At the 2008 FSI, the hornloaded Avantgarde speakers from Germany were being demmed in one of the large rooms in the Centre Sheraton's downstairs convention area. At the 2009 SSI, Avantgarde were exhibiting in a conventional hotel room, but the three-way Duo Grossos ($37,500/pair), driven by Avantgarde Model One monoblocks and an Avantgarde Model One preamplifier, with an Audio Aero Prestige SACD player as source and all Nirvana SX cabling, sounded more coherent than I remember from last year's Show. Playing "The Mooche" from the Stereophile Editor's Choice CD, I was struck by how un-hornlike the system sounded: uncolored, sweet, full-range, but with the excellent dynamics I have come to expect from horns. The upper bass was a bit over-generous at first, but adjusting the crossover of the active B231 woofer, which uses two 12" drivers, took care of that.
All right, so maybe I should have followed the recommendation that passengers should get to the train station at least 30 minutes before departure. But, really, does anyone but terminally obsessive-compulsive individuals do that? The train going from Toronto to Montreal was scheduled to leave Toronto at 9:30am. I was planning to be at Union Station in Toronto by 9:15. But with this and that, and delays here and there, when I got to the Via Rail ticket office to exchange my computer printout for the actual ticket it was 9:29 by their clock.
Simaudio's Costa Koulisakis was excited to tell us about the company's new "Reach For The Moon" trade-up program. For up to a year after initial purchase, Simaudio customers interested in moving up the Sim price ladder can receive a 100% refund on their well-maintained gear. After the first year, Sim owners can receive a 75% refund on their used gear. "It's a way to stimulate the economy, while building brand loyalty," he said.
Totem's Vince Bruzzese was happy to tell me about the Wind Design, an enhanced version of the company's flagship floorstander. It uses a "skid plate" decoupling system with a front "claw" which is user-adjustable to complement the phase interactions between the speaker and various associated electronics. Totem strives to create loudspeakers that will mate happily with all sorts of associated equipment, and today they were making music with an Arcam FMJ disc player and Bryston amplification.
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."
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.
I know it's only the first day and I've hardly listened to any music, but my Best Music of Show Award goes to the Tone Imports/DeVore Fidelity/Box Furniture Co./Clearaudio room. I doubt there'll be any other suite at SSI where you can hear Q-Tip's The Renaissance followed by some radically bad-ass, virtuoso tabla.
Dynaudio's Mike Manousselis introduced me to the OCOS (Optimal COnnection System) coaxial, copper speaker cables ($500/3m pair). OCOS insists that a speaker cable should be completely transparent, imposing no sonic signature of its own. Manousselis explained that the cable provides a constant impedance throughout the entire frequency range, so as to stabilize the partnering amplifier, allowing it to "see" the speaker directly.
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.