Salon Audio Montreal / Audio Fest
2022 Show Report
Todd Garfinkle, the gypsy recording artist who has traveled the world to bring us purist two-mic recordings of exotic music was on hand again with a table full of CDs and LPs. He was tickled that I learned some of his work had appeared on Hearts of Space, a program of "slow music for fast times" on NPR. This was back in the 300 series of programs. I started listening about 2000 when they were in the early 400s and they are now up into the 1300s. I find this music far more effective than psychoanalysis and Todd's MA Recordings CDs are far less expensive.
At Audiophonie I spoke with Kaz, the owner, who told me they are a repair center in Rosemont, Montreal, at 5971 St. Hubert Street, just before the St. Hubert Plaza. They specialize in vintage amplifiers, turntables, speakers and reel-to-reel tape decks. They also tackle high-end audio gear, new or old, including tube gear. I may smuggle one of my vintage receivers to the show next year!
Stable 33.33 is the home of Sylvain Pichette who can best be described as one of the up-and-coming turntable guys in high-end audio. I reveled in his Model 33.2 design at the 2019 show and this year he presented the Stable 33.2 Mk2 that was shown in action in a room on the first floor. The current model is a more commercially viable turntable but carries over many of the best features of the original, including a superb bearing.
In this closer photo you can see the stainless steel weights screwed into the 13-pound acrylic platter and the thick synthetic drive belt. Total weight is 60 pounds. It will be offered with a Reed H1tonearm, but most other tonearms can be accommodated either with the adjustable mounting base for 9" to 12" tonearms, or by replacing the tonearm mounting base. Polyurethane domes combine with a spring suspension on each of the three pillars. It sell for $11,500 CDN without the arm.
In the Marketplace, Sylvain was selling his Transit Platter (Plateau de Transit) at CAD 90, or a more deluxe version at CAD 160 — an elegant accessory for analog buffs which gives them a place to set their freshly cleaned LP or the LP just removed from the platter without getting dust on the bottom side. It's available in a variety of wood species. In the smaller white boxes is a 7.3mm Vinyl Center Hole Reamer (CAD 57). He also offers a few different record weights and a T-shirt for those who wish to proclaim their allegiance to vinyl.
Moving down to the far end of the lower level, I made my first visit to the Acora Acoustics room where I was once again treated to great music. Valerio Cora seems to continually evolve his presentation, this time teaming up with amps from Dan D'Agostino including the monoblock shown above and the preamp shown below in black. This was my first occasion to see anything from D'Agostino in black, and I must say my personal preference is for silver, which is sometimes combined with copper for a very luxurious appearance. That brown pillar in the background was a humidifier that not only made the room very pleasant but probably cut down on static electricity. This room sounded so wonderful it earns a Best Of Montreal 2022 Award.
Valerio was spinning vinyl which no doubt contributed to the excellence of the music heard here. The turntable was a massive Trans Rotor from Germany with an SME arm. I couldn't help but notice the Nessie Vinylmaster record cleaning machine as I have reviewed the Nessie Vinylcleaner Pro LP washer and like Valerio, I treasure it for its quiet operation. The Vinylmaster is even quieter than the Pro and Valerio used it even when people were listening to music in the room.
The Acora speaker was the SRC-1 which many others have very highly acclaimed. The resolution is so fine, revealing the innermost detail of a recording, yet totally without irritation or fatigue. The dynamics from such a small speaker are amazing and I watched with disbelief at the long, flexible excursion of the surround of the mid-woofer as the music danced out of its black granite enclosure. I asked Valerio if he had ever considered using another color stone but he insisted that this particular black granite from Africa was what sounded the best. Even the bass, driven by the relatively small driver growled with authority and depth that belied its size.
While the Westmount 5 room was likely the smallest on the lower level, it was clear this rig could have filled a larger room. And for a very much larger room, the addition of subwoofers would probably do the trick. There is also the larger brother to the SRC-1 with two woofers. In either case, these relatively small speakers with their unique style, play measurably above their size. At every show I've heard them, the Acora have earned Best Rooms Of Montreal 2022 recognition. This room, sponsored by Audio Excellence, was one of many and probably better than most with the Dan D'Agostino amplification and Cardas cabling.
Sliding around the corner and down the hall to the long Montreal 8 room I came upon a demonstration of Martin Logan in-wall speakers — well, not actually "in the wall", but in shallow free-standing enclosures placed up nearly against the wall. A pair of Martin Logan subwoofers with dual side-firing 10" drivers provided impressive bass response. The performance of these line-array speakers was quite good, giving up little in the way of soundstage and holding visitors in rapt attention.
I thought the subs must surely be 12" or 15" models but there were only two 10" drivers firing in sync — both out or both in at the same time in each sub. They had wanted to use larger subs in this room, but this was the only size available for the show. And they were as surprised as I was that they worked so well. Of course, we were listening to music, not the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The black cubes on either side of the equipment rack were ottomans, like what some of the folks were sitting on.
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