Montreal dealer Filtronique Son-Or brought to SSI a system built around Magico's floorstanding S3 loudspeaker ($22,500), with a digital source in the form of the dCS Puccini CD player/D/A converter (ca $25,000) and amplification by Ayre Acoustics. The latter consisted of the Ayre KXR 20 line-level preamp ($27,500) and the newer-than-new, long-anticipated Ayre MXR 20 mono amplifiers (price to be determined).
At the GTT Audio room, turntable designer Louis Desjardins introduced a more affordable alternative to the original Kronos turntable: the Kronos Sparta ($21,000, plus an additional $6500 for the companion Helena tonearm).
Distributor Plurison Audio used SSI 2014 as an opportunity to demonstrate the newest and most affordable amplifier/digital processor from Devialet: the model D-110 ($6495), which was introduced at the 2013 CEDIA show. The combination of Devialet D-110 and Focal Aria 926 loudspeakers ($3495/pair) was in pleasant contrast to its (stylistically) cool surroundings: The sound was pleasantly inviting and, forgive me, surprisingly organic for digital playback and the company's proprietary ADH technology, which combines class-D current dumpers with a high-quality class-A voltage amplifier. Nice.
Presumably someone snapped-up this show special, seen in the second room of Montreal retailer Son Idéal: a Rega RP40, which is the 40th Anniversary edition of the Rega RP3, complete with the reddest mat in existence. Son Idéal offered it for $CAD1199, instead of the usual $CAD1699.
I kept seeing pictures of something that looked a little like a DeVore O/96 and not really knowing what it was. Now, thanks to the GTT Audio room at SSI, I know that the thing I was seeing is the Grimm Audio LS1-S ($39,900), a three-way powered loudspeaker pair plus digital preamp with USB interface.
As I made my way through the hall, I hesitated before entering the room of Lawrence Audio, makers of some very attractive floor-standing loudspeakers: They were playing the Nils Lofgren song "Keith Don't Go," which I really don't like, really loud. Even so, it was standing-room only: Mine appears to be the minority opinion, at least as far as the trampoline-loving Mr. Lofgren is concerned...
The 2014 SSI witnessed the official North American introduction of Naim Audio's mighty Statement amplifier (which John Atkinson previewed in his coverage of the 2014 CES). I experienced this behemoth at the unveiling party thrown for it by distributor Plurison Audio, and was struck not so much by its undeniable power but by its very nuanced performance on subtler materialsuch as the classic "Helplessly Hoping" by Crosby, Stills, and Nash. During the chorus, when David Crosby's low harmony was the last to enter ("They are three together. . ."), the audible tension and release were palpableand very impressive. The Statement is something that neither I nor the vast majority of you will ever enjoy at home, but . . .wow.
Manley tube electronicsthe same 300B preamplifier plus a pair of Snapper ampswere used in another Acoustique Technologies room, where they drove a pair of Nola Metro Grand Reference III loudspeakers ($30,900), with the Meitner MA-1 D/A converter ($7000) as a source. I'm sorry to say the Nolas proved impossible to photograph in the back-lit but otherwise dark and very crowded room. And the excessive volume leveland consequently harsh treblesdiscouraged me from lingering.