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Canada’s Power Trio: Paradigm, PSB, Totem Discuss Audio Industry

Vince Bruzzese of Totem Acoustic, Paul Barton of PSB and representatives from Paradigm were all on hand to meet clients and talk audio at AV Therapy dealer function.

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Neil, Alex and Geddy who?

Sure, there are many that consider Canada’s best trio to be Rush, but there are those who work in the consumer electronics industry that consider Totem Acoustic, PSB and Paradigm to be Canada’s true Holy Trinity of sound.

In a rare, non-tradeshow occurrence, the Canadian loudspeaker power trio from north of the border traveled to Nashua, N.H. to support their dealer AV Therapy as part of the company’s annual client appreciation event.

It’s all about the Intangibles

John Rein, owner of AV Therapy, says the purpose of the event is to foster client relations, and to say thank you to his client base.

“It brings customers together, it builds a community,” he says. “It’s nice to repay customers. We sell to people that actually work for a living, and we like to say thank you to them, and this is a good way to do it.”

Admittedly, Rein notes that while not the intended purpose of the customer appreciation event, it does produce an increase in sales. The event, which is supported by top industry executives like Vincent Bruzzese, founder of Totem Acoustics, and Paul Barton, chief designer and founder of PSB Speakers, also helps his company to service an expanding clientele through the attention their appearances generates.

“We are being forced to serve more markets because there are fewer companies that do what we do,” Rein explains. “The event isn’t about sales, it’s about the customers.”

Showcase for New Products and Canadian Innovation

Despite the free food and drinks, the real star of the night was the introduction of new products from PSB and Paradigm. Brian Smith, Eastern regional sales manager, Paradigm Electronics Inc., was on hand for the event and demonstrating the company’s Prestige freestanding loudspeaker.

The “Crafted in Canada” line of products that were just announced this past September at the 2014 CEDIA Expo offers dealers a choice of floorstanding, bookshelf, surround and center channel products. The products represent the company’s latest audio engineering concepts and industrial designs.

In the lower floor of AV Therapy’s multi-story building next to Best Buy, Barton was showing PSB’s T3 freestanding loudspeaker. Fresh from its debut at the just completed audiophile Rocky Mountain Audio Fest show in Denver, Barton says the speaker utilizes new drivers, a new industrial design, and new gloss finish that highlight the speaker’s wood veneers.

Barton demonstrated the speaker with PSB’s sister company’s Masters series components, including the M22 hybrid two-channel amplifier and M12 Digital Preamp DAC, using a variety of 16-bit/44kHz and high-resolution content.

Standing larger than the company’s T2 model, the T3s sounded big and dynamic with the signature PSB image focus.

Upstairs on the top floor, Bruzzese’s products were found in a couple of rooms, with a pair of Element Metal floorstanding highlighting Totem’s participation in the event. Using equipment from manufacturers such as Conrad-Johnson, Bruzzese played some interesting content from a European artist Hans Theessink’s Jerdermann Remixed album to demonstrate the Metal’s soundstage capabilities and smooth and airy tonal qualities. 

Sitting down to explain their design philosophies and their approach to meet the latest market trends, Bruzzese and Barton say today’s consumer demand versatile products that sound good and look good in a variety of interior spaces.

“All of our products are designed with very small volume internally,” explains Bruzzese. “We tell our dealers and our customers that if you buy large speakers you are buying empty air. It’s just an empty cabinet full of air. Our mathematics are not based on Thiele-small parameters and things of that nature. We have our own mathematical table and employing these [mathematics] we are able to get very small cabinets to react in a gigantic type of fashion—meaning the imaging is large, we get bass from them, and even though for most people it doesn’t make mathematical sense and physics, but we’ve done this for 30 years and it works in a fantastic way for us.”

Bruzzese continues, “The industrial design is important to bring this forward. Our largest speaker is barely 4.5-feet tall, and it also, maximum maybe 35 liters [cubic cabinet volume] so we are able to put it in many locales where larger speaker systems are not acceptable. Our vice president is a woman—Lucy Lentini—and obviously women have certain ideas about what to have in a room that is acceptable. We’ve always worked towards assimilating a certain confluence between this and the room and a speaker that easily fits. Our on-wall systems such as our Tribe and our in-room systems are usually miniscule but gigantic sounding. They have I think dynamics that are unequalled and transients that are unequalled in the industry.”

The speaker designers also address Canada’s contribution to consumer audio, including the role the country’s famed National Research Council (NRC) plays in helping foster in the areas of speaker design and sound reproduction. Barton’s association with the NRC began in 1974, when its library of research was in its infancy. “It really influenced the whole industry,” he said. There Barton gained experience in psychoacoustics.

“In order to design a loudspeaker there is no magical way of measuring with some kind of instrument peoples’ response—whether they like it or don’t like what they are hearing,” Barton said. “You need to do what we call double-blind screen testing. What that does is it allows the listener to be unbiased and only judge what he hears by listening. You can get statistically valid information through the use of good experimental design. This information can provide a database that not only [offers] the ability to measures speakers in a pristine or dead room or anechoic chamber as we call it, and correlate the results along with the psyche of the human as his response.”

Watch CE Pro’s interview with Barton and Bruzzese

About the Author

Robert Archer
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Robert Archer:

Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob also serves as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons in Haverhill, Mass.

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