Salon Son & Image 2013 - My Pick
This show was held on March 22 - 24, 2013 at the Montreal Hilton Bonaventure Hotel, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. There were many great sounding systems at the show; too many to choose from. If I had to pick one, it would be On a Higher Note
There are many comprehensive reviews available on the internet so I thought I would simply write about my top pick from the show.
Philip O'Hanlon, Founder & President of "On A Higher Note" demonstrated the Luxman/Vivid system on Vinyl and DSD computer files. This was my first time meeting Philip and it was clear that he was passionate about music and was very keen on getting the setup/sound just right rather than rushing through a demonstration. This is a guy who enjoys music and will not be rushed by business demands; very refreshing.
The main system components were:
Turntable: Luxman PD-171 belt drive ($6400) with a Brinkmann Pi Cartridge ($2700)
DAC: Luxman DA-06 DSD-DAC ($6000)
Amplifier: Luxman L-550AX Class A ($5400) produces 20W/ch in 8 ohms and 40W/ch in 4 ohms
Loudspeakers: Vivid B1 ($15000) is nominally rated at 4 ohms.
These Luxman components are all made in Japan.
Most of my listening was with vinyl since I was so impressed with the sound. Philip played Paul Simon's "boy in the bubble" on vinyl and I was blown away. The bass was strong but clean, the mids were open and natural and the highs were accurate but not overly bright. The system competently reproduced the fast hi-hat in an effortless way such that I could "see" the drummer in the room.
This combination of Turntable/Amplifier/Speaker is well matched and very difficult to beat at any price. It's a good reminder that 20W (actually 40W since the speakers are 4 ohms) of power is adequate for top quality sound in a small space.
I also listened to some DSD tracks and this was a reminder for me that there are other good digital formats (other than FLAC, WAV and AIFF) to explore.