Salon Audio Montreal / Audio Fest
2022 Show Report
Next door on the endcap was the Montreal 1 room of DR Acoustics where I met up with Daniel Robidoux of Montreal who was very proud of their US Patent for their Antigone power conditioner awarded in 2020.
As Daniel pointed out "There's practically nothing in it." And that was the point. The filtration happens solely in the three cylinders filled with a mixture of quartz and aluminum bitumen emulsion. There is no inductor, no capacitor, no transistors or transformers to compromise the flow of electricity, hence no restriction on the draw of current from the wall. You can plug your amplifier into it without worrying about a loss of power... especially given the 4 AWG wiring inside. The price was $7495 CAD, but like many of the cables on display, there was a show special of $4995. A little spending in this room could have saved you enough to pay for your visit to the show, even if you flew in from Vancouver, BC, though I believe Canadian tax was charged on items sold at the show.
One of my audio buddies recently purchased a new Classé stereo power amp which came supplied with a DR Acoustics power cord. Despite costing far less than another cable he compared it with, it performed quite admirably and he continues to use it with the Classée amp. DR Acoustic and Classé deserve more attention as the music coming through the Focal speakers in this room sounded quite good. é, which was designed in Montreal, went out of business briefly and was acquired by Sound United. Classé had the design for their Delta series ready to go and it is now manufactured in Japan by the same factory that manufactures Marantz.
I'd seen and heard these amps (both stereo and monoblocks) before the show at a retailer in Buffalo and they sound very good and appear to be very well made. The Delta preamp has a built-in DAC and the source appeared to be the laptop sitting on the Antigone power conditioner. I would encounter three rooms sponsored by Sound United later on this afternoon.
Moving back down the hallway between the large Montreal rooms and the smaller Westmount rooms I entered Westmount 1. A modest-looking rack was composed of plywood with 30 layers of tightly compressed wood along with finely machined posts and tapered spiked feet. It was loaded with Hegel gear with clean lines and now an optional white finish that was driving another model of Apertura speaker. I noticed that the Apertura here was sporting Centaure vibration-absorbing type feet rather than more traditional spikes. This seems to be a trend in the past couple of years. Perhaps it was the room acoustics, but I preferred the sound and the finish of the Apertura speaker I heard upstairs in the darker finish to these.
Wandering to the far back corner of the lower level I found Gershman Acoustics being driven by Krell electronics and an Exasound front end. Cardas cable was used throughout. I've heard the Posh speaker seen here numerous times. The design is a more modern design than their former flagship, the Black Swan. Both of these speakers carry the midrange and tweeter above the bass unit in a separate cabinet with long sides — in this case, the suave anodized aluminum with curvaceous lines. The bass and mid-tweeter chasses never touch one another.
I've seen this speaker occasionally over maybe five years now and at first, the design seemed very confusing and excessive. But I've come to view this as a creative amalgam of technical excellence and high art, not far from the aesthetic of cubist painters, including Picasso. I consider it a modern sculpture rather than simply a loudspeaker. It is not small, but it is smaller than most speakers that play as large as this and at this level of quality. It has taken me some years to reach this point, but where more conventional speakers fade into oblivion, the Posh still intrigues.
The Posh uses a Morel dome tweeter and a 5" Accuton midrange. Crossover components include Mundorf MCapR Supreme Classic Silver-Gold.Oil capacitors and silver soldered wiring. This is the first time I felt the Posh lived up to its $129,000 CDN price tag. Partial credit for that likely goes to the new generation of Krell electronics and the Exasound s82 Streaming DAC-a galvanically isolated stereo DSD512 streaming DAC ($6,499 USD) that was just introduced. I had the pleasure of meeting with Walter Schofield, CEO of Krell, but failed to take the opportunity to learn more about the amps in this rig. Hopefully, I can catch up with him at AXPONA 2022.
The resolution was incredibly high, yet incredibly smooth, letting the music just flow naturally without any irritation. Another key factor this time may have been the setup in the room. The music was presented at a scale that was appropriate for the size of the room. The band America, singing "A Horse With No Name" filled the width of the room with music as if they were playing right in front of us — full size. Eli and Ofra Gershman, along with the other manufacturers, got it right here — another of the Best Of Montreal 2022 at the show.
Next door in St. Laurent 7, JVC and Kenwood were teamed up with a video projector, a large screen and a surround sound presentation of a high order. We don't usually cover home theater at Enjoy The Music.com, though Immersive Music is coming to the forefront in the next handful or years.
Outside in the hall, as I was scanning the floorplan in the official program, Sylvio Comtois of Artist Cloner, along with his wife, who was the woman in the JVC room, came up and said hello. With Covid still with us, it is a real gamble for boutique manufacturers to risk the expenditure of presenting at a show. I told him I had thought about him and his amp and speaker in the days before the show, wondering if he would be here. It is always nice to run into admired acquaintances at shows and I look forward to hearing his work in the future.
Across the hall from the JVC room in Outremont 7 was the Son Ultime room. This Quebec retailer is about 50 minutes west of the Champlain Bridge in Montreal and works by appointment only because of the distance involved. His room has been outstanding in the past and the presentation here with AURALiC server, McIntosh electronics including the C12000 preamp, C12000 Controller, MC3500 tube power monoblock amps, the new B&W 801 D4 flagship speaker supplemented with Rel S812 subwoofers and strung with Shunyata cables was another in a succession of Best Of Montreal 2022 at Montreal.
I've been less impressed with B&W speakers driven by McIntosh in the past, but perhaps that was with solid-state electronics, and certainly with the previous D3 series speakers. This system rocked with liquidity, bloom, tonal color and dynamics — the power meters danced between 10 to 20 Watts with pulsing percussion and electric guitar. I wouldn't have wanted it any louder. All Blue Chip manufacturers here, and a very well-put-together system.
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