Salon Audio Montreal / Audio Fest 2019 Show Report
With the emergence of Munich as the dominant show for High End audio in the world, it comes as no surprise that products from Europe are gaining greater exposure in North America. Poland, in particular seems to be a hot-spot for emerging audio companies. This Nenuphar speaker from Cube Audio is a prime example. The single, full-range driver not only looks expensive with its three screws/bolts at each corner and multiple concentric surfaces, but at $18,000 to $22,000 per pair, it is (I was given both prices). Specs include 92dB/W/m efficiency, a frequency response of 30Hz to 18kHz (6dB) and a serious weight at 40 Kg. This looks like a prime candidate for SET tube amplifiers. The little appendage below the driver was a Synergistic Research UHF tuning device which likely helped a bit, as did the Cardas wiring in this room. Tri-Cell Enterprises.
A Fezz Audio model Mira Ceti ($3500) from Poland putting out 8 wpc with 300B tubes was driving Odeon Audio model Scala two-way speakers with a down-firing port ($11,000) from Germany supremely well. With a sensitivity of 93dB/W/m and impedance of 6 Ohms, it is said to range from 30Hz to 20 kHz (+/-3dB). Its appearance with a combination of mat black or white with a variety of wood veneers was very striking. A drum cut I heard was articulate and I could taste the drum skins. A side table displayed a smorgasbord of Fezz amps. Aside from the fact that I'm a tube fan, I liked the style and sound in this room a whole lot. Also noted was an HRS stand for the components. Tri-Cell Enterprises, 1222?
This Alluxity Int One with a milled aluminum chassis and powder coat finish stopped me in my tracks as I was leaving the Tri-Cell room 1222. The Alluxity name is a bit confusing the way it is engraved with all letters at the same height. It is new to me, too, so I asked. It is a relatively new line from Denmark created by the son of the guy who owns Vitus. A line drawing indicates it is a fully discrete, dual mono solid state design with common AC input and power transformer. Power is rated at 200 watts into 8 Ohms and doubles down into 4 Ohms and again into 2 Ohms, presumably, per channel. Very cool looking, for sure, and priced at $11,950 CDN.
I've said it many times before, but this is what every room should have — a clearly labeled sign with all the components listed with their prices designated in either USD or CDN. The use of two colored inks is helpful. The inclusion of the room number and the retailer, distributor or whatever sponsor of the room would be useful, too. A visitor can then photograph the sign and have a record of everything in the system at recall when they return home and consider making a purchase or further investigate a product. Peace signs are optional but encouraged. They were in keeping with the Woodstock theme of this year's show. (I wore my custom designed belt from 1968 for the event, but nobody seemed to notice. Life is in the details, folks.) Of particular note on this list is the use of a Sbooster linear power supply. I reported on this product a year or two ago and it seems to be finally catching on with people. It recurred again with another dealer later in the show. The sign here was in the Motet Distribution room 1226.
It was in this same room where I ran into Rene Evans who recanted the same story to another host in the room of how we first met many years ago, and the successful advice I gave him at that time. As many times as I've heard it, it always brings a warm, if not slightly embarrassing feeling over me. The really good news here was the Saturn line of electronics designed by the great Gilbert Yeung of Blue Circle fame. Rene, who has over 30 years in manufacturing and quality management, founded Saturn in 2018. Gilbert, as you may know, is a totem pole of a man in the Canadian High End industry as well as somewhat lesser known south of their border. Blue Circle components were hand made by Gilbert himself, so they should be revered by their owners and treated as works of art.
The Saturn products feature clean exterior design to appeal to the younger generations and commemorate their common origin with Blue Circle with the blue bars across the recessed circle in the faceplate. Circuit boards undoubtedly replace the point-to-point hand wiring of this solid state line but the prices drop commensurately. The circuits themselves? Well, I'm not an engineer, but I doubt Gilbert would put his stamp of approval on something that did not sound pretty good. He always aimed for a very natural, non-fatiguing sound and that is what I heard every time I was lucky enough to audition his gear. One such occasion was with Bob Neill of Amherst Audio in Massachusetts, who was one of the few US dealers. Now in his 80's, Bob is also scaling back but a visit to his website might be instructive if you're a fan of Blue Circle and appreciate their fine wood faceplates and knobs. The stand mounted monitor heard here was the British PMC brand. Motet Distribution, 1226.
Rega introduced a new series of turntables with a different cut-out pattern and likely some other new modifications. Their more expensive P8 model shown here was about $4000. Their entry level is much less expensive. I've always loved the strength and beauty of their cut-out design models. At one show I had the opportunity to manhandle one of the cut-out frames — and couldn't destroy it with my bare hands. Son Ideal, room 1231.