Le Festival Son et Image de Montréal 2002
By Ian White
Welcome To The Wonderful World
Sony Canada came to Montreal this year with a plethora of new and interesting products, and there was little doubt as to which company put on the best display. Sony covered all of the bases this year with an SACD demonstration, three separate living room home theater scenarios, multiple DVD/widescreen television set-ups, racks of CD and SACD players, and they also brought along the coolest television that we have ever seen. The 60" widescreen Sony Grand Wega ($12,000 CDN) television left most people with drool on their shoes. The picture quality absolutely stunning, crisp, rich, detailed, and easy on the eyes. The most impressive part of the demonstration was the fact that Sony was using one of their entry-level DVD players.
SACD fanatics will be thrilled to learn that Sony brought the entire SACD line-up to Montreal, and that the demonstration was extremely convincing, especially for people such as my wife who have never even heard of the technology. Consumers no longer have to spend thousands to join the club and some of the entry-level players are surprisingly very good.
Sony also used their space in Montreal to demonstrate their latest home theater equipment in a friendlier environment, by recreating three living room spaces. The three systems used televisions, speakers, DVD players, and surround sound receivers at various price points and it showed a degree of marketing savvy, rarely seen at most hi-fi shows.
For The Seafood Lover In You...
Manley Labs had a lot of really interesting equipment on display in Montreal, but nothing could have prepared us for the sound that we heard when their Neo Classic 300B monoblocks ($7,200) were paired with a set of
Beauhorn Virtuoso Gold loudspeakers. While the Virtuoso Gold could use some additional help in the upper treble, their midrange performance was absolutely mesmerizing. The clarity and richness of the sound with the Manley monoblocks in their push-pull mode made us hang around for close to twenty minutes and we would have stayed all day to hear these superb amplifiers drive the Beauhorn B2 speakers hanging out in the corner.
On the same floor, a pair of Manley Labs Snapper 100 watt monoblocks ($4,250 per pair) and the new entry level Shrimp tube
pre-amplifier ($1,880) were on static display and they looked good enough to eat. In the same room, a fascinating new loudspeaker was on display and we found its sound most intriguing. The
Maat Audio Group introduced the Maat loudspeaker (seen below) and it is most certainly a product that should catch the attention of the single-ended crowd. The
loudspeaker uses a custom-built version of the Supravox 215 driver and the HiVi Research isodynamic tweeter.
Tosh Goka of Divergent Technology brought his usual bag of goodies to Montreal with a number of new products from
Copland, Antique Sound Lab, Audio Static, Reference
3A, and Chang. Copland has taken the inevitable leap into the home theater market with the introduction of its CVA 535 five-channel power amplifier ($4995), and has also revamped its entire product line. Another product that turned heads at the show was the AQ 1005 DT eight watt integrated amplifier
($2,495) from Antique Sound Lab. Two years ago, Divergent began to manufacture its own products in Canada with the introduction of the Reference 3a MM DeCapo loudspeaker, and it has now started to produce the Royal Virtuoso monitor ($5,400) in Canada as well. The Royal Virtuoso uses a brand new tweeter, one that is not used on the other Reference
Another Canadian distributor making waves in Montreal was Montreal-based VMAX
Services, with products scattered throughout the show. Richard Kohlruss seems to have found the perfect product mix with
Audio Analogue, Opera (left photo), Cairn, Unison
Research, and Triangle (right photo). The Triangle Celius have received rave reviews so far for their outstanding performance and Montreal proved that this speaker is deserving of its accolades. Driven by Cairn electronics, the Celius ($2,795 per pair) were smooth, detailed, and ungodly good for the money. Another VMAX product that really impressed us was the Audio Analogue Maestro CD player ($3,595) that was used in a system comprised of the Opera Super Pavarotti loudspeakers ($2,495), the Unison Research P30K KT88 power amplifier ($2,795) and Unison Research C5P tube