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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 24, 2016 8 comments
Described by manufacturer April Music as an "all-in-one music center," the Aura Note Version 2 ($2500) is a 125Wpc integrated amplifier with a built-in CD player, USB DAC, and FM tuner. The Aura Note is further enhanced by a Bluetooth receiver, a pair of line-level output jacks, and a headphone jack.

The hackneyed but not inappropriate comparison to a Swiss Army knife comes to mind—but where that well-loved tool does a great many things with less than perfection, I've now heard the Aura Note V2 do at least two different things well enough that no excuses need be made on its behalf.

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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 22, 2016 8 comments
Although I'm not one of those people who dismisses Tom Cruise—he'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 business—there'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 $US1990 each) had this home-theater agnostic on the edge of his seat.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 20, 2016 5 comments
I walked into the larger of Joseph Audio's two demonstration rooms—the one shared with Nagra and Kronos—just in time to hear Neil Young's "There's a World" and "Bad Fog of Loneliness," from the Live at Massey Hall LP. The performances—and Young's very funny between-song patter—were thoroughly convincing, and even in this large space, there was a sense of the Joseph Audio Pearl 3 floorstanders ($US31,500/pair) pressurizing the room to realistic good effect. I loved the Pearl 3s—and so, apparently, did Nagra's Classic Amp ($US16,000), a 100Wpc stereo amp that runs in class-A for its first 10 watts.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 20, 2016 2 comments
The room sponsored by Montreal dealer Audiophonie was like a treasure trove of interesting things/pair—tubes! horns! turntables with tall platters!—and when I first arrived, it was filled with nearly a dozen men speaking French in such animated tones that I felt as though I had stumbled upon a meeting of an especially enthusiastic audio society. I did not feel left out for long: the room's host, audio designer Robert Gaboury, made me feel welcome, and explained that his very good sounding Arteluthe Cadenza loudspeakers ($CDN24,000/pair) were a two-way design with a specified sensitivity of 97dB.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 19, 2016 2 comments
It will come as no surprise that audio journalists find their greatest professional pleasure in writing about things—playback gear, recordings, what-have-you—with 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.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 18, 2016 5 comments
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.)
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 18, 2016 3 comments
Because my train from Albany, NY arrived ahead of schedule, there was just enough daylight for me to photograph Montreal's Bonaventure Hotel—formerly the Hilton Bonaventure—which, 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 show—and the new not-for-profit organization behind it—in less time than it takes most of us to plan a trip to the grocery store.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 09, 2016 10 comments
In an announcement made yesterday on their corporate website, UK-based Chester Group—which, in recent years, has sponsored consumer-audio shows in Vancouver, Brooklyn, and Brighton, UK, among other locales—revealed 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.
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Art Dudley Posted: Mar 07, 2016 10 comments
No one likes to be fooled, least of all those of us whose job it is to sort the real from the imagined: a tightrope walk, the audience for which reliably contains one or two rustics who delight in the occasional splat.

Such were my concerns in the days following last November's New York Audio Show, where I first encountered High Fidelity Cables—an exhibitor that generated considerable (figurative) buzz by promoting the use of magnets in an audio system's interconnects, speaker cables, and power cords. Indeed, by the end of the first day, more than one showgoer had asked me, "What did you think of the guy with the magnetic cables?"

Art Dudley Posted: Feb 24, 2016 0 comments
I don't listen to music when I write, even when I write about listening to music: When there's music playing, it almost always gets my full attention—and I'm no good at multitasking. (And if I'm around music that's awful and I'm powerless to stop it, I have to leave the premises.) A rare exception is when I listen to CDs while proofreading, because proofreading is fairly brainless stuff—and as playback formats go, the Compact Disc isn't the most musically compelling.

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