SSI 2012

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Art Dudley  |  Mar 24, 2012  |  0 comments
Loudspeaker specialists Magico were on hand with their recent Q3 ($38,950/pair), which boasts a 90dB sensitivity rating and 5 ohm nominal impedance: not quite SET territory, but easily the California firm's most sensitive speaker yet. Magico rep and fellow bluegrass fan Irv Gross put the Q3 through its paces for me; I was impressed with its speed, scale, drama, and sheer grip—not only in the lowest frequencies but all the way up through its well fleshed-out treble range.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 24, 2012  |  4 comments
California-based Constellation Audio, represented by the well-known engineer Peter Madnick, supplied the amplification for the Magico Q3 loudspeakers. On audition were their Virgo preamplifier ($19,000) and Centaur amplifier ($24,000), set up with elegant looking (and apparently effective) loudspeaker cables and interconnects from Argento Audio of Denmark. Source components were the C1 D/A converter and D1 disc transport from CH Precision of Switzerland.
Robert Deutsch  |  Mar 23, 2012  |  0 comments
The party on the Trade Day of the show, hosted by SSI, is always well attended, and provides a good indication of the general mood. This time the mood was decidedly upbeat: people in the trade looking forward to having a good show.
Robert Deutsch  |  Mar 23, 2012  |  0 comments
With the title of Director, Sarah Tremblay is Michel Plante's partner in the SSI enterprise.
Robert Deutsch  |  Mar 23, 2012  |  0 comments
SSI staff member and singer/flute player Caroline St. Louis took some time off from her career to have a baby, but she was back in top form at SSI 2012, singing with her Give Band.
Robert Deutsch  |  Mar 23, 2012  |  0 comments
Seen at the party: Monitor Audio's Sheldon Ginn, winner of the Chris Pine Lookalike Contest.
Robert Deutsch  |  Mar 23, 2012  |  0 comments
Partygoer Vince Scalzitti's Tri-Cell Enterprises is Canadian distributor for no fewer than 19 product lines, from Acapella to Vandersteen. Vince is so low-key that he hardly seems to be in a business that involves sales, but he's highly successful at it.
Robert Deutsch  |  Mar 23, 2012  |  0 comments
Gerard Rejskind (left), editor of UHF magazine, and last year's recipient of the SSI Lifetime Achievement Award, is pictured here with Simaudio's Lionel Goodfield (right).
Robert Deutsch  |  Mar 23, 2012  |  0 comments
One of the two Lifetime Achievement Awards was given to Richard Petit, President of KeébecSon. The presentation was made by Richard's daughter, Marie-Eve, and was the most touching event at the party.
Robert Deutsch  |  Mar 23, 2012  |  0 comments
As B&W's Doug Henderson pointed out in his presentation speech, being a manufacturer's rep in audio is often a thankless job. If sales are slow, the rep gets blamed, but it they're going well, that's just taken for granted. But not this time: the Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Marc Denis (pictured), rep for B&W, Rotel, and Classé.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 23, 2012  |  0 comments
The speaker of choice in the Audioville room was the brand new KEF Blade ($30,000/pair): a consumer-friendly version of something that started life as a KEF concept speaker. (In particular, in order to reduce costs, the latter's carbon-fiber enclosure has been replaced with one made of a composite resin.) Mid frequencies and treble are handled by the metal-diaphragm KEF UNI-Q array, while low frequencies are given over to two pairs of side-mounted 9" drivers, working in tandem so that bass energy is neither wasted nor allowed to travel through the enclosure structure to modulate the higher frequencies.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 23, 2012  |  0 comments
In the Audioville room, Chord Electronics of England demonstrated their Red Reference CD player ($26,000), now in Mk.III form. Refinements include a fully motorized transport door, plus a true asynchronous USB input. The player's D/A section, which offers up to 192kHz capability, eschews the use of DAC chips from other manufacturers, its pulse array being designed and constructed entirely by Chord. Styling is on a par with the underlying technology—which is to say, a bit breathtaking.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 23, 2012  |  1 comments
The Montreal audio-video store Coup de Foudre has a reputation for assembling ambitious music systems in the Hilton's Longueuil salon during SSI. Although this year was no exception, the cost of that system had been scaled-back somewhat for 2012—with interesting results.

The loudspeaker of choice was the Wilson Audio Specialties Sophia Series 3 ($18,550 per pair in Macadamia finish—which bore a striking resemblance to the metallic brown paint on my long-gone 1985 Alfa-Romeo GTV6). Wilson Audio's Peter McGrath, also the recordist behind most of the music selections I enjoyed in that room, said there have been no running changes in the Sophia since the introduction of the Series 3.

Art Dudley  |  Mar 23, 2012  |  0 comments
The VTL MB185 Series IIIs, which sounded great driving the Wilson Sophia Series 3 loudspeakers, offer a choice between XLR and RCA inputs—and, according to designer Luke Manley, they can develop fully balanced performance with single-ended inputs. Their EL34-based output sections can also be switched between triode and tetrode operation.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 23, 2012  |  0 comments
Happily, the big Coup de Foudre also included an analog front: a combination turntable and tonearm package from German manufacturer AMG, bundled with a Benz LP phono cartridge ($21,500 for the package).

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