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.
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.
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.
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.
I was also impressed by the sound of the $7000/pair Joseph Pulsar stand-mount that Stephen Mejias blogged about. What was notable about the set-up was that, in order to tame the hotel room acoustic, Jeff had set-up the speakers, driven by Simaudio's new 175Wpc Moon 700i integrated amplifier via Cardas Clear cables, to fire across the room's diagonal. If you have problems getting an optimal transition between the mid-bass and upper bass in your room, you might want to try this set-up (significant other not objecting, of course).
Following Michel Plante's speech at the opening night reception, the Give Band played a great set of world-musicinfluenced rock that, thankfully, was not too loud. (The FoH mixer must have been an audiophile.) The band's CD AudioPhylanthrope, recorded and mastered at the world-famous Guy St-Onge's studio, was launched at SSI as the Show's reference recording. The Give Band are performing at 9pm tonight (Friday, when the Show closes) in the Lounge Stereo Plus on SSI's lower floor, so if you are at the Show, you still have a chance to check them out.
The Salon Son & Image has been organized for the past 4 years by Michel Plante and Sarah Tremblay, who were to be seen everywhere on the Show's opening day. I have been involved in running Shows for almost 30 years, and I must say that from the visitors' perspective and, I hope, the exhibitors', the 2010 event was superbly organized. Good signage, a great venue, and overall good sound, I take my hat off to Michel and Sarah. They even partnered with CEDIA for the first time at the 2010 Show to present "CEDIA University," a series of training seminars for custom installation. The evening of the first day, Michel thanked everyone in a short speech at the opening reception and wished them "Bon Salon!" before handing the stage over to the Give Band.
I was intrigued by Grant Fidelity’s small B283 Mk.II tube processor ($225). Placed between a source component and integrated amplifier or between a preamp and amp, the B283 offers users the ability to “feel the difference of tube sound versus solid-state sound, and to experiment with tube-rolling,” Rachel Zhang explained. Interestingly, guitarists have also been known to use the B283 in front of their solid-state amps. Neat.
Grant Fidelity purchasing manager, Rachel Zhang, explained that her company wants to bring “a self-servicing, consumer electronics distribution model to high-end audio.” All of Grant Fidelity’s products are available factory-direct; and, instead of the traditional dealer network, Grant Fidelity utilizes private, home-based demonstrators. The goal is to make available more affordable products for a younger and more varied audience, Zhang said.
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?
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!)
Today is Press Day at the 2010 Salon Son & Image, located at the extraordinary Hilton Bonadventure, a penthouse hotel perched above the Place Bonadventure exhibition center, built for the 1967 World’s Fair. At the moment, exhibitors and members of the press are just getting acquainted with the unusual hotel, which has an extremely tempting heated outdoor pool and garden views at every turn. Lines are just beginning to form at the registration desk, where I couldn’t help but say hello to the charming staff.
You’ve heard this before from us, but only because it’s true and remains an important point: A great part of the fun (and, therefore, value) in attending hi-fi shows comes from the chance encounters that inevitably take place in the show halls. We’re all trying to get somewhere fast, and these encounters invariably slow us down, but almost always for the better. We get to see the people who work so hard to bring great music into our homes. Here, for instance, I had the pleasure of bumping into Ayre Acoustics’ Steve Silberman (left) and Magico’s Irv Gross (far right).