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Montréal Audiofest 2024 Show Report


Part 1: Montreal Audiofest Chronicles 2024
Show coverage of the 1200 hallway.
Montreal Audiofest 2024 Show Report By Rick Becker


Room 1204  Audiofiles Present Denon


I think there were some Denon electronics and Polk speakers in a system here, but I was afraid to stick around to see where this photo shoot was headed.



Room 1215  Cables Luna, The Wand, Thoress, And Wattson Audio


Danny Labrecque of Luna Cables in Eastern Quebec has had his cables in the rooms of other presenters for a long time. In recent years he has taken to hosting his own room and they have typically been top-tier presentations.



Here, the smallest model of the AudioNec speaker (EVO 1, $29.5k) was sounding pretty spectacular. A taller version of this same design was among the Best Rooms last year. This low-rider presented a low soundstage when standing in the room, but rose almost to ear level when sitting. While its physical design in black and white was eye-catching, its small size was right at home in this sleeping room. I spoke with the designer later at the show and he pointed out that the same two drivers could be mounted in the next larger frame to bring the speaker height up... as well as leave open the option to add a second woofer unit below the first. The design offers the possibility of a wide variety of color combinations from subtle to wild. I like this speaker series a lot.



The Wand 14-4 turntable and tonearm ($14k) was in one of the Best Rooms at Capital Audiofest last November and I am loving it more and more every time I hear it. It has been out for a few years but seems to be gaining traction in the marketplace. The cartridge is difficult to mount, but if you are a One-Cartridge kind of guy, this should not be a deterrent.



Danny showed the Thoress hybrid integrated amp ($14k) and parametric phone stage ($16k) last year. They were good then, and just as good or better this year. Note the tubes peeking out of the amplifier on top. Thoress has a vintage style that harkens back to mid-century modern ham radio gear.



His signature-colored cables were on display in a back corner of the room as well as seen in many other rigs throughout the show. I chided him about being the Quebec cable mafia boss, but others wouldn't be using them if they were not worthy. They are also reasonably priced with Orange series speaker cables at $1100/pr., interconnects at $750/pr., and power cords at $1400 each. A Wattson Audio streamer at $2095 was also in the rig.



Room 1216  Lemay Audio


Francois Lemay, founder of Tenor Audio has taken to building speakers in recent years along with builder Jocelyn Jeanson, also present at the show, utilizing resurrected Dayton Wright electrostatic panels from a bygone era. This year the Dayton Wright Hommage 9.3 speaker jumped from seven to nine panels. Only one is full-range, as I recall, while the others reinforce the bass. The sound here was outstanding as it has been in past years when it ranked among the Best Rooms. The large black components behind the speakers were the power supplies for the electrostatic drivers that are included with the price of the speakers.



The tall speaker in the light gray finish was rather mild-looking, but Francois showed me photos of a commissioned pair in a bright red and another pair, in progress, using slabs of exotic, figured wood that will undoubtedly be spectacular. The low production volume of these expensive speakers ($68k CDN, base price) allows them to offer such customization.



The Tenor amplifier (175S, 20th Anniversary, $150k) is classic and can also be finished in a variety of ways. I was expecting to hear a hot-rodded new iFi DAC unit from conversations with Francois over the past year, but he has fallen in love with the Grimm Audio MU2 streamer/DAC ($23,500) which bested two other well-known high-end DACs in trials. He praised it for its smoothness and lack of grain, and the system did sound very good, but I tend to prefer a tube DAC for what they bring to the party.

We all have our favorites. Fidelium Cables — both the wide gold-colored ribbon speaker cable ($1800) that has gained popularity over the past few years, and the new interconnects that are just now hitting the market — were used in this rig. Samples of the new XLR interconnects ($1500) are already in the hands of reviewers according to Jeffrey Smith of Silversmith Audio who was at the show — a long way from home in Wyoming. Familiar tunes from Eric Clapton, Albert King, and Ricki Lee Jones made it hard to leave this room.



Room 1221  Solen, KR Audio, Primare, And SB Acoustics


Premium vacuum tubes from KR in the Czech Republic were seen on display. Left to right were the PX25, 300B, PX4, and 2A3. I reviewed several of their amplifiers early on in my tenure at Enjoy the Music.com and became a big fan of tube gear as a result.



I was also impressed by these modular wall diffusers that protruded further out from the wall than most styles, giving them a more sculptural quality and contemporary simplicity. I suspect if you are good with masking tape and spray paint these could become quite dramatic.




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