Montreal Audio Fest 2018

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Robert Schryer  |  Mar 28, 2018  |  4 comments
Along with those other nerdy qualities I love about sound reproduction, I love a good soundstage. That's because a good soundstage, like a clever Hollywood movie effect, can provide the push needed to make me believe that someone who can't possibly be there in front of me singing or playing an instrument actually is and that I've missed nothing.

I bring up the soundstage thing not because I think hearing a good soundstage during playback is essential to one's enjoyment of a recording, but because the soundstage thing is the aspect of playback I was most wowed by of the system I heard in the Verity Audio room.

Art Dudley  |  Mar 28, 2018  |  5 comments
Quebec-based Solen—which distributes parts from a number of different manufacturers, as well as manufacturing their own well-regarded capacitors and other components—has a talent for filling their exhibit rooms with scores of items, including finished products made from the parts they sell. Among the latter at this year's Montreal show was a single-ended triode amp that will soon be available as the Coffin Audio 2A3 SE. Using new-old stock 6SL7 tubes to drive its nominal 2A3 directly heated output tubes, the nicely made Coffin amp uses Solen Teflon coupling caps, and the stereo amp's retail price is estimate to be $CAD6000.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 27, 2018  |  5 comments
On Saturday morning, the Montreal Audio Fest seemed to get crowded in the blink of an eye: One minute I was stepping out of my room in the Hotel Bonaventure, the next minute I was excusez-moi-ing my way into one SRO room after another. I confess that, for one very brief moment, I wished I was back with the howling old owl in the woods.

Homesickness was dispelled the moment I heard the system in the first of three rooms sponsored by Motet Distribution of Toronto, this one featuring Triangle Australe speakers ($CAD5500/pair), driven by a VTL S-200 stereo amp ($CAD17,500) and 5.5 preamp ($CAD11,200), with a laptop and an iFi Macro portable DAC/headphone amp ($CAD780) as the source.

Art Dudley  |  Mar 27, 2018  |  0 comments
I began my Saturday afternoon with a visit to the Montreal Audio Fest's Audiofilles room, the name being a pun (en Francais, bien sur) on audio girls. For the occasion, a number of partnering manufacturers contributed elements of what turned out to be a fine-sounding system: an Oracle Paris MkV turntable with tonearm and Paris PH200 phono preamplifier; McIntosh MB50 streaming audio player and MA7200 integrated amplifier; Luna Cables Orange interconnects, speaker cables, and AC cords; Modulum equipment supports; and a pair of Totem Forest Signature loudspeakers, in high-gloss mahogany finish.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 27, 2018  |  4 comments
I started my Sunday by visiting Plurison, the Canadian distributor for Focal, Naim, Rega, Musical Fidelity, Devialet, Music Hall, Wharfedale, Cambridge, Astell&Kern, and others (and, under the name Audio Plus Services, the US distributor for some of those same brands). As they did last year, Plurison set up shop in the Ville-Marie room—one of the Bonaventure's largest, having been carved out of what used to be the hotel's main restaurant—and presented their products in a mix of active and static displays, with a degree of visual refinement that few other exhibitors matched, and none exceeded.
Robert Schryer  |  Mar 26, 2018  |  2 comments
My fake award for overall best retail audio store representative at this year's Montreal Audio Fest goes to the genial and youthful-looking Robert de Koninck from Montreal retailer Art et Son. Robert was a veritable fountain of infectious audiophile enthusiasm that extended to the products he represents, the result of which is that I now intend to visit the store he works at.
Robert Schryer  |  Mar 25, 2018  |  3 comments
What the Hegel system did was turn a live recording of a guitar-shredding Chicago blues player into an explosive, hotel-room-filling event. The sound was dynamic as all get out, head-bobbingly propulsive, and though slightly coolish in character, excitingly expressive. The gear recipe to this musical fun-romp was a Hegel Mohican CD player (CA$5999), Hegel P30 preamp (CA$8999), 350Wpc Hegel H30 amp (CA$17 000), and PMC MB2 SE 3-way, stand-mount speakers (CA$38 500/pair, stands included), with XLO cabling throughout. A frenzied drum solo sounded so viscerally real that I almost expected to be hit by a flying drum stick.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 25, 2018  |  0 comments
After all that work on the first day, a break was in order. A record-shopping break.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 25, 2018  |  4 comments
The venerable Japanese firm Luxman and the German turntable manufacturer Acoustic Signature—whose President, Gunther Frohnhofer, I had the pleasure of meeting on Friday—shared a room in which Raidho C3.2 and D2.1 loudspeakers (respectively $US37,500/pair and $US44,00/pair) were driven by Luxman M700u power amps running in mono ($US8995/pair), in turn driven by a Luxman C700u preamplifier ($US8995), fed by a Luxman EQ500 phono preamp ($US6495) and Melco N1ZH v2 music server ($US5000). LPs were played on Acoustic Signature Double X ($CAD5500) and Storm turntables ($CAD9000), both fitted with Acoustic Signature TA2000 tonearms ($CAD3400).
Robert Schryer  |  Mar 24, 2018  |  3 comments
I was thrilled to be back to cover the Montreal Audio Fest for Stereophile with my partner in crime Art Dudley, Eager to start roaming the hallowed halls of the Bonaventure Hotel, Art and I quickly drew up the lines of our respective coverage territories in the program's exhibitor floor plan and went our separate ways.

First room on my route belonged to Gershman Acoustics, who was showcasing their sizable new flagship speaker, the Posh (above left), which, as its name suggests, is poshly priced at (US)$129 000/pair...

Art Dudley  |  Mar 24, 2018  |  4 comments
I love Tannoy loudspeakers—more than most other brands that have been around since the late Devonian, their contemporary products retain many of the qualities that made their forebears famous, not to mention great—but for whatever reason, every year in Montreal I tend to visit the room co-sponsored by Quebec Tannoy distributor Zidel Marketing fairly late in the show. This year they were first on my list, even before going record shopping.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 23, 2018  |  3 comments
Things change. Montreal's annual hi-fi show used to be called Salon Son et Image, but now it's called Salon Audio Montreal—or, for non-Quebecois, the Montreal Audio Fest. It takes place in a Hotel that used to be called the Hilton Bonaventure, but is now called the Bonaventure Hotel. It's a consumer-oriented show that used to charge admission, but is now open to the public, free of charge. You can bring the whole family for all three days of the show and still have money left over for smoked-meat sandwiches and poutine: think of it!

The Montreal Audio Fest runs from 11am to 8pm today, from 10am till 6pm on Saturday, and 10am to 4pm on Sunday.