[Community of A/V Enthusiasts]
I made the trip north to Montreal for the 25th annual Salon Son & Image HiFi show. Set against the backdrop of the Hilton Bonaventure Hotel downtown, up to 10,000 visitors are expected to roam the halls of this very casual event. The hotel is circa 1970’s brutal concrete modern and lends itself perfectly for the show confined to two levels. Mostly local retailers and manufacturers gather to exhibit their wares all the while boasting Canadian pride.
In fact the new Canadian Pavilion displays the manufacturers attending the show. The likes of Moon Audio, Paradigm/Anthem, psb, Bryston and Axiom to name a few are shown here.
And if you're not buying music or music equipment, you can buy art about music, or musicians.
Axiom has been a bit of a mystery to me as they sell exclusively online and never attend audio shows; I’m told that may change. Never having personally reviewed their speakers, I do know they have an amazing following and active forum. I was fortunate to be taken through the collection by none other than founder Ian Colquhoun’s wife Amie.
Their current flagship floorstanding speaker the M80 is about to be surpassed with the new and un-named flagship. I’m told the forum has in the past helped name new products and this iteration is currently known as the M100, for now. This multi-directional speaker boasts 11 drivers both front and back. Powered by Bryston amplifiers and the digital server BDP-1 provided the source. These speakers at $3,760 will require a large room but make no mistake, I liked what I heard..I need a bigger house!
The rear sprots 4 drivers, woofer ports and bi-wiring.
I was happy to run into James Tanner and his Model-T, well ok, not his car but a new prototype speaker James has been developing with Axiom. Born from James’ personal interest, the large speaker can be tri-amplified and Bryston designed an outboard crossover that will ultimately be run by an app on your device. The Model-T (for Tanner) is still under development.
James, also showed his new integrated amplifier the B135 SST² replacing the B100, which is entirely new in and out. At 135 WPC at 8 ohms, it supports 7 inputs, three independent torodial power supplies, pass through features for multi-channels systems, optional internal phono stage and all new cosmetics for $4,695.
Not surprising but only a couple of rooms were set up with an entire home theater, but Klipsch’s THX Ultra2 speaker system was very enjoyable. So efficient are the speakers that a modest receiver ran the 7.2 package. I was impressed with how much impact and detail was present, enough to keep me in my seat during a Yanni concert. At $16,000, I’d call it a bargain.
VTL with Wilson Sophia
I was mesmerized by the presentation of the VTL MB195 amplifier connected to Wilson Sophia via Transparent Reference cable, where Luke Manley, president of VTL played both vinyl and digital sources. The room had just the right amount of reverb that worked, although similar rooms had issues, so I give this setup some kudos for the effort. If someone said, take home a system - that would be it.
I finally got to hear the $27,000 Sony SS-AR1 I’ve heard so much about. On hand was Motoyuki Sugiura, the senior project lead who explained the concept of the AR1, to achieve live performance possible, to feel the space, the orchestra, the performers. Sony has developed an excellent and beautifully crafted speaker, very sweet!
Happy to run into Mark and Nick of Rogue Audio who were both excited to showcase their new Hybrid tube/Class D amplifier.
Deservedly so, I give high praises to the well-balanced presentation. Two models, the Medusa and Hydra rated conservatively at 200 wpc/100 wpc at 8 Ohms respectively (double that at 4 Ohms), combine triode tubes at the input and D Mosfet in the output.
At $3,995 for the Medusa, and $2,995 for the Hydra, I can’t imagine a better deal for exceptional quality and performance. The room featured the British Harbeth HL Compact 7ES-3 stand mounted speakers.
There is no denying the impact MBL has on these shows, their speakers, amplifiers and components are stunningly beautiful, but so are the prices. Switching between their Reference line and their "more affordable" Corona line, it's hard not to be seduced.
Much has been written and said about KEF concept Blade and the $30,000 version. Style points alone made this a destination room. CHORD electronics provided the source material.
Touted as Wireless High-end, Dynaudio’s Xeo loudspeakers, the Xeo 3 and Xeo 5 bring the promise of freedom from amplifiers, err, the external kind. Each speaker has a built-in dual 50 watt amplifier, one for each woofer and tweeter. Plug the transmitter in with most connections, analog and digital including USB and away you go. The system includes the remote control as well as the transmitter, where the bookshelf will set you back $2,300 for the pair and the floorstanding are $4,500. Outstanding sound is how I noted in my writing pad.
Michael Manousselis, Director of Sales & Marketing for Dynaudio showed the transmitter.
Teamed with Dynaudio, German manufacturer T+A was used for playback on a pair of Dynaudio speakers, with their E-Series music server and powerplant. The ease of use with a remote control that featured a screen that allowed you to sit back and make selections, despite the large display on the server.
The very cool remote!
T+A also introduce the new DAC 8 soon to be released and priced under $3,000. Capable of 192/24 playback, it features balanced outputs, XLR, RCA, and digital outputs.
One of the things I really loved about this show was the diversity. It included a smaller, little known local company dupuy acoustique that played a wonderful blues piece on what looked like home made speakers called the Assotor with two freestanding units per side.
It sounded amazing frankly, and I did notice his ModWright modified Oppo BDP-95 as the source of the music.
Nope! Won't go there!
I do wish I had enough time to visit all the local retailers who worked very hard to ensure their systems sounded great, I can't remember a show where so much sounded so good. I enjoyed this show which I will make an annual event because it does right by audio - for those of us who truly enjoy this hobby, the tone of this show should be replicated in other cities.