Montreal Audio Fest 2019

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Art Dudley  |  Mar 27, 2019  |  11 comments
At the Montreal Audio Fest, Graham Audio's North American distributor, On A Higher Note, brought along the British speaker manufacturer's latest variation on the BBC-monitor theme: the LS5/9f ($US7995/pair in oak, as shown), described as a floorstanding version of the BBC-designed LS5/9 stand-mounter. According to On A Higher Note's Philip O'Hanlon, seen above, the LS5/9f was created by Derek Hughes, the son of the founders of Spendor (themselves once a BBC licensee—this is slightly complicated). Hughes reportedly intended the extra cabinetry to support the speaker without adding to its internal volume or otherwise altering the essential LS5/9 sound.
John Atkinson  |  Mar 27, 2019  |  5 comments
As well as live music, the Montreal show offered a full schedule of seminars. Roon's Steve Silberman presented two seminars to packed houses on Saturday on getting the best from the Roon music app and the Roon Nucleus servers, including how to take advantage of the system's powerful DSP engine.
Robert Schryer  |  Mar 26, 2019  |  0 comments
Magico's three-way A3 speakers ($CD13,000) were the first things I spotted when I entered Sonor-Filtronique's third room. I fondly remembered them from last year—in my 2018 report, I gushed over the sound of the A3s, then driven by Ayre electronics. Magico's most affordable model, the A3 has an enclosure made of 6061 T6 aircraft-grade aluminum, while their drivers boast diaphragms made of beryllium and graphene.
John Atkinson  |  Mar 26, 2019  |  0 comments
What would a Montreal show be without snow? The first day of the Montreal Audio Fest was bright and sunny, but as walked from my sleeping room to the ballroom to continue my reporting on Saturday morning, this is the sight that greeted me. "That's nothing," snorted native Quebeçois! (And I still find it weird to see trees growing on the top of a tower block—show venue the Hotel Bonaventure is 12 floors off the ground.)
Art Dudley  |  Mar 25, 2019  |  7 comments
A few years ago, the Hotel Bonaventure (formerly the Hilton Bonaventure), long the site of the Montreal Audio Fest (formerly Salon Son et Image), turned its sprawling restaurant into a sprawling ballroom called the Ville-Marie salon. For the 2019 Montreal Audio Fest, that room was home to Focal Naim Canada (formerly the distributor known in Canada as Plurison, and in the US as Audio Plus Services.) Daniel Jacques (on the left, with me, in the photo above), who founded Plurison/Audio Plus in 1983, has now sold that company to Vervent Audio Group, which owns Focal and Naim; those brands, including a few others—namely IsoAcoustics, Cambridge Audio, Musical Fidelity, Siltech, Vicoustic, and Solid Tech—will now be handled in Canada by Focal Naim Canada, and, with the exception of Cambridge, in the US by Focal Naim America, also a Vervent subsidiary.
John Atkinson  |  Mar 25, 2019  |  6 comments
This one's for Herb Reichert: the booth outside the huge room where Solen Electronique was demming what they described as "The Ultimate Experience" system (CDN$115,435) featured parts and components from Solen and The Parts Connection/Dayton Audio. This box of NOS tubes would have had Herb drooling!
Robert Schryer  |  Mar 25, 2019  |  0 comments
A perennial exhibiter at the Montreal fest, Quebec-based importer / distributor Goerner Audio usually puts together a wonderful-sounding system built around a turntable, but this year’s setup was one of my favorites of theirs in recent years, and it included no vinyl.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 24, 2019  |  6 comments
I suppose I'm odd man out for not liking Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, which has sold over 45 million copies since its release in 1973 yet for me remains a monument only to the hazards of excessive marijuana consumption. Too bad for me: On Friday, the sounds of that album blasted from what seemed every third demonstration, and by the time I approached the door of the room sponsored by Montreal retailer Son Ideal, I was hearing DSOTM for literally the fourth time since the show opened. Quiet desperation, indeed.
Robert Schryer  |  Mar 24, 2019  |  9 comments
Continuing my exploration of the Sonor-Filtronique room, which began in my first Montreal Audio Fest report, I spotted across the room a brand whose distinct appearance—I'd characterize it as a blend of modern and retro—is instantly recognizable to most audiophiles: Nagra.
John Atkinson  |  Mar 23, 2019  |  1 comments
I thought I would start my day by exploring the Hotel Bonaventure's ballroom exhibits, and on my way to the Westmont 2 room, where British company PMC was presenting the North American debut of their flagship Fenestria loudspeaker, I heard some unambiguously live harp music, played by the young lady in the photo, Isabeau Corriveau. A great way to start the day and one that emphasized the show's focus on music of every kind.
Robert Schryer  |  Mar 23, 2019  |  6 comments
Even sans Justin Trudeau, who last escorted me to the show in a Ferrari-red Airbus helicopter (not really) I was feeling good about this year's edition—its 32nd—because for months I’d been seeing Facebook posts announcing the return of major brands that previously had bailed on Montreal’s Fest.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 22, 2019  |  6 comments
At 1:00 on Friday I spoke with Sarah Tremblay (above), co-organizer (with Michel Plante) of the Montreal Audio Fest. The 2019 show had opened only two hours before we ran into one another, and already over 4600 attendees had pre-registered and 1400 of them had arrived on-site. (Admission is free, but the organizers ask of each attendee their name and gender, and whether they'd attended previous Montreal shows.) Tremblay told me that approximately 50% of registrants so far were first-timers: an excellent sign.
John Atkinson  |  Mar 22, 2019  |  10 comments
The 2019 Montreal Audio Fest has opened at the Hotel Bonaventure across the street from the city's main railway station and even at the opening time of 11am, there was a long queue at the registration desk. The show, which runs until 8pm tonight, 10am–6pm Saturday, and 10am–5pm Sunday, has a theme celebrating both the Woodstock Festival's 50th anniversary and the 50 years since John Lennon's and Yoko Ono's infamous bed-in in Montreal and the Fab Four's last live concert. I will be covering the show live for Stereophile, along with Robert Schryer and Art Dudley. Stay tuned for our reports.