Salon Audio Montreal / Audio Fest
2022 Show Report
Photo: Michele & Rainbow
Saturday night there was a gala dinner for the industry instead of the usual informal cocktail gathering and presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Sarah Tremblay, the Executive Producer of the show was kind enough to locate some photos taken by Anik Lemieux to fill in my gap in this coverage. (Thank you, Anik, and Sarah.)
Along with dinner was the award presentation, and of course, a little entertainment. First, we see Michele Plante, who has been one of the organizers with his wife, Sarah Tremblay for many years now. Michele was assisted with an English translation (very loose, I'm told) by Rainbow, the Drag Queen. I hear that Michele was not the only one laughing.
Dave Nauber of Classé Audio & Sound United was this year's recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. He is seen above holding the prestigious Inukshuk statue along with Daniel Robidoux of DR Acoustics who presented the award.
The perfectly executed surprise awarding of a second Inukshuk statue for the Lifetime Achievement Award to Michele Plante from his wife, Sarah Tremblay (center) and his son, Olivier.
With the awards comes a little musical entertainment. This year we had Christian Vezina (owner of Planète Haute-Fidelité) on Harmonica, Stephan Ritch on Bass, Caroline St-Louis with Voice, David Desrosiers on Guitar and Voice, and Anne Bisson on Piano (behind Christian Vezina).
And after the band, Anne Bisson (below) continued on piano with a few songs to the delight of the sponsors of many of the rooms at the show.
On the lower level I visited Outremont 4 sponsored by HIFIPRO where a stack of Merging Technologies gear including their highly acclaimed Nadac DAC was driving Muraudio SP1 hybrid electrostatic speakers ($19,500 USD). Merging Technologies is a long-established and very highly regarded company in the professional audio side of the music world. Of course, everything from Switzerland is high, but their placement in symphony halls and recording studios in the US is stellar. That said, I am not very familiar with their gear, other than it has attractive, very clean lines as you would expect from a Swiss company.
Muraudio, on the other hand, I have lauded since their very launch of the PX2 ($54,900 USD) at TAVES (Toronto) in 2014. And I've heralded the SP1 shown here at numerous shows. Just walking into the room and seeing these speakers I was poised to call it one of the Best Rooms, but such was not to be. Something was amiss in the sound. Much of it was crystal clear but something was irritating about it that bothered me. I strongly suspect the problem lay in positioning the speakers on the diagonal, against a corner. Often this can work spectacularly as was heard in the Westmount 2 room with the PMC monitors.
But those were speakers with dynamic drivers and the Muraudio are hybrid electrostatics with bi-polar panels curved and angled to produce a 120-degree horizontal dispersion pattern. The back wave of these speakers was shooting into a 90-degree corner. I walked to the wall on the right to see if that was a more dispersive woven grass wallpaper, but it was quite hard. Was I hearing confusing reflections coming out of the corner? I strongly suspect this would have sounded a whole lot better had the entire rig been placed against only one wall in this room. It was not "bad" sounding, but not as good as I've heard it many times before — and this is a speaker that normally leaves me with very positive lasting impressions.
The real treat for me was to see the SP1 with a wood veneer for the first time. It is offered in natural, red and espresso cherry finishes, all of which will work well with indoor house plants. Usually, it is shown in one of a half dozen glossy colors that create a sometimes dazzling look. The red cherry shown here was warm and inviting and worked well with the black drivers. It also made the speaker seem to be shorter than I remember — but then it has been nearly three years since I've seen it due to Covid. The SP1, both previously and in this rig, is a very dynamic and transparent speaker but with 86dB/W/m sensitivity it requires a strong amplifier.
It is rated at 8 Ohms but has a dip to 2 Ohms at 20kHz. Recommended amplifier power is 50 to 125 Watts per channel @ 8 Ohms. Frequency response is 35 Hz to 22 kHz in a typical room. Those who crave deep bass will want to add fast subwoofers, but many will find them unnecessary. I'd consider a pair for my reference system, were it not for my lower power tube amps that couldn't handle them. My AGD monoblocks would likely make them very special.
Taking a second look in the St. Laurent 4 room of Sound United I stopped to admire the thick machined faceplate of the new Marantz 40n integrated amp ($2499 USD) with built-in streaming that was much more impressive in person than in the photos I've seen of this new series. It was shown in the black finish and their website indicates the silver finish is now sold out, though you may still find it at retailers.
Wandering back to the Marketplace on this much slower Sunday I realized I had forgotten to take a photo of the Crosszone / Grado / FiiO display. Sunday is always the best day to go shopping for headphones at shows to avoid the crowds and have easy access to different models without waiting.