Although I'm not one of those people who dismisses Tom Cruisehe's a very capable actor, he works hard at his craft, he has a track record of choosing good material, and his personal beliefs are his own damn businessthere's no denying that the addition of Simon Pegg has transformed the Mission: Impossible franchise into mandatory viewing for fans of films that are fun. So it was at Montreal Salon Audio, in the room sponsored by the French company Devialet: the opening scene of MI: Rogue Nation on a surround-sound system using multiple Devialet Phantom powered loudspeakers (starting at $US1990 each) had this home-theater agnostic on the edge of his seat.
I walked into the larger of Joseph Audio's two demonstration roomsthe one shared with Nagra and Kronosjust in time to hear Neil Young's "There's a World" and "Bad Fog of Loneliness," from the Live at Massey Hall LP. The performancesand Young's very funny between-song patterwere thoroughly convincing, and even in this large space, there was a sense of the Joseph Audio Pearl 3 floorstanders ($US31,500/pair) pressurizing the room to realistic good effect. I loved the Pearl 3sand so, apparently, did Nagra's Classic Amp ($US16,000), a 100Wpc stereo amp that runs in class-A for its first 10 watts.
The room sponsored by Montreal dealer Audiophonie was like a treasure trove of interesting things/pairtubes! horns! turntables with tall platters!and when I first arrived, it was filled with nearly a dozen men speaking French in such animated tones that I felt as though I had stumbled upon a meeting of an especially enthusiastic audio society. I did not feel left out for long: the room's host, audio designer Robert Gaboury, made me feel welcome, and explained that his very good sounding Arteluthe Cadenza loudspeakers ($CDN24,000/pair) were a two-way design with a specified sensitivity of 97dB.
It will come as no surprise that audio journalists find their greatest professional pleasure in writing about thingsplayback gear, recordings, what-have-youwith which they are wildly impressed, and that their second-favorite topics are things that are genuinely and comically awful. But the fact of the matter is, at audio shows, most systems don't fall into either of those categories: most systems at shows range between "listenable" and "pretty darn good"and there's nothing wrong with that. So here's one of the pretty darn good systems: a combination, found in the room of Quebec dealer Audio D'occasion, of the Atoll CD200 CD player ($CDN2200), Atoll IN200 integrated amplifier ($CDN2200), and Dali Opticon 8 loudspeakers ($CDN5000/pair), all cabled-up with products from Nordost.
Friday dawned snowy and bright, and by the time I got around to exploring the corridors of the Bonaventure Hotel, music was already coming from a few scattered rooms. Overnight, more signage and posters had appeared, and an admissions station had been set up in a portion of the hotel's entryway that was relatively clear of construction work: admission is free, of course, but volunteers were busy greeting arrivals and handing out a two-sided map giving the exhibitors' locations. (Since Michel Plante and Sarah Tremblay took over the show, there simply wasn't enough time to create a full-blown show guide.)
Because my train from Albany, NY arrived ahead of schedule, there was just enough daylight for me to photograph Montreal's Bonaventure Hotelformerly the Hilton Bonaventurewhich, from Friday March 18 through Sunday March 20, is the site of the brand new Montreal Salon Audio. As some of you will recall (see our recent story), Montreal's heretofore long-running Salon Son et Image was "deferred" by its organizers, on account of too few manufacturers and dealers willing to sign up as exhibitors at the once-iconic show. But then the show's previous organizers, Michel Plante and Sarah Tremblay, stepped in and put together this new Montreal showand the new not-for-profit organization behind itin less time than it takes most of us to plan a trip to the grocery store.
In an announcement made yesterday on their corporate website, UK-based Chester Groupwhich, in recent years, has sponsored consumer-audio shows in Vancouver, Brooklyn, and Brighton, UK, among other localesrevealed that they are "deferring" this year's Salon Son et Image, which had been scheduled to take place March 18 through 20 at the Bonaventure Hotel in Montreal.