SSI 2014

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Art Dudley  |  Apr 01, 2014  |  1 comments
Among the many SSI rooms sponsored by Canadian distributor Plurison was a ballroom—the Verdun, to be precise—where the signage promised MartinLogan loudspeakers on demonstration. I stepped a short distance inside and was swallowed by darkness—and sound. I followed the latter, turned left, and felt more than saw a row of theater-style seats, most of them filled with people who were enjoying Avatar on a large screen. The sound was indeed impressive, but it was impossible to see, let alone photograph, the gear being demonstrated, and I could locate neither personnel nor literature. Unsure how to illustrate such an experience, I grabbed my chance and, on the way out, photographed the next guy going in.
Robert Deutsch  |  Apr 01, 2014  |  5 comments
At last year's SSI, the show management asked exhibitors to assemble systems that are "entry level" in a high-performance audio context, costing less than $5000. (We can argue—and some people did—about whether <$5000 is a realistic figure for "entry level," but, audiophiles being the way they are, you're going to get an argument regardless of the figure.) In any case, relatively few exhibitors followed through with this last year. At SSI 2014, show management made more of a concerted effort to persuade exhibitors to participate, and indeed there were a lot more of the little blue "$5000 System" signs throughout the show.
Robert Deutsch  |  Mar 31, 2014  |  0 comments
A few years ago, SSI introduced Lifetime Achievement awards, honoring individuals who have made notable contributions to the audio business in Canada. This time, the honorees were Michel Girard, President of the Audio Group, and Saxe Brickenden, President of Evolution Audio. Girard's award was presented to him by his niece, and you can see from the picture what an emotional moment this was for both of them.
Robert Deutsch  |  Mar 31, 2014  |  0 comments
Evolution Audio's Saxe Brickenden was equally pleased with his award—even though his name on the award statuette was mis-spelled. "I've seen my name mis-spelled so many ways over the years that I'm used to it."
Art Dudley  |  Mar 30, 2014  |  1 comments
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.
Art Dudley  |  Apr 01, 2014  |  0 comments
Like the gentleman seen browsing through the crates of LPs offered by Aux 33 Tours—the Montreal vinyl specialists who shared SSI space with hi-fi retailer Acoustic Technologies—I too have a record-shopping hat. I wear it for good luck whenever I leave the house in search of rare vinyl. Especially in cold weather.
Art Dudley  |  Apr 01, 2014  |  0 comments
Mark Waldrep of AIX Records didn't bring to SSI any new releases, per se; instead, he brought along a renewed enthusiasm for debating the controversies within the high-resolution music community—and an invitation for showgoers to visit him on, where they'll find up-to-date news and views on all things HD, as well as a selection of free high-definition-audio sample files.
Robert Deutsch  |  Mar 29, 2014  |  0 comments
Anne Bisson is a talented vocalist/pianist/composer who often appears at audio shows. She was at SSI 2014 to promote her about-to-be-released CD, entitled Tales from the Treetops (Camilio Records CAM2-4335.) All but one of the songs on this recording are in English (with Percy Bysshe Shelley credited as one of the lyricists). Bisson told me that, listening to the recording, she was surprised to note that her voice sounds different in English and French, a difference she attributes to the fact that French has no diphthongs, only pure vowels.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 31, 2014  |  0 comments
Also on static display at Audio Pathways: the revivified Aragon stereo power amp ($5500).
Art Dudley  |  Mar 29, 2014  |  3 comments
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 made—by means of silk-screening—and sold, with more designs to follow.
Robert Deutsch  |  Apr 02, 2014  |  0 comments
A system with true high-end audio credentials that came in just under the $5000 limit was one based on the Dynaudio X14 ($1500/pair), with electronics by Atoll (ST 200 streamer, $2000, IN 100SE integrated amp, $1450). This was one of the side-of-the-room setups, so the potential sound quality was difficult to judge, but I've admired the sound of the X14 before, and from what I know of Atoll equipment, this should be a good combination.
Robert Deutsch  |  Apr 02, 2014  |  0 comments
Audio Physic's sub-$5000 system featured the Audio Physic Classic Compact $2000/pair), Ava Media server/ripper/storage ($1600, new at the show), and Ava Media Maestro-50 50Wpc digital amplifier ($525). All AVA Media products are made (not just designed) in the UK—unusual at this price level.
Robert Deutsch  |  Apr 02, 2014  |  0 comments
There is a long-standing tradition of a snowfall in Montreal during or just after the show; in fact, several people at SSI 2014 joked with me about whether there would be some "audio snow" this time. For a while, it looked like this year would be an exception—and then the snow came down Sunday morning, blanketing the city.
Robert Deutsch  |  Apr 01, 2014  |  0 comments
With Bam Bam and Pebbles as product names, I thought I was merely stating the obvious in a previous show report when I suggested that the designer of Tri-Art Audio products must be a Flintstones fan. I mentioned this to the Tri-Art people at SSI 2014, asking whether they were paying royalties for using these names, and was told that they never thought of any connection with the Flintstones: Bam Bam is a reference to the use of bamboo in their products. (I still don't know how "Pebbles" comes into it.)
Art Dudley  |  Mar 31, 2014  |  0 comments
Ontario retailer and distributor Audio Pathways had a number of new products on display—some active, some passive. Among the latter were the impressive Magne air-bearing turntable and companion Magne air-bearing linear-tracking tonearm ($14,000 as a package) from Bergmann Audio of Denmark.