SSI 2013 Montreal HI-FI Show Report

Introduction to the SSI 2013 Montreal Show Report – Day One

Thursday at SSI is reserved for press and industry affiliates. The mood was laid-back with some doors still closed and systems not yet unboxed. I did get a chance to hear a few systems and meet some very nice people. There was a good mix of music servers, CD players and vinyl. Did not see much in the way of displays or video, yet there was plenty of room treatments to help tame the un-friendly spaces.


Elipson had a static display of their wireless Planet LW speakers and Music Center transmitter (not shown). 2-way coaxial design, available in white red or black, and has an optional ceiling and wall mounts.

Definitive Technology

Some static displays of various Definitive Technology speakers, here is one of their in walls.


Inovaudio makes stands and acoustic panels out of wood.

Tri-Art Audio

TriArt Acoustics with Rosso Fiorentino Certaldo Speakers ($5,995)

Tri-Art uses beautiful wood and concrete to build amps, cd players turntables and more. Their room was packed at all times I stopped by, and the sound was very good. And the equipment looks fantastic with its blend of bamboo, and concrete. They were playing vinyl from their Pebbles turntable ($1200). Shown but not spinning when I was there was their gorgeous Pebbles CD/DVD player ($550). Speakers used were from Rosso Fiorentino and were very smooth and easy to listen to.

Woo Audio

Woo Audio had a huge and comfortable room setup with multiple headphones, amps and source units up for demo. This was a very relaxing and approachable room with fantastic sound. I have not been much in headphones in the past but open sound of the Beyerdynamic headphones was enticing.

Pathos Acoutsics

Another static display of some great looking equipment.

Blue Circle Audio

Hands down my choice for best sound of the first day. Stevie Ray Vaughn was playing with incredible dynamics and bass – considering the huge size of the room, through Blue Circle electronics and Ledoux speakers. Interestingly both companies offer upgrade programs. The speakers shown cost $14,000 pair, $5000 per sub, or $21,000 for set. Made in Canada, these speakers had amazing realism. The gracious host cued up a track of my thumb drive, Ben Harpers Whipping Boy. And I have never heard it with such conviction. Unfortunately the dark room made it tough to take a pic, hopefully I can convince the guys to flip on the lights for me to snap another pic today.


Magico was demoing their “affordable” S5 speakers ($28,600), with Constellation Audio electronics. Sound was good, will come back to this one to hear more as no one was around and the music stopped and didn`t restart.

AIX Records

A large room was setup to showing and AIX Blu Ray sampler with a 5.1 Focal set powered by Bryston , a JVC projector and stewart screen. Both sound and picture was great and the recordings are clean and dynamic. There was plenty of Blu-Ray discs to purchase.

Devialet with Focal

Stepping into the clean white Devialet room we heard Pink Floyds Time played on some large Focal speakers. The beautiful electronics were impossible to photograph, but he sound was devine. When the room cleared I was left with the interesting remote control, and I hoped that more volume would help the lack of midbass I heard. No such luck with Time. Changing tracks on the lone source (a Mac Book) to a Kodo track (Japanese Drums) was the answer. Phenomenal deep bass and wide imaging.

RJH Audio

These handcrafted Canadian single driver speakers contain either a single 12″ Alnico driver (Reference 1, $7995) or a single 6.5″ Alnico driver. Bass was full and real, and the highs were still smooth. Great looking and great sounding despite being in a large shared room. Ron J. Harper was on hand to discuss the speakers and his enthusiasm matched the dynamic sound. Will be back for more tomorrow from this setup.

Reference 1 (big ones) $7995

Songbirds $5495

Reference 1s playing, beautiful sound, wide freq response, smooth top end

One my list to hear again tomorrow.

That is it for the first day, and what a day it was. This was my first time at the SSI, but not the first time in Montreal. Despite the weather this city is beautiful and well worth the visit. Now to plan my attack fro tomorrow!

Jared Rachwalski.

Do you want to check out more on the SSI 2013 Montreal Audio Show? Visit the “Cave” on Google+

SSI 2013 Montreal HI-FI Show Report – Day Two

Import HiFi Room

Probably my favorite overall room so far, not necessarily the best sounding room of the trip but great gear, lots of choices with multiple systems setup, and great hosts. They allowed me to connect my iPad via Bluetooth to their smaller system, with Vincent audio electronics powering Aurum Alton VIII. Then on to the big system with the Aurum Titans and they gladly tossed in my only HDCD I had, Tool`s Lateralus. The depth and detail was astonishing, the bass was not quite up to par, however this was in a massive room. Unreal dynamics and detail, and the speakers were drop dead gorgeous.


Bryston came out big this year with a full suite of speakers amps and other electronics. James Tanner was on hand (literally) playing back tracks with the BDP controlled by his iPhone. The large Model T Signature ($7495) with out-board passive crossovers were fed by a 28BSST /side. The sound was dynamic and clean with no hint of strain or issue. The bass was full and accurate over a wide range of tracks. James seemed pleased with the results as was most of the attendees judging by the smiling faces exiting the room.

Gershman Acoustics

First room I hit yesterday, but my pics did not turn out. Came back today and the sound was even better. They were using Quad electronics (on LVC pods) to power the big Gap828 speakers ($25,000). These are time-aligned with a Dynaudio tweeter, Audux midrange and custom woofer. Smooth sound with clear highs.

Brodman Acoustics

Nice guys playing unreal looking speakers. Works of art that feature either a single or multiple tweeters as the only front firing driver. Exceptional clarity and imaging despite side mounted mids. I heard the VC7 ($25,000) with Electrocompaniet electronics. They also agreed without question to playback some Tool, and well not the speakers forte (too much midbass and distorted guitars), it was fun nonetheless. I only offered it up as a joke thinking they would usher me out of the room, once I mistakenly called them German (they are Austrian) they almost did toss me out!

Simplifi Audio

The Simplifi Audio room had a multi-room setup with DSpeaker’s room correction device with Gradiant and Klangworks Speakers. The Gradiants were on during the demo I heard with the DSpeaker being switched in and out with noticeable improvement. The Gradient Revolution was playing in small untreated room with great improvement by way of the DSpeaker system. Shown but not playing when I was in was the Klangwerk line of speakers from Switzerland. Very high WAF from these designs.

Klang – $2000 – $8000


Dynaudio had relatively small speakers filling a large room with beautiful sound. Amazing bass from the small bookshelves. On display were some wireless speakers. DACs were from T+A Dacs.


MBL had a very popular room, and for good reason. The sound was fantastic and the omni-design made the speakers disappear. Not that you would want these beauties to be hidden. At least I wouldn’t. All MBL electronics and this cool reel-reel machine sitting off to the side.


Naim had tow rooms setup this year, the small room had the music interface devices (from DACs to netwpork players to the all in one Uniti). The sound was off while I wa sin that room as the huge Ovator-s800 active loudspeakers were playing in the other room. These were powered by a stack of Naim gear and feature a very cool driver called a BMR (balanced mode radiator) $75,000 for the speakers alone. Not including the piano moving crew required to install them in your home.

Resonessence Labs

This was the big surprise room for me of the show so far. Best sound I heard all day, and that says a lot! This room featured small Westlake Audio speakers being driven by a prototype Resonessence class A amp and pre-amp was the Invicta Dac/Preamp/SD card player ($4000). The sound was very real and very good. As well they also were showing there $800 Concero DAC with DSD and async-USB. The company is run by the former Operations Director of ESS Technology. So these guys know a thing or two about DACS. Turns out they operate less than 50km from my home. And to think I had to hop on a plane and fly over 3500 km to find this out. They are on my list of products to hear in my own system. Again, it needs to be repeated, best sound on day 2.

Tannoy with Primacoustics

In a huge room were two beautiful point-source coaxial speakers from Tannoy the Definition DC10a. The electronics were Linn, and the huge space was treated by Primeacoustics for less than $1500 retail. On day one the sound was nothing special. By day two that changed and the room was dialled in. Just one of many rooms to feature room treatments, they were by far the most treated that I could see. And to good effect.

Wilson Audio

Wilson was showing their Alexia speaker ($48,500). This was my first time hearing a Wilson speaker, and it was breathtaking. The dynamics were incredible and the bass was perfect (they also had Primacoustic bass traps). VTL amps provided the power and the sound was intense.

Day 2 done have seen most every room and will be back for one last day on Saturday. The show is until Sunday but I was unable to stay the whole time, however I managed to hit almost every room. One thing had surprised and disappointed me about this show, no electrostatic speakers.

Jared Rachwalski

Do you want to check out more on the SSI 2013 Montreal Audio Show? Visit the “Cave” on Google+

SSI 2013 Montreal HI-FI Show Report – Day Three


The Montreal SSI show is a four day event for industry affiliates, three days for the general public. Unfortunately prior engagements required me to fly home on day 3. I stopped in for one last visit to catch any ones I missed and to stop back in on some favourites.

Blue Circle with LeDoux Acoustique speakers

Blue Circle audio’s huge room with the full stack of Blue Circle fed by a Mac laptop (common theme this year) and powering a pair of LeDoux Acoustique speakers with dual subs was my favourite room of the entire show. I had to return to attempt to capture the beauty of the room, alas I was still unable to get a decent pic in the dim room. Fortunately the speakers were on static display in the Canadian pavilion. Check out the beautiful designs and those unique drivers.

Devailet with Focal

Back again to the Devailet / Focal room to capture the beauty of the Devailet electronics. The amp in use was a beautiful white un-assuming D-Premier all-in-one, it has a cover plate to hide the connections, which were better-than-average looking binding posts. The analog/digital hybrid amp comes with a small square remote with a single large dial and one push button allowing control of bass, treble, balance and volume. There was also a silver version on static display. This is an amp, preamp, dac and streamer in one.


When I visited Magico the first time there was only a short snippet of music playing, then silence. Today I was able to hear much more and the sound from the Constellation electronics was sublime through the Magico S5’s. Effortless and very involving.


This room was phenomenal to look at and listen to. The combination of bamboo and concrete was interesting and the bamboo cd player was very intriguing. The sound from the Rossofiorentino speakers was smooth and fun to listen to. The hosts were very welcoming, easy to talk to and very enthusiastic. I visited this room multiple times this week.

Totem Acoustics

I have always enjoyed the sound of Totem Acoustics speakers and have found them to be unlike most other tradition designs. Very musical and fun to listen to, and the new Element line (powered by Chord electronics) did not disappoint. While not a fan of the looks of the new speakers as the Torrent driver bezel is rather in your face compared to traditional Totem designs, I am a fan of the sound. Check out the beefy Torrent driver.

Audio Physic

The sound was very nice, if a little laid back. The source was a Trtion Chronolog music server with Grandinote amps.

Filtronique Room

Huge Sonus Faber speakers which were amazing looking, if huge behemoth speakers are your thing, (which they are for me). Glorious sound thanks in part to the massive Moon amps powering them and dSC stack controlling. There was also various static turntables and assorted gear in this very popular room. I wanted to stay much longer here.


No one around when I was in the room, and I am far too clumsy to try and load a record on these beautiful machines. None the less they were a treat just to look at. The yellow was even better in person.

Audio Note

Plagued with tube problems early on in the show this room was up and running by middle of day two. It was as you would expect from Audio Note, unsuspecting speakers stuffed into corners making sweet music.

Audiophonie room

They were playing Parasound gear with Jadis Tubes and Spender speakers. Very easy to listen to and the amps were glorious eye-candy.

As well as full rooms there were plenty of various Static displays. This big line up of mortal-sized Focal speakers showed various models.

Aragon amps which are just imposing to look at, and I mean that in the best way possible!

Gutwire cables had various displays around the show, and many rooms had there cables in use.

A trio of special edition Simaudio Moon amps. As a huge Floyd fan I must have the black one, it is stunning. Interestingly the Quebec edition violates La charte de la langue française by silk-screening the labels on the front in English. On second thought, I’ll take all three s’il vous plait.

Last visit of the trip was back to RJH and the addictive Single Driver Reference 1`s. When the owner was asked why he was so laid back and not talking up his speakers he replied with “I don’t have to say a word, the speakers do all the talking”. Indeed. And that wrapped up my first show. I met some great people, heard lots of wonderful systems, and as always enjoyed Montreal.

Jared Rachwalski.

Do you want to check out more on the SSI 2013 Montreal Audio Show? Visit the “Cave” on Google+