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Salon Audio Montréal / Audiofest 2023 Show Report

Salon Audio Montréal Audiofest Show Report Part 5
The Lower Level continued, plus Best Rooms and a post-show adventure!
Report By Rick Becker

 

 

Outremont 5  MOON by Simaudio
It seems almost every major manufacturer in the high-end wants to have every, or almost every, component with their brand name on it to control the final outcome of the music. Moon by Simaudio is late to this game by finally bringing out their loudspeaker.

Starting with a modest two-way Voice 22 monitor that employs some novel innovations of its own, they presented a modest system of their entry-level products — the new 250i V2 Integrated amp and the 280D Streaming DAC, although you can simplify it even further with their Ace all-in-one unit with headphone jack and MM phono input.

 

 

While not inexpensive, Moon is a premium line with good value for the long term. Their styling has been consistent for many years now, so you can update and add gear without destroying the visual unity of your system. The simplicity of this modest rig was a clear statement that two-channel listening need not be an all-consuming proposition. This was an entry point for many that could justifiably be an endpoint, if not forever, certainly for many years.

 

 

On silent display was a custom-painted pair of Voice 22 monitors. I remember Adrian Butts offering a similar approach to his Tetra monitors — a personal touch that I thought would resonate with women, many years ago. Here it comes again....

 

 

Outremont 4  HiFiPRO
I've sung the praises of Muraudio speakers since they were first introduced — except for last year when they tried to position them on the diagonal in this very room. They got it right this time with the speakers both up against the textured wallpapered wall. The Muraudio SP1 goes for around 30k$.

 

 

Showing a pair in wood veneer, one with the grill removed to display the hybrid configuration of dynamic woofers and curved electrostatic blades, I was surprised to hear them sounding this good with Atoll electronics. Atoll, from France, seems to have struggled with a design theme to propel them to the prominence their sound quality deserves. The new look, shown here on the top two shelves, seems a marked improvement. At the time I visited, they were using the streamer in the center of the top shelf and the black integrated amp just below it with a combined price of about 5k$. The bottom shelf held a trio of Merging and NADAC components, a considerably more expensive line.

 

 

On a side table was the Atoll SDA300 Signature Streamer DAC Amplifier — the almost all-in-one configuration that is the modern-day equivalent to the stereo receiver of my youth, simply reinvented for the digital age. I'm not sure if it has a phono input, but Schiit Audio can easily solve that problem with their marvelous Mani phono stage for a song and a half.

 

 

Outremont 3  Audeze LLC
The photo below was taken at a busier moment on Saturday, but this was certainly a popular room throughout the show. In addition to the Audeze headphones, they offered a variety of quality headphone amps to try them. The white unit on the right side was a Boulder amp, for example. Again, Sunday is a better day for listening to headphones if you don't want the hassle of crowds.

 

 

 

Outremont 2  Bryston
It's been at least a year since I've seen Bryston at a show so I was looking forward to visiting them when I saw their room on the Montreal Audiofest website. A strange-looking component on display at the entryway drew my attention. It was their first product — an aggregometer. A small poster read:

 

A sensitive instrument designed to study platelet aggregation in blood plasma. This compact, easy-to-use unit incorporates such features as a constant temperature cell holder, an accurately controlled variable speed stirrer, and an observation port that permits examination of the solution during test.

 

Sounds cool to me, but whenever I draw blood I usually just slap on a band-aid.

 

 

I think most of us are pretty glad they evolved into high-end audio. And even more so now that they offer a wider variety of finishes on their components, as displayed on the board below. From the top, Black, Champagne, Silver, White, and Gun Metal Grey. They had each finish on display on a variety of components throughout the space.

 

 

Moving into the room, the big rig grabbed my attention with a new line array in what looked like a new finish. James Tanner, now at the helm of the good ship Bryston worked at Dunlavy Speakers in earlier days and was always fond of that approach to speaker design. Their speaker line-up is undergoing significant changes throughout with the new 10 series being named for the 10th year they have been making speakers. Time flies by, and if these line arrays are an indication, the new series should be a major success story for Bryston at reasonable prices.

 

 

These big guys can be either tri-wired or tri-amp'ed, which is what they were doing here with Bryston's three-channel power amps. Note the side panels have a vertical crease to break up the back wave of the drivers.

 

 

The ports on the back side reminded me of the inverse of sausage end packaging. I presume it has the effect of eliminating chuffing noise from the ports.

 

 

New, on top of the rack, was the PB-19 preamp which is a conventional preamp derived from the highly praised BR-20 Preamp/DAC/Streamer. With two balanced and four single-ended unbalanced RCA inputs, a balance control, mute, headphone jack, and an IR remote control, this is a cornerstone that will allow you to adapt to changes in digital and streaming technologies outside the box, like, forever.

 

 

The slim components below the preamp included the BAX-1 Active DSP Crossover, the Bryston Digital Player, and the highly regarded BDA-3 DAC that will process DSD up to 4X, and includes four HDMI inputs in addition to the usual formats.

 

 

On a side table was a pair of the Tiny T10 Wireless speakers and transponder. James tells me wireless is becoming increasingly popular in secondary systems, but not in main rigs.

 

 

James also shared that while he does not handle the day-to-day operations of the company any longer, he has been busy ordering machinery to bring metal work in-house to shorten and improve his supply chain. Keep an eye out for them at Axpona this weekend.

 

 

 

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