How was the Show for you?

It did not require great perspicacity to predict that SSI2009 would not be as well attended as last year's show. Things are tough all over. In any case, as I write this, on Saturday evening on a train en route to Toronto—yes, I manage to catch the train this time!—the show still has another day to go, and, as Michel Plante, with Sarah Tremblay the SSI's organizers, admitted, what often makes or breaks a show like this is the Sunday attendance.

But let me give you my impressions. On Friday things were decidedly on the slow side, but on Saturday the show felt like a big success, with lots of excited people in the halls and in the exhibit rooms—like the ones in the popular Totem room pictured in this photo. I would guess that the attendance on Saturday was in the same range as at last year's show. The Stereophile “Ask the Editors” session (see below) was extremely well-attended—even better than last year's, I think—and the questions showed a high level of interest and sophistication, dealing with a wide range of issues, including the relation (or lack thereof) between the love of music and preoccupation with equipment, how to encourage people to care about quality in the reproduction of music, and the perennial one of why this tends to be a hobby dominated by males. John Atkinson, Art Dudley, Stephen Mejias and I may not have been able to solve all the problems of the industry in the time available, but I think I can speak for all of us in saying that we had a great time, and were most appreciative of the issues raised by readers. And, in the spirit of Barack Obama, I venture to say that audio industry, and audiophiles, will emerge from the current economic situation stronger than ever.

jmsent's picture

For some reason, the last word of my post was cut off even though I was under the 1024 character count. Here's the complete last sentence:It's already quietly but steadily taking place on the vendor to manufacturer end of the business.

Paul's picture

I attended on Saturday morning and early afternoon, with a good friend and fellow admirer of good gear instead of my usual solo outing. I noted a smaller set of exhibitors (a bit to my dismay as I was looking forward to re-auditioning a few speakers that are not locally available in anticipation of a purchase in the next 18 months or so). My friend and I were most impressed, not by the uber-expensive gear (though that was fun) but by some more "modestly" priced combinations--albeit still a bit pricey for our wallets. The first was a Naim/Audio Physic combo (total price 8000$) and the other was a Linn setup (total price for the pieces that interested us came to about the same amount). The Wilson Audio room was impressive and we enjoyed the museum pieces (they even fired up one of the hand-cranked players, much to this historian's pleasure).In the "affordable to us" category, the Studio 20s V5 from Paradigm stood out--they'd go well with a 740A/C Cambridge Audio combo for a n

michaelavorgna's picture

I watched the "Ask the Editors" video and would like to say that you (meaning you, Art, JA and Stephen) are doing a great job of keeping the focus of this hobby on fun, enjoyment and musical discovery -- where it should be. Bravo!

François Caron's picture

Considering that my hobbies tend to lean more towards video than audio, I was surprised by the increase in front projection systems. Last year, the show only had one legitimate front projection demo. This year, we had three and a half (the one on the fourth floor was exposed to too much ambient light).The other surprise was how Onkyo-heavy the fourth floor atrium was. It was as if Onkyo had bought out half the tables! :)The show was definitely smaller than last year's show; there's no avoiding that. Nearly all the big consumer brands were absent from the show, along with many of the smaller companies that last year could only afford a stall in one of the ballrooms. But in the end, we did get a decent selection of audio and video systems suitable for just about every budget out there.And that's what the show is all about: accessibility.

jmsent's picture

Robert, it's understood that Stereophile wants to paint as rosy a picture as possible about the high end audio industry's survival in these tough times. It's great that the rooms seemed as crowded as last year, at least on Saturday. But given that there were considerably fewer rooms to see, this isn't exactly the good news you make it out to be. As a vendor to a large number of well known high end companies I can say with good authority: This is an industry in deep crisis. All manufacturers these days face the same dual problems of dwindling customers and little available credit. The easy money from cheap mortgages and home equity loans is gone, leaving the high end companies vying for those few remaining wealthy customers with good cash flow and a desire to buy. I have no doubt that, just like the auto industry, the high end business will look nothing like it does today, after this recession is over. It's already quietly but steadily taking place on the vendor to manufacturer end of the

Nick's picture

I had fun, yes there were fewer exhibitors which made it look more crowded but who cares. I listened to the great Veloce battery gear electronics and loved them, the magnificent Verity Finn speakers with Acoustic Research CD player as well as the Avantgarde horn speakers. Even enjoyed the Arabesque glass speakers through the CD player, for some reason through the SOTA turntable they were horrible - maybe my imagination. Overall another great show.

Audio fan's picture

I was so impressed with my first visit to the ssi. The room "Salon Fréchette" was so impressive . I heard that Vecture kit playing with the Klaro speakers .. FOR 4500$ this was the sound to be at the show . This room was great.If there was anything close to the Klaro sound it would cost you lots of BLING $$$$

samual stack's picture

I'm surprised to see little mention of music sourced from the internet or such.