In addition to ingenuity in dealing with setup problems, Grant Audio had another claim to show exhibitor fame: their sign said "Nothing Over $2500," In fact, most of their productssome designed by Ian Grant in Canada but made in China, and others of Chinese design as well as manufacturewere well under $2500. One of the more expensive items was the W30GT: tube-based integrated amplifier designed by Ian Grant that includes a phono stage and a DAC. It's $1950.
In home theater, the latest thing is 3D TV, and while Stereophile doesn’t normally cover Home Theater, I just had to check out the Sony and Samsung 3D demos. With the high-end "shuttered” glasses, the 3D effect was quite startling. However, I thought I’d have a go at producing a 3D-like effect with a 2D image. So here's a photo of Stereophile's assistant editor and blogger Stephen Mejias coming right at you from Montrealand no shuttered glasses needed! Sony/Samsung, eat your heart out. (For the photographically inclined: this was shot with a Panasonic GF1, 7-14mm Panasonic lens set at 7mm. I love this lens!)
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.
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.
Shows like SSI are about the cutting edge in audio, with the latest and (purportedly) greatest on display and demonstration. Given this, I always get a kick out of spotting a piece of equipment that just does not seem to belong in such august company. This Sanyo JCX 2600K stereo receiver is from another eracirca 19781981 according to the ever-helpful Google search. Looks like it's in great shape. I spotted it on a shelf in an area of the show where they were setting up racks of LPs for sale. What was it doing there? I have no idea. Wonder how it compares sonically with the latest-and-greatest?
Coming soon to a salon near you: a 45Wpc integrated amp that even a schoolteacher can afford. Advanced Acoustics, whose products are designed in France and manufactured in China, showed a prototype of their forthcoming MAP-101, which sounded decent driving a nondescript pair of tiny tabletop speakers. And if that sounds like darning with faint praise, consider that Advanced's MAP-101 is intended to sell for only $649. Alors!
The Luxman L-509u ($10,000) is rated to deliver 120Wpc into 8 ohms, and comes equipped with tone and balance controls, a front-panel headphone jack, MM/MC phono stage, and all kinds of rad buttons, knobs, and meters. No remote, though. You’re gonna have to get up and play with this sweet thing.
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.
The mystery of the Sanyo JCX 2600K stereo receiver that I wrote about in an earlier blog posting is solved. I went back to the booth of Aux 33 Tours, a Montreal store that sells used new CDs and LPs, and there it was, combined with a Revolver turntable. Aux 33 Tours' Christian Provost told me that they bought the Sanyo receiver from a widow whose husband had been a music lover/audiophile. In addition to a record collectionwhich they boughthe had two of these receivers, one that he had used on a regular basis, and the other that he kept as a spare, in case the first one broke down. It was still in the box, sealed in plastic. That's the unit that was at the show. No wonder it looked to be in good shape! The picture shows Christian Provost playingwhat else?a record.
The lovely (as you can see) and talented (as anyone who heard her sing and play the flute at the SSI 2010 Give Band concerts can attest) Caroline St-Louis helped out at the show ticket desk. Here she is with her favorite audio magazine.
The smaller room operated by Montreal retailer Son-or-Filtronique was a little on the small side for the bass perfomance of the Sonus Faber speakers, driven by a pair of Ayre's mighty MX-R monoblocks, the midrange and highs were sweet and musical -sounding, whether the source was the MacBook seen in the photo driving the Ayre QB-9 USB DAC or the acrylic-plattered Bauer dps turntable that Art Dudley favorably reviewed in the Show (April) issue of Stereophile.
With so many lookalike, workalike remote handsets littering the ring-stained table of our hobby, new ones seldom stand outor work better than the old ones. Pioneer has finally produced a breakthrough: Anyone who buys a new Pioneer VSX-1020 receiver (expected to go on sale in America in June, for approximately $800) will have the opportunity to download a virtual handset from the Apple apps site, for use with his or her iPod Touch or iPhone. The finished product looksand worksexactly like the knobs and switches on the amp's front panel. Here's one remote control that will probably never get lost under the couch or dropped in the toilet. (Don't ask.)
I walked into Jay Rein’s Bluebird Music room and was immediately taken by the hard-rocking sound of Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick,” reproduced with appropriate drama, impact, and scale. Here we see Rein standing beside Spendor’s new A9 loudspeaker ($7295/pair). Introduced at this year’s Bristol Show, the A9 made its North American debut at SSI 2010, and sounded excellent, driven by Exposure’s new 3010S2 series: 100W monoblocks ($2595/pair), preamp ($1395), and CD player ($2195). The S2 series replaces Exposure’s Classic line and represents a 50% power increase for one-third less money, Rein told me. Van den Hul’s D352 speaker cables and D102 interconnects ($929) tied this impressive system together.
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 backgroundin 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.