SSI 2009

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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.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 03, 2009  |  5 comments
You get used to hearing expensive over-the-top systems at an audio Show, but the real delight is discovering more affordable set-ups that sound better than you expect. Such was the case when I entered the Bluebird Music room, where the Spendor A6 two-way tower speakers were being demmed with Exposure's 3010S integrated amplifier and an Exposure CD player, wired with van den Hul cable. The total system prices was $7500, and, again playing "The Mooche" from Editor's Choice, I was struck by how seamless the presentation was, with natural tonal qualities, well-defined stereo imaging, and good dynamics, if not quite in the same class as the much more expensive system featuring the Avantgarde horns I had heard just before.
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
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  |  1 comments
The two Sashas of Obad Imports (l-r): Sascha Kuettel hefts the JohnBlue JB3 loudspeaker ($370/pair), while Sasha Obad struggles with the KingRex T20 amplifier ($259) and PSU power supply ($189). These units are just a little bit heavier than Michael Fremer's reference amplifiers.
John Atkinson  |  Apr 03, 2009  |  4 comments
I had enthused over the sound being produced by French company Focal's top-line Grande Utopia EMs ($180,000/pair) in our report from the 2008 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, so the first room I went to at the 2009 SSI was the room featuring the exact same pair of Grande Utopias. In Denver they had been driven by Boulder source and amplification components; in Montreal, amplification was all YBA—Passion 1000 monoblocks and Passion preamp—cabling was AudioQuest, and the source was the excellent sounding Esoteric P-01VU transport ($32,000) and D-01VU dual-mono D/A converter ($32,000), clocked by the G-0Rb high-precision master clock ($16,000).
John Atkinson  |  Apr 03, 2009  |  1 comments
At the 2008 FSI, the hornloaded Avantgarde speakers from Germany were being demmed in one of the large rooms in the Centre Sheraton's downstairs convention area. At the 2009 SSI, Avantgarde were exhibiting in a conventional hotel room, but the three-way Duo Grossos ($37,500/pair), driven by Avantgarde Model One monoblocks and an Avantgarde Model One preamplifier, with an Audio Aero Prestige SACD player as source and all Nirvana SX cabling, sounded more coherent than I remember from last year's Show. Playing "The Mooche" from the Stereophile Editor's Choice CD, I was struck by how un-hornlike the system sounded: uncolored, sweet, full-range, but with the excellent dynamics I have come to expect from horns. The upper bass was a bit over-generous at first, but adjusting the crossover of the active B231 woofer, which uses two 12" drivers, took care of that.
Robert Deutsch  |  Apr 03, 2009  |  0 comments
All right, so maybe I should have followed the recommendation that passengers should get to the train station at least 30 minutes before departure. But, really, does anyone but terminally obsessive-compulsive individuals do that? The train going from Toronto to Montreal was scheduled to leave Toronto at 9:30am. I was planning to be at Union Station in Toronto by 9:15. But with this and that, and delays here and there, when I got to the Via Rail ticket office to exchange my computer printout for the actual ticket it was 9:29 by their clock.
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 03, 2009  |  0 comments
A large and constant crowd surrounded the bins at the Aux 33 Tours booth. Men, women, and children were all diving in, happily.
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 03, 2009  |  1 comments
In the Brosseau Audio/Video suite, Linn's Adolfo Cano provided a fascinating demonstration playing back Barb Jungr's "Beautiful Life" from a Linn Recordings sample disc.
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 03, 2009  |  2 comments
The trend toward smaller, less imposing systems is continued at SSI by Verity Audio, showing their gorgeous Parsifal Ovation Monitor ($9000/pair). While Simaudio and Dynaudio were showing what can be achieved at the lower end of the price scale, Verity, Nagra, and dCS put together a room-friendly system made to slay giants.
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.
Stephen Mejias  |  Apr 03, 2009  |  0 comments
Shure's public relations representative, Monica Moufrage, explains that the new SE115 earphones ($139) replace the company's popular SE110, and come in four great colors: black, (sort of) red, blue, and (definitely) pink.