The Sashas of Obad Imports suggested that I check out the Gemme Audio room, where a Neodio amplifier had been replaced by a prototype KingRex 50W Tripath amplifier. Gemme Audio's Robert Gaboury had his special Phenix Green Gem system ($37,000 CAN) on display, along with a Neodio CD player, and Blueberry Hill Audio cables.
I am only familiar with the name "Solen" from the company's audiophile-quality capacitors and other passive components, so I wasn't sure what to expect when I entered the room labeled "Solen." The beautifully finished speakers, demmed with an Ayre C7-xe CD player, Accuphase preamp, and Rotel power amp, were one-off designs to show off what coud be achieved by the audiophile interested in "rolling his own." (Selections from AudioXpress magazine's library of speaker design books were also on show.) The large speaker with the outboard crossover sounded pretty good, I thought. It combined a JBL subwoofer with an Audio Technology woofer, ATC dome midrange, and Dynaudio Esotar tweeter.
It did not require great perspicacity to predict that SSI2009 would not be as well attended as last year's show. Things are tough all over. In any case, as I write this, on Saturday evening on a train en route to Torontoyes, I manage to catch the train this time!the show still has another day to go, and, as Michel Plante, with Sarah Tremblay the SSI's organizers, admitted, what often makes or breaks a show like this is the Sunday attendance.
Lafleur's X-1 bookshelf ($14,000/pair) was one of the hits of last year's Montreal Show despite the poor acoustics of the room they were being shown in, so I was looking forward to taking a further listen this year in a better room. Driven by an all-Simaudio Evolution series rigAndromeda CD player and i-7 integrated amplifierthe X1s did indeed produce a superby detailed, natural-sounding midrange and treble, but the low frequencies seemed a little shelved down in absolute terms, I thought.
You would never guess that just moments before the photo was snapped, Tone Imports' Jonathan Halpern was bent over, purple-faced, and teary-eyed with delirious laughter. I'm not sure what it was all about. It had something to do with "championship wood."
Asked to name the top three drawbacks of electrostatic loudspeakers, the knowledgeable audiophile will listnot necessarily in this orderrestricted listening area, inability to play loud, and limited bass extension. Although the last criticism can still be applied to the new MartinLogan CLX (its claimed bass 3dB point is 56Hz), the speaker's design has gone a major way toward addressing the other two criticisms.
Monitor Audio took advantage of one of the show's larger suites by setting up a home theater system, a two-channel hi-fi, and a static display. Starting from the far right, here we see Monitor's entry-level Bronze series, the Silver series, and the Gold series. The flagship Platinum series, including the new PL200 floorstander, is just outside the frame.
Monitor Audio's Sheldon Ginn is very excited about the company's new PL200 loudspeaker ($8000/pair). This attractive floorstander fills the gap between Monitor's PL100 bookshelf and the much bulkier PL300 floorstander, and uses a three-driver configuration with a ribbon tweeter. It's available in ebony, rosewood, and piano black finishes, and boasts a real leather front baffle.
Is it just my perception, or do people who are looking through bins of LPs have a kind of happy excitement about them? The vinyl-buying folks at SSI sure seemed to be a really happy lot. Selecting CDs seems to be a much more matter-or-fact endeavor. And I can't imagine anyone getting too excited about the act of buying a new hard drive for their music server.