Salon Audio Montreal / Audio Fest 2019 Show Report
At the train station in the morning we spotted Art Dudley and his wife, Janet, who was here for only the second time in about 20 years. I chided Art that his magazine would never publish a shot of his wife and him, not recognizing John Atkinson standing just to the left, blending in with the Canadians. (In fairness, they did publish a great photo of Janet in their web coverage of the show.)
At the McCafé (see how important branding is?) I ordered a large coffee, not expecting a cup more suitable for a milkshake. It kept me awake all day. Tom, on the other hand, got tired mid-afternoon and drove back home to Rochester to take a nap.
Vince Bruzzese held court in a room where he had Metal series V2 floorstanders in white driven very nicely by a VTL 5.5 preamp and VTL power amp. A MoFi turntable was the sole front end. I spoke with his son who was overseeing a Totem rig in the adjacent Center HiFi room who said they are now marketing through this large retailer throughout the Provence of Quebec, describing it as something of a Best Buy in the region.
In the Montreal 1 room at the back of the hall was DR Acoustics where I found their Antigone 2.0 power filter ($6995) using quartz crystals along with 4 AWG wire to provide clean power without restriction of dynamics. To emphasize the importance of the last 6' of cable, they ran a power cord into a long orange extension cord. Daniel Robidoux (DR) president of the Montreal based company went into great detail about their extensive cable line which he said is most popular in the Far East.
The Kirmuss Model KA-RC-1 ultrasonic record restoration system was on active display with Dr. Charles Kirmuss himself, a native of Montreal, speaking fluent French (Surprise!). His excellent videos on his website do more justice to his product than I can. It can be a time-consuming process, but if you have special records that need restoration, he's the man. Personally, I could get more excited over a 4 x 12" machine, as I have no 78s and only a few 45s. Maybe someday. A show special price of $1000 was offered over the regular $1200 price in Canada.
Plants, LPs and old wooden boxes go a long way toward defining a listening room. So does a translucent suspended turntable, Lyra Etna cartridge, CH Precision amp and Magico speaker. The M2 speaker here was the least expensive of Magico's M Series at $56k US plus $7600 for the base and this was their World Premier. This was the first time I've seen this Vertere RG-1RP turntable ($43k CDN) with the SG-1TA HB tonearm ($6300 CDN). Multiple suspended layers isolate the critical motor, bearing and tone arm. The cartridge was the Lyra ETNA SL ($13,000 CDN). I neglected to check the wiring here, but it looks like a CH Precision I1 integrated amp ($38k US) was used as well as a pair of their A1.5 monoblocks ($39,500 ea.). The music here in the Audio by Mark Jones room was excellent, as usual, but my guess would be that the speakers would sound even better with more time on them. For those who prefer the precise Swiss solid-state sound, this rates as a Best Room again. Keep an ear out for these at AXPONA 2019. Westmount 1 room.
In what was surely one of the worst possible places to play a harp at the show was the beautiful Isabeau Corriveau. The life was sucked out of her music by the acoustics of the large hallway and drowned out by the noise of the visitors. She deserved to be in a room doing live vs recorded demos, if not performing mini concerts in a more hospitable location at the show. I noted one of her CDs was of duets with a cellist.
The front end here was the Innuos Statement server ($17,900) with a Lumin T2 Network Player as a DAC Streamer ($6990) feeding a Hegel H590 integrated amp ($13,500) with everything connected by XLO cables. The speakers were the tall floor standers shown here with an open-baffle of thick aluminum supporting the tweeter and large dome midrange ($90,000pr). Miles Roberts of PMC went into detail about the construction of the midrange which had a specially constructed rear cup designed to absorb and reduce the back wave. The tower is actually two separate units joined together with the aluminum baffle helping stabilize the front baffle of the cabinets. This is the first I've seen PMC go after the very high end of the High End, though they have numerous series of speakers leading up to these towers as well as a series of active speaker for those who are so adventurous. With their roots in pro-audio studio speakers, it was not surprising how clean and clear these speakers sounded and how tight the deep bass was.