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.
When I return home from Montreal I'll be able to tell my 16-year-old daughter, truthfully, that I listened to Lorde's "The Royals" on a very good system, the value of which rivals the expected cost of her first two years of college. Included in this Coup de Foudre-sponsored system were a Luxman DA-06 D/A converter ($5000), Luxman C 900 preamp ($19,000), the big Luxman M 900 stereo amp ($19,000), and Vivid Giya G3 loudspeakers ($40,000), used with Cardas cables.
Dollar for dollar, the TD-M1 wireless loudspeaker system from Eclipse ($1300/pair) was among the most impressive products I heard at SSI. Imported by the American distributor On a Higher Note and displayed at the show by Coup de Foudre, the self-powered TD-M1 system, which includes a built-in digital-to-analog converter, combined Quad-like detail and transparency with exceptional levels of presence and substance. Notably, the system retained those qualities even at very low listening levels.
Heard at one of the three SSI rooms sponsored by Montreal dealer Coup de Foudre was this serene-looking record player by Clearaudio, comprising the company's Concept Wood Edition turntable, Satisfy Carbon tonearm, and Performer V2 moving-magnet phono cartridge. Sold as a package for $2200, the Clearaudio player sounded open and engaging in a system including a Unico Primo integrated amplifier with built-in phono stage ($2450), Opera Grand Mezza loudspeakers ($2800/pair), and cabling by Transparent Audio.
The family-owned electronics chain Son X Plus sponsored a number of exhibits at SSI, including this active display of Skech wireless headphones, in a rainbow of colors. I gave them a brief trynot the pink onesand was mildly impressed at the progress being made in Bluetooth audio.
Plurison, which distributes the products of Rega Research throughout Canada, sponsored a press breakfast in which they unveiled a series of Rega turntables that had been transformed by the Quebec artist Zilon (seen above). On display were three RP1s and three RP3s, the plinths and platter hubs of which were painted using Molotow oil-based markers; 100 copies of each of these six originals will be madeby means of silk-screeningand sold, with more designs to follow.
Here's a closer look at one of Plurison's customized Regas. The face motif, according to Michel Plante, plays on the idea that an LP has two "faces" (French for "sides"), and the notion that music itself has many faces. Exact prices were not immediately available, but the plan is to sell each of the silk-screened Regas for 15% above the normal price; all of that premium will go directly to the artists who created the designs.
It only looks as though Steve Silberman of Audioquest is trying to ignore a corpse behind the loudspeakers; in actual fact he's explaining the finer points of JRiver playback softwarea topic in which he is remarkably conversantwhile a colleague works on their system's cabling.
AudioQuest also announced their entry into the world of Ethernet cables, with a line that includes nine distinct models; seen here is the Audioquest Cinnamon Ethernet cable, priced at $69 for a 1.5-meter length. "USB won't go away," said the company's Steve Silberman, "But Ethernet will continue to grow.
In addition to AudioQuest cabling, the demo system put together by Montreal retailer Audioville comprised a pair of KEF Blade loudspeakers ($30,000), stirred into action by Chord electronics: the SPM5000 amplifier ($25,000), CPA3000 preamplifier ($10,000), and DSX1000 DAC/streamer ($13,000). The sound, as noted in Steve Silberman's demonstration, was explicit without being relentless about it: Music flowed naturally, and with decent color and very good impact, especially at the louder end of the spectrum.