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Robert Schryer Posted: Mar 26, 2017 0 comments
Whatever our preference in sound, there are audio components or systems that are not only better than others at plucking our heartstrings, but of doing so on such a level of intimacy it's as if the hardware were delivering the musical performance specially for us. I experienced such moments while listening to Coherent Audio's audio setup, which featured a Baetis Prodigy music server ($US3000), a Triode Labs Au Pre preamp ($CDN2000), a Triode Labs 2A3 SET ($CDN3900), and a pair of dual-concentric Coherent Audio Model 12GR speakers with a sensitivity rating of 96dB and an impedance of 8 ohms.
Art Dudley Posted: Mar 26, 2017 0 comments
One is bound to hear at any hi-fi show—even a superior one such as this—the live, acoustic version of the Eagles' "Hotel California," just as one is bound to hear, at any Catholic mass, a Hail Mary: no surprise at all, and under the best possible conditions the aural equivalent of comfort food. At the 2017 Montreal Audio Fest, I first heard it at the exhibit sponsored by France's Atoll Electronique—and it reminded me of Ian Anderson's gracious comment, when asked if he was dismayed at the undeniable similarities between that Eagles song and Jethro Tull's own "We Used to Know," from the album Stand Up: "[Hotel California] is a very, very fine song.
Robert Schryer Posted: Mar 25, 2017 0 comments
I was pumped about this year's Montreal Audio Fest, the city's 30th consecutive audio show, for a couple of reasons. First, I was pumped because I was covering the show for Stereophile with the estimable Art Dudley, and, second, because after last year's debacle that saw the show being unceremoniously cancelled by then-fest organizers/owners, the Chester Group, then resurrected by previous and self-re-instated show organisers, Michel Plante and Sarah Tremblay, the event's rapid revival was proof to me that the Montreal audio show still has legs and a purpose. (The show is taking place this weekend at the Hotel Bonaventure.)
Kalman Rubinson Posted: Mar 24, 2017 12 comments
When it comes to Focal loudspeakers, I've been a lurker. For decades now, their demonstrations at audio shows have been memorable—a highlight was when, several years ago, I got Focal to play a powerful percussion track through a pair of their Grande Utopias at very high volume on a show's last day. Just to hear and feel how this mammoth system could deliver clarity and impact was awe-inspiring, and it was underscored by seeing folks from all the neighboring rooms quickly entering to enjoy it with me. It has also been a continuing pleasure to relax and listen to music with Stereophile's former Senior Editor, Jonathan Scull through his Focal Utopias, which he purchased in 1998. Alas, the years have turned, speakers have come and gone, and I had not yet had any Focal speakers in my own system. (Bob Deutsch seemed always to get the jump on me!)
Ken Micallef Posted: Mar 24, 2017 19 comments
As Stereophile's true cub reporter—sorry, Herb Reichert, you're senior staff!—I work in the domestic fields of the high-end audio landscape. Meanwhile, my fellow Stereophile correspondents trot the globe, attending international audio shows, experiencing all the sweet spots offered by such far-flung locales as Munich, Montreal, and Northamptonshire, UK. Am I complaining? Not! But when an audio show of merit invades New York City, still the capital of the civilized world, you can believe I'm there on opening day, pen and pad in hand. The first rooms on my must-visit list usually include Audio Note UK, DeVore Fidelity, MBL—and, when the gear is warm and the good vibes flowing, as they usually are, Wes Bender Studio NYC.
Art Dudley Posted: Mar 24, 2017 2 comments
What better way to start an audio show than with live music? With that in mind, one hour before the official start of the 2017 Montreal Audio Fest, Canadian distributor Plurison hosted, in their capacious display room, a too-brief performance by cellist Vincent Bélanger and singer-pianist Anne Bisson. They performed a few selections from their new LP Conversions—a project that was sponsored by Lily Luo and cable manufacturer XLO.
Herb Reichert Posted: Mar 24, 2017 8 comments
The soul of a loudspeaker cannot be exclusively characterized by such unmeasurable, reviewer-friendly declarations as "lush tonality," "gossamer textures," "clear-water transparency," "microdetail," or "pacey dynamic rhythmic expression." Neither can it be fully described by such measurable characteristics as anechoic frequency response, dynamic impedance, or step response. More than anything else, a loudspeaker expresses its full character in how and where it directs the listener's attention. What a loudspeaker emphasizes—what it reveals, what it obscures, what it forces the listener to notice and think about—that is a loudspeaker's soul.
Art Dudley Posted: Mar 24, 2017 0 comments
There’s already one good bit of news out of the 2017 Montreal Audio Fest, which begins at 11am today and runs through 5pm on Sunday: reconstruction of the interior of the show’s longstanding venue, the Hotel Bonaventure—a project that was in full, noisy swing during last year’s show—has now been completed, restoring the Bonaventure’s glory in general and its superb bistro/watering hole in particular. It was there that I enjoyed a short pre-show encounter with the audio-industry luminaries pictured above (L–R): Jeff Joseph (Joseph Audio), Doug Schneider (Soundstage.com), Keith Pray (Stereophile), Meredith Gabor (Nordost), and Mat and Harry Weisfeld (VPI Industries).
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Robert Baird Posted: Mar 24, 2017 1 comments
In 2016, the vinyl information and e-commerce site Discogs.com broke its own most-expensive LP-sale record twice. In March 2016, David Bowie's David Bowie went for $6826. That post-Bowie, death-related purchase was then topped when the next rock star fell. A month later, in April, a copy of Prince's Black Album, the grail of his catalog, went for $15,000. In recent days, however, the record was broken again when a test pressing of cult guitar hero Billy Yeager's 301 Jackson Street, one of just eight ever made, went for $18,000.
Stereophile Staff Posted: Mar 23, 2017 7 comments
The 2017 Montreal Audio Fest starts tomorrow at its traditional venue, the Hotel Bonaventure Montréal (900 de la Gauchetière Ouest). In its current incarnation, this is the second year for the show after being "rescued" in 2016 by Michel Plante and Sarah Tremblay. Both had been long associated with the Canadian show before it was sold to the Chester Group in 2013.

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