The Festival's opening day
Were the organizers right to make the 9 till 1 period of Day One the trade and press day (by invitation of course)? Not everyone responded to the invitations, if only because they were busy setting up their own rooms. And that included us.
But set up we did, and here's the proof.
The speakers atop the stands are the Reference 3a Royal Virtuosos, which are due for review in the next issue. The electronics are the Van den Hul A-1 preamplifier and M-1 monoblocks, borrowed from our sister site, The Audiophile Boutique. Their looks (and price) drew lots of comments. The player is our new Linn Unidisk 1.1. The cables are from Pierre Gabriel.
And here's Reine tending to the tables. Sorry you didn't come?
Busy though are room was (and it was busy), we did get a chance to visit a few neighbors.
One of them was Bluebird Music, playing a speaker unfamiliar to many, the Neat MF7. It's a piece of work, a lovely chunk of exotic wood, with Isobaric woofers, and (on top, facing up) a pair of EMIT ribbon super-tweeters. The word EMIT gives us pause, since we associated it with the large Infinity speakers of years ago. Still, the sound was very good, possibly helped along by the upstream stuff, from Chord. Especially impressive is the CD player, made up of the Chord Blue Transport and the Chord 64 DAC. The styling is rather "lifestyle," though the sound is not.. By the way, note the two digital cables linking the two. Yes, two...one for each channel, because the transport needs to pass on a lot of bits.
We heard what seems to be the definitive version of the McCormick UDP-1 player (the "UD" part stands for Universal Digital). This is a do-anything player, at what is reported to be a relatively affordable price. Playing a CD it sounded very good. It was driving a pair of ASW Genius 400 speakers. While we're on the subject of acronyms, ASW stands for "accurate sound wave."
One of the most unusual speakers at the show were the tiny Gradient Preludes, at right. The spider's web grilles are enough to call attention, of course, but so is the fact that these are small sealed speakers, a principle not as fashionable as it once was. The single driver is coaxial, by the way. Gradient's Jorma Salmi says they're made for small rooms with rigid walls, in which venue they have bass response down to bedrock.
A Montreal audio shop called...well, The Audio Shop, was launching a new Canadian speaker called the Tondino Kodiak. We had heard an earlier Tondino speaker (from a different engineer) perhaps four years ago, but this one is much improved. It is a floorstanding speaker, described as "semi-labyrinth". It was driven by an all-Linn system, and sounded very clean, with a large full sound, reproducing accurately even the sound reinforcement at a live event. One to watch perhaps.
Pierre Gabriel was there with a new and gorgeous speaker, the Master (somewhat easier to house than the equally gorgeous giant speakers of previous years. And sound superb in both rooms, one with Jadis tube gear, the other with Gryphon solid state.
We got another listen to Tenor's gigantic power amp, this time driving the highly efficient Lamm MkI single-driver speakers. Lamm speakers are typically hyperefficient, and the 96 dB sensitivity rating of these seem at odds with the hundreds of watts available from the Tenors, but there was no arguing with the result.
Gershman and Linar had a pair of rooms much like the ones they shared in Vegas, one for two-channel stereo, one for home theatre. The two-channel one was especially fine, with the new version of the Gershman Gap speakers driven by a Linar amp and preamp. Exceptional.
Got a moment for one more picture. The Rega R-4 speakers is one more proof that this company doesn't make ho-hum products.
And that's all for now. They would put the Festival on the weekend we go to summer time, thus losing an hour of sleep tomorrow night. Yawn! We need to stock up if we can.
See you tomorrow. Drop by if you can.