Friday was Day One of a three-day show, but I'd already picked my best soundwhich I'm quite certain will not be exceeded by listening to any collection of electronic/mechanical contrivances. It was provided by soprano Sophie De Cruz, tenor Eric Thériault, accompanied by Dominique Boulianne on the piano. Standing near the entrance to the bar/restaurant at the Hilton Bonaventure, De Cruz and Thériault, sang arias and duets from La Traviata, La Bohème, Tosca, and other pieces of the Italian and French operatic repertoire.
Electronics manufacturer Bryston is going full-steam-ahead with their line of speakers, which continue to impress me. The system on demo at SSI 2014 had a pair of Model T Signatures in a stylish white finish. The Signature differs from the base model in having an outboard crossover, with a price difference of $1000 ($6495/pair vs $7495/pair).
One of the popular exhibits at previous Montreal shows has been the Personal Audio Zone, at which attendees could listen to a wide variety of headphones. This has been retained at SSI 2014, but with the difference that people could actually buy headphones. At least, that was the idea.
Michel Plante, previously co-producer of SSI, and now doing marketing for Audio Plus/Plurison, sent me an invitation to a special Press Breakfast on Friday morning, at which a new project involving Rega turntables would be introduced. He seemed most disappointed when I told him that I would not be at the show until Friday afternoon, so I would not be able to attend the event. Fortunately, Art Dudley was there in time, and he has posted a report. All I can do is provide another picture.
One of the not-so-secret principles audio design is that no matter how good the design of the basic circuitry, the ultimate sound quality will be a major function of the power supply. Simaudio has taken this to heart with a new product that builds on the already-excellent power supplies of the Moon Evolution series. The new 820S ($8000), pictured here, can serve as power supply for any two products in the Evolution series, providing separate power supplies for digital and analog components.
I have a fondness for electrostatic transducers, and one of my early stretch-the-budget audio equipment purchases was a pair of Stax Lambda headphones. So I was happy to see the display of Stax headphones at SSI 2014. They even had one that looked like a descendent of my Lambda: the $3495 SRS-5170. My Lambda still works, but the foam inside the earpiece has deteriorated. I should get it fixed...
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.
It's Friday, March 28, about 11 am. I'm on the Toronto-to-Montreal train, checking the Stereophile website. Art Dudley has a SSI 2014 show report posting up already! A travelogue is a good idea; I'll try to follow Art's lead. Alas, the scenery is not the most photogenic, and shooting from a moving train has its challenges. For me, travelling by train has an association with Hitchcock: North by Northwest and The Lady Vanishes. I look at my fellow passengers; none of them bears a resemblance to Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, or Margaret Lockwood. There seems to be nothing sinister going on.
What can you tell about the intrinsic sound quality of a loudspeaker if you've heard it only at an audio show? Arguably, not much. If it sounds bad, there may be a number of reasons for that, only one being the speaker itself. It may be the acoustics of the room, problems with speaker setup, poorly matched associated equipment, insufficient break-in/warm-up, or poor choice of demo recordings.
The design and manufacturing of loudspeakers can be described as falling on a continuum. At one end, we have speakers that use off-the-shelf drivers purchased from driver manufacturers, combined with crossovers based on information in standard loudspeaker design cookbooks and/or loudspeaker design software (perhaps with "voicing" that conforms to the designer's preference). In the hands of a skilled designer, this approach can produce good resultsbut they can't claim any originality.
At the other end of the continuum are speakers that are designed and built from the ground up,, using design principles that, while perhaps not entirely original, represent substantially new application of these principles. This approach is much more rareand much more costly to implement.
The Muraudio Domain Omni ESL ($48,000/pair), which made its debut at TAVES, is squarely in the latter category...