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Montréal Audiofest 2024 Show Report


Part 3: Montreal Audiofest Chronicles 2024
Investigating the 2300 Hallway at the Montreal audiophile show.
Montreal Audiofest 2024 Show Report By Rick Becker


Part 3: Montreal Audiofest Chronicles 2024 Investigating the 2300 Hallway at the Montreal audiophile show.


  After admiring the ducks floating motionlessly as they listened to Terry Riley's Music For Urban Wilderness, I retraced my steps and headed up the stairs to the 2300 hallway.


2326 Corby's Audio And Saturn Audio
After climbing the stairs there is one room in the hallway to the right which is traditionally a 'must-see / hear' room. The names on the floor plan vary somewhat from year to year but many of the players here carry over year after year. Frank Fazzalari of Coherent Speakers frequently parks himself in the hall outside the door to attract folks who might not know there is this one room in that hallway.



After premiering the five-unit tall version of his new speaker in a much larger room at the Toronto show last October where it received a Best Rooms award, Frank chopped it down to just three units for this smaller room. The stack includes a full-range unit with a horn-loaded beryllium tweeter coincidently mounted with a 10" driver on top of two units featuring a 15" woofer. That little blip at the top edge is where the super-tweeter is mounted. As configured, it is called the Coherent Modular 15 Trio ($38k). I believe the version shown in Toronto featured 18" woofers.

The Tough Nut banner was for the various equipment stands from this new Canadian company which I also highlighted at the Toronto show. The steel superstructure is now powder-coated black and the wood is two-toned with the front and rear pillars being stained a dark gray with the wood grain slightly showing through, and the thick maple shelves are left in a natural color with a clear finish. The tall rack is $6.7k.



The shelf beneath the Baetis units above and under the turntable features additional damping with a metal plate inset with additional materials beneath the metal. The low stand was recently developed for people who wish to have a lower profile for their components, and you can use the shelves directly on the floor as amp stands. The most expensive shelf, the GP-3 Isolation Platform, is $2522, while a larger version for amplifiers is $2836 and there are a couple of less expensive versions.

The sides of the speaker modules are finished black while the fronts and top of the full-range unit are real wood. Note the speakers are fairly deep and they were set out a way from the front wall which limited the seating distance in the room. The equipment was mounted along the long wall.



The turntable was the Rega flagship Naia with Rega Aphelion 2 MC ($23k) and the Swiffer is priceless.



Note the top shelves on these racks are more expensive than the shelves below them. At the back of the second shelf is a metal bar that serves for cable management. The black components with the blue light on the faceplates are the solid-state gear from Saturn Audio. Shown were the 401 phono stage ($4.5k, MM and MC), 201 DAC ($4.8k), 701 integrated class A/B amplifier (90 Wpc @ 8 Ohms, $6.5k), and 103C Mk II powerline filter ($2.8k).

The Baetis Audio Reference 4 Mingo Edition was a 2TB Streamer / Server / Roon Core with an HD-Plex power supply ($14.8k).

Cabling was by Allnic, including the ZL5000 Speaker cables ($5.6k), ZL5000 Power cables ($3.3k ea.), and MU7R interconnects ($3.2k).

While this room sounded good, I couldn't help but feel it didn't reach the full potential of the great gear, given the room's dimensions. Two things were certain; it had plenty of transparency and dynamics.



2327 ArtistCloner By Sylvio Comtois


At the large foyer at the top of the stairs, I found Sylvio Comtois and his lovely companion posing for photos in clothing that I later learned reflected the theme of their presentation. The room itself was so packed I couldn't even see the rig so I slid into the adjacent small room in this suite.



ArtistCloner has a long history of very fine-sounding rooms, earning numerous Best Rooms recognition, yet it has lagged in brand recognition. In the smaller room, Sylvio had set up a display of his earlier work along with a written history of the brand. When I left this room I tried again with no avail to get in to hear his system so I continued on my way. After finishing the 2300 and 2400 hallways, I doubled back to his room.



It was immediately apparent why the room had been so crowded. The backdrop was a graphic of a large vintage clock tower and the theme of the audio rig had strong vibes of a pre-industrial era, save for the vintage light bulbs that gave a nod to Thomas Edison. Not only was the visual presentation overwhelming, but the music was very commanding. I heard a variety, but they could have done just as well playing only Pink Floyd's "The Wall" and Copeland's "Fanfare For The Common Man." The sonic signature was the same as his excellent smaller speakers, but here it was in bold capital letters.



The gear was mostly familiar but shown here in all black rather than the bright red I've seen so often. From the top left was the Coleo monoblock ($9k, ea.) and the Luceo tube preamp ($8k), followed by the other Coleo. Below, on the left, was the Pteros V4 power conditioner ($4.8k) and the large Arcanum containing an R2R, 24-bit/384kHz DAC and server. Cables ranged from CA RWGV4 power cords ($800 ea.) to OCC Cross Flow interconnects ($550), so not outrageously expensive.



Even at this late afternoon hour, it was standing room only with people sitting for multiple songs from start to finish.



The speaker, whose style is reminiscent of only one other presentation I recall from back in the early 2000s, would be right at home in an English castle, assuming suitable electricity. Essentially, it is a D'Appolito configuration with each mid/woofer in its own cabinet with the ribbon tweeter in the open air between them. The two pipes coming out of the top are the ports for the upper unit and presumably, the lower unit is also ported. The shelf at the bottom contains the crossover in open air. Beefy pipes constrain the front and rear baffles while the slate-like material we've seen before on his more conventional speakers clads the enclosures for the woofers.



The rustic barnwood look of the front baffle might be equally at home in an urban loft or mountain ski lodge. That said, the form factor of this speaker lends itself to other styles with the use of alternative materials. In any case, this speaker needs to be explored further. Aside from the drama of this presentation, this was one of the finest-sounding rooms at the show and I think most of the people who took a serious listen would agree.



I slid up to Sylvio before leaving and told him I thought his speaker was seriously underpriced.




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