SSI 2012

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Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 26, 2012
In the CdF/Wilson Audio/VTL Audio room, the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Series 2 ($4,995) sat under their Alpha USB DAC ($5,095). The Series 2 DAC features 24/192 playback via AES/EBU, S/PDIF - BNC, Toslink, and "BADA encrypted RJ-45" which I'll have to look into to see what that's all about. The Alpha USB DAC offers up to 24/192 playback via its asynchronous USB input and includes AES/EBU and S/PDIF BNC inputs. A MacBook Air running Pure Music handled to musical selections which included a number of recordings from Peter Mc Grath of Wilson Audio which share the common quality of sounding simply wonderful.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 19, 2012
I'm packing my valice and getting ready for the trip North. This is the 25th Montreal Hi-Fi Show and my first time attending. I'm looking forward to great Hi-Fi (in 100 Exhibitor rooms), great crowds (rumor has it they'll be 10,000 attendees and I hear audiophiles in Canada come in all shapes and sizes), great music, and great food.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 26, 2012
Jim Hilleges of J River makes the power point

Fortune smiled upon me once again when I made it just in the nick of time to hear J River CEO Jim Hilleges final presentation on Sunday which covered "Computer Audio Demystified for Windows OS and J-River". This was also Jim's third presentation and it took place on Sunday afternoon just an hour before the end of the show and dangerously close to Jim's return home flight-time. So while there was only time for a few questions after Jim's informative presentation, I managed to sneak one in which related to a point he had touched on in his talk.

Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 27, 2012
This was my first time covering the SSI show and it was even better than everyone said it would be. A big thank you to Salon Son & Image organizers Michel Plante and Sarah Tremblay for organizing a great hi-fi show. This was also my first time spending any time in Montreal and it was even better than I thought it would be even though I didn't have much time outside of the Hilton Montreal Bonaventure. While I can't point you to a specific concrete piece of evidence, the people of Montreal struck me as kinder, more considerate and generally more genial than I'm used to here in the greater NY metropolitan area.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 24, 2012
I'd like to say that Montreal-based Fidelio Audio is an audiophile record label but these days I think we're better off saying that Fidelio Audio is a specialist record company that cares about the quality of their recordings. Or as they say on their website,
Fidelio is a young dynamic company specializing in quality acoustic recording. We aim to promote local and international talent in classical and jazz music.
Our efforts are focussed to promote the essential in all sound recordings: the music.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 27, 2012
Linn was showing their Accurate DSM ($9,350) UPnP streamer/preamplifier that supports FLAC, WAV, ALAC, MP3, WMA, AIFF, AAC and OGG files and can handle up to 24/192 playback on all of its 14 inputs (Ethernet, Balanced (XLR), analog RCA, HDMI, S/PDIF, Toslink). You can also convert one of the analog inputs to accept a moving magnet or moving coil phono stage (yea!) and use one of those HDMI inputs to play back your SACDs and DVD-A discs (downsampled to 176.4 K or 88.2 k). There are pairs of balanced (XLR) and unbalanced (RCA) outputs, an included remote as well as Linn's Kinsky app that works with Macs, iOS devices and PCs.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 23, 2012
Yet another North American premier, the Lector Digicode S-192 DAC ($6,500) was sitting all dark and handsome in the Audio Arts room. Capable of 24-bit/192kHz playback on each of its five inputs that include 3 S/PDIF (Toslink, RCA and BNC), AES/EBU, and asynchronous USB. There's also a Word Clock input and the outputs include a pair of RCAs, balanced XLRs, and S/PDIF BNC. I hope you can at least make out that faint blue glow because behind it sit a pair of ECC-81/12AT7 vacuum tubes used in the output stage. That little brother to its left (our right) is the external power supply.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 27, 2012
The Trigon Audio Chronolog ($9,495) from Germany is a CD/DVD player/ripper and Linux-based UPnP music server that includes a 120GB SDD drive. The Chronolog can play a host of file formats including wav, flac, m4a, aac, wma, ogg, aiff, wpl, ape, and many more. Inputs are 24/192-ready and include the usual suspects S/PDIF (Coax and Toslink), USB, and Ethernet. Outputs include a pair of RCAs and XLRs as well as HDMI and DVI for DVD playback. The Chronolog also provides wi-fi capabilities, gapless playback, and a free iOS App. Firmware updates are handled via Ethernet/Internet and that internal CD/DVD drive is from StreamUnlimited.
 |  Mar 27, 2012
While the Boulder Model 1021 Disc Player ($26,400) was on silent display in Montreal retailer Son-Or Filtronique's room, I learned that the Colorado-based company has two new DACs in the works—the 820 ($TBD but below $10,000) and the 2020 ($TBD). Both DACs will handle up to 32/192 and possibly 32/384 and include an Ethernet input along with the rest of the usual suspects (USB, Toslink, Coax...).
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 23, 2012
The T+A DAC 8 ($TBD but "under $3,000") is making its North American debut at SSI 2012 but in a silent way as it was on silent display. Capable of delivering 24-bit/192kHz on all inputs that include 4 RCA S/PDIF, 1 Toslink, 1 BNC, 1 AES/EBU, 1 Asynchronous USB, and for T+A system owners the "Control Link". Outputs include balanced and single-ended RCAs as well as RCA S/PDIF. The DAC 8 can also act as a preamp as it includes an analog volume control. There's also 4 digital and 2 analog filters so you can shape the sound to your liking. Did I mention there's also a front-mounted headphone jack? And...
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 26, 2012
I was about to enter the MBL room when I was halted just inches from the entrance, "There's a reviewer in there, Stereophile's Robert Deutsch, listening to the cello" I was told in a hushed voice, so hushed that I may not have heard it right. "Sorry?" I responded. "When we hear clapping, you can go in." How odd, I thought, that people would clap for a reviewer listening to cello music. But I'm game for just about anything at a hi-fi show. So I waited.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 22, 2012
Today is Press Day at SSI 2012 and the festivities begin at 11:00am. I've heard word that some Exhibitors may not be ready for prime time until tomorrow but I certainly plan to find out. I've also made contingency plans and mapped out a few of the nearest used record shops (there appear to be a lot in Montreal!) ya know, just in case.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 26, 2012
Montreal-based hi-fi dealer Coup de Foudre had a number of rooms at SSI 2012 and in the Joseph Audio room they were featuring the Wavelength Brick USB DAC v3 ($1,750). In a twist on tradition, Jeff Joseph who has become renown for his diagonal room setup had his speakers straight but rotated the room 90 degrees.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 27, 2012
The CEntrance Audiophile Desktop ($2,000) is meant to be just that—a complete package that even comes delivered in its own protective carry case so you can carry it with you wherever you go (if you so desire). The package consists of a pair of 'MasterClass 2504' passive speakers and the DACmini PX which is a Preamp/Class-D amp/DAC combo that delivers 25W/ch while the DAC can handle 24/192 from the S/PDIF (Coax and Toslink) and 24/96 via USB. There's also a front-mounted 1/4-inch headphone jack and analog input/output.
Michael Lavorgna  |  Mar 25, 2012
I had to go back to the Bricasti room because I forgot to note what converter they were using to connect their laptop from USB to S/PDIF since the M1 DAC as reviewed in Stereophile (twice) did not have a USB input. Well, it does now.