Saved from the brink
This would have been the Chester Group's third Montreal Salon...and the 29th since it was founded by Michel Prin, then our publisher. It was so poorly organized of late that we were convinced that this would be the last one ever, and we hoped someone would step in to pick up the torch dropped by the show's semi-literate owners. We hadn't expected the Salon to be cancelled with nine days notice.
At the end of our coverage last year, we wrote: We hope this won't be the last time we see this sign. We really do. We're happy to say that the former owners, Michel Plante and Sarah Tremblay, turned on a dime, set up a non-profit org, and brought a lot of industry leaders on board.
At the last moment
Jeff Joseph, who has been going to shows with his excellent speakers for some 25 years, hadn't planned to come to the Montreal show. "I had never before screamed at a show organizer," he told us, "but I screamed at the people from the Chester Group." When he heard that Chester was out and that the previous owners would be doing the show, he booked a plane ticket, bringing his flagship speakers, the Pearl 3's.
Those speakers are very good, which is hardly a surprise. Indeed, this was one of the very best rooms at the show. The source was an increasingly ubiquitous turntable, the Montreal-designed Kronos. The electronics were from Nagra.
This was in one of the big downstairs rooms, the Fundy. The acoustics were, as usual, horrible, but judicious placing of the speakers (at an angle to the room, as they should be) brought out the best.
Small is beautiful
Even last year, Plurison (known in the US as Audio Plus Services) was the biggest exhibitor at the Salon. This year, Plurison products (Cambridge, Naim, Focal, Pathos, etc.) were once again front and foremost. One of the featured products was the Micromega M-One, a pretty box that does it all.
It's an integrated amp, high-definition DAC, phono preamp, Bluetooth receiver, room-correction equalizer, and...we're probably missing some details. It's Internet-connected, as you would expect. It will be available in four colors., with custom finishes to suit your décor. It looks good, and it sounds very promising as well.
A new speaker from Gershman
Gershman speakers are expensive, right? The flagship, known as the Black Swan, has a price that reaches deep intofive-digit territory. But the Audio Fest saw a new model.
It's called the Inspiration, and it has a target price of $5,900. The Inspiration is not yet listed on the Gershman Web site, and so we can assume that it is not yet ready to be sent to market. It's not easy making an affordable speaker in Canada, or in the US and Western Europe, when it comes to that. Gershman has, in the past, brought out speakers that represented great value, but whose price turned out not to be sustainable.
Oh...you want to know how it sounds? Very good, with a front end that was entirely from Oracle: phono stage, amp and turntable. More on that shortly.
The Salon Son & Image is gone, at least by that name, destroyed by its owners. But its former owners stepped up to the plate...