For whatever reason I didn't hear many word-of-mouth recommendations as I wandered the halls during the first two days of SSI; the few that did break through the haze pointed to two products: the Eclipse TD-M1 desktop loudspeakers in one of Coup de Foudre's rooms, and the Muraudio Domain floorstanding loudspeakers ($58,000 per pair): about as different as different can be. Just as I discovered with the Eclipses, the Muraudio speakers deserved the buzz.
The photography used in the display materials associated with Totem loudspeakers are of consistently very high quality. That said, during my stroll through the Pavillon du Canada at this year's SSI, I finally noticed something about the people in those photos: They are exclusively female, and they are almost always barefoot. As a male who is as ignorant of the principles of the psychology of marketing as he is hesitant to go barefoot anywhere but the beach, the bath, and the bed, I am puzzled (but not troubled).
Like the gentleman seen browsing through the crates of LPs offered by Aux 33 Toursthe Montreal vinyl specialists who shared SSI space with hi-fi retailer Acoustic TechnologiesI too have a record-shopping hat. I wear it for good luck whenever I leave the house in search of rare vinyl. Especially in cold weather.
Also new from iFi Audio is the first of their Nano-series products, the lithium-battery-powered iDSD Nano ($189), a 24/384 DAC that offers DSD processing in a remarkably tiny package. Contrary to the evidence on Darren Censullo's finger, it does not bite.
Evolution Home Entertainment's Saxe Brickendenwho was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award during the SSI partydisplays the Massfidelity Relay ($249), a combination Bluetooth receiver and 24-bit D/A converter intended for wireless streaming from your iPhone to your hi-fi.
I admit some confusion: According to the product sheets found near this static display, almost every one of Tri -Art Audio's 20 products is named either Pebbles or Bam Bam. That said, here is the Ontario-based company's $1150/pair mini-monitor. It is named Bam Bam. Bob Deutsch was similarly puzzled by the company's dem room.
It's a fondly regarded part of every SSI: a single large ballroom given over to small exhibitssome active, most of them passiveof products that are designed and made in Canada. Among the most striking sights in this year's Pavillon du Canada was something that I can describe only as The Big, Orange Turntable, which sat near the center of the floor: unlabeled, unattached to any other components, and apparently unrelated to any known exhibits. Big, Orange Turntable, we salute you.
I have experienced my first cable demo in French. The very animated and enthusiastic Bruno Delorimier conducted a Nordost interconnect comparison for an appreciative audience of Quebec audiophiles, using a pair of Dynaudio Confidence C1 loudspeakers ($8500/pair, plus $600 for stands), and all SimAudio Moon electronics. Going from Nordost's Blue Heaven ($350/1 meter pair) to their monofilament-technology Heimdall (ca $800/1 meter pair), the differences in rhythmic nuance and sheer touchin favor of the Heimdallwere apparent, regardless of language.
Among the many SSI rooms sponsored by Canadian distributor Plurison was a ballroomthe Verdun, to be precisewhere the signage promised MartinLogan loudspeakers on demonstration. I stepped a short distance inside and was swallowed by darknessand sound. I followed the latter, turned left, and felt more than saw a row of theater-style seats, most of them filled with people who were enjoying Avatar on a large screen. The sound was indeed impressive, but it was impossible to see, let alone photograph, the gear being demonstrated, and I could locate neither personnel nor literature. Unsure how to illustrate such an experience, I grabbed my chance and, on the way out, photographed the next guy going in.
Avatar Acoustics' Darren Censullo brought to Montreal a variety of new iFi products, including a rack system that can hold up to four of the company's Micro-series products. Two versions are available: one without cables ($99) and the one shown here ($149), which includes two short cables and one long, wrap-around cable. In the foreground is another new iFi accessory: their in-line USB iPurifier ($99), which is said to be effective on DC power and digital signal alike.