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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




  In 2417 I found a stack of PS Audio's new Stellar series including DAC, preamp and stereo amp. The 700 Wpc monoblock version of the power amp has just begun to ship for beta testing. The speakers were a short, life-style design in gloss white with a ribbon tweeter and midrange driver mounted on a canted top portion of the front baffle. The secret to the deeper bass coming from this cute little monster was a downward firing woofer on the bottom. The Lota Alpha goes for $2500. Connected with Kimber Kable, this was a well-balanced system, well below the mega-buck range that put out commendable sound. And it wouldn't surprise me if the Stellar could drive a more sophisticated speaker to even higher levels.





The 2414/2416 suite was shared by Filtronique and ASONA Ltd. (Vmax Services), both familiar names to me, but the presentation was pretty seamless and I should have asked more questions. In the room upstairs the brands were all handled by Filtronique. The bi-wired Ryan loudspeakers (Model R620 $4700) from California put out excellent sounding music driven by a McIntosh MA5200 integrated amplifier.

Another room had a Naim Core server ($2700) putting out a 192kHz signal. Cabling here was from BIS Cables, a Canadian manufacturer. While not inexpensive, the MA5200 is the entry level integrated amp from McIntosh but there was nothing "entry level" about the sound. They've been getting out in public more in the past decade and are now part of an audio conglomerate. Their sound has become a lot more modern recently while still maintaining their classic look that has earned them cult status in the US. The Ryan speakers featured unique looking binding posts, and while they had a very straight forward classic look, this speaker sounded like a bargain, even with their grill cloth on. The basket-weave diffusers behind the speakers were from Sound Momentum and must have been doing their job, too.



In the entry way of this suite, also carried by Filtronique, was a Franco Serblin Lignea loudspeaker ($8000) that was an absolute work of art. It ranks up there with the B&W Nautilus and the KEF Muon loudspeakers in design, but on a much smaller scale as you can see. The checkered pattern on the high-gloss wood finish is a reflection of the floor tiles. Mr. Serblin, who was the original designer of Sonus Faber speakers passed away a year ago but his son, whom he mentored, has brought the design to fruition. Unfortunately, there was only one speaker on static display and the website is difficult to navigate and doesn't yield much information. But just seeing this speaker was the highlight of the show for me. I had too much respect for it to even touch it. Kudos to Gilles Champoux of Filtronique for the inside story.

The rest of the suite was like an audiophile candy store, but nothing, save perhaps some headphones, to listen to. Among the goodies were...



An Ayre Twenty series preamp (from $12,000) and Power amp (also from $12,000).





The gorgeous Sonus Faber Serafino ($25,000) was reminiscent of vintage Chris-Craft motorboats of the 1930's, taken to the nth degree of quality. The boat-tail rear was slotted with ports that reminded me of Lumen White designs. Black leather surrounded the drivers on the front baffle creating a sensuous mix with the bright metal and high-gloss mahogany finish.



There were a handful of turntables on silent display. Among them was the new Pro-Ject 2 belt drive at $1799 with a carbon fiber arm.



Mobile Fidelity (MoFi) has come out with three cartridges; this one, at $700 with an aluminum body has a nude elliptical stylus. The top of the line, at $850, has the same body but a fineline stylus and OCC copper wire inside. The bottom of the line is called the Studio Tracker and at $250 it has a plastic body and an elliptical stylus. Paul Trepanier of Filtronique was quite bullish on this new line and gave me the low-down here. The cartridge was mounted on a VPI Prime Signature on silent display.


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