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.)