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Montréal Salon Audio / Montreal Audio Fest 2017 Show Report
Montreal Salon Audio / Montreal Audio Fest 2017 Show Report
Part 1 Show Report By Rick Becker




Looking very ethereal was this Gold Note Valore turntable in Lucite, again, only on silent display. And equally mysterious in a darker vein was the McIntosh MT5 with its green platter at $8775. As I said, lots of eye candy in this room.





Ofra and Eli Gershman were very proud of their new Gershman Studio 2 stand mounted monitor, a two-way acoustic suspension design with curved sides. The aluminum cone woofer had a very large rolled surround, indicative of a very long throw. The Vifa dome tweeter from Denmark is a double chamber design that crosses over at 1800Hz and Eli swears the speaker goes down to 24Hz in a good room. At $3500 with a gloss piano black finish, this looks to be a steal, but I had to double back to this room later in the show to get a listen to it. (I'll get back to it later.) What I did hear on this first visit was the new Avant Garde G2, a new version of this design that has a new crossover and is no longer ported. It sports a new woofer with an aluminum cone, and retains the original price at $13,000. The extended "beaver tail" is a bass trap.

The photo is not showing a cutaway version — that's just the reflection of the equipment rack in the piano gloss black finish. An Oracle Delphi Mk VI Gen 2 turntable was the source in action, but next to it was the new and much more affordable Origine turntable sporting a red beltline. Oracle had requests for different color beltlines on the Origine, so they came up with a rainbow of colors to offer. The original color, French blue, is still my favorite. But getting back to the sound in this room, with the Avant Garde G2, it was among the Best Rooms at the show — a not uncommon feat for the Gershmans. And of course, the analog front end certainly helped a great deal, too.




Audio Note (UK) is a familiar site at the Canadian shows thanks to the dedication of David Cope who was a long-time distributor. David has now retired, though I thought I saw him from time to time wandering about at the show — a sign of a true audio aficionado. With a new distributor, the room was showing a pair of JSpe Speakers with dedicated stands strategically placed in the corners where Audio Note speakers are specifically designed to be placed. I loved the veneer on this particular pair with light streaks on the front corners. Probably because of the Brexit affair and the fluctuating British Pound, the speakers and stands were tentatively priced at $6563 and $1340, respectively. They were driven by a P2SE power amp rated at 16 Wpc, $4895, a tube design with very high quality Watts being a Class A design with zero negative feedback and a single ended output stage.

No need for massive power with small scale music in a small room. The front end was a CDT-One Transport, $3910, and a DAC 2, $2500. Being a tube lover, this was another of the Best Rooms as was evidenced by the attentive crowd in the room. Just as I was leaving the music broke into Copeland's Fanfare for the Common Man that stopped me in my tracks and caused me to meet Mario Biner from Audio Note. I stayed on for an acappella version of Don McLean's American Pie. Man, they sure had the right music in this room!







I didn't remember her name, but the smiling face of this beautiful young woman was certainly familiar. She is the artist I met at TAVES or here at Montreal last year with a room full of paintings. Nor could I forget Sylvio Comtois of Artist Cloner who once again had a very fine sounding room featuring a complete system Artist Cloner gear. I happened by at just the right moment as a familiar Stevie Ray Vaughn tune was playing and a special demonstration of Live vs. Recorded was about to begin. The source of the rig was a $2500 digital source that I failed to note, which fed his more familiar Scorpi integrated amp ($5999) that in turn drove his Rebel rear ported two-way monitors ($8000). The speakers were notable for the unusual tweeter, mid-woofer with hand-made paper cone, bi-wiring and distinctive veneer. The speaker stands appeared to be a nice design, but touching them revealed noticeable vibration. The equipment rack was another handsome rendition in distinctive wood by Trevor Doyle of Massif Audio whose work was seen in numerous other rooms. (He did not make the speaker stands in this room.) The Live vs. Recorded demo was facilitated by Sylvio recording brief segments of Mauricio Solis with his Godin hollow body electric guitar playing live in front of us, with his guitar amplifier feeding into the Artist Cloner system, then playing back the digital recording through the Artist Cloner system. The differences were minute. With reasonably priced cables the rig topped out at $18,538 and with the demonstration, this was one of the Most Fun Rooms to visit at the show.





Down the hall I met Gary Yacoubian who owns SVS, the home theater speaker company that also does about $25% of their subwoofer business in two-channel systems. New at the show in the surround sound home theater demonstration was the Prime Elevation direct radiating speaker that easily mounts high on the wall at the rear of the room to create a more realistic 3D sound experience. The rear speakers of the 5.1 rig were mounted lower, in the plane of the front and center speakers. The Prime Elevation goes for $399 US or $499 CDN. I didn't take a seat to sit through the formal demonstration of the Prime Elevation, but Gary and I slipped through the crowd to get a look at the massive new SB16 Ultra subwoofer ($2000US/$2800 CDN) with 1500 Watts continuous power and 5000 Watts peak power. It is the first 16" driver in an SVS sub, and the industry's first ever 8" edge-wound voice coil that offers a large extension without losing accuracy or control. The motor of the driver alone weighs more than 50 pounds. A Bluetooth connection allows the sub to be controlled by an app on your smart phone. Very deep.





Coming to what I thought was the end of upper level presentations, I entered 2328, the first of several rooms sponsored by Codell Audio. The room featured a complete mostly-Linn system headed by a fully loaded Akurate LP12 turntable ($11,200) with Euphorik phono stage ($3200) and an Innuos Zen Mini Mk II server ($1699, 2TB, not a Linn product). A Linn Akurate Exakt DSM preamp ($4400) drove the active (self-powered) Linn Exakt 530 loudspeakers ($15,200). The room drew a good crowd and had an unobtrusive layout with the fully dressed speakers at the front and the sources at the side. Standard Ethernet cable took the digital signal from the preamp to the four-way speakers where each driver had its own DAC and its own amplifier. Steve Brothman from Linn Audio helped me sort out the system. In days past, Linn digital could sound brutally accurate, but what I heard here was much more listenable, but still on the cool, accurate side, coming from the server, not the LP12.

I'll call this a wrap on Part 1, yet be sure to check back in the days to come for much more!


---> Continue to part 2 of our Montreal Salon Audio / Montreal Audio Fest 2017 show report.






























































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