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).
Bryston's James Tanner, shown here with the Model T external crossover, told me that this crossover also uses special components, and that the improvement in sound quality with the external crossover is quite noticeable.
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...
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.
What is this replica of the DeLorean used in the Back to the Future movies doing at an audio/video show? It's to advertise a company called Le Studio Secret, which organizes office parties with a cinema theme. But this is obviously not just a business; the Back to the Future DeLorean was a labor of love for Thierry Lacombe, with some extra gadgetry that Doc Brown and Marty McFly would have appreciated. You have to admit that it looks cool.
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.
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.
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...