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.
You might think that this is a photo of mother and daughter attending SSI 2013, but that wouldn't be correct. The woman on the left is pianist/vocalist Anne Bissonwho I hope will be performing at some point during the showand the young girl is Alexandra, Sarah Tremblay's daughter. A photogenic pair, n'est ce pas?
Borrowing a page from the Montreal Salon Son & Imageand, previous to that, the Stereophile Hi-Fi showsTAVES featured live music. Singer/pianist Anne Bisson performed at King Edward's Lounge on Friday and Saturday. Her latest LP/CD was also being played in a number of rooms, and was available for sale. In the Oracle room you had a choice of whether to listen to the LP or the CD. When I was there, the preference seemed to be overwhelmingly for the LP.
There's been a lot of concern expressed about the difficulties experienced by bricks-and-mortar audio retailers, and I guess these concerns are well founded, but some retailers continue to not only survive but thrive.
One such retailer is American Sound of Canada, located in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill. Owned and managed by Angie Lisi (known to all her customers as just "Angie"), American Sound was founded in 1970, and has recently opened a second location a few miles up the road, called Angie's Audio Corner, specializing in their higher-end lines. Angie's very capable assistants, Leyland and Arnold, now look after the Richmond Hill store, and Angie's Audio Corner is Angie's baby. Converted from an old residential property, Angie's Audio Corner has a more sophisticated upscale boutique vibe than the Richmond Hill store, but, with Angie in charge, the atmosphere is still welcoming rather than stuffy.
Angie's Audio Corner had an event on February 28 to introduce some of their new lines, including Joseph Audio speakers, the latest Meridian Sooloos music server, Brinkmann turntables, and Zesto Audio line stage and phono stage.
Anne Bisson is a talented vocalist/pianist/composer who often appears at audio shows. She was at SSI 2014 to promote her about-to-be-released CD, entitled Tales from the Treetops (Camilio Records CAM2-4335.) All but one of the songs on this recording are in English (with Percy Bysshe Shelley credited as one of the lyricists). Bisson told me that, listening to the recording, she was surprised to note that her voice sounds different in English and French, a difference she attributes to the fact that French has no diphthongs, only pure vowels.
Anthem, Paradigm's sister company, has a very interesting new class-D amplifier, the M1 monoblock ($3799 each), a slim unit that is capable of putting out 1 kilowatt into 8 ohms and 2kW into 4 ohms. The M1 has an integrated fan-less cooling system that allows multiple amps to be stacked without feet.
A psychological theory (footnote 1) that I've always been fond of is the one that proposes the perceptual/personality dimension of Sharpening vs Leveling. As defined by the early Gestalt psychologists, Sharpening is an exaggeration of differences, Leveling a minimization of differences. In visual-perception research on this topic, when test subjects were presented with an asymmetrical figure, some later recalled it in ways that exaggerated the figure's asymmetry (Sharpeners), while others minimized or eliminated it (Levelers).
I think it's now official: moving the high-performance audio exhibits last year from the Alexis Park to the Venetian has been a complete success. The sound in the tower rooms has been excellent, and exhibitors seem to be finding ways to tame the more problematic acoustics of the large conference rooms on the third floor. And whenever you wanted to take a break, you were only a few steps away from the fake-but-surprisingly-convincing ambience of St. Mark's Square, where it's always early evening, and you don't need an excuse to have some gelato. Ciao!
It's often said that a show like SSI is as much about people as it is about equipment. We Stereophile writers enjoy meeting the people who read their scribblings, and I believe Show attendees who are readers of the magazine like to put a face they can associate with what they read in the magazine. Here's a picture of Art Dudley (right) meeting one of the show's youngest attendees, who is obviously already an admirer of Art's "Listening" column and equipment reports. Seen in near-profile on the left is René Laflamme, the audio engineer responsible for the outstanding recordings on the Fidelio label.