Nordost provided the lanyards for the all badges (attendees, exhibitors, and press), with the Nordost name prominently displayed, and to the casual observer it might have seemed that everyone at SSI 2014 worked for Nordost! Not so, but Nordost cables were in a number of systems, and Nordost did brisk business at their booth selling cables and other accessories at a show discount.
A few years ago, SSI introduced Lifetime Achievement awards, honoring individuals who have made notable contributions to the audio business in Canada. This time, the honorees were Michel Girard, President of the Audio Group, and Saxe Brickenden, President of Evolution Audio. Girard's award was presented to him by his niece, and you can see from the picture what an emotional moment this was for both of them.
The revision of the Sasha to Mark II status involves a number of improvements, the cumulative effect of which, according to Peter McGrath, is quite significant. The Sasha II has the same midrange and woofer as the original Sasha, but the tweeter is all newa convex rather than a concave dome as used previously. The tweeter and midrange baffle materials are different from those in the original Sasha, and the effect is a 34% reduction in resonant modes. The mechanism allowing the mid/tweeter module to be tilted, to "focus" the sound, has been revised so that the focusing can be more precise.
A highlight of the Lifetime Achievement award party was another performance by soprano Sophie De Cruz, this time joined by baritone Julianne Horbatuck, her partner in an upcoming production of Lucia di Lammermoor. She sang Musetta's waltz song from La Bohème, tossing off high notes with abandon, and the two of them blew the roof off the place with a duet from Lucia. Pianist Dominic Boulianne provided unobtrusive but effective support.
Montreal dealer Coup de Foudre's Wilson/Dan D'Agostino room had Wilson's new Sasha II speakers ($29,900/pair), combined with Dan D'Agostino's Momentum Line stage preamp and stereo power amp ($32,000 and $29,000, respectively). The sound was truly excellent.
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.