Salon Son et Image #25 Starts Friday
The magic numbers, for Salon Son et Image, are 25, 100, and 10,000. Canada's first and largest high-end audio show, whose 25th-anniversary show arrives March 2325 (press day March 22) in downtown Montreal's Hilton Bonaventure, expects to set a new attendance record as up to 10,000 visitors explore 100 exhibit rooms.
Michel Plante, who co-produces the show with his business/personal partner, Sarah Tremblay (see photo below), reports that the increase in attendance is directly related to outreach by their new PR agency.
"We expect 30% new people this year," he reports. "Our estimated attendance is based on radio and TV interviews in media that we haven't previously targeted. Almost every day I have to go for an interview, and both our spokesperson and I speak about the entire industry. We also spend a lot of money on outside advertising."
Only three of the 2012 Salon Son et Image's 100 rooms will be dedicated to home theater; the overwhelming majority will showcase two-channel audio. Although the show's own attempt to be on the cutting edge of computer audio by offering last year's annual show recording in USB key format only was a commercial flop, and this year's edition will regress to "old fashioned" CD format, Plante expects most rooms to be equipped with some form of music server/computer-based playback, with a CD or multi-format player included in case someone wants to hear their music on CD.
Product debuts include the Canadian launches of KEF's Blade loudspeaker, paired with Chord electronics, and Sony's SS-AR1 speaker system (which made its US debut a while back). MBL, which under Jeremy Bryan has become a near-ubiquitous presence at North American audio shows, will bring the same Reference Line 101 E stereo system that earned my Best of Show at AXPONA 2012 two weeks ago, and Michael Fremer's praises in the current issue of Stereophile.
Canadian company Mass Fidelity launches the beta version of its stereOS, an open format designed to bring "massive sound to urban spaces" by aggregating and networking disparate music collections. The operating system's unique architecture utilizes a web-based remote control that allows any device with a web browser to access your entire music collection behind the scenes, whether it be stored at home or online or streamed from a subscription-based service.
"This will allow a new generation of Smart Sound Systems of every shape and size to proliferate quickly and leave the consumer as the hands down winner," the company claims. Also on hand will be the Mass Fidelity Model 1 speaker system and integrated amplifier.
Quebec's LYS Audio promises a triaxial speaker that produces a stereophonic image from a single source. Plante, who has heard it, claims that the image is perfect no matter where you sit. An attendee who experiences the 20-minute blind presentation and enters LYS's drawing will take one home. Other Canadian launches are expected from Atoll Audio (France), Cabasse, Nordost, Axiom, Audioquest, and Simaudio. Finally, on Salon Son et Image's virtually solitary home theater front, Sony introduces the ultra high-definition Sony 4K (VPL-VW1000ES) projector.
Workshops are delicious and plentiful. Although many will be disappointed by the absence of an "Ask the Editors" panel, compensation comes in the form of Joe Harley's presentation, "The History of Blue Note Jazz;" a Saturday speaker manufacturers panel with Andrew Welker (Axiom Audio, Canada), Manfred Diesterich (Audio Physic, Germany), Jeff Joseph (Joseph Audio, USA), John DeVore (DeVore Fidelity, USA), and Paul Barton (PSB Speakers, Canada); and Sunday's "Digital Experts" panel with Dominic Poupart (Simaudio), Joe Harley and Steve Silberman (AudioQuest), Jacques Riendeau (Oracle Audio), and George Klissarov (exaSound Audio Design). Each day also promises separate "Computer Audio Demystified" workshops for Apple and Windows operating systems and J-River.
Students from the Media Art department at UQAM (University of Quebec at Montreal) will dem an media arts machine that produces totally new sounds that you can expect to hear in movies and soundtracks. Throw in multiple daily live performances from diverse genres, and an easily navigable penthouse hotel in which all exhibits occupy just two floors, and you've got a winner.
Followers of Salon Son et Image will be interested in two developments. After a successful launch, Michel and Sarah have sold their new Toronto show. Explanation: "We wanted to provide Toronto with a good show. We dedicate our lives to the industrythe show is our missionwe give our life to the industryand once we set it up, our goal was to move on."
Instead, they have started Son et Image On the Road. In an attempt to reach an untapped demographic, they'll travel across Canada attending music festivals, helping people discover the audiophile industry. Six jazz, classical, blues, and country music festivals will see a single room dedicated to the high-end this year. It's a laudable beginning for a grand undertaking that should help open a lot of ears, minds, and hearts to the beauty of high-quality audio. Will show promoters in the US attempt a similar undertaking?
Salon Son et Image should be a smashing success. Look for detailed coverage from Stereophile's team of Art Dudley and Robert Deutsch starting on March 25, with new blogs appearing through the end of March.