Asked how to make a guitar, the celebrated luthier Wayne Henderson offered a straight-up answer: "Just get a pile of really nice wood and a whittling knife. Then you just carve away everything that isn't a guitar." (footnote 1)
The making of a preamplifier seems more or less the opposite. You start with a simple volume control and a couple of jacks, then add whatever you think constitutes a preamplifier. Choices might include electronic source switching, line-level gain, phono-level gain and equalization, tone controls, tone-defeat switches, a balance control, a headphone jack, an iPod input, and maybe even a digital-to-analog converter with a USB receiver. The sky is pretty much the limit.
"Perhaps we can shed some light on your problem in a new segment exploring pre-adolescent turmoil. I call it . . . 'Choices.'"Sideshow Bob, The Simpsons
"For us, unlike other manufacturers, there are not degrees of clean. Our entry-level machine is as good as our top of our line when it comes to cleaning records; in between, it's just a matter of choices." Thus spoke Jonathan Monks, who inherited from his father, the late Keith Monks, an audio-manufacturing legacy built upon the world's first commercially produced record-cleaning machine.
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.
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.
Experience says that one must wait in line to hear the MBL system at any hi-fi show, and SSI 2014 was no exception. Similarly unsurprising was the realistically vivid sound on tap, with levels of color and texture that, in a strange way, stood in contrast to the resolutely smooth, monochromatic appearance of their gear. (Maybe that's intentional?) This year I was entertained by a variety of musical excerpts, including a snippet of Beethoven's Piano Concerto 2, through MBL's C31 D/A converter/CD player ($9200), C11 stereo preamp ($8800), C21 stereo amp (9200), and 116 F loudspeakers ($29,000/pair), with Siltech cables and a generous sprinkling of Shun Mook Mpingo discs.
Mark Waldrep of AIX Records didn't bring to SSI any new releases, per se; instead, he brought along a renewed enthusiasm for debating the controversies within the high-resolution music communityand an invitation for showgoers to visit him on www.realhd-audio.com, where they'll find up-to-date news and views on all things HD, as well as a selection of free high-definition-audio sample files.
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.
Although their sign suggested that this was a passive display, the Blue Circle Audio table in the Pavillon du Canada was anything but. The always-colorful Gilbert Yeung offered visible and audible proof that his line of PLC Thingee power-line conditionerswith prices starting at $CAD220 each for the four-outlet versions in the foregroundeffectively removed noise from household AC current. I was thoroughly impressed (not to mention entertained).
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.