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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



2336 Studio Economik
In a second room, Studio Economik presented a pair of Kii THREE BXT System active speakers ($42k) with 3500 Watts built-in. The small component on the window sill was a Wattson streamer (About $2100?). And note some kind of controller on the round table, as well as yards of fabric used to conceal cabling beneath the window.



Drivers protruding beyond a front baffle have become more prevalent in recent years and here they contribute to the overall design that includes two-tone finishing and a flat, extended plinth beneath the speaker for stability. The upper section of BXT System Pro is available separately for $21k+ for those who don't wish the deep bass the BTX provides.



2341 Hearken Audio And Tri-Cell Enterprises


Hearken Audio has become a favorite Canadian retailer for me over the past year or so. They typically present a very fine room comprised of unusual, lesser-known, very high-quality brands. I was so excited to see a fully operational Reed Muse 1C turntable that I completely forgot to take photos of anything else in the room. Tri-Cell Enterprises is another retailer in Ontario that has been around a long time and teamed up with Hearken to present this outstanding room.



The Reed 1C is a friction drive turntable shown in Karelian Birch plywood ($22.6k) with a Reed 3p Macassar Ebony 10.5 tonearm ($7210) fitted with an Etsuro Urushi Gold cartridge ($17.5k), their flagship model. The large, funky-looking record weight was from I/K Audio ($2500).



Here's a look at it from my drone.



As the ad above says, the Etsuro Gold features a diamond cantilever while the Bordeaux and Cobalt Blue use a sapphire pipe material. The square platforms the cartridges seem to be resting on are part of the cartridge, which you can see if you look closely at the photos. The sound from the Gold was very high resolution with outstanding transparency, yet nothing to distract you from the music at all. Pure analog.

Matt Thomas of Hearken Audio in Kitchener, Ontario, was kind enough to salvage my misfortune with a few photos that follow.



As I suggested above, you probably don't recognize much of the equipment here, aside from the HRS rack and amp stands.



Joseph Greenham, a young freelance photographer specializing in audio shows was able to supply me with a full-length shot of the speaker here, along with a little Synergistic Research cable lifter on the floor. Most of his work will appear in the PMA French language print magazine that helps sponsor both the Montreal and Toronto shows.

The speakers were the Stein Audio Bobby Ultimate M ($33k) from Germany. During COVID-19, I sat in on a Zoom meeting with the Los Angeles Orange County Audio Society in which Holger Stein participated from his studio in Germany. I was very impressed with him and lamented that I had never come across his speakers before. So this was a real treat and the reality lived up to the hype. The Bobby Series are all the same size but come in three acoustic quality levels. They are all horn-loaded speakers supplemented with woofers.

There are the basic S stand-mounted monitors and the M, shown here, which simply adds on a woofer module specifically designed for the S monitor... again, in three levels. The Ultimate level is... well, you guessed it. The Ultimate S monitor is $20k if you're concerned about disturbing the neighbors. The sound had a magnificent bloom and analog purity that emotionally reached out and grabbed me.



Of course, there were some significant supporting actors on this stage. The Trafomatic Lara from Serbia is a two-chassis balanced Class A tube line stage ($15.2k). The Linnenberg J.S. Bach ($24k) from Germany was the mm/mc phono stage. The 432 Evo Aeon ($11k) from Belgium was the server that fed into the Playback Designs MPD-8 DAC ($33k) from California.



Yeti Acoustics from the Netherlands supplied a line conditioner ($10.6k) along with a network switch ($2500) that may have traded time with an Innuos network switch ($5700). Yeti also supplied cabling – hold on – Conductor CNT speaker cables ($73k), XLR interconnects ($8k), RCA interconnects ($7.5k), and power cables ($3700, 1m?). I also noticed the Stein Music Harmonizers(?) between the RCA cable and the component in the above photo. Mr. Stein is a master tweaker!

Even considering the Bobby M Ultimate speaker was surrounded by carefully curated top-shelf components, I'm still curious how a basic Bobby M speaker that goes for a bit above $16k USD might sound with more humble components. How bad could it be?




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