SSI 2009

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John Atkinson  |  Apr 06, 2009  |  2 comments
"Air Motion" because the Adams—familiar to me from the German company's strong showing at pro-audio shows—feature modern versions of the Oskar Heil-designed "Air Motion Transformer" higher-frequency drive-units that a brief period of popularity in the 1970s. This uses a corrugated aluminum-foil diaphragm that moves somewhat like an accordian bellows, alternately squeezing and stretching the air between the folds. Adam, who is entering the North American high-end audio market, was proudly showing its top-model Tensor series at SSI, but I was also impressed by the active A5 shown in the photo, which crosses the AMT tweeter over to a moving-coil woofer at 2.2kHz and costs just $900/pair. With the $600 Sub 7 active woofer also shown in the photo, a pair of Adam A5s would make the basis for an affordable high-quality system.
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 04, 2009  |  1 comments
What a cool piece of gear: Handmade in Plymouth, Minnesota, the Audio Research VSi60 vacuum tube integrated amplifier ($4000) is a fairly compact unit (14" x 8" x 16") that delivers 50Wpc. Its milled top plate has an inset AR logo, while its striking front panel has super-cool function and volume LEDs on the left and totally caressable, soft-touch buttons on the right.
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 03, 2009  |  0 comments
Montreal's finest vinyl record shop (according to them, l-r): Simon, Pierre, and Tony. Aux 33 Tours has been operating for two years at its present location: 1379 Mont Royal Est, right here in beautiful Montreal. Owner Pierre Markotanyos had collected vinyl for more than 10 years before deciding to open his own shop. The store now carries approximately 80% vinyl, and has a healthy clientele.
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 03, 2009  |  0 comments
Lucien Pichette stands with the Avalon Acoustics Aspect ($8500/pair), introduced at January's CES. Here in Montreal, the Aspects were creating soul-stirring sound in the Coup de Foudre room.
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 03, 2009  |  0 comments
Meet Mass Fidelity's Benjamin Webster. Ben's lil_doosey monoblock amplifier is making its world debut here at SSI 2009.
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 02, 2009  |  2 comments
I know it's only the first day and I've hardly listened to any music, but my Best Music of Show Award goes to the Tone Imports/DeVore Fidelity/Box Furniture Co./Clearaudio room. I doubt there'll be any other suite at SSI where you can hear Q-Tip's The Renaissance followed by some radically bad-ass, virtuoso tabla.
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 05, 2009  |  0 comments
Box Furniture Co.'s Anthony Abbate started as an apprentice to furniture maker Robert Martin. A love for music, sound, and hi-fi would soon get Anthony building equipment racks for his personal system. Later, a chance meeting at Max Fish, the colorful little bar on Ludlow Street in the Lower East Side, with speaker designer John DeVore, would lead to a partnership with DeVore Fidelity, building John's handsome speaker cabinets. (Oddly, but perfectly, Anthony would later later discover that John had sold him some of his old hi-fi equipment. Their relationship was obviously a product of fate. And you can't mess with that.) Anthony's equipment racks and isolation platforms, like the speaker cabinets, are nothing exotic or gaudy. Instead, they are simply elegant. But not elegant in the precious sort of way. Elegant in that nothing is wasted. Elegant in that form matches function. Anthony's work simply is what it is; pure and honest lines, mortise and tenon construction, catalyzed finishes, handmade in Brooklyn, New York.
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 03, 2009  |  3 comments
This is my first time attending a Montreal hi-fi show, and so it makes sense that I would make some new acquaintances. It is a pleasure to meet Graeme Humphrey and Danny Labrecque of Coup de Foudre, a pretty sweet looking hi-fi shop in Montreal. Here Graeme and Danny assume a sort of pirate-gangster pose. They appear pretty tough, but they're actually quite gentle.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 06, 2009  |  2 comments
I first heard the prototypes of the almost-all-glass Arabesque from Dutch wire manufacturer Crystal Cable at the 2009 CES, where they produced sound in the Audio Basics room that belied my negative expectations. Demmed at SSI with Simaudio 5.3 series CD player and amplification, the Arabesques, now in full production, again produced a promising sound. With my my recording of "The Mooche," from Editor's Choice, the Arabesques put me squarely in the church acoustic of Chad Kassem's Blue Heaven Studio in Kansas, where the recording was made.
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 03, 2009  |  1 comments
But the Cutest Amp of Show Award has to go to Mass Fidelity's "lil_doosey." You see? It's even cute about how it spells its name. You gotta love that.
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 02, 2009  |  1 comments
Dynaudio's Michael Manousselis palms the Excite X12 loudspeaker ($1200/pair).
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 02, 2009  |  0 comments
Dynaudio's Mike Manousselis introduced me to the OCOS (Optimal COnnection System) coaxial, copper speaker cables ($500/3m pair). OCOS insists that a speaker cable should be completely transparent, imposing no sonic signature of its own. Manousselis explained that the cable provides a constant impedance throughout the entire frequency range, so as to stabilize the partnering amplifier, allowing it to "see" the speaker directly.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 06, 2009  |  1 comments
Stereophile's star blogger Stephen Mejias hold forth at the debate on why he is in love with vinyl, while Robert Deutsch (center) and Art Dudley (right) wait to chime in with their opinions.
Robert Deutsch  |  Apr 04, 2009  |  0 comments
SSI had a display of vintage gramophones and radios, courtesy of Montreal's Emile Berliner Museum. They've had this for several shows now, and it's always wonderful to see these artifacts that tell the history of our hobby. The Museum is member-supported, and publishes a pamphlet, His Master's Voice, four times a year, in English and French.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 06, 2009  |  5 comments
René Laflamme's recordings on the Fidelio label have always been favorites of mine, though his choice of repertoire—like the new "It's a Small World" project—sometimes cause my eyebrows to raise. SSI was my first chance to hear high-resolution versions of some Fidelio recordings, played back from René's laptop feeding data via asynchronous USB to the dCS Scarlatti upsampler set to do nothing other than translate the USB datastream to AES/EBU at 96kHz to drive the dCS Elgar Plus D/A. As this has a volume control it was connected direcrtly to a pair of Nagra VPA tube monoblocks which in turn drove the Verity Sarastro 2 speakers that Fred Kaplan reviewed for Stereophile in April. Cabling was all-Shunyata. René uses all-tube microphones and records directly to a Pyramix digital audio workstation. The sound of a transcription for brass and organ of "Mars" from Holst's The Planets was to die for on this system, one of my "best of shows."