Something in the Air in Montreal—But It's Not the PM’s Ferrari-Red Helicopter

Even sans Justin Trudeau, who last year 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. This time I drove myself to the venue in my rusting-but-freshly-spray-waxed 2009 Dodge Journey—bit of a letdown after last year—but the knowledge that the show would be themed in honor of Woodstock's 50th anniversary reassured me that organizers Sarah Tremblay and Michel Plante were keen on keeping the proceedings fun, friendly, and focused on the gear and the music.

On the Friday morning of the show, I had the pleasure of meeting up with the ever-dapper Art Dudley in the hotel lobby. This time Art was accompanied by John Atkinson, whom I'd never met in person. John’s tenure as Stereophile's editor-in-chief—33 years—corresponds not coincidentally to the length of time I've been an audiophile (so far). John has been an abiding, indirect presence in my life for longer than any of my best friends or (ex-)lovers. Only my mom beats John for longevity. Meeting him felt like the completion of a circle, and it was a wonderful way to get the show started.

The first room on my route belonged to Audio Note, where cellist and AN spokesperson Vincent Belanger was showing a system that, he told me, represented a first for AN at a Montreal audio show in that it included equipment from other manufacturers.

Those other manufacturers included Harman-owned Studer, whose B-67 reel-to-reel tape recorder sat idle with its lights on, and French company Micromega, whose M-One 100Wpc integrated amp/streamer/DAC ($CA6000.00; pricing info in this article may not be exact) was in use. Those components complemented AN's CDT-Zero/ll transport ($CA2000.00) and AN-K/Spe stand mount speakers ($5000.00/pair w/stands), all connected by a mix of XLO and AN cabling. The sound was rich and reverberant, if occasionally pingy on high notes, with good scale and a sense of ease that was pleasing to the soul and ears.

Next up: stalwart Montreal retailer Sonor-Filtronique, occupying at least three rooms this year. The first room showed off a system built around Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Baby Grand speakers ($CA8295.00/pair) driven by a 125Wpc Moon 330 amplifier ($CA4400.00), and a Moon 390 network streamer/preamp/phono stage ($CA6900.00), the latter claiming full MQA-decoding capability via each of its digital inputs. One of those inputs was streaming 44.1kHz files of Macy Gray and Patricia Barber songs, to very nice effect. Moon products come with an impressive 10-year warrantee and Simaudio's 2-year trade-up program, which allows Moon owners to receive 100% trade-in credit for a product returned within the first year after purchase and 75% trade-in credit during the second year.

The second Sonor-Filtronique room was full of goodies, some on static display. Yes, those are tubes on the side of that McIntosh MTI-100 turntable ($US7000.00)—specifically 12ax7 dual triodes. The MTI-100 is a most-in-one audio solution: turntable, tube preamp, and 80Wpc class-D amplifier in one package. Add a pair of small speakers and you have sweet vinyl setup that’s compact and semi-portable.

It's almost as if they were posing especially for me: Luxman's CL-38uC tube preamp ($CA7795.00) with built-in phono stage, with its intended partner, the MQ-88uC amplifier ($CA7795.00), which outputs 25Wpc from four 88 pentode tubes connected in triode. Beguiling.

Before I sign off and go hear more stuff, here's one more cute couple, if one can call this 180lb pair—the 152Wpc McIntosh 70th Anniversary Edition 2152 amplifier ($US15 000.00) and the McIntosh 70th Anniversary Edition C-70 preamp ($US7000.00)—cute.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Is it called 'Helicoptere one'? :-) .........

tonykaz's picture

How did Stereophile find you?

Tony in Michigan

rschryer's picture

...and asked if he'd publish it, which he agreed to do.

And I've been doing the same thing since.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

How come RS is not reviewing audio equipment? :-) ...........

Anton's picture

He is well spoken, seems to have a good ear, and passion for the hobby!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Yes ...... He (RS) also looks like one of 'The Beatles', when they were young :-) ...........