Planète Haute-Fidélité: MartinLogan, Hegel, Wattson, Stable 33.33, Reed, EMT, Luna Cables, Cardas Audio, Saturn Audio

All prices listed in Canadian dollars.

My memory isn't good to start with. Still, I could've sworn I heard substantially more bass coming out of the MartinLogan Expression ESL 13A hybrid electrostatic loudspeakers ($23,500/pair) in Planète Haute-Fidélité's room than during any other visit to the retailer's showroom in past years.

The model's bass should go low—provided by each speaker's two 10" woofers powered by a 300-watt Class-D amplifier; it's rated as being able to go as low as 24Hz. But Stygian low bass? The kind that turns into a rumbling-in-the-floorboards murmur? I couldn't recall hearing that before, but I was this time.

Certainly, the downstream components played a part in this. They included a 303Wpc, double mono Hegel H600 integrated amplifier with DAC ($14,995), a Hegel Viking CD player ($5999), a Hegel V10 MM / MC phono stage ($1799), and a Wattson Emerson LE streamer ($5995), with cables by Luna Cables (various prices), and a Saturn Audio 103C Mkll power filter ($2800).

Also demoed at the show but not in operation while I was there was a Stable 33.33 33.2 Mkll turntable ($13,900) with a Reed 1H DE 10.5" tonearm ($2390) fitted with an EMT HSD006 MC cartridge ($2390), and a Cardas Clear Cygnus phono cable ($680/1.25m.).

The MartinLogan Expressions have a 24-bit Vojtko DSP engine and ARC (Anthem Room Correction) technology, which could explain the huge, stable, limpid soundstage I was hearing. Inside, a procession of realistic timbres, tactile texture, tangible images, and flurries of micro-dynamics appeared. As bad as my memory is, my time listening to this demo won't soon be forgotten.