SSI 2010

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John Atkinson Posted: Mar 26, 2010 3 comments
Like Art Dudley below, I started my first day at SSI at the Coup de Foudre room featuring DeVore speakers and Leben amplification. And like Art, I was impressed by the sound, listening to LPs of Skip James and Gil Scott-Heron. (John and Jonathan never play audiophile favorites.) And note the judicious use of the hotel's bed heads, usually hanging on the wall, in front of the window alcove to tame the room acoustics. Good Show sound benefits from the prepared mind—or something.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 26, 2010 15 comments
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 background—in 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.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 26, 2010 4 comments
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.
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John Atkinson Posted: Mar 26, 2010 2 comments
The Give Band's singer/flute player, Caroline St. Louis, was last seen on this Show report wearing a blue wig at the ticket counter. Wearing a wireless mike, she danced and sang to impressive effect.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 26, 2010 0 comments
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.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 26, 2010 4 comments
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.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 26, 2010 2 comments
I walked into the Reference 3A room to be greeted by an impressive orchestral piece. I heard massed strings and scintillating cymbal crashes and booming percussion, all presented with great impact, drama, and scale. Speakers were the Reference 3A Grand Veena ($7995/pair), rated at 89dB efficiency and utilizing five “seamlessly integrated drivers,” including a Murata Exciter for the highest frequencies. Designer Tash Goka explained that the angle of the Grand Veena’s front baffle and the precise positioning of the speaker’s drivers work together to achieve a coherent phase response.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 26, 2010 4 comments
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.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 26, 2010 1 comments
I started my day the right way: listening to a good LP of acoustic music. In one of three Coup de Foudre rooms I listened to Skip James's final album on a system comprising the new Brinkmann DD turntable (price TBD) with an EMT TSD 15 fineline phono cartridge ($1800), Auditorium 23 step-up transformer ($995), Leben RS30 EQ moving-magnet phono preamp ($2595), Leben CS300 XS integrated amplifier ($3495), and DeVore Fidelity 3XL loudspeakers ($3700/pair without stands), the latter of which were capable of allowing the music to sound surprisingly, delightfully big. Cables were all by Auditorium 23, and the source and amplification components were supported by a typically beautiful Sapele rack from the Box Furniture company.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 26, 2010 2 comments
Because I have a review pair at home, I was eager to hear how the new Wilson Sasha loudspeakers ($26,995/pair) would sound under show conditions, in the largest Coup de Foudre room. Driven by a Brinkmann Oasis turntable ($13,700), Brinkmann 10.5 tonearm ($6300), Brinkmann EMT cartridge ($4300), VTL TL5.5 preamp ($8000 with phono), Berkeley Alpha D/A converter (45700), Pathos Adrenaline amplifiers (price unknown!), and all Transparent Audio cabling, the Sashas were just as colorful, dramatic, and involving today as they've been for the past several weeks in my own listening room. Of course today's performance owed a great deal to the quality of the recordings made by master recordist Peter McGrath of Wilson Audio (left), whose sessions with Cuban-born pianist Jorge Luis Prats were nothing short of sensational. On the right, making sure I didn't miss the VTL preamp, is VTL's Luke Manley.
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John Atkinson Posted: Mar 26, 2010 2 comments
Following Michel Plante's speech at the opening night reception, the Give Band played a great set of world-music–influenced 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.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 26, 2010 2 comments
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.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 26, 2010 3 comments
Here's another view of Jeff Joseph's beautiful Pulsar loudspeaker ($7000/pair), finished in Pommele Sapele.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 25, 2010 0 comments
Simple "Enter" signs posted on exhibitors' doors, and made to match the color of the show hall, work to create a welcoming environment at SSI 2010.
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Stephen Mejias Posted: Mar 25, 2010 6 comments
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.

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