29 March 2010

Salon Son & Image 2010 Coverage - 3/3

Without music, it wouldn't be much of a show and there were plenty of retailers on hand with a fantastic selection of music in all formats - LP, CD, SACD, DVD and Blu-Ray.

AudioBasics.com SSI 2010

While Audio Basics Inc. (Canadian Distributor for Crystal Cables makers of the Arabesque Speakers which we covered earlier) may not have had the largest selection of music at the show, they did have the best prices. Below are some of the "souvenirs" I took home from the show.

AudioBasics SSI 2010 CDs

All prices were in $CDN and included all taxes. Misha [XRCD] $9. Badi Assad (who is actually very good) [Chesky] $10 and $12. Rebecca Pidgeon [Chesky SACD] $20 and Roy Orbison [MFSL Gold] $27. Also included with my purchase was a free Blu-Ray sampler.

Ironically, the very last room that I visited also turned out to be my favorite at the show. I spent well over an hour in the L'Atelier-Audio room listening to great music and chatting with Samuel Furon about their wonderful hand built audio products.

Atelier-Audio-Ocellia-Calliope.30-Twin-Signature-Speakers-and-Quaero-300B-push-pull-amps

Shown in the photo above Ocellia Calliope.30 Twin Signature speakers ($TBD), Ocellia Quaero 300B - PP Signature monoblock amps ($15,000/pair) and Ocellia Quaero Pre-Amplifier Signature ($9,000). All the L'Atelier-Audio loudspeakers use high sensitivity drivers from PHY-HP and no filters are used.

L'Atelier-Audio Ocellia-Calliope.30-Twin-Signature-Speakers

The beautiful hand-built cabinets have a door on the rear which allows adjustment of the open baffle speakers. The photos below show the smaller Ocellia Calliope.21 Signature speakers.

Atelier-Audio-Ocellia-Calliope.21-Signature-Speakers

L'Atelier-Audio-Ocellia-Calliope.21-Signature-Speakers-back

The side walls of the enclosure are only 3 mm thick and braced much like an acoustic guitar. The Ocellia Calliope.30 Twin Signature speakers were fantastic with vocals and strings and I really enjoyed listening to them.

The show and Montreal were great and I'm sure I'll be back soon.

Cheers, Gio

More coverage of the 2010 Salon Son & Image show:

28 March 2010

Salon Son & Image 2010 Coverage - 2/3

For the DIY Audio enthusiasts (like myself), Solen Electronique (www.solen.ca) from the Montreal area and AUDIYO (www.audiyo.com) from Toronto were in attendance at the show.

I was hoping that Solen would have the new Fostex FE-En series full-range drivers on display, but I was out of luck. Solen did however have a large display of drivers, subwoofer and active monitor amplifiers as well as their own air core inductors and film capacitors on display.

Solen Drivers

Solen Crossover Parts

Solen's room featured a DIY pair of Ananya speakers. The Ananya is a two-way floor standing speaker in a D'Appolito Onken enclosure. The two-way towers use Serbian made RAAL 140-15D ribbon tweeters and the woofers are the Scan-Speak 18W/8531G00 Revelators. The crossover is a third-order Butterworth at 1.6kHz with zobel and L-pad. Denis Ouellet, President of Solen proudly went over the DIY Ananya speakers which were finished in a purple heart wood with me.

Solen Ananya DIY 2-way Speaker Kit

The crossover was external to the enclosure and featured Solen Inductors and Capacitors, and metal oxide resistors.

Solen Ananya DIY Speaker Crossover Kit

The frequency response for the DIY Ananya speakers is specified at 32Hz to 60kHz with an efficiency of 93dB 1W/1m. The Ananya speakers delivered full and accurate bass response, a very wide soundstage and an accurate image. They were quite the pleasure to listen to. The driver and cross-over parts run just shy of $2600CDN for a pair of speakers. For those looking to tackle this projects, enclosure plans and crossover details for the the DIY Ananya speakers are available for free from the Solen website.

AUDIYO shared two rooms with Audio Sensibility, Excel Stereo and Acoustic Technologies. For the DIYer they had parts and upgrade kits from DACT, TentLabs, 1877Phono, Mundorf, Furutech and Xsymphony.

DACT DIY Audio Products

TentLabs DIY Audio Products

1877Phono DIY Audio Products

My show favorites will follow tomorrow.

More coverage of the 2010 Salon Son & Image show:

27 March 2010

Salon Son & Image 2010 Coverage - 1/3

This year I had the opportunity to attend my first Salon Son & Image show which is held annually in Montreal, Canada, this year for the first time at the Hilton Bonaventure hotel. There were about 70 exhibitors at the show which included manufacturers, retailers, media, installers and parts suppliers. I will break my coverage up into three parts - this general overview, DIY Audio at the show and my show favorites - which will follow in the next day or two. Like most, I was very curious to hear how nice an ultra high-end system would sound. So one of the first rooms I visited belonged to Cabasse Speakers where they were showing off their La Sphere 4-way concentric speakers. The system shown below is in the order of about $180,000CDN and consisted of Cabasse La Sphere Speakers, a Cabasse outboard digital crossover; eight ICE Module amplifiers and McIntosh's C2300 preamp and MCD500 SACD/CD player.

Cabasse La Sphere Speakers

Browsing through the various rooms, the Pathos T.T. amplifier shown below caught my attention with their big orange capacitors because it reminded me of Mark Houston's Synergy - DIY LM3875 Gainclone Amplifier.

Pathos T.T. Amplifier

Over the past few years I've had the opportunity to enjoy a number of great sounding headphones and I am currently living with a pair of Sennheiser HD 595. The Sennheiser display was an aural treat for headphiles. I took some time at this stop and listened to a set of HDR 180 which sounded quite decent for wireless headphones. But moving on to the more serious cans, the Sennheiser HD 650 were very nice and an overall improvement over my HD 595 which were also on display and sound great too. But the candy here were the $1800CDN Sennheiser HD 800 which quite frankly are the best headphones I have ever heard. Apparently I spent a little too much time with the HD 800 wrapped around my head as quite an unimpressed line-up had formed behind me while I was hogging the headphones.

Sennheiser HD 800 Headphones

The SSI show is partnered up with Stereophile and on Saturday afternoon they hosted a Stereophile - Ask The Editors forum. There was plenty of interesting discussion. One attendee asked the question: Why have active speakers not caught on? While most of the editors agreed that technically less in the signal path is better, it was generally agreed that the consumer prefers to have a choice over the amplifier - chacun à son goût as they would say in Montreal. There was also some insight into future Stereophile articles. On the topic of more vintage equipment reviews in Stereophile, the May issue is slated to contain an article on reconing of a pair of vintage Advent speakers and in the Fall, a review of a 40 year old pair of Acoustic Research AR3a speakers is planned.

Stereophile Ask The Editors - Salon Son & Image 2010

Stereophile Editors Salon Son & Image 2010

Shown below are Aurum Speakers driven by Advance Acoustic components - the meters on the electronics were very eye catching - big look and big sound.

Aurum Speakers and Advance Acoustic electronics

The voice of Canadian jazz artist Diana Krall performing 'S Wonderful sucked me into the Audio Basics Inc. room where I had the pleasure of listening to the literally transparent
Arabesque Speakers by Crystal Cables which retail for about $80,000CDN. Driven completely by Tenor Audio components this made for a very delightful venue which was very popular amongst the attendees.

Abrabesque Speakers by Crystal Cables

Abrabesque Speakers Rear

More coverage of the 2010 Salon Son & Image show:

10 March 2010

Tang Band D4-1 DIY Rear Horn Speaker Kit

This winter I wanted to build another set of speakers but there were a couple of problems. My woodworking skills are not great and I don't have a heated workshop where I could work as sawdust and paint fumes are typically not welcome in the home. With that in mind I was looking for a speaker that required not cutting or finishing and came across the Tang Band D4-1 DIY Back-Loaded Horn Speaker Kit.

Tang Band D4-1 Speaker Kit

The kits as supplied is 100% ready to build with all the necessary parts and tools required except for a soldering iron. There is no cutting required and the small speaker kit goes together just like the ready-to-assemble furniture that you would find at Ikea. The enclosure just stacks up and is held together with hex screws. The enclosure is a rear-loaded expanding horn which houses a single fullrange driver, the Tang Band W4-1617.

Tang Band D4-1 DIY Rear-Loaded Horn Speaker Kit

The enclosure was very simple to put together and the exterior wood face came pre-finished with a low gloss finish. The finish looks like it it can be lightly sanded and painted should one desire a different finish. The overall dimensions of each enclosure is 162 mm x 320 mm x 500 mm (W x H x D) and the finished speakers weigh 10.9 kg each.

Tang Band D4-1 DIY Back Horn Speaker Kit

The net result is a simple, attractive and compact back horn speaker that sounds great and is fun to build!

For full details see the Tang Band D4-1 DIY Back-Loaded Horn Speaker Kit review.

What's Playing: The Traveling Wilburys - Last Night

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