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Salon Son & Image 2015 Report Montreal High-End Audio Show
Salon Son & Image Report 2015 -- Montreal High-End Audio Show
Report By Rick Becker -- Part 3

Finishing Up On The 2300 Hallway...

Salon Son & Image Report 2015 -- Montreal High-End Audio Show

Salon Son & Image Report 2015 -- Montreal High-End Audio Show

The April Music room was so packed when I first walked by that I had to double back get in. The Aura Note, Version 2 (about $2700CDN) from South Korea, was taking a page from the Devialet book with their All-in-One High-end receiver with a top loading CD player built right into the unit. That's it—just one power cord to buy! From there the music went directly to a beautiful pair of gloss black Dali Rubicon 6 speakers ($7000CDN), putting out a very life-like sound. Speaker cables were from Verastarr in Georgia, USA, a small, dedicated company with a hand-made line including the 100% copper ribbon foil speaker cables used here at about $2200US. Everything they do is cryogenically treated and they make their own connectors. With no entry level products, you can expect to pay large but the music in this room suggests their cables may be a bargain.


Turning Along The 2400 Hallway...

Ofra and Eli Gershman were present in the Gershman Acoustics room where the new Grand Avant Garde ($12,900) was playing music driven by an all-in-one Devialet amplifier fed by a Naim CD player below it. The speakers sounded better the first time I heard them at the Brooklyn show last September where they were driven by Odyssey Stratos monoblocks with an analog front end, along with some tubes in the preamp. Over the years the Gershmans have consistently changed the rig at shows. Being a tube lover, I seem to prefer their speakers when driven by tubes, but that's not the only factor in the equation. They were certainly very nice with the Odyssey monoblocks.


Canadian distributor KimberCan was on my "Must See" list since it was featuring the new PS Audio BHK Signature 250 stereo amplifier, a hybrid design with a tube input stage and MOSFET power stage. There has been a lot of hype about this amp and I was more than curious since my first high-end power amp was a used Counterpoint SA100 with this same hybrid approach. Twenty-some years later, the PS amp is a lot better producing a taut, focused sound with a significant liquidity courtesy of the input tubes and an appealing dose of warmth from the MOSFETs. The design is elegant, but conservative, picking up cues from the other components in their line. In fact, when I entered the room I thought I had been surprised with the presentation of the monoblock version of this amp, but the chassis on the right was actually their power regenerator. The short stack between them included an Apple Mac Mini that had been hot-rodded in house at PS Audio along with PS Audio DirectStream DAC and Transport. Cabling was by Kimber Kable and the speakers were the Motive SX1 ($3395) from Neat Acoustics, a British company I've heard on other occasions over the years and always thought produced a very respectable speaker. Given the $7500 price tag on the amp, it would have been nice to hear it driving a more comparably priced and more revealing speaker. Nonetheless, it was a very good sounding room and the speaker was well balanced for the size of the room. I got into the bit stream with the classic Take Five.


I had to double back several times before I could get into the scripted presentation of Sony's Hi-Res Audio presentation with their SS-NA2ES floorstanding speakers ($10,000US), but finally I squeezed in for an SRO spot along the side wall. They are good speakers, but they didn't really grab my musical soul, sounding very smooth and polite with high resolution but not much jump factor. But then that could have been a result of the controlled music presentation.


It was now late afternoon on Saturday and I had pretty much finished the small rooms on the upper corridors. As I stumbled toward the escalators I came upon the poster for the very lovely soprano I had heard earlier. So here's her name and that of her pianist. And again, kudos to Simaudio for sponsoring their performance.


I descended the long escalator to the Netherlands to get a head start on the conference rooms I planned to cover on Sunday. At the bottom of the ride was a huge architectural model of the permanent home they plan to build for the Salon Son Image... or more likely, the Montreal Frisbee team. Or maybe this is Ray Kimber's idea of the perfect listening room? I don't know... they were all speaking French.


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