The second Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Brian Russell, President of Bryston (right side in the photo), the presentation made by Michel Girard (left). Brian is a big, tough guy, so I figured we wouldn't see him cryingbut I think he came awful close when he said that he owes his achievement to each and every member of the Bryston team.
One of the best events at every SSI is the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to two individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the industry. This is the Oscar of the consumer audio industry, and I've always found these presentations quite touching. That was certainly true at SSI 2013. Angie Lisi, who owns two stores (American Sound and Angie's Audio Corner) in the Toronto area, and is the owner of Audio Pathways, a distribution company, has been in the business for over 30 years (she started when she was 19), and has not lost any of her passion for high-quality reproduction of music. She was introduced by Adrienne Surtees (left in the photo above) and presented with the award by Sarah Tremblay (right). It was a very moving moment, and I was glad that I was able to capture it with my camera.
Blue Circle Audio first came to prominence (or perhaps notoriety) with whimsical products like an amplifier in a shoe and a preamplifier in a purse. Although the Music Pumps and the Music Purse are still available, according to their website , Blue Circle brought more conventional products to SSI 2013, and their demo room provided one of the show's most relaxing listening experiences. There is just something very soothing about a night sky as a background to musicand the music presented by the system (BC507 DAC, $2600, BC309 preamp, $8500, BC1022 amp, $7000, BC6040 power line conditioner, $4000, BIS Audio Maestro cabling, $9500, and Ledoux Acoustique DIVA speakers and GAiA subs, $21,000) showed that Blue Circle does not need quirky products to get our attention at SSI. The SHow continues today (Saturday) and tomorrow.
Mark Waldrep of AIX Records was on hand with Tearing it Up, the Albert Lee performance film that was recently featured in Stereophile’s pages. Waldrep also showed off a processor called the Realiser (ca $3000), from Smyth Research, a listener-adaptive device that, in this demonstration, allowed me to hear surround effects just as Mark Waldrep hears them in his own installation. Even this headphone-phobic monophile was impressed.
Early on the show’s first day, the first up-and-running system I encountered was in the Nordost room, where a Moon Evolution 750D D/A converter/disc player ($13,000) and the same company’s 125 Wpc 700i integrated amplifier (also $13,000) drove a pair of Dynaudio C2 Signature loudspeakers ($15,000/pair), using Nordost Frey 2 interconnects and speaker cables and, of course, a full brace of QRT accessories. Playing a Baroque-ensemble recording of unknown origin, the system sounded delightfully clear, open, and un-harsh, with considerable spatial depth.
Granted, I know little to nothing about the home theater market, but I thought this was kind of cool: a paint called Screen Goo, available through all Sherwin-Williams dealers, that can be used to transform any flat, paintable surface into a projection screen. This two-stage treatmenta reflective undercoat, topped with a semi-translucent diffusive top coatis 100% acrylic, with a very low VOC content. Screen Goo is available with different degrees of pigmentation; the photo above compares unity-gain white, on the far right, with two other shades. This company’s biggest market? According to Kevin Nute of Goo Systems, it’s theme-park installations (eg, the Haunted Mansion at Disney World).
One could suggest that, having reviewedand admiredthe DeVore O/96 loudspeaker, I am predisposed to enjoying the newest model in that product line, the less expensive but similarly sensitive O/93 ($8400/pair). But even that wouldn’t explain my gut-level positive response to Tsege Mariam Gebru’s solo piano work The Homeless Wanderer (LP, Mississippi Records MRP-025) on the DeVore-fronted system in one of five rooms sponsored by Montreal dealer Coup de Foudre.
The same qualities I strive for in my system at homea sense of touch and drive, rich sonic textures and colors, musical momentum and flowseem often to be abundant in the systems put together by the New York-based distributor and retailer High Water Sound. Given that, and the fact that HWS proprietor Jeff Catalano has superb taste in music, I was sad when the time came to leave this room and move on.
When an exhibitor installs, near to the door, something as exotically beautiful as the Scheu Analog Cantus tonearm ($1560), it takes me longer than ususal to make my way into the rest of the room. So it was in the exhibit of distributor Charisma Audio, whose lovely and accommodating staff more than justified their name. While there I also enjoyed a system comprising a Well-Tempered Amadeus GTA record player ($4325), EMT TSD 15 cartridge ($1999), Audio Exklusiv P 0.2 phono stage ($`1299), the same company’s P 7 preamplifier ($7999), Calyx Audio Femti amplifier ($2099), and Capriccio Continuo (ATD) Admonitor 311 speakers ($5999). The system, which gave the sense of wanting just little more breathing roomit was arranged along the long wall did a nonetheless convincing job with Cannonball Adderley’s Riverside album Know What I Mean.
Most of us know Canada’s Solen Electronique as a manufacturer of well-regarded capacitors (they call them condensateurs up here) and inductors, but they offer a wide variety of parts to manufacturers and hobbyists alike. Here we see a selection of hardware, the likes of which you won’t find at your local Home Depot.
Here’s Philip O’Hanlon of the California-based distribution company On a Higher Note, looking like he just stepped out of a Donovan album. His system he demonstrated for Montreal retailer Coup de Foudre, which I’ll describe in another post, comprised Luxman source components and electronics and Vivid loudspeakers, wired with Cardas cablesand it sounded great, especially considering that Philip’s gear had just arrived the night before!
The wigs, that is: The reliably beautiful women of Montreal’s annual Salon Son et Image have, for 2013, traded their signature blue wigs for blue slacks and a trace of blue hair dye. This morning they showed off their fetching new look while looking for and fetching my press badge, just two hours before the start of the show’s trade day. Salon Son et Image, at the Montreal Hilton Bonaventure, opens to the public on Friday, March 22, and runs through Sunday.
When Bernard Brien started his company BIS a number of years ago, the refurbishing of vintage electronics comprised the bulk of his businessbut over time, he says, he was struck by the sonic weaknesses of older wiring, and the potential for improvement by swapping it for new. A peripheral involvement in aeronautics led Brien to discover the suitability of that industry’s cabling for audio purposes: “It has low mass, low resistance, high bandwidth, and, especially, low mass,” he says, “and it isn’t very expensive.” Brien also touted the simplicity of his products with a phrase, the alliteration of which is lost in translation: “C’est un fil, pas un filtre.” Bien sur!
Meredith Gabor shows off a Qv2 “harmonizer,” manufactured in Massachusetts by QRT and distributed by Nordost. The Qv2, which contains both passive and active components, is meant to be plugged into an available AC socket in the user’s listening room, as (electrically) close as possible to the system itself, and is claimed to effectively “clean up” the soundstage and improve detail and resolution. Qv2s, the effects of which are said to be cumulative, sell for $350 each.
Visitors to Montreal's annual Salon Son et Image (SSI) high performance audio show will notice some changes when the three-day event opens to the public on Friday March 22 in its customary location, Hotel Hilton Bonaventure. For starters, instead of the approximately 100 exhibit rooms encountered in 2011, and the approximately 85 last year, visitors will discover 70, including two dedicated to home theater, as well as 370 brands.