Art's First Day in Montreal, Part 2

After all that work on the first day, a break was in order. A record-shopping break.

The evening before the show started, I was told by co-organizer Sarah Tremblay that the LP-vending area for Montreal Audio Fest 2018 was double that of last year's show—news akin to telling a retiree that the senior citizen's discount at Cracker Barrel has just been doubled. I made a beeline to the foire du vinyle in one of the Hotel's Fontaine Ballrooms and was thrilled at the sheer quantity of LPs on offer.

The selection was impressive, spanning every genre. I believe all of the vendors present for the 2017 show were in attendance—including Snake Records of Montreal, whose inventory I dented last year—along with a number of others. I wound up getting a couple of great titles, including an original UK copy of King Crimson's third album, on Island, from Martin Landry of the always-recommendable Pleko Vinyle. And I bought an apparently mint mono copy of the Stones' UK debut on Decca, as well as a good mono copy of Jacques Loussier's Play Bach 4, from dealer Drew Duncan. All of the vendors there treated me with kindness and patience, and the prices were extremely fair across the board. The Montreal Audio Fest is an LP lover's paradise.

At the display sponsored by distributor FLaudio, Francois Lemay showed me a sample of the top-of-the-line LS-4004 speaker cable ($CAD5850/1.5M) from Inakustik. Most of their cables are made entirely by hand in Ballrechten-Dottingen, Germany, and adhere to apparently complex patterns and architectures. I'm not the world's most cable-centric audiophile, but neither am I a cable skeptic—and after thumbing through Inakustik's catalog, I began to think a review might be in order.

For this year's Montreal Audio Fest, the Montreal-based online retailer occupied a generously sized conference room (in 2017, they displayed their wares on a table in a downstairs hallway, so one can only assume that business is good). In addition to offering show specials on a variety of components— are dealers for Rega, Naim, Focal, Cocktail, Cardas, and other brands—they demonstrated a very nice-sounding system with a total price tag of under $CAD3000: a Rega Brio integrated amp, Rega DAC-R D/A processor, and Focal Chorus 706 loudspeakers.

Joyce DiDonato's voice on "Dopo L'Oscuro" from Bellini's Adelson e Salvini had really nice presence and beautiful tone through the big system in the room co-sponsored by Simaudio and AudioQuest. Driving Wilson Alexia 2 speakers ($US60,000/pair) were a pair of Simaudio Moon 888 mono amplifiers ($US118,888), fed by a Moon 850P preamplifier ($US33,000) and Moon 780D streaming DSD DAC ($US15,000), power for the latter supplied by a Moon 820S power supply ($US8000). Cables included AudioQuest's Fire XLR ($US2995/1M), Redwood speaker cable ($US15,300/12'), Dragon Source AC cords ($US5990/2M), and Dragon High Current ($US14,200/3.8M). Also in use was AudioQuest's Niagara 7000 power conditioner ($US7995), the highly polished front panel of which reliably looks like whatever carpeting is nearby.