Montreal Audio Fest 2016 – Show Coverage by George de Sa

2016-04-05T15:33:25+00:00April 5th, 2016|Audio Video Show Coverage, Features|94 Comments

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One of my favourite things to look forward to each year is my annual trek to Montreal to attend the Salon Son & Image (SSI) show.  As the days drew near to this year’s 29th edition, Suave Kajko, Editor-In-Chief, CANADA HiFi Magazine and I were all ready with calendars cleared, train tickets booked and dinner plans arranged, yet nothing prepared us for the shocking news that arrived a few days before the show.  The show organizer, The Chester Group, announced that SSI 2016 would be deferred: https://www.chestergroup.org/news/2016/03/08/ssi-breaking-news-salon-son-image-2016-deferred.   Fortunately, the show was immediately resurrected by the SSI’s former organizers, Michel Plante and Sarah Tremblay, as the Montreal Audio Fest, same location and dates: http://montrealaudiofest.org.  The following is just some of what I saw and heard at this year’s Montreal Audio Fest.

Summit Hi-Fi (ELAC and Emotiva):

A new dealer / distributor Summit Hi-Fi was hosting a room featuring ELAC loudspeakers with Emotiva electronics.  Summit Hi-Fi is owned by a couple of young audio enthusiasts, Riz and Aamir, featured here:

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Summit Hi-Fi is now the Canadian distributor for ELAC products, having recently acquired ELAC from Rutherford Audio and is one of just a couple Canadian dealers for Emotiva products.  The featured system was made up of an Emotiva XPA-1 amplifier ($1,699), Emotiva XSP-1 preamp ($1,499) and Emotiva ERC-3 CDP/transport ($749).

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The speakers being demonstrated were the new ELAC F6 ($569/pr) and the B6 ($419/pr), though I had the chance to only hear the B6.  The system sounded rich and musical with a surprisingly smooth midrange and commendable bass weight.

Coupe de Foudre (Triode Lab with Finale) 

The local dealer Coupe de Foudre had a simple setup of a Triode Lab EL84TT integrated amplifier ($5,500, Class-A ,2 x 6 watts) playing through Finale Vavace Mini loudspeakers $3,000/pair, with an Audio Analogue Rossini CDP.  The system was compact, charming and unimposing yet the music it was playing perked up my ears; lovely presence, precision and light-footed musicality is how I’d describe the sound.

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KEVRO (Monitor Audio, Cyrus Audio, Clarus Cables)

The friendly and charming Sheldon Ginn was showing off his wares, featuring the all-new Monitor Audio Platinum Series II PL500 II full-range flagship loudspeakers ($38,000/pair).  These speakers are the most expensive and sophisticated design yet from Monitor Audio.  They feature all-new drivers, including an in-house designed proprietary Micro Pleated Diaphragm (MFD) tweeter, akin to an AMT design.  The midrange and woofer drivers now use a sandwich of a low-mass C-CAM front skin, nomex honeycomb core and carbon fibre back skin, which dramatically lowers distortion.  Upstream of the PL500 II was a Simaudio Moon 870 amplifier ($22,000), with Cyrus PreDAC2 ($3,000), PSX-R power supply ($2,000), Cyrus XA Streamer/DAC ($3,500) and CD t (CD transport, $2,000).  Cabling was all Clarus Aqua and Crimson from Tributaries.  I was most impressed by the rich and full bodied sound, with life-sized images, including a vivid representation of a stand-up bass.

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Audiopathways

Two rooms were hosted by Audiopathways, both featuring complete systems.  The first, was fronted by Raidho X1 speakers on their matching stands ($9,000).  Driving the Raidho’s was a Jeff Rowland 625 amp ($17,500) controlled by a Jeff Rowland Corus preamplifier ($16,500).  The source was the new Aurender N10 Caching Network Player ($11,000), running through a Jeff Rowland Aeris DAC ($10,500).  Cables were all Transparent, including the new Opus power cables, combined with XL and Gen5.  I always find the sound of the Raidho’s with Jeff Rowland amazing, and this room didn’t fail to amaze.

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The second room, paired a Meridian Sooloos Control 15 player ($7,000) with a Meridian 818 preamplifier/DAC ($16,000) connected to a pair of Avantgarde Acoustic Zero 1 XD active loudspeakers.  The Avantgarde Zero 1 XD is a very unique and impressive looking loudspeaker and sports some amazing technology, including built-in tri-amplification (Class A to the tweeter and mid, with Class D for the woofer).

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VPI (with Simaudio and Jeff Joseph)

I’ve been a VPI fan for some time now and use their Scout table in my reference system, so finally meeting Matt Weisfeld, Head Honcho at VPI, was a thrill in itself, only perhaps eclipsed by a demo of VPI’s Avenger turntable.  The VPI Avenger with the JMW-10” 3D printed arm ($9,500 U.S.) was hooked up to a VPI Speed Control ($1,200 U.S.).  On the arm was mounted a VPI special edition Soundsmith Sussuro cartridge with a ruby cantilever.  Amplification was by way of a Simaudio 600i playing out through Jeff Joseph Pulsar loudspeakers ($7,700 U.S.).  While I was in the room, Matt threw on a Metallica album and I was amazed by the authoritative way that the Avenger delivered the sound  – detailed and dynamic with a very low noise floor.  This room was packed, as it should have been given the fine sound and fine company.

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VMAX (HEGEL and Amphion)

Richard from VMAX was hosting a lovely room showcasing HEGEL and Amphion products.  The featured system in the room was made up of an all HEGEL stack, including their H360 integrated ($6,500), CDP2A ($2,700) and HD30 DAC ($5,500).  The speakers were the new (1st Canadian showing) Amphion Argon 3S ($3,780 to $4,150 finish dependent).  The sound here was as I’ve come to expect from the HEGEL / Amphion pairing, having accurate timbre, lovely detail and a delicate treble.

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  • About the Author:

    After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science in 2002, Suave turned his attention to his passion for audio, video and technology in general. Through hands on experience with an extensive number of audio video products, Suave provides a real world, expert perspective on the latest products and the technology surrounding them. As an enthusiast, he shows a true passion in his writing that is easy to understand by all consumers. Aside from contributing to NOVO, Suave has also written about audio for special sections of The Toronto Star, Son et Image Magazine (FSI Guide) and appeared several times on television. More recently Suave was interviewed and quoted in articles for the Globe and Mail and MSNBC.com. In 2010, Suave launched the Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show (TAVES), an annual consumer trade show that has witnessed tremendous growth year after year.  In 2014, the show was expanded to include a new technology & innovation pavilion and rebranded as the TAVES Consumer Electronics Show.  As of 2016, the show attracts over 7,600 attendees and exhibitors from around the globe.  TAVES showcases cutting-edge technology and innovation in the most exciting categories: virtual reality, drones, wearables, health & fitness, gaming, audio, home theater, robotics, 3D printing, personal transportation, smart devices and electric vehicles.  For more info, please visit www.taveshow.com.

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