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Le Festival Son et Image de Montréal 2006 Show Report
The Home Entertainment and Electronics Show
Le Festival Son et Image de Montréal 2006 Show Report The Home Entertainment and Electronics Show
Report By Phil Gold
Part 1


  This year the festival has moved from the Delta hotel to the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Montreal. This leads to most of the HiFi systems showing in smaller more rectangular rooms, with less solid walls. As a result, premium sound is difficult to achieve, and if the exhibitors do strike the right balance, very often their efforts are overwhelmed by some inconsiderate vendor down the hall with a less than gentle hand on the volume control.

Another knock for the audio purist is that home entertainment plays a bigger role this year than ever before. Your correspondent however will stick to the Son part of the equation in this show report, and leave the Image to others. But there is good news too. Two trends emerge which, if truly indicative, will stand us all in good stead. First, the introduction of a number of more affordable lines from high-end manufacturers such as Cary, Ars Aures and Linn. Second, a new emphasis on system synergy, the pairing of particular components together to create a sum greater than the total of its parts.

Now let me take you though the rooms. This tour will not be exhaustive. I will concentrate on rooms where new product is shown, or where old friends lurk, or where free chocolate is available to sustain the hungry journalist.

Our first stop is with the venerable Scottish manufacturer Linn, and guiding me through the new product is Mike Remington. Linn has been so active in home theatre that audiophiles may have felt neglected as of late, but now Linn is going back to the roots with two new lines, one at each end of the price spectrum. Here is the new MAJIK range of separates. Mike enthuses about the performance of the components in this series and their value for money. Here are the same circuits used in much more expensive Linn products but housed now in simpler boxes and minus all the expensive balanced circuitry and connectors. The new CD player uses a proprietary Linn mechanism, and the Brilliant power supplies are used throughout. The prices? The MAJIK CD is $4300 Cdn, MAJIK KONTROL preamp is $3800 Cdn and the MAJIK 2100 two-channel power amp is $3100 Cdn. The 2100 puts out 100 watts into 4 ohms or 56 watts into 8 ohms, while the KONTROL unexpectedly includes a phone stage for MM and MC cartridges and a headphone output.

The second new item, shown before in preproduction form but now ready to ship is the top of the line ARTICULAT 350A active speaker ($48,000 Cdn), with 5 CHAKRA amp modules per speaker powering the six drive units. The build quality on these speakers is stupendous. The aluminum framed 3K driver unit, seen here in a bright polished finish, is also available in black, and the cabinets come standard in Maple, Cherry, Black Ash and Rosenut, while upgrades are available in Piano Black Lacquer or high gloss Cherry, Rosenut and Maple.

In Son or Filtronique’s suite, new from Audio Research is the LS26 vacuum tube preamplifier, derived from the top of the line Ref 3. It features two SH30 dual triodes and lists for $5995 US or $7800 Cdn. Another example of the welcome trend to bring most of the performance of top end components to a more mainstream price line, the LS26 is said by ARC to outperform the earlier and much more expensive Ref 2 Mk II.



Son or Filtronique are also showing the long awaited Sonus Faber Guarneri Memento speaker, which will run you a cool $14,400 Cdn or $12,000 US, up from $10,000 US for the earlier model. This speaker is available in a variety of finishes, and its full frequency performance belies its diminutive size. The Distributor of Sonus Faber is Sumiko, and gentlemen, if you are reading this, please put my name down on the list to review this little beauty. For larger rooms, the $30,000 Cdn Amati Anniversario may fit the bill nicely. Francois Fontaine of Son or Filtronique stands proudly by. See how his neckband matches the Amati’s rich color.


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