Fresh on the heels of the release of the active Domain Omni DA1 electrostatic speaker last year, Muraudio, based in Ottawa, Canada, chose SSI 2014 to premiere its new passive PX1 version of the speaker. Retailing at $58,000, the PX1 features three 9" bass drivers in a sealed enclosure, and the company's unique 360-degree array of electrostatic panels. The bass drivers and electrostatic panels are crossed over at 450Hz. Sitting far, far off to one side of the speakers, I was astonished by how much of a realistic soundstage these speakers cast. Rather than sounding like just about any other pair of speakers from this vantage, the PX1s sounded like a real, live band. This type of imaging needs to be heard to be believed.
Looking as manic as ever, Gilbert Yeung, owner of Blue Circle Audio, holds two of his new PLC Thingee FX2 with X0e filters. These units are powerline filter modules. With six outlets it retails for $495; with four outlets it'll set you back $460. Also on hand from the company . . .
. . . in all its silicone-infused glory was the new BC1002 80Wpc stereo amplifier, which will retail for $2995 when it's released later this year.
What's the point in owning that awesome-looking, beautifully designed stereo gear if you're just going to plonk it on the floor or on a pressboard Ikea table? You need some way to display your gear that shows it off to good effect. LineAV Design has you covered with their solid birch audio-visual furniture, which Jason Thorpe decided to plop himself down on. The . . .
. . . open structure of the rack looks like it should assist with cooling for hot-running gear, and the construction feels extremely solid, which should assist with resonance control. The company had a number of pieces on display, with prices ranging from $799 to $2000.
Coming out of nowhere is the $1899 Cocktail Audio X30, which is a ripper, streamer, and amplifier that pretty much does everything you can imagine. It'll take any size SATA hard drive, so there's tons of user-replaceable storage, and the Linux-based processor has a built-in DLNA server, but it'll also act as a renderer. The X30 can also record Internet Radio, and you can schedule it like a PVR. It's even got a built-in amplifier. Lots of features for under two grand!
In a narrow back corridor of the lower level of the Hilton Bonaventure, we spotted a bunch of new products all clustered together. Rega had a new turntable: the RP10. Based around the skeletal plinth first seen on the RP9, the RP10 adds a beefy ceramic platter, a honking DSP-controlled power supply, and the new RB2000 tonearm that's a near-final evolution of the original RB arm upon which Rega's empire was built. The RP10 retails for $6199 without cartridge.
Keeping with the analog spirit, we found Music Hall's $85 Mu Mat, which is . . .
. . . a layer of cork bonded to genuine, hairy cowhide.
Sitting on the next table down from the Rega RP10 were the company's Saturn-R CD player and Elicit-R integrated amp. The Saturn-R retails for $3299, and the Elicit-R retails for $3499.
The WS90t wireless loudspeaker system from UK-based Blue Aura looked exceptionally natty in its faux-leather livery, and sounded very good considering the horrifying show conditions around. Just plug the wireless adapter into your computer and start sending music to the speakers by 2.4-5gHz signals -- the speaker chooses the optimal frequency. There's also an auxiliary input should you want to use another source. Buy the speakers for $1499 per pair and that's your entire stereo system right there.
The year 2014 marks the 40th anniversary of Rush's debut album, and the cover graces . . .
. . . the top panel of Simaudio's 810LP preamplifier. But this one-off version isn't for sale. Perhaps Simaudio decided to create a special-edition preamp using this album because it was originally released on Moon Records?
Sitting there all small and unassuming was Bryston's BUC-1 USB-to-S/PDIF converter. The BUC-1, which retails for $799, can accept an asynchronous USB signal and output any variety of digital signal you'd like, be it S/PDIF on RCA or BNC, or AES/EBU on XLR. The BUC-1 features an isolated power supply in order to keep computer nasties out of your audio system.
2xHD's high-resolution music releases can be found at www.prostudiomasters.com and www.HDtracks.com. The company is owned by René Laflamme (shown) and producer André Perry, and has offered music downloads in both WAV (and related formats) and DSD for about six months now. What is news is the fact that they've signed both Naxos and the Smithsonian Institute to their label. This means that both of these venerable bodies will ship off original master tapes to 2xHD, and they will use their significant expertise to squeeze as much information off those tapes using whichever vintage tape deck they deem necessary, and using all dCS equipment to encode the digital files. Further, 2xHD has also signed up Holly Cole and Emilie-Claire Barlow, so you should be able to get extremely high-quality downloads of these artists in the very near future.
It's a serious disconnect walking into the Tri-Art Audio room. Every single piece of equipment in the room is made from bamboo -- even the turntable and tonearm. Each stereo component is also contained within a bamboo box, and the speakers are made from laminated bamboo. At first glance an entire roomful of bamboo boxes looks a little much, but the new Bam Bam Tower speaker, which retails for a humane $4700 per pair, looks extremely smart, and certainly wouldn't dominate a room given its modest footprint. The Bam Bam Tower was belting out some serious bass, especially given that it only sports two 4" bass drivers per speaker.
Distributor Goerner Communication showed the new Rip-N-Play from AVA Media. The Rip-N-Play is close to a one-box computer audio solution. It comes with a 1 or 2TB hard drive and will rip, tag, and serve your music files to a DLNA renderer, Sonos, or Squeezebox device. The Rip-N-Play retails for $1695 with a 1TB drive and $100 more for an extra terabyte.
Although it looks quite low profile, the Wow XL packs a boatload of high-density aluminum and forward-thinking under its hood. The plinth is a 1 cm slab of aluminum, and the platter is a 3.4 cm, 6.4 kg chunk of same. The bearing is made from a material called Tidorfolon, which is said to be a mix of metal and plastic, and as such can deform slightly, which results in a larger bearing area that, in turn, traps oil for better lubrication and longer life. Retailing for $5000 with a Funk FXR-II arm (a Rega arm that's modified almost beyond recognition) the Wow XL looks like good value for the money.
Distributor VMAX Services had on hand a new electrostatic speaker from Essence, a new Dutch company. The Model 1200 is an elegant panel that contains some interesting technology. The stators in the Model 1200 are made from a transparent acrylic, which increases the speaker's already substantial see-through properties. The acrylic is printed with circuit traces, which, according to the company, provide a number of benefits over traditional powder-coated steel stators. The Model 1200 retails for $4600.
VMAX Services also distributes Davis Acoustics, which is based in France. The Matisse is a compact tower that retails for $1395 per pair and contains drivers that Davis Acoustics manufactures. In fact, we were told that Davis Acoustics supplies drivers to a number of other well-known speaker manufacturers.
Kimber Kable has updated its PK10 Palladian power cord by adding an option of either gold or rhodium-plated Wattgate EVO connectors. A 6' PK10 Palladian cord retails for $1750.
At the show in prototype form, and soon to be funded via Indiegogo, was the Core wireless speaker system from Canada's Mass Fidelity. (Note: the final production product will not be red.) The Core is an unassuming little box that holds a huge chunk of future-think. According to the company, the Core is loaded with an Arm processor that controls three class-D amplifiers and five DSPs that drive five speakers. The Core will accept Bluetooth, analog, and optical inputs, and you can sync multiple cores together for a whole-house system. On the audio side, the Core knows when you add a subwoofer, and it will divert all bass out of the internal speakers to lighten their load.