For those interested in audio, the products on display at Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) are of little interest. And yet...I don't think I would feel that I've attended CES unless I spent a few hours at LVCC. I figured that it would be best to go on the first day of 2015 CES, before the show really got going.
Sony's pre-Show press conference made little reference to sound quality, and SACD did not get even a mention. However, Sony's display did show their latest SACD player and the new MDR-V900HD headphones ($249), which have claimed frequency response extending to 80kHz. These 'phones sounded exceptionally smooth and well-balanced. Comfortable, too.
Sony's contribution to the sub-$5000 system endeavour was a combination of the HAP-S1 Hi-Rez digital playback/amplifier/HDD unit ($999) and a pair of SS-HA speakers ($698/pair). As you can see from the picture, the setup was not ideal for listening.
Promoted as "the first pocket-sized portable speaker good enough for the audio purist,” the Soundmatters FoxLv2 has had endorsements from renowned speaker designersincluding Michael Kelly (Aerial Acoustics), Gayle Sanders (MartinLogan), and Peter Tribeman (Atlantic Technology)and a rave review by Michael Fremer on AudioStream. There are three models, the price ranging from $149 to $229, the basic model accepting analog input only, the other two connected with Bluetooth (including aptX technology) as well. The top Platinum model has a longer battery life (20 hours vs 12 for the other two) and includes an AudioQuest interconnect. I have some interest in portable speakers, and have listened to a fair number of them, including the audiophile-oriented offerings from B&W, Arcam, and B&O, but somehow the FoxLv2 was not among them. CES 2013 gave me an opportunity to remedy this omission. The Soundmatters booth was in the iLounge section of the Convention Center, and when I got there it was surrounded by a full TV crew. There is apparently a lot of interest in this product.
As reported previously in Stereophile, the Montreal Salon Son & Image is now owned by the UK-based Chester Group, but with Sarah Tremblay continuing as the director of the Montreal show. (Sarah is also the manager of the upcoming New York Audio Show.) On hand at the Montreal show were (left to right) show organizer Scott Humphrey, Chester Group Chairman and Founder Roy Bird, and Sarah Tremblay.
An event at SSI 2015 that, to the best of my knowledge, was unique for an audio show, involved the setup of an "on location" recording studio, and the making of actual recordings. No, not a "Garage Band" App, not a "home recording studio," but a real professional studio, involving some $300k's worth of equipment, and the services of professional recording engineers. The project, called La VibZ Studio, was initiated by Stephan Rich, musician and sound technician, and brought together for the SSI 2015 event vocalist/pianist Anne Bisson, the Give Band (featuring vocalist Caroline St-Louis and Stephan Ritch on the guitar), and Hans Wilwright. The attendees were provided with Sennheiser cordless headphones for listening to the playback.
Montreal dealer Coup de Foudre's exhibit featured the 2012 Stereophile Loudspeaker of the Year Vivid Audio Oval K1 (USD$26,000/pair), in a system featuring Luxman electronics. I've never heard these speakers sound anything less than great, and their sound at SSI 2015 did nothing to change my previous impression. I really liked the red of the demo pair, and asked importer Philip O'Hanlon if it was a popular choice. He said that although the red is much admired, most people end up choosing a different, more conservative, color. I guess I'm not like most people. My Avantgarde Uno Nanos are red, and so is the last car I bought.
Michel Plante and Sarah Tremblay are the team responsible for the success of SSI, which takes place this weekend at the Hilton Bonaventure in downtown Montreal. You could see them working hard, going around, making sure that exhibitors and attendees were happy. The evening of the designated Trade Day of the show, Thursday 3/31, there was a party that included a speech by Michel It was in French, with the English translation on two giant screens, Michel claiming that he wanted to spare the audience from his heavy French accent. (In fact, his accent is very slight.) I was too busy taking pictures to follow all the points he was making, but it was all inspiring stuff about the future of the industry, and was well received by the large crowd.
Sarah Tremblay and Caroline St-Louis, representatives of the Montreal Salon Son & Image (SSI) show were at CES, promoting their upcoming show in March. Visitors to the Montreal show may be expecting to see Sarah and Caroline wearing blue wigs, but they've apparently abandoned that look. They're now dressed up as hockey playersthe Montreal Canadiens, of course. I'll be reporting on SSI 2013, along with, hopefully, Art Dudley. There's a chance that John Atkinson may attend as well. Boys and girls, if you all write to him about how much you would like him to attend SSI, perhaps he can be persuaded.