Coup de Foudre / Wilson / VTL
In French, Coup de Foudre literally mean a “bolt of lightning”. Figuratively, it also means “love at first sight”, which I think makes more sense for Montreal dealer Coup de Foudre. Whatever real meaning the name represents, you can be sure it is not “Cook the Food” which some non-French speaking visitors have called it.
Coup de Foudre featured a pair of Wilson Audio Sophia Series 3 speakers ($18,550), and a pair of VTL MB 185 Series II monoblock amplifiers ($15,000/pr) connected to a VTL 5.5 Series II preamplifier ($9,500). I admire VTL for their consistency in producing tube amps which are less tubey sounding, they have a top-end which resembles solid-state amplifiers, and a bottom-end which is tight and textured.
The Wilson is equally consistent when it comes to delivering a Wilson house sound which for some people, is an acquired taste. For others, they represent the pinnacle of sonic accuracy, delivering an image which is sharply focused, solid and with forward in presentation. The bass was rock solid and tightly controlled.
Kudos to both brands for delivering a distinctive house sound which complements each other nicely.
Connecting the VTL power amplifiers to the power conditioning units was a pair of Elrod Statement Power cords. They are one of the biggest power cords in diameter I have seen in my life. Price starts at $2,700 for a three or six feet cable. Each additional foot costs an additional $200, to a maximum of 10 feet.
Audio Note UK
An fellow audiophile who resides in Ottawa bumped into me in the hallway, and reminded me to go into the Audio Note UK room. He described the sound as “unique and special” and certainly unlike any other room at the show. He specifically asked me to check out the cartridge which he thought gave a remarkably realistic presentation.
This year at the SSI, Audio Note UK featured the following electronics:
Turntable Two deluxe $3,650
Arm Three V2 Tonearm $2,100
IOI Low-output MC Cartridge $6,400
S4 Step Up Transformer $4,250
CD4.1x (CDT Two/II Transport and DAC 2.1x combined) $12,000
OTO SE Signature 10w/ch. EL84 Integrated Amplifier $6,500
E/SPe HE Speaekrs (97 dB) $9,600
After having spent some time in the room, I have to agree with my friend that the sound was indeed very musical, with unique bass notes coming from the corner of the room. The overall presentation was sweet and detailed.
I have always wondered if Audio Note UK’s system will sound any different if their speakers are moved away from the corners of the room, even though they may be designed to be in that location. My gut feeling tells me the day will never come when I’ll see them away from that usual spot.
Audiopathways / VAC / NBS / Audia Flight
Audiopathways is the distribution business run by Angie Lisi, who also runs the American Sound of Canada, a high-end retailer in Toronto. At the 2012 TAVES, Angie has some of the best sounding rooms at the entire show.
This year, she has two exotic products on static display which caught my attention. First is the NBS phono stage. The unit weights a whopping 65 lbs and the chassis is made entirely out of ¼ inch solid copper. The unit has internal power correction which means you can plug it into a 120V or 240V outlet without any adjustments. It has 2 inputs, an MC stage with 70 dB of gain and an MM with 40 dB of gain. It has balanced output but input supports RCA only. The price? Asking $40,000.
The second piece of equipment which caught my attention is something which I wake up in the middle of the night dreaming about: The VAC Statement 450S dual mono power amplifier. I listened to the monoblock version at the CES 2012 so I will not repeat my coverage here, although this is the 225W dual mono stereo version which lists at $47,000.
The main system in the room was driven by Audia Flight electronics.
Alantic Technology were offering the same demo which they did at the 2012 TAVES, but it wasn’t in my previous coverage.
The AT-1 Full Range tower speakers were making big sounds, with a strong emphasis in the bass response. In fact, I was quite surprised by the amount of bass that were coming out of these speakers. Whilst not the last word on detail or musicality, the may be the right ticket for Home Theatre application where a lot of loud bangs and explosions are called for. At $3,060 per a pair, I cannot think of anything better for Home Theatre application.
Electronics are from Parasound:
A21 2 Channel 250W amplifier – $2,599
CD1 CD Player – $4,999
JC 2 2 -Channel Ultra-Premium Preamplifier – $4,529
Audiophonie / Genesis Louspeakers / JIB-Germany Cables
Montreal retailer Audiophonie was showing off a pair of Genesis G5.3 loudspeakers driven also by Parasound electronics: JC-1 Monoblocks ($10,000/pr), JC-2 Preamp ($4,529), JC-3 Phonostage ($2,700), and a SOTA Comet turntable (approx. $2,700).
Those of you who remember the Genesis name will remember their flagship giants, the Genesis 1.2 which to this day, remains as one of the most impressive speakers of all time.
At $23,500, The Genesis S5.3 look slightly similar to the Wilson Sashas, but the 5.3s go down much deeper in the low frequencies. Thanks to the servo controlled bass woofers, the 5.3 reaches down to an astonishing 16Hz ! Thanks to the internal 400W power amplifier, the G5.3 can be driven with almost any amplifier without making sacrifaces to bass response. An adjustable bass gain control allows the speaker fine-tuned to different room acoustics.
Also found in the room are some very nicely packaged JIB-Germany cables, they range from power cables to interconnects, prices are from $490 to $1,350.
Audiophonie / Haans Acoustics / Jadis / Spendor
In the second exhibit room by the same dealer, a pair of Spendor SP100 ($11,000) were making great tunes with some very nice looking Jadis Electronics, and the Haans Acoustics T-60 turntable ($8,000). The Haans was paired up with a Rega arm and an SME 309 arm ($1,999). Preamp was the Jadis GPL ($12,500), power amp was the Jadis Defy 7 ($12,999), and the CD Player was the Jadis Orphee 1 ($19,900).
In the third room by the same dealer, a number of entry level Project turntables were on static display. They come in a variety of colors , prices range from $299 to $1,299, including tonearm and cartridge. They are great value for the money if you ask me.
Gala-Solo is a newly discovered speaker name for me. The Quebec-based speaker manufacturer makes 4 different models of stand mount speakers, all beginning with the letter M which emphasize their multi-purpose application for both the residential and pro-audio market.
Priced at $3,600, the M3 is a 3-way speaker with 2 drivers and 1 tweeter arranged in a D’Appolito configuration. The Tweeter is a 1-inch Acustica Beyma aluminum diaphragm half horn design made in Spain. The woofer are made by PHL Audio in France.
Coup de Foudre / Devore / Leben
In another room sponsored by Coup de Foudre, a pair of DeVore Fidelity Gibbon 88 Loudspeaker ($5,000) were making great tunes, driven by a Brinkmann Turntable ($7,990), a Leben Phono Preamp ($2,695), and a Line Magnetic 211IA Integrated amplifier which retails for $1,650.
The Acoustic Plan Drive Master CD Transport, and the DigiMaster USB DAC caught my attention. The DigiMaster is tube-based Digital-to-Analog converter which accepts both USB and SPDIF inputs with 192kHz/24 bit receivers, and they pass on the data stream to a 24-bit R2R PCM1704U-K converter, no upsampling is employed in the process. Small as they may seem, the sticker price is not small at all, both the transport and the DAC retails for $4,750 each.
Canadian cable manufacturer Audio Sensibility is expanding their product lines, and is fast becoming a recognizable name in the cable industry. Owner and designer Steven Huang gave me a detailed run down of their cables, including a walk-through of their manufacturing process.
Steven explained that their design is based on a no-nonsense philosophy, with the goal of providing the highest quality and the best value for their products. All conductors in their cables are sourced from the finest OCC (Ohno Continuous Cast) copper and silver wires, which are cryogenically treated for a more uniform alignment of the conductor’s molecular structure.
Audio Sensibility uses modified Furutech connectors for their cables, with CNC’d aluminum casings which are made by TTWeights in Newmarket, Ontario.
Steven introduced me to their new Statement speaker cables ($999), and their flagship Signature speaker cables which is an upgraded version of the Statement cables with an added Bybee network.
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