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...
Turntables were much in evidence at TAVES, perhaps the most impressive being the TechDAS Air Force One, which had two versions of the famed Graham Phantom Elite arm mounted. Bob Graham himself was on hand, and can be seen in the photo. Bob demonstrated the vacuum hold-down of the turntable, the audible resonance of the LP when tapped being silenced when the vacuum was turned on. Impressive. The worldwide standard price of the Air Force One is $100,000, and the Phantom Elite arm is $15,000, but Bob said that since he's also the distributor of the AirForce One, he can offer a "deal" on the package price.
No, you're not accidentally visiting www.motorcyclistonline.com. With some out-of-the-box thinking, Suave Kajko, President of the Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show (TAVES), and Simon Au, Vice-President Sales of TAVES, approached Harley Davidson Canada about exhibiting at TAVES 2013 this past weekend, and the HD people agreed to participate.
What does this have to do with audio or video? Well, the top-of-the-line Ultra Limited Harley ($30,000) includes an "infotainment system," with all kinds of audio/video goodies, including surround sound. Here it is, with Suave looking suitably...suave (Sorry!).
Is there a country that, per capita, has produced more major loudspeaker brands than Great Britain? The British brands that immediately come to mind are Tannoy, KEF, Bowers & Wilkins, Quad, Rogers, Spendor, Harbeth, Castle, Acoustic Energy, ProAc, Monitor Audio, Epos, Celestion, Lowther, PMCand Wharfedale.
Few topics ignite more heated arguments among audiophiles than the price of audio equipment. How much do you have to spend to get really good sound? Are people who buy expensive gear wasting their money, or is it simply a matter of getting what you pay for? There are many such issues, most of which have been discussed at length in Stereophile and various online forums; here are a few I haven't seen addressed except in passing.
Are there too many audio shows? With the Chicago AXPONA having been held two weeks ago, the Montreal SSI having just concluded, and the New York Audio Show coming up in what their website currently indicates is 16 days, 21 hours, 51 minutes, and 9 seconds away, people are starting to wonder whether we're getting an overload on audio shows. This is a sentiment that I've heard expressed by manufacturers and distributorsand, from the business point of view, their concerns are well founded. Participating in shows is an expensive endeavor, and the benefits in terms of additional business, while real, are difficult to measure.
One of the by-invitation-only events of SSI is the party held by Montreal high-end retailer Coup de Foudrethe invitees being personnel of their suppliers and the media. This year's CDF party followed their usual formula of good food and drink and genial hosting by Graeme Humfrey and Jennifer Cytrynbaum. Who are the people in this picture? OK, I'll start naming the ones I know. That's Gerard Rejskind of UHF Magazine in the approximate center, next to the right (Gerard's left), Philip O'Hanlon of On A Higher Note, and the tall fellow with the scarf is John DeVore of DeVore Fidelity. Do you know any others?
One of the most memorable musical events of SSI 2013 was the "live-plus-recorded" mini-concert by cellist Vincent Bélanger, presented by MBL. There were several of these every day of the show; Art Dudley wrote about it in an earlier blog posting. I had attended one of these events last year, and ended up playing the celloafter a fashion. This time the special guest was Stereophile publisher Keith Pray, and, as you can see in the picture, he had a great time.
The English translation of the French word image in Salon Son & Image is "picture," or, well, "image." But it's been an open secret for some time that the show is much stronger on the son (sound) than on the image. I saw just one projection video setup at SSI 2013, and there were a few LCD/LED monitors, but no one seemed to pay much attention to them. However, SSI managed to enlist as an exhibitor Photo Service, a major camera store, which offers a wide range of products related to photography. This worked out extremely well for all concerned.