
Here's a closer look at one of Plurison's customized Regas. The face motif, according to Michel Plante, plays on the idea that an LP has two "faces" (French for "sides"), and the notion that music itself has many faces. Exact prices were not immediately available, but the plan is to sell each of the silk-screened Regas for 15% above the normal price; all of that premium will go directly to the artists who created the designs.
It only looks as though Steve Silberman of Audioquest is trying to ignore a corpse behind the loudspeakers; in actual fact he's explaining the finer points of JRiver playback softwarea topic in which he is remarkably conversantwhile a colleague works on their system's cabling.