SSI 2015, Friday Afternoon

When it comes to designing and building loudspeakers, I confess immunity to the DIY bug, mostly because I wasn't drawn to woodworking until age 50. (At age 10, my Pinewood Derby car was a simple wedge, requiring only a single saw-cut on a rectangular block of wood—although I felt vindicated when the Triumph TR7 came along.) Had things turned out otherwise, I would be spending all of my time in the room of Solen Acoustics: Salon Son et Image stalwarts who make available nearly every sort of drive-unit known to humankind.

Another SSI stalwart is the indefatigable Bruno DeLornier, whose job it is to demonstrate the audible effects of Nordost's various cable products—as well as their growing line of accessories, which now includes the Nordost QKoil QK1 ($249.99), an empty-AC-socket-filler that's said to lower a system's noise floor and thus increase clarity.

Many's the time I've walked past the Spin-Clean display, but this is the first year when they've been part of my Salon Son et Image beat. Now I can report that this simple and apparently rugged record cleaner is adjustable for discs of many sizes; requires distilled water and a proprietary cleaning fluid; is not motorized; and requires the user to dry his or her washed records with a soft rag. A full kit including the Spin-Clean Mk.II, plus a supply of fluid and cleaning brushes and wiping cloths, sells for $CAD160.

Atoll Electronique, which designs and manufactures amplification and source components in Normandy, tapped SSI for the Canadian debut of their new MS 100 streamer/internet radio source ($CAD1800), see here in a static display with their Bluetooth- and USB-friendly HD 120 preamp/headphone amp (top, $CAD1200) and Atoll MA 100 50 Wpc power amplifier (bottom, $CAD1900).

For their part, PS Audio used the occasion of SSI to debut a production sample of their new BHK Signature 250 power amplifier ($US7500): a hybrid design by industry veteran Bascom H. King, who is equally adept on both sides of the typewriter. As company head Paul McGowan told me, the BHK Signature 250 marks the first time in 40 years that PS Audio has released a tubed product. (Indeed, although the front of the new amp is austerely pretty, I found that I was partial to the rear view.)

Used in a system with the PS Audio DirectStream DAC ($US6000) and P10 Power Plant $US5000), plus Neat Acoustics SX1 loudspeakers, with cabling by Kimber Kable, the BHK Signature 250 produced a spacious, clear, and altogether engaging sound, with a welcome current of timbral warmth and texture—especially notable in the sounds of cello and piano in a David Darling track from a forthcoming PS Audio compilation disc called Turning Point. And when Paul McGowan used the system to play a privately made analog recording of Itzhak Perlman playing a Sarasate piece—with remarkably good scale, presence, pacing, and, again, clarity—I confessed to my notebook that it was the best playback quality I had heard in the show so far.

Allen Fant's picture

Very sweet drivers at the top of this page!

deckeda's picture

I'm drawn more to the purposeful and clean rear as well. Not sure I really "get" why PS Audio likes the small pixel, lo-res displays so much on the front panels. Anyway, in particular it strikes me that placing the input/driver tubes at the rear of the chassis, and open, is a very smart move. (Even if the chassis design's shape does remind me of a small hp laser printer.)

es347's picture

You found that you were partial to the rear view eh? Amplifiers...women, yeah us guys are a visual lot :-)

Bill Leebens's picture

@deckeda: the input tubes on the BHK amps are ordinarily behind a removable panel.CE standards--and common sense--require that there be no direct open access to the innards of electronic devices, and any panel or portal must require a tool for removal.

Glad Art liked the room, in spite of the lack of naked firebottles. ;->

Bill Leebens

Director of Marketing, PS Audio

AVphile's picture

I was only in the Nordost "lecture room" for a few seconds when I heard someone say "audiophiles auditioning cables don't know how to listen". I'm sorry but I built my system with my money to listen to MUSIC on my terms. The cables aren't building or paying for my system so I don't owe them anything. If they don't improve the enjoyment of the music or make me happy somehow, out they go!