Closing Words

Pictured above is show co-organizer Sarah Tremblay (third from left, holding scissors) performing the ribbon-cutting ceremony to begin the 35th anniversary of the Montreal Audiofest. Photo by Séisme Média/Anik Lemieux.

By noon Friday, the 2024 35th edition of the Montreal Audiofest had sold more admission tickets than it had the entire weekend last year, which is great news for the organizers and industry. For the audio reporter seeking a listening seat, never mind in the sweet spot or a good angle to take a photo, it required I do more strategizing than usual—including negotiating several out-of-show-hour visits with exhibitors.

Fortunately, Sunday's thinner yet still robust crowd allowed me to catch up on my reporting. Sunday also proved to me that, with some innovation, show organizers can make a difference. Not only as far as the show itself goes, but perhaps even in the audio world at large.

I'm talking about the organizers' decision to make Sunday "Audiolescent Day," a bring-your-teenager, get-in-free event that worked as hoped, I imagine, by the looks of how many teenagers showed up. Kudos not only to the organizers for this but also to the parents who presented this as an excuse to convince their offspring to join them in an audio experience they could bond over. Hopefully, the audio seeds that have been planted will flourish.

My biggest takeaway from the audio show trend-wise? Hi-res may have been a fad. 90% of exhibit rooms streamed music but only a couple (when I was there) streamed material with greater than 44/16 resolution. My guess is that as equipment gets more resolving and revealing, we're discovering that the lowly 16/44 resolution isn't so low after all, and that it can sound much better than we gave it credit for, even in the most expensive systems—or because of them. Exhibitors seemingly saw no need to play hi-res files to make their systems sound better.

A particularly comforting development at the show, especially as far as my reporter ilk and myself are concerned but also certainly for visitors, was the fact that almost every exhibitor had a component/price list. Either taped to the wall or printed on a sheet, it existed. Proof that if you repeat a message often enough, it will sink in. I even saw pride in the faces of those who could produce a list on demand, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. To those exhibitors whose rooms I missed or ran out of time to write about, I'll do my best to get to you next time.

Thanks to all who helped me do my report and who bothered to read my scribbles. À la prochaine.

Anton's picture

It is on my bucket list.

volvic's picture

Great memories, and thanks for the write ups Robert, sure brings back good times. I used to love running into the late Gerard Rejskind of UHF. I would spend hours listening and chatting with Gerard and his crew about music and gear in the UHF room; I had such great times with them, and I miss them all. Or run into Mr. Remington, the Linn distributor for Canada, or the late Claude Chartier of Son Ideal, who was always there to greet people with a smile and show off his great gear. Many great retailers like Opus Audio, Filtronique, AudioClub, and Studio 1006 were there to show their components. Some, like May Audio, are no longer with us, but boy, did I stock up on CDs and vinyl when they used to show up for the show and used to go home with bags of records and accessories. Good times. I hope to come up and visit again.

rschryer's picture

Take the train and come next year. Spend the weekend for old times' sake. There are still a lot of great hi-fi people and stores and places to buy vinyl in Montreal, all within a short metro ride. You can eat a good smoked meat sandwich while you're at it.

Otherwise, you're more than welcome to continue to live vicariously through my reports. I appreciate you having done so with this one.

P.S. When I was a budding audiophile, I learned a lot about how to listen and what to listen for from Rejskind and UHF.

*Apologies if I misremembered your name.

volvic's picture

Strange, I responded on Friday, then went back to edit and was told it would be posted pending admin approval, and it never was. Ok, here goes again.
I took the train once never again. Customs from both sides boarded the train, and the inspection took three hours. I always drive, 45 seconds to cross the border with my Nexus card. I still come up regularly to see my parents, but not usually during winter. Perhaps I can switch it around next time. Yes, smoked meat from Deli Snowdon is close and fantastic, as good as Pete’s, but that is too far. As for records, yes, Aux 33 Tours is excellent, as is Encore Books and Records, but you must be vigilant as their record grading is all over the place.
I forgot to mention two great people I spent a lot of time with when I was a budding audiophile: David Blumer of Opus Audio, who was always welcoming and did his best to introduce me to the joys of Jessye Norman, Magneplanar, Classe Audio, and the nascent Compact Disc and Claude Chartier of Son Ideal, a true gentleman who left us way too soon.
It’s Nick, and I hope our paths cross at the next Montreal show.

rschryer's picture

Thanks, Nick.

MLP's picture

It was never a mainstream thing. I hope Qobuz and others survive and keep holding up a high bar for streaming sound quality. Perhaps the high bar will eventually be aspirational for the purveyors of lossy streaming. Ideally, all streaming will be CD resolution and higher. There is no technical reason why this can't happen. Shame on Spotify for shelving or abandoning their transition to CD-resolution.

MFK's picture

Robert, always enjoy your writing and thank you for the excellent coverage of the Montreal show. Very interesting observation about exhibitors streaming for the most part in 16/44. I'm a daily Qobuz listener and recently I've thought on a number of occasions that 16/44 files were sounding damn good! Apart from turntable parts, I have not changed the system at all since 2019. The DAC is a 2015 Moon 280D. What are other readers hearing in their experience?

rschryer's picture

I'm curious to see if what I encountered at the MTL show with exhibitors playing almost uniquely 16/44 files will be similar to what other Stereophile reporters will encounter at other shows, starting with Axpona...