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Salon Son & Image 2015 Report Montreal High-End Audio Show
Salon Son & Image Report 2015 -- Montreal High-End Audio Show
Report By Rick Becker -- Part 1

  The Montreal show, under the tutelage of The Chester Group from England, morphed from the Salon Son Image to the Montreal Audio Show this year. And as always, there was an eventful hurdle for me. Traveling with a hometown friend, we came upon a detour on the Route 20 expressway just before we reached all the familiar landmarks that lead me to The Bonaventure Hotel (no longer in the Hilton chain). Before long I was racing from Aręte sign to Aręte sign on the back streets of Montreal seeing only an occasional young couple walking home in the early morning hour. It was well after midnight before we could find first an open C-store and then an all-night donut shop for directions to the Bonaventure. So why didn't I use a GPS, you ask? To which I answer, Did Montcalm?

In the light of the subterranean parking lot I could admire the abstract art work on the side of my NOS Hotel Tracker, handed down to me by my wife. (The old one clocked out at 217,000 miles, but will soon be running again on a college campus in New Jersey). After a long day at work in Rochester, NY, we hit the sack at 2am.

 

As we headed out for breakfast at the train station across the street it was obvious Saturday was going to be a Big Day at the show. Since Mark and I are both into turntables we were easily hooked into the Vintage Chris display and the person of Romeo Dohotaru in the hall who had a Jean Nantais turntable on display which is basically a re-habbed/hot rodded Lenco turntable mounted in a visually captivating wood plinth. Vintage Chris performs mods on these and other tables to take them to an even higher level. If you've got an old Lenco (or other significant turntable) in the attic, give them a shout.

 

Around the next corner at the entrance to the show was Vincent Belanger with his cello selling copies of his CD "La". I heard him perform live along with his CD playing on a couple of systems at the Brooklyn show back in September. (He's very good).  And he was going to be doing the same here in Montreal. Unfortunately, our paths did not cross in any room this time. In my current review of the Pure Audio Project speaker I wrote that I was brought to tears by his compositions in "La", an excellent recording by Fidelio.

Proceeding to the 1200 wing, we knocked on the door of Lawrence Audio but the door was locked. These are the folks with the speaker shaped like a cello. I hope they were not the victim of transit damage, or had their gear tied up in the chaos of the West Coast dock strike. Hopefully they were just suffering from jet-lag. I wanted to get back to this room, but time slipped away, as it frequently does at shows.

 

The next room, Vmax Services, was of particular interest to Mark, as he wanted to hear one of the more affordable Triangle loudspeakers from France. Richard Kohlruss had their new Signature Delta floorstander ($8000US) in the rig which sounded very good and had a beautiful clear gloss mahogany finish. (Gloss White and Piano Black are available at the same price). There is a model above this one, and one below. Triangle changed hands a few years ago and their products seem to be a lot more commercial or main stream today, though the tweeter and mid-woofer seen here were new to me. Mark doubled back to this room at the end of the show and Richard was very accommodating, putting in a smaller monitor for Mark to hear, which impressed him for its relatively modest price. The speakers were driven by the new Hegel H-160 integrated amplifier ($3500US) with an internal DAC that was taking a digital feed from the QAT MS5 music server.

Also in the Vmax room was the new Graff 50BII (mk II) integrated amplifier on with a wide window displaying the vacuum tubes inside. 50 watts per channel come from KT90 tubes and it is actually manufactured for Graff by another famous Italian company, Audio Analogue. Priced at $8000US, it features single ended and balanced inputs.

 

Across the hall Acoustic Technologies put together a very fine sounding room featuring the world premiere of the Accuphase MDSD Digital Processor DC-37 ($11,000CDN/$17,499US? Perhaps they switched the US & Canadian prices on the price list, but if not, it would sure make sense to visit Canada to buy Accuphase products given the current strength of the US dollar.) The Accuphase E-600 stereo integrated amplifier ($12,999CDN/$15,999US) drove the Audio Physic Avantera ($26,000) with 30 Class A watts per channel. (30 big ones, I was told from the young gentleman from France). An Acoustic Signature turntable ($2700 without the arm) was equipped with what looked like my Sumiko MMT arm and a Dynavector XX2 cartridge. Cabling was by WireWorld. This was one of the Best Rooms at the show, playing through the digital front end with an exceptional pairing of Accuphase amplification and Audio Physic speakers sounding very tube-like (which is to say liquid, transparent and spacious) with only a 44.1kHz digital signal. Acoustic Technologies was offering substantial discounts on Accuphase products purchased at the show, which would have made air fare from almost anywhere in North America cost effective. Keep that in mind for next year and plan ahead.

 

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