Salon Audio Montreal / Audio Fest
2022 Show Report
Next door in Outremont 6 was another great room with a completely different sound signature. The tubular Bayz Audio Courante omni-directional speakers in carbon fiber ($80k CAN) immediately stand out visually and acoustically as the music comes not from the wall behind the speakers but pervades the room in much the way that mbl Raidialstrahler omni-directional speakers do. I was very impressed with Bayz — both the speaker and Zoltan Bay, at AXPONA in 2019, but the price led to disinterest on my part. The speakers here were a smaller version, yet still expensive.
While these look large and suggest "heavy", they are not — except for the marble base which is smaller than the tubular speaker itself and hence not too difficult to move with proper knowledge and equipment. The Rel Reference No. 25 subwoofers ($5500 USD, each) next to them are likely to be more difficult to deliver and position. The frequency response of the Bayz runs 28Hz - 22kHz. Sensitivity is 90dB/W/m and impedance is rated 4 Ohm minimum. They recommend amplifier power of 50 Watts.
The large white component in the center is the Audionet Humboldt integrated amp ($65k USD) from Germany that is rated at 460 Watts into 4 Ohms, so there was no clipping heard in this room. The front end included a Pink Faun 2.16 ultra player, Mutec reclocking equipment and a Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC, all extraordinary components. Power cords were all Ear to Ear (I never heard of them either.) and cabling was Inakustik Silver Referenz Air.
As I walked around the room the soundscape retained its form until I ultimately came to the line determined by the two speakers. Even then, the music was still enjoyable. The overall display was nicely laid out, but the intent was to display the exotic gear. A more compact arrangement would have made the room seem more spacious if you felt that necessary.
With their smaller version, I'm intrigued with the possibility of how they might fit in my large-ish listening room. As I approached the plane of the speakers from the seating area the omni-directional design of the Bayz seemed to maintain soundstage definition, meaning that they could likely work well in smaller rooms with shorter distances from the speaker to the ear. This room was one of the Best Of Montreal 2022 at the show, and I'm looking forward to hearing them again at Axpona later this month.
Crossing the hall again to St. Laurent 6 I came to the Centre Hi Fi room featuring the new KEF Blade One Meta speakers ($35k USD) which I had been highly anticipating. The new Meta version of the Blade One continues the single point source configuration of the original where the Uni-Q driver on the face of the blade projects the mid and high frequencies in a coincident fashion. What's new here is the Metamaterial Absorption Technology first appearing in their smaller, very highly acclaimed monitors. It is a complex maze-like disc mounted behind the driver which absorbs the backwave of the driver, thereby eliminating distortion on the interior of the speaker, resulting in a more resolved and natural sound. The Blade One Meta and the slightly smaller Blade Two Meta ($28k USD) are iconic designs, now almost a decade since it was introduced.
Like the Gershman Posh speaker, it serves double duty as contemporary art. They are offered in a variety of colors for both the body and the Uni-Q driver that range from very formal and classic to more pop-art styled such as the blue version shown here with the bronze driver. The four side-mounted woofers are always black, so they will either tend to disappear with some colors or stand out with others. Choose carefully, as this is likely a speaker you will want to keep for a very long time.
With a sensitivity of 88dB/W/m and impedance of 4 Ohms (with a 2.8 Ohm minimum), you will want a strong amplifier and they recommend 50 to 400 Watts. I heard it being driven by the T + A electronics, but also on the stand were tube gear from VTL. I could sense this was a truly great speaker, but I wish I had heard it with the VTL tube gear, or a different set of solid-state amplification. Unfortunately, they don't seem to be headed to AXPONA.
If you're into deep bass, you might also want to consider the Blade Two, which is only 5" shorter, with only 86dB efficiency, and using the price savings to augment them with high-quality subwoofers. Either way, this is a wonderful speaker that deserves careful consideration of your room, the electronics and the cables you select.
Criss-crossing the hall into Outremont 5 sponsored by Simaudio, a suite of their highly regarded Moon electronics was driving a gorgeous pair of Raidho speakers with stunning book-matched veneer on the sides. The speaker cables (at least) were by Nordost. This was the first time I've heard any Raidho speaker combined with Moon electronics and I thought the combination was exceptionally fine, earning a Best Of Montreal 2022 designation.
On a side table with a deep maroon paint complemented by a rose gold finish on the corner pillars and aluminum faceplate was a 40th Anniversary Limited Edition of Moon 600i integrated amplifier and 680 D Streaming DAC. The Anniversary Edition pair is priced at $30k USD and is sophisticated and elegant, clearly a step above the standard black, silver and two-tone black & silver finishes.