Salon Son et Image put on hold (and now reborn!)

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.

In the post, Chester Group Marketing and Creative Director Scott Humphrey points to "a substantial drop in companies interested in exhibiting at this ongoing event." In a reference to SSI's founders, from whom Chester Group purchased the show in 2013, Humphrey continued, "We know that the previous organizers also did all they could to keep the Show going but the decline in exhibitor support had been gradual but erosive."

As to a possible make-up date, Chester Group Managing Director Roy Bird expressed hope that fans of SSI will not have to wait until 2017. Speaking from his office in Cheshire, UK, Bird said, "I think at the moment we should like very much to maintain a show in 2016. A show organizer does not like to miss a year: if you miss a year, it becomes difficult to carry on." Pressed for a more precise prediction, Bird suggested that having a "make-up" show in Montreal follow on the heels of another audio event in the same general region would be ideal: "The trade likes to keep shows close together, to save exhibitors having to take things in and out of warehouses, in and out of storage. If possible, we would like to keep shows in or around one another."

"Despite the doom and gloom," Bird continued, "Vancouver is still doing very well, and we'll soon have some very good news about the New York area show," the latter a reference to Chester Group's traditional mid-autumn show. "We've now had a response from virtually every single [Salon Son et Image] exhibitor, and all have been receptive, cooperative, and very friendly about it, and they all hope that the show will go on."

According to the announcement on the Chester Group's website, refunds for current SSI ticket holders are in the works, and the company hopes to complete those arrangements within the next few days.

Stop Press: Michel Plante, who, with his wife Sarah Tremblay, used to own SSI, posted the following comment on Facebook this morning: "Today at 5 in the morning we can announce that a non-profit organization was formed and that the SSI 2.0 will take place as planned."

Within hours of learning the above, we received additional news, this time from the former owners of Salon Son et Image, Michel Plante and Sarah Tremblay: in cooperation with "a group of industry members," they have made arrangements for an audio show—called Montreal Salon Audio—to take place as originally intended, from March 18 through 20 at the Bonaventure Hotel. According to Plante and Tremblay, soon after this 2016 show, "a board of directors will be elected in order to plan the future of this iconic event." Their motivation: "We just could not accept that this magical event would disappear."

As an added incentive, and owing to what the sponsors acknowledge will be "a limited number of exhibitors," admission will be free to the public, and the rate for exhibitors has been "drastically reduced."

One wonders: will there now be two shows per year in Montreal? Only time will tell—but there can be no doubt that hundreds of faithful SSI attendees will be happy not to miss this well-loved spring event at the Bonaventure.

Part-Time Audiophile's picture

I'll be frank (because "being Scot" isn't always as dramatic): I cannot understand why this show could or would tank. SSI was (is?) a great brand and Montreal is a phenomenal destination.

I am greatly heartened to see the Sarah and Michel step up to bring this show back -- hopefully, they can resuscitate the brand and reinvigorate the industry's support. Best wishes and best of luck to them!

Zadumas's picture

The reason it died was easy, no Image per say. As the years went buy, the Image section moved on, in stores like Future Shop and Best Buy, years ago the Home Cinema section was immense, it vanished quickly for no apparent reason. Those merchants and companies did not see a return, so they left, never to return. Now it is almost a snob show, most of what is shown is very expensive, it is like going to the auto show and only Ferraris and Lambo on display. Some demos are just unbearable, the music so out of touch and only played for musicians or people who like chamber's music (Linn is the worst, and has been for years), too bad. I will miss the show, will Michel bring it back?, It would have been my twenty first.

volvic's picture

The one time I was finally going to be in Mtl during the show and it gets cancelled. I can only hope that Mr. Plante et Mme Tremblay will resuscitate it back to its glory.

Anon2's picture

Axpona is in Chicago three years running now. It's a hotel airport van ride away. From some hotels it's walking distance. If you can get a room at the Westin, you are onsite.

O'Hare airport plays its role well for this show, as the transportation hub that Chicago has been for over 150 years. For Canadians, particularly from the east of Canada, there must be flights from Toronto and Montreal almost once an hour on American, Air Canada, and United.

There are still plenty of tickets for Axpona, and probably still a good amount of hotel rooms. You can hit the show, and Chicago, without a rental car. There's even the Rosemont CTA station if a person wanted to make a trip to downtown Chicago.

Salon Son et Chicago (ORD) perhaps? (I'm not affiliated with the event, but just making a suggestion for those who want an accessible spring show.)

ppgr's picture

Canadian dollar is worth 75 cents US, this makes Axpona very expensive for canadian manufacturers.

desperaudio's picture

Michel & Sarah back at the helm - The Show Must Go On!

From a memo sent to our 3dB store e-mail,

Montreal, March 9th 2016

Yesterday, it was announced by the new organizers, Chester Group, that they were giving up on the 29th edition of the Montreal Audio Show. This created a real tsunami amongst the industry.

We dedicated 10 years of our career to -making this show a reference in the industry. We just could not accept that this magical event would disappear.

Without a minute of hesitation, the former owners of the show, along with a group of industry members, have decided to form a new non-profit organization and maintain the show to be run next week, from the 18th to the 20th of March. After this edition of the show, a board of directors will be elected in order to plan the future of this iconic event.

Exceptionally this year, the admission for the public will be FREE as there will be a limited amount of exhibitors, but the quality of the presentation will be the same as usual. The rate for the exhibitors has been drastically reduced, to make sure we attract as many as possible.

So, we invite everyone to come and join us to celebrate this new Montreal Audio Fest.

ppgr's picture

May very well turn this event into a success. I know at least 2 dealers who decided to book rooms upon learning the return of the "dynamic duo".

Georgelfre's picture

Montreal is a great place for Audiophiles and Music lovers. But it's not just about Audiophiles. Several famous manufacturers come from Quebec like : Simaudio, Classé, Verity Audio, Totem, etc... These companies should also have a place in Montreal to show their products. I am also convinced that companies who are in the Exhibition business are not the best to managed Audiophile Show. An Audio Show is clearly not a Car show. It's too specific to be managed as a simply Consumers Show. I clearly support the initiative of Michel and Sarah to start the new : Montreal Audio Fest. We need passion people to create a new exhibition where Manufacturers can have business opportunity to sign good deals with Canadian Dealers, where audiophile people can see and listen fantastic products, where Music Producers and Dealers have a place. Montreal is a amazing place for that.

Michel Plante's picture

First I would like to thank everyone for their appreciation, it is a lot of work to prepare a new show within a week but the energy is so positive that it makes it a real pleasure.

1- Plurison who is my employer is really supportive and offered their help on marketing, logistic, staff, but they are not more implicated than any other exhibitor.

2- We have now 50 rooms sold, this is incredible.

3- We expect more visitors than the previous year due to all the noise created around the cancellation,plus so many audiophiles are spreading the words on forums about the old team being back at work!

4- Lifetime Achievement Award are back !

5- Live music everyday!

6- Cocktail every night for the industry.

7- The most important is the enthusiasm from the exhibitors, they are so happy, we expect the vibe on the floor to be unique, the visitors will have a blast.

8- In Sarah we Trust!

audiocaptain's picture

The Westin is full - and I mean Full. The show has taken all available space and the sleeping rooms have been full since Jan. We do have alternate hotels to recommend so please contact us at or so we may help you find a sleeping room.
Ticket sales are far ahead of last year but we will continue to sell them until showtime. Now is the time to buy you do save some money by doing so. AXPONA this year is going to be a very exciting and dynamic event with features never before offered in a High End Audio Show. Please join us for the ride.