Monthly Archives: March 2012

Logitech has just announced their new Logitech UE Air Speaker with Apple’s AirPlay. The UE Air Speaker allows uncompressed music to be streamed to it from iTunes or an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch connected to your home’s Wi-Fi network. The UE speaker incorporates dual tweeters and woofers.

Combining Logitech’s experience in home audio with its Ultimate Ears heritage of delivering great quality sound directly into music lovers’ ears, the new Logitech UE Air Speaker offers functionality in a stylish design. The Logitech UE Air Speaker’s aesthetic attributes include subtle curves and a handsome piano-black finish.

Setup is easy: just dock your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, follow the on-screen instructions to download the Logitech UE Air app, enter your Wi-Fi network password and you’re ready to go. After that one time setup process, any iPhone 4s, iPhone4, iPhone 3GS, iPod touch (2nd, 3rd or 4th generation), iPad, iPad 2, or iPad (3rd generation) with iOS 4.2 or later, or any Mac or PC on your network with iTunes 10.1 or later is instantly connected. Plus with the Apple Dock Connector, you can charge your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch while you play music.

The Logitech UE Air Speaker is expected to be available in April 2012 at a MSRP of $399.99 U.S. Look for more details at: www.logitech.com.

Sceptre Inc. just announced a new budget-priced, LCD 38.5-inch HDTV, the X409BV-FHD in their new eco-friendly 40 Series line. The 40 Series is a line that adheres to strict manufacturing guidelines that aim to increase efficiency and decrease waste. The X409BV-FHD is an ultra energy efficient design, compliant with Energy Star 5.3, with an annual estimated cost of only $14 U.S.

The new X409BV-FHD includes features such as: Auto Dynamic Contrast Enhancement that improves low-light details in dim locations, multiple HDMI ports for easy connectivity, and an LCD backlight life rated at over 50,000 hours.

Additional Details & Features:
* Screen Size: 38.5″
* Aspect Ratio: 16:9
* Contrast Ratio: 5,000:1 Typical
* Brightness: 350
* Resolution: 1920×1080
* Response Time: 8.5 ms
* Built-in Tuner: ATSC, NTSC, Clear QAM
* LCD Backlight Life: Over 50,000 hours
* Ports: 3 HDMI, 1 USB
* Eco: Energy Star v5.3
* Weight: 26 lbs (with stand)

The Sceptre X409BV-FHD is currently available at a MSRP of $399.99 U.S. More information can be found at: www.sceptre.com.

Bryston has just announced the release of its new integrated amplifier called the B135 SST2, a replacement for the B100 SST.  The new model promises to be one of the most sonically transparent and reliable audio products available today. It offers performance levels equal to the finest separate audio components. The B135 SST2 provides 135 watts per channel at 8 ohms and 180 watts per channel at 4 ohms. There are provisions for 7 high level inputs, a pass-through feature, one tape loop and a pre-out/main-in feature. A headphone jack is provided for those requiring monitoring and private listening provisions. A fully functioning remote control is optional.  The B135 SST2 will retail for the same price as the B100 SST.

Highlights of the Bryston B135 SST2 include:

• Three completely separate and independent custom torodial power supplies are employed to prevent any possibility of channel to channel cross talk, interference or interaction between digital and analog sections.

• A unique ultra-linear input buffer with gain results in a substantial reduction in noise floor and distortion.

• Pass-through feature to allow for simple integration into multi-channel surround systems.

• Pre-out/main-in connectors allow for complete separation of the preamplifier and power amplifier sections making multi-channel system integration quick and easy.

• Gold plated five-way speaker binding posts and gold plated RCA/SPDIF input and output connectors provide long-term trouble – free connections.

For more info, please visit www.bryston.ca

Samsung Electronics just announced the availability of some of their new premium products incorporating vacuum tube amplifiers…yes, you heard that right. Samsung has added tubes to provide add rich, harmonious sound qualities. In the line-up of new premium products are: the Samsung DA-E750 Audio Dock, Samsung HT-E6530 3D Blu-ray 5.1 Home Entertainment System and Samsung HT-E6730W 3D Blu-ray 7.1 Home Entertainment System.

Samsung’s all new patented vacuum tube amplifier technology allows audio enthusiasts to enjoy the sonic benefits that tubes can bring to the audio experience. Vacuum tubes, which use a long-lasting heated cathode inside a glass bulb to amplify sound, tend to provide what is termed as warmer, more natural sound compared to conventional transistor based, solid-state products.

Consumers will be able to use the DA-E750 with their Galaxy S II smartphones, Galaxy Note and Galaxy Player as well as Apple iOS devices, thanks to a unique dual docking structure. Its 2.1-channel woven glass fiber speakers and powerful built-in subwoofer deliver 100 watts with enhanced bass. Consumers can use Samsung’s AllShare to share multimedia content between the audio dock and compatible smartphones, tablets, cameras and computers, or AirPlay to stream audio from iOS devices. The DA-E750 also includes analog (composite) input and connectivity via Bluetooth to MP3, WMA and WAV files from a broad range of devices – thumb drives, portable hard drives, music players and mobile devices.

The design of the DA-E750 was meant to bring sophistication to classic design, with luxury. The high gloss wood finish is available in either mahogany or piano black, which is accentuated by the warm glow from the vacuum tubes inside the docks when in operation. For added convenience, the audio dock will simultaneously charge the Galaxy S II or iOS device while streaming music.

Samsung’s flagship 3D Blu-ray Home Entertainment System, the HT-E6730W, offers high-definition audio and superior video for an all-in-one HT solution. The HT-E6730W is a 1,330-watt 7.1-channel system with two tower speakers and four additional speakers. Innovative swivel speakers are mounted on the specially designed front height speakers and may be turned upwards so sounds vertically cascade down onto the listener. The two rear wireless satellite speakers may be placed anywhere in the room without the need for additional wires to create a truly immersive vertical surround sound experience. A dual-unit passive radiator subwoofer provides clear, rich bass response.

Samsung’s vacuum tube pre-amplifier may be seen on the front and top of the system. The glass fiber cones in the speakers improve sound quality and minimize distortion, for the ideal combination of style and performance. Samsung’s Crystal Amp Plus technology offers pure digital audio playback and quality while also protecting listeners from unexpected jumps in volume.

The HT-E6730W seamlessly up-converts content to 1080p from a variety of sources, including DVDs, streaming video and connected media devices. Each home theater system employs a Samsung-developed system-on-a-chip (SoC), which has cutting-edge image quality enhancement algorithms, Samsung’s video processor and scaler, and various high definition codecs. The system also comes with built-in Wi-Fi for easy access to Samsung Smart Hub and AllShare. Newly designed for 2012, Samsung Smart Hub allows consumers to download hundreds of premium apps and use the web browser surf the Internet. They can also interact with friends and family using popular social networking services such as Facebook or Twitter.

The features of the HT-E6730W are also included in a 1,000 watt, 5.1 version, the Samsung HT-E6530 3D Blu-ray 5.1 Home Entertainment System. The HT-E6530 includes two tall speakers, satellite surrounds, centre channel and subwoofer. It’s vacuum-tube power that delivers brilliant sound by combining the best of digital and analog audio technologies.

All of the new premium components are set to ship this Spring in Canada at the following MSRP:

The Samsung DA-E750 Audio Dock (MSRP: $699.99)
Samsung HT-E6530 3D Blu-ray 5.1 Home Entertainment System (MSRP: $699.99)
Samsung HT-E6730W 3D Blu-ray 7.1 Home Entertainment System (MSRP: $999.99)

For more information, please visit www.samsung.ca.

Emotiva Audio Corporation is set to release their new XMC-1 preamp/processor this Summer 2012. The new XMC-1 has been developed under the guidance of systems architect Ray Dennison and is said to represent a new technological milestone for Emotiva.

The new XMC-1 utilizes two 32 bit, dual core, floating point digital signal processors that are controlled by an advanced ARM processor running custom Linux software. This setup ensure the latest high-resolution multi-channel audio formats are handled with true 7.2-channel decoding, including separate level, distance, and EQ controls for stereo subwoofers and summed LFE.

The XMC-1 also features a TacT TCS 3e Theater Dynamic Room Correction system—a proprietary version of the advanced room correction system found in TacT’s TCS Mk III surround sound processor, developed exclusively for Emotiva. The TacT TCS 3e allows listeners to apply room correction at the push of a button.

The TacT Theater Dynamic Room Correction system adjusts the system response to a specific target curve and then applies a sophisticated loudness compensation algorithm that dynamically adjusts the tonal balance of the system based on volume. The result is exceptional sound reproduction, at all listening levels.

Along with the highly advanced TacT Theater Dynamic Room Correction system, the user has the option to manually set independent crossover frequencies for the center, fronts, surrounds, back, and subwoofers channels, select independent or global multi-band parametric equalization, independently variable EQ frequency and crossover slope rates by channel groupings – all of which are accessible on a computer-based user interface accessible via the XMC-1’s back-panel Ethernet control port.

In addition to seven HDMI 1.4 inputs and one HDMI 1.4 output (3D and 4K compatible), the XMC-1 also boasts four optical and four coaxial digital audio inputs; balanced and unbalanced stereo audio inputs, two USB Type A ports, which facilitate FLAC, WAV, AAC, and MP3 audio streaming, a USB Type B port for high bitrate lossless audio streaming, and a 3.5mm headphone output driven by a dedicated Texas Instruments DirectPath Stereo Headphone Amplifier.

The XMC-1 also includes features such as selectable pure direct audio pass-through with no additional processing of 2.0-, 5.1-, and 7.2-channel audio sources, as well as pure direct audio processing of SACD’s DSD audio.

Emotiva is committed to continuously developing and expanding upon the capabilities and features of the XMC-1, making the XMC-1 a lasting investment and with the XMC-1’s incorporated Ethernet port, firmware upgrades can be performed by the owner.

The Emotiva XMC-1 will be available this summer for $1499 U.S. As well, customers who participate in Emotiva’s Processor Upgrade Program can buy their XMC-1 for 40% off when it goes on sale and those who buy the XMC-1 will also receive a new Processor Upgrade Certificate good for 40% off a future generation processor.

Look for more details at: www.emotiva.com.

It is always a great opportunity to mix a little business with pleasure.  This is especially true when business calls you to a wonderful city like Montreal.  Whatever you’re into – food, entertainment, night life, shopping – this city has it all.  And once a year, Montreal offers the chance for audio enthusiasts and industry types to experience many of the latest audio products available in the market.  2012 marks the 25th anniversary of the Salon Son et Image event and as with every past edition provided us with the opportunity to see and listen to lots of new audio products.  Covering an audio show is no easy feat, considering the number of exhibitors and hallways that were bustling with visitors, but I did my best to visit as many rooms as possible.

   One of the larger rooms at the show, shared by Bryston and Axiom Audio, seemed as good as any for a place to start.  Bryston’s James Tanner was on hand and glad to explain his new products to visitors.  The new B135 SST2 integrated amp ($4,300), which replaces the B100, was one of the new products on display.  It offers 135 watts per channel (8 ohms), three separate torodial power supplies, seven inputs, a pass-through feature is also available in addition to, one tape loop and a pre-out/main-in feature.  Also on display was a prototype Bryston speaker developed in collaboration with Axiom Audio – Tanner said it has always been his dream to design an active speaker.  The prototype speaker utilizes a three-way active system (3 woofers, 2 mids and 2 tweeters) with an acoustic suspension design.  Although the speakers were not connected for auditioning there was an outboard DSP-based electronic crossover placed on a stand between them, which may be available as a separate component in the future.  Will we get to hear this speaker at the 2012 TAVES in September?  It would sure be nice!  Something that you could listen to however from Bryston was the brand new BHA-1 balanced headphone amp ($1,295).  A couple of listening stations in the room gave eager headphone listeners a chance to hear the new amp with a variety of music.  The BHA-1 is a highly versatile amp that can easily drive the most demanding headphones in the market (including balanced models).  Most of the other Bryston components were also displayed in the room.  Elsewhere at the show, in the Totem Acoustic room, visitors were also given the chance to listen to the new Bryston SP-3 Surround Processor/Preamp.

   On the Axiom Audio side of the room was a brand new speaker called the LFR1100 (LFR stands for Linear Field Radiating), the company’s first omni-directional speaker.  This new model, priced at $3,750, uses no less than 11 drivers – 2 tweeters, 2 mids and 3 woofers in the front; as well as 2 tweeters and 2 mids in the back.  The speaker has 3 chambers, 3 ports and was driven with 4 channels of Bryston amplification at the show.  To deal with its arrangement of front and rear firing drivers Axiom utilizes a custom designed DSP (included in the $3,750 price).  Axiom recommends that these speakers sit about 2 feet away from the back wall for optimal performance.  What advantages does this speaker design offer over a traditional design?  It promises a more natural soundstage perspective with a better sense of depth to individual instruments.  A static display lining the side wall of the room displayed numerous other Axiom speaker models (including two recently released centre channels VP180 and VP160), each in a different custom finish.  Axiom offers a staggering number of finishes to choose from and will even do a colour match for you.

The second room I walked into at the show was shared between Kimber Kable, System Audio loudspeakers and Oracle Audio.  Kimbercan has been the Canadian distributor of Kimber Kable for a few years and now the company is also making the System Audio speaker brand available to the Canadian market.  The speakers playing in the room were called the Ranger Master ($7,000/pair), while a static display of other System Audio speakers lined one of the room’s walls.  The electronics consisted of the Oracle Audio Paris CD player, DAC and integrated amp.  The Paris CD player and DAC being demonstrated are actually a single new component which can be ordered in various configurations, ranging between $3,250 and $5,000.  For example, the new component can be ordered as a DAC in both un-balanced and balanced versions, and with or without the CD transport.  The entire system in this room was of course wired up with Kimber Kable Select cables.  Kimbercan also showed its newly introduced HD 19e HDMI cable.

Walking into the Totem Acoustic room this year felt like I walked into a lounge – which was precisely the idea.  Totem always goes far beyond what other companies do to dress its room and this year was no exception.  The combination of white leather couches, plants and dimmed lighting created a relaxed, laid back atmosphere that’s cool enough for younger souls but equally welcoming for all visitors.  Further enhancing the setting was a large projection screen highlighting the Totem Element speakers as well as the company’s Torrent driver technology.  Of course the main attraction in the room was a 5.2 channel Totem speaker system consisting of the Element Metal floorstanding models ($12,995/pair), the Element Wood centre channel ($4,500), the Tribe V speakers ($2,750 each) in the rear and dual Tribe Sub subwoofers ($1,695 each).  The purpose of this year’s presentation was to show that the elegance and lifestyle design of even the largest Totem speakers allows them to fit comfortably into just about any environment.  Cutting edge speaker design and technology also means that Totem speakers offer some of the best sound available today.  I’m personally a huge fan of the sonic signature of the Element series and hope to set up a pair of the Metal models in my own listening room in the near future.  The electronics in the room were courtesy of Bryston, while all of the pieces of the system were wired up with Totem cables.  For those of you who don’t know, Totem makes its own reasonably priced, high quality power cords, interconnects and speaker cables.

   Goerner Communication, the distributor of Audio Physic speakers, Trigon Audio electronics, Acoustic Signature turntables and Triactive audio racks and accessories, had a very nice room at the show this year.  In contrast to last year, when Goerner demonstrated many of its affordable components, this year the company went all out, bringing top-of-the-line components from each brand.  The components playing inside the room consisted of the Acoustic Signature Ascona turntable with an optional dedicated floor stand ($34,000 for the turntable, $12,000 for the stand), Trigon Dialog preamp ($9,500 with three modules), Trigon Chronolog digital music server ($9,500) and Trigon Monolog mono block amps ($9500 each).  Something that makes the Dialog preamp unique is its modular architecture which allows the manufacturer to build this component according to the needs of a customer’s system.  The Chronolog is a highly versatile music server which can playback CDs, DVDs, as well as music from its built-in solid-state hard disk, any plugged in USB devices and even the home network.  It can also rip CDs to its hard disk.  Finally, a video output allows it to connect to any display device.  The speakers used were the flagship Audio Physic Cardeas (approx. $36,000/pair) featuring a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind custom finish.  Goerner also had a second room at the show.  This room featured components including the Acoustic Signature Storm turntable ($7,500), Trigon Advance phono preamp ($2,000), Trigon Chronolog music server, Grandinote Shinai amp ($15,000) and Audio Physic Virgo 25 speakers ($14,000).  Grandinote is an electronics brand newly distributed by Goerner in Canada.

     Tri-cell Enterprises, a distributor of many great audio brands, occupied three rooms at the show this year.  Its large exhibit room gave visitors the opportunity to listen to two different systems.  One system consisted of the Acapella Violon MK VI speakers ($44,000), Aesthetix Atlas monoblock amps, Aesthetix Janus preamp and the Clearaudio Innovation Compact turntable – all placed on an HRS stand.  On the digital source side, there was a top-of-the-line Accustic Arts Drive II disc transport and an Accustic Arts Tube-DAC II.  The Acapella Violon MK VI speaker attracted a lot of attention because of its out of the ordinary looks (thanks to its big red horn) and engaging sound.  What makes this speaker very unique is its ion tweeter – a mass-less tweeter which doesn’t use any moving parts.  How does this tweeter work?  An electron current that flows between two electrodes energizes the air and creates high frequencies.  Acapella offers speaker models for all budgets, ranging from about $6,000 all the way up to $350,000.  This first system was wired up with Onda Systems’ top-flight Riptide cables.  The second system had a Unison Research CD player, Accustic Arts Amp II amp, Aesthetix Janus preamp – all placed on a new entry-level HRS stand.  During the show Tri-cell swapped the speakers in this system giving visitors the opportunity to listen to a few different models from brands including Opera, Vandersteen and Chario.  This system was hooked up with the entry-level Onda Systems cable line called Kyra.  Both systems sounded great, although I must say that the system with the Acapella speakers really won my heart.  In addition to the two systems being demonstrated, the sides of the room were lined with all sorts of products from other brands distributed by Tri-cell.  Another prominent display in the room showed the entire line of Onda Systems cables new and improved cables – a brand which Tri-cell just added to the stable of brands that it distributes in Canada.  Onda Systems offers five levels of cables at varying price ranges, suitable for all audio enthusiasts.  The company’s design goal was to produce truthful, organic, analog sounding cables so that they can improve the performance of every audio system and judging from the sound in this room they’ve accomplished just that.  In addition to all the products shown in this room, Tri-cell had two other rooms at the show.  One demonstrated the ASW speakers with Unison Research electronics and Clearaudio turntables, while the other played Joseph Audio speakers with Brinkmann Audio electronics.

   Speaker manufacturer Zellaton made its first appearance in Canada thanks to North American distributor Audioarts.  All Zellaton speakers are hand made in Munich, Germany, offer high-end audiophile performance and minimalist designs.  On demonstration inside the room was the company’s least expensive model called the Emotion ($24,750), a semi-open baffle speaker with no crossover.  Like all other parts of the speaker, the woofer and tweeter are built by Zellaton in-house.  Both are constructed from a light weight paper/foam material covered in foil on both sides – using the same materials allows them to achieve a linear uniformity.  Zellaton’s speaker range currently consists of four models ranging up to $70,000.  The electronics in the room included the David Berning ZH-230 30 watts per channel amp (approx. $8,600 or $16,700 for monoblock version) and the ZOTL Pre One preamp (approx. $12,500).  Music was provided by a MAC laptop connected to a Lector Audio S-192 USB DAC ($6,500).  Gideon Schwartz of Audioarts says that we can expect to see his company at the 2012 TAVES this September.

   Liberty Trading, a distributor of many fine brands, occupied the largest room at the show.  This year the company re-launched the Quad brand in Canada and introduced the KingRex and April Music brands.  Some of the numerous brands shown in the room were Roksan, Brik Audio, Mastersound, Target HiFi and Gutwire Cables.  For those who brought their wallets, there were also plenty of items for purchase right in this room, ranging from a wide variety of accessories to hundreds of audiophile CDs and records.  In fact, Liberty Trading offered just about every turntable setup/calibration tool and record-care accessory you could imagine.  One of the systems on demonstration that appeared to attract a lot of attention offered the Quad Reference ESL-2905 electrostatic speakers ($15,000) and electronics from the Quad Elite line-up: QMP mono power amps ($4,000/pair), CDS CD player ($1,250) and the Stereo amp ($13,000 approx.).  The second Quad system consisted of the Reference ESL-2805 electrostatic speakers ($12,000), the Elite QSP power amp ($1,995), the Pre preamp and the CDP CD player ($1,600).  Other new products from Quad included the Platinum series and the 23L and 25L speakers.  The cables used throughout the systems in this room were primarily from Gutwire.  Nabil Akhrass, the president of Liberty Trading, told me that he’s looking forward to offering some of the same products and demonstrations at TAVES later this year.

   Plurison is one of the biggest Canadian distributors and does an outstanding job of promoting its suite of brands.  The brands that Plursion focused on at this year’s show included Naim, Devialet and Focal.  Naim was demonstrated in a two room suite – one room offered the opportunity to listen to a full Naim system, while the other contained a static display of the various Naim Uniti components.  Inside the listening room, Plurison was demonstrating numerous Naim audio components including its latest top-of-the-range NDS Network Player ($13,000) for the first time in North America.  The audio quality of this new player combined with the Naim Ovator S-600 speakers was superb in every aspect.  Inside the static display room, Plurison showed the upgraded versions of the UnitiQute and NaimUniti components.  Both components have been upgraded from 24-bit/96kHz to 24-bit/192kHz streaming, wireless connectivity was upgraded from Wireless G to N and now offer ALAC / Apple Lossless compatibility (up to 24-bit/96kHz).  All UnitiQute and NaimUniti components sold now already have these upgrades installed, while owners of previous versions can upgrade their components for $400.  This hardware upgrade can be performed by a Naim dealer or Plurison.  The SuperUniti, which was first revealed at last year’s TAVES, also already has all of these upgrades.  Another component on display was the recently released ND5 XS Network Player, an entry-level streaming component.  This component allows you to stream audio from a UPnP server (wired or wirlessly), listen to internet radio, play music from your iPod, iPhone, iPad or USB storage, and listen to conventional digital audio sources.  Finally, Plurison also revealed a new entry-level XP5 XS power supply ($3,000) at the show.

   But this was not the only Plurison room at the show – the company also occupied a large room on the bottom level.  This room concentrated on the Focal and Devialet brands.  Again, there was a full system set up in this room that visitors could enjoy as well as a number of static displays.  I had my first opportunity to listen to the Focal/Devialet combination at the 2011 TAVES but couldn’t resist spending a few minutes listening to the system here.  When you combine one of the best speakers in the world with a luxurious amplifier the result is pure musical bliss.  Although the system on demonstration was a little too rich for most pockets, Plurison did show many of the much more affordable Focal speakers, which use many of the same technologies, in a static display. There was also a static display which showed the sophisticated insides of the Devialet amplifier.

   Hegel is a Norway-based company that has existed in the European and Asia markets for some 20 years and began distributing its products in the US about 3 years ago.  Although Hegel products have also been available in Canada for the last few years the company’s market penetration has been minimal.  Hegel has now teamed up with VMAX Services, a Canadian distributor of other fine audio brands, and intends to raise the brand’s awareness in the great white north by actively promoting Hegel to consumers.  Anders Ertzeid admitted that this was more of a pre-launch of the brand to the Canadian market – the official launch will take place this September at TAVES.  Inside the room the audio demonstration included the top-of-the-range Hegel H30 power amp ($15,000, 300 watts per channel in stereo mode), the Hegel P30 preamp ($7,600) and the more affordable CDP2A CD player ($2,700) and a new HD11 DAC ($12,000).  The final link in the audio chain were the Amphion Argon7 L prototype speakers ($6,000 to $7,000 depending on finish) from Finland.  Richard Kohlruss of VMAX Services said that we can expect to see the production version of these speakers at the 2012 TAVES.

   Canadian importer and manufacturer Grant Fidelity is no stranger to SSI and demonstrated its “High End, Not High Priced” motto to the visitors.  This year the company focused on showing two of its major brands in their room this year – Opera Consonance and Psvane.  In the main portion of the room Opera Consonance’s latest turntable was among the new products being demonstrated.  This enthusiast turntable ($3,200) comes with one tonearm installed but will accept two more, for vinyl fans who would like to try different combinations of tonearms and cartridges.  Another new component from Opera Consonance was the Reference 7 music streamer ($2,500) which offers a tube output and contains a DAC with the ability to accept input from a hard drive.  The speakers playing in the room were the Grant Fidelity RBS-1 Reference ($2,200/pair) shown in previous year’s of the show.  The other section of the room consisted of a static display of Psvane, a tube manufacturer formed by key R&D employees formerly of Shuguang.  Psvane offers affordable, high-end tubes and replicas of Western Electric tubes.  Many different tubes were on display in varying price ranges. 

   I’m always delighted to see Nordost at shows because I’m familiar with the quality of the demonstrations that the company offers to its attendees.  If you’re ever at an audio show at which Nordost is present you should definitely check out one of its demo sessions.  This year Nordost launched the Norse Series 2 cables at the show.  In one demonstration, visitors got a chance to listen to the system in the room with the previous series of power, interconnect and speaker cables in place.  Then, the same music selection was played with the new series of cables in the system.  Similarly, in another demonstration, Nordost demonstrated the benefits of using the various models of Sort Kones in an audio system.  Check out Phil Gold’s review of the Sort Kones in the latter pages of this issue – it’s pretty amazing just how much of an improvement these devices can provide in a system.  Finally, Nordost also demonstrated the newly released Quantum QRT Qv2 AC Line Harmonizers.  These devices plug directly into the AC line and introduce a calculated range of pulsed frequencies, clocked from the original 50 or 60Hz waveform. The Qv2 is capable of lowering the noise floor, increasing the image depth, dimensionality and presence.

   Although some Audioquest products were present at the SSI in previous years, the company wisely set up its own large, prominent room this year.  This allowed Audioquest to run engaging demonstrations and show nearly all of its products to the visitors.  The presenters in the room were particularly excited to demonstrate the soon-to-be-released Dragonfly USB DAC ($250 US).  This is a tiny device the size of a USB thumb drive which promises to compete with the performance of some full sized DACs.  The Dragonfly is designed to plug into any computer and provides a 3.5 mm stereo output for use with headphones or when used with a 3.5 mm to RCA cable can be connected to any stereo system.  Its asynchronous USB input allows it to resolve music files up to 96 kHz/24-bit.  The digital music files were fed from a MacBook laptop as well as a desktop computer in the room.  Another new product shown at the show included a USB to i-device cable.  Audioquest demonstrated to its visitors the difference in audio quality its cable makes when compared to a stock Apple cable (which costs just $5 less then the Audioquest cable).  This cable is designed to connect your i-device to any audio component that offers a “Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad” USB connection (which many AV receivers, preamps and digital music streamers now offer).  Audioquest also ran demonstrations of Lyra turntable cartridges, which the company distributes.  There were plenty of knowledgeable staff members inside the room that were happy to explain the company’s products.

   Mass Fidelity is a Canadian company which develops what the company calls smart sound systems.  Its ambitious goal is to do for stereos what Apple did for phones.  The company’s vision is to provide a way to offer digital music management by a purpose-built sound system, instead of performing this task on several other devices like phones, tablets or laptops.  Mass Fidelity devices are designed to organize and aggregate your music and serve it to you in a unified way that makes sense.  Mass Fidelity showed the stereOS, a Linux-based device, at the show which packs the company’s vision into a single box.  The stereOS is targeted at software developers, custom installers and technology enthusiasts since it offers an open source platform which allows them to add their own features and functionality to it.  This device is capable of accessing all of the music stored on a local network, NAS and various Cloud accounts.  If a particular artist or song doesn’t appear in your collection, the device will automatically find it online with the help of services such as YouTube, GrooveShark and SoundCloud.  The stereOS has built-in web server software which can be used to control music playback from devices such as phones or tablets – in effect turning these devices into remotes.  In the future the company hopes to integrate the technology of the stereOS into its sound and speaker systems.  Mass Fidelity also showed a couple of upcoming consumer products at the show including its Reference Series Model 1 integrated amp ($995) and Model 1 speaker system ($995).  Both feature minimalist, industrial designs.  In addition to a typical suite of audio inputs, the integrated amp will also offer Bluetooth streaming from devices such as phones, tablets and laptops.  The Model 1 speaker system is a pair of compact speakers constructed out of MDF with an aluminium grill.  Each speaker is true 3-way system, offering four drivers and two separate enclosures in each cabinet.

   Woo Audio is a company that specializes in tube-based headphone amps (ranging from $495 all the way to $10,000) and had six different models that visitors of the show could listen to.  If you’ve ever wondered just how much improvement a headphone amp can bring on-board when listening to headphones, this is one display you didn’t want to miss.  Some of the listening stations used Woo Audio’s brand new WTP-1 CD transport ($1,099 US) combined with the WDS-1 DAC ($1,099 US) as the source, while the other used MacBooks fed through the WDS-1 DAC.

   MA Recordings has been in the business of – you guessed it – recording live music for some 25 years.  Todd Garfinkle, the company’s owner, records captivating live performances in churches, concert halls and galleries across North America, Europe and Asia. The genres of Garfinkle’s recordings cover classical, jazz, folk and world music. The company’s most recent recordings are captured at 5.6 MHz/1-bit and available on redbook CD and high resolution WAV files on DVD (176.4 kHz/24-bit).  MA Recordings offered its catalog of recordings for purchase at the show but if you missed it, all the discs can be ordered from www.marecordings.com.

   Although the focus of Salon Son et Image was almost entirely on audio there was one pretty amazing home theatre demonstration that I stumbled upon.  A Montreal-based custom installer, Eddie Dufour Audio-Design, set up a fantastic THX-certified multi-channel system which seemed to impress every visitor that walked inside this large room.  The audio was provided thanks to seven Klipsch THX Ultra2 speakers and four matching subwoofers ($18,698) set up in a 7.1 channel configuration.  Using four subwoofers was necessary to fill this large room with a deep and even bass energy.  Helping achieve the bass performance in the room was a Velodyne SMS-1 subwoofer management system ($699).  The electronics included an Onkyo TX-NR3009 AV receiver ($2,499) and an Onkyo BD-SP309 Blu-ray 3D player ($249).  On the video side, there was an Epson Pro Cinema 6010 3LCD 3D-capable projector ($3,549) shooting on to a 100-inch Screen Innovations TRF-100 BD27 screen ($3,199).  I sat for about 20 minutes in this room because the presentation was so engaging.  During the time I spent in the room the presenter was playing the “Yanni Live! The Concert Event” Blu-ray which highlighted this system’s audio and video capabilities very well.  Depending on who you ask Yanni might be played out but I certainly enjoyed this demo.  The detailed, dynamic audio brought pleasure to my ears, while the clean 1080p video was a treat to my eyes.  The total value of the system tipped just over $30,000 but the end result was a true movie theatre experience.  Eddie Dufour Audio-Design does not have a website but can be contacted at 514-707-7002.

   Navigating through the various rooms of an audio show is a very exciting task because you never know what new products and brands you might discover.  One thing is for sure, every year I stumble upon something very cool on the show floor.  But all good things must come to an end and as the show wrapped up on Sunday, my feet were glad to finally get some rest.  Next stop?  The Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show (TAVES) this September of course!  For more info about TAVES, please visit www.taveshow.com.

Editor’s note: Part 2 of this article will be added to our site in the next several days, so please check back here soon.

Atlantic Technology has just introduced five new stealthy ceiling mounted loudspeakers designed for the home theater and whole house distributed audio.

The Atlantic Technology ICTS-6HT is an in-ceiling home theater speaker designed for use as the front left, center and right channels of a home theater system. The 6-1/2-inch polypropylene woofer is mounted at a 15 degree angle so it can direct midrange and vocals toward the listener for improved imaging and intelligibility. To further enhance imaging, the tweeter can be pivoted up to 30 degrees so the full frequency range of the front channels remains perfectly focused. The speakers have built-in tweeter level controls and a woofer-level/boundary compensation adjustment.  

Atlantic Technology is also introducing four new Trim-Look Ceiling speakers with thin magnetically attached grilles that are nearly invisible to the casual observer. These highly efficient speakers offer exceptional sound quality for music and home theater applications. The top two models, TLC-6.3 and TLC-8.3, are Tri-Mode speakers with dual-voice-coil woofers and two pivoting tweeters. They have separate left- and right-channel input terminals, input jumpers and a built-in bipole/dipole switch. These allow the speaker to be used for mono, single-point stereo, or as a surround speaker. The two base models, TLC-6.2 and TLC-8.2, are conventional, single-channel 6-1/2- and 8-inch two-way speakers with 1-inch soft dome tweeters that can pivot 30 degrees for optimal imaging.

The Atlantic Technology ICTS-6HT In-Ceiling Theater Speaker are now available with a suggested retail price of $400 US each.  The Trim-Look Ceiling Speakers are also shipping the last week of March. The Tri-Mode models TLC-6.3 and TLC-8.3 will have suggested retail prices of $325 US and $450 US respectively, while the two-way TLC-6.2 and TLC-8.2, will have suggested retail prices of $250 US and $325 US respectively.

For more info, please visit www.atlantictechnology.com.

The new WAFER series from Pinnacle Speakers is a great solution for the discerning audio connoisseur who wants great sound without compromising on aesthetics.  The new edgeless, no bezel design uses powerful neodymium magnets to hold on the microperf metal grille.  This grille completely covers the speaker’s trim making the speaker virtually invisible.  It protrudes from the wall a mere 4 mm, a quarter of traditional models.

The high quality polymer cone woofers and pivoting silk dome tweeters are further enhanced by custom crafted crossover networks, known for their meticulous detail and component quality. The result is unparalleled sound and performance from this series of superb custom install speakers.  The WAFER series contains the following models:

WAFR FLUSH CTR 525
This 5-element, dual 5.25” 4-way speaker, sized to fit between studs, is the perfect choice for any in-wall application.  The pivoting tweeter and super tweeter ensure a crisp high end while the dual woofers enable excellent low frequency transient response. This in conjunction with the superb midrange clarity make it an exceptional choice for any channel in a home theater system or throughout the house for distributive audio.

WAFR FLUSH WALL 606
This 6.5″ 2-way in-wall speaker, with pivoting tweeter, is the perfect choice for any channel in a home theater system or throughout the house for distributive audio.

WAFR FLUSH CLNG 826
This 8″ 2-way in-ceiling speaker, with pivoting tweeter and concentric driver loading, is an excellent choice in any ceiling mount application in a home theater system or throughout the house for distributive audio, especially where lower frequencies are desired.  

WAFR FLUSH CLNG 626
This 6.5″ 2-way in-ceiling speaker, with pivoting tweeter and concentric driver loading, is an excellent choice for any ceiling  mount application.

For more info, please visit www.pinnaclespeakers.com.

Onkyo has just announced the release of two new, feature-packed THX-certified home cinema receivers – the TX-NR717 7.2-channel Network Receiver, and the more powerful TX-NR818 7.2 Channel Network Receiver.

The TX-NR818 comes equipped with Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room acoustic correction and DTS Neo:X, Dolby Pro Logic IIz and Audyssey DSX. DTS Neo:X incorporates Front Wide or Front Height channels.

The TX-NR717, meanwhile, features Audyssey DSX for Wide Channels and Dolby Pro Logic IIz for Height effects, as well as multi-channel expansion of stereo sources.

Another new feature for smartphone users is the front-panel Mobile High Definition Link HDMI port that’s provided on both models. This allows users to connect and play high-resolution media stored on compatible smart phones with up to seven channels of surround sound.

Onkyo is also first to market with InstaPrevue technology, which displays video thumbnails of available content on HDMI connected devices, simplifying switching between HDMI sources.

The TX-NR818 incorporates an exclusive “dual core engine” with HQV Vida VHD 1900 video processor for smooth and accurate 1080p upscaling, supported by Marvell’s 4K video processor with powerful Qdeo technology. Qdeo technology – which can upscale 1080p video to four times that resolution – is featured on both models for users that have, or plan to have, a 4K display. Additionally, the TX-NR818 offers video calibration to ISF (Imaging Science Foundation) standards, so the user can enjoy breathtaking TV picture quality.

Both receivers earn THX Select 2 Plus certification with enhancements to Onkyo’s well-established WRAT amplifier technology. Distortion is all but eliminated by the use of three-stage inverted Darlington circuitry, with power supplied by a massive high-power transformer. Both units feature Burr-Brown 192 kHz/24-bit DACs on all seven channels. The TX-NR818 has PLL jitter-cleaning circuits to further improve signal quality, as well as physically separated power amp and pre-amp blocks.

Both receivers have eight HDMI inputs (one front, and seven rear) and two outputs. The HDMI implementation enables full 3D video support, as well as DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD audio decoding. The receivers feature an Audio Return Channel over HDMI, allowing the playback of broadcast TV with surround sound. Onkyo’s high-resolution GUI (Graphical User Interface) offers an overlaid ‘Quick Setup’ menu that provides access to frequently used settings, ideal when you feel the need to tweak a setting in the middle of a programme or movie.

Users will find that Onkyo’s home networking execution is reliable and hassle-free, with online sources that are easy to set up and fast to access. Users can connect using a standard ethernet cable, or add an optional UWF-1 Wireless LAN Adapter to the rearside USB port, leaving the front-panel USB free for an iPod, iPhone, or flash memory device.

As well as a huge selection of internet radio channels, and music streaming options from the likes of Spotify and Simfy, users can enjoy their personal cloud-based music collections via MP3tunes with powerful home cinema sound. Ethernet connectivity also enables the playback of music from PCs or media servers, as well as simplifying the process of downloading firmware updates.

With the TX-NR717 and TX-NR818, have the ability to send audio to up to three rooms via dedicated line-outs, or by allocating surround channel loudspeaker outputs for the purpose. Audio signals can be sent to stereo speakers in Zones 2/3, with Zone 2/3 line-outs available for further distribution. Users can control playback in any of those rooms – along with all major home cinema settings – from anywhere in the house using an Onkyo remote app for iPhone or Android phone.

While both receivers include a huge selection of digital and analogue A/V connections and offer front-channel bi-amping, the TX-NR818 also boasts a differential DAC arrangement that assigns two DACs for each front channel, as well as a unique new onboard Digital Crossover Processing Network to cancel frequency interference when bi-wiring the front monitors.

In the coming months, Onkyo will introduce its UBT-1 USB Bluetooth Adapter to significantly upgrade the ability of its network receivers to interact with a wide variety of hand-held electronic devices. There will also be a new iOS remote control app that will enable music streaming from an iPod/iPhone to an Onkyo network receiver.

The Onkyo TX-NR717 MSRP is $1049 CAD and TX-NR818 MSRP is $1,349 CAD. Both receivers will be available in black or silver beginning in May 2012. Look for more details at: www.onkyo.com.

TEAC has announced their new Reference Series CR-H700i DAB network CD receiver. The CR-H700i is a one-box audio solution combination CD player; 40-watt amplifier; FM/AM/DAB/ internet radio player and Airplay streaming device. With AirPlay, the CR-H700i can provide a hi-fi audio solution with Apple Macs, PCs and iOS devices. In addition, the CR-H700i provides for CD playback through it’s integrated CD player and even allows for connection of a turntable for vinyl playback, via it’s integrated phonostage. Playback of music files on a computer hard drive or NAS storage via a wired (Ethernet) or wireless (wi-fi) connection is also an option. iPods and USB drives can be connected using the fascia-mounted USB socket where MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC and FLAC files can be decoded and enjoyed. A USB lead is provided for iPod use.

Based on TEAC’s CR-H500NT platform, the CR-H700i network CD stereo receiver provides a 40 watts amplifier and access to radio stations through AM/FM and DAB bands, together with internet radio using the vTuner service. The CR-H700i also allows for connection of other source devices via its rear RCA inputs. It also features headphone and subwoofer outputs in addition to a standard RCA output.

Internally, the CR-H700 benefits from TEAC’s advanced audio engineering and high-quality component selection, which includes a Burr-Brown 24-bit DAC. Featuring brushed aluminum front and side panels, aesthetics aim to please the discerning consumer. A remote control is supplied and Airplay users can enjoy their music collection in full using their iOS devices. Further features include a clock, timer on/off and sleep function, a dimmable display and preset function.

Specifications:
- Stereo CD receiver CR-H700/700DAB
- 40W + 40W (6 ?, 1 kHz, 0.5 % THD)
- Functions: CD, iPod/USB, Tuner, Network, AUX1, AUX2, Phono
- Apple AirPlay and DLNA Compatible
- 24bit/192kHz Delta-sigma D/A Converter
- Supports CD, CD-R/RW, MP3 and WMA discs
- iPod/iPhone/iPad Digital Audio Connection via USB cable
- MP3/WMA/WAV/AAC/FLAC Decoding from USB Memory
- Discrete Amplifiers
- Program CD Play, Repeat (1/ALL), Shuffle Play
- AM/FM/Internet-Radio RDS Tuner (DAB/DAB+) with Preset Station Memory
- Fluorescent Display with Dimmer
- Clock, Timer-on/off, Sleep Timer
- Remote Control (also controls iPod functions incl. menu operation) RC-1286
- Audio Input: x 3 (RCA x 2, Stereo Mini x 1)
- Audio Output: x 1 (RCA)
- Subwoofer Preout: x 1 (RCA)
- Headphone Jack: x 1 (Stereo Mini)
- USB Port: x 1
- Ethernet Port: x 1 (RJ-45, 10Base-T)
- Wireless LAN: x 1 (IEEE802.11b/g)
- Speaker Terminal: Binding Post
- Operation: 230V AC, 50Hz
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 290 x 113 x 338 mm
- Weight: 5.4kg
- Brushed Aluminum Front and Side Panels
- Colors: Black

The TEAC Reference CR-H700i DAB is available for £449.99 in the UK with North American pricing and availability, yet to be announced. Look for more details at: www.teac.com.

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