Festival Son & Image
The Montreal High-end Audio Show

March 24th-26th, 2006

* Denotes a product carried by Audio Federation



The world according to Audiophiles... Montreal style.




The Edgarhorn speakers

The overall impression of the audiophile world that we got from the Montreal Show was... well, there were multiple impressions. One was that there were a number of rooms that sounded 'pretty darn good' and that they were all too close to each other in over all quality to really say which was 'da best'.

Another was that there were a number of lower fidelity systems, that, seemingly unbeknownst to hopefully a very few, have been passed by by better designed, and better built, systems that come in at the same or lower cost.

Some of the worst could be called 'Low Fidelity on Steroids'. Bigger, louder, more bass and more expensive than the more common house varieties of lo-fi systems. But still low-fi, such that the difficulty is not 'does this note sound exactly like a piano', nor 'does this note remind me of a piano', but 'does this song remind me of the song' - the sound barely recognizable as music, much less the song that is being played.

Another impression was that there was nothing magical sounding at this show this year. Curiously, there also wasn't a system that struck us as 'emotionally involving', that drew us in by the heartstrings. For that matter, none of the systems at the show sounded very 'real', either.

But the main, lasting impression was that there were an amazing number of 'enjoyable' systems. And the number of enjoyable rooms were seemingly present at a much higher percentage than what we have heard at other high-end audio shows. All told there were about 10 rooms that we enjoyed the sound in and in which we could easily see ourselves spending lots of time spinning disks, whether silver, or vinyl.


Kind of hate to admit it, being a fan of big, expensive systems and all, but the accusations that smaller, often less expensive, systems sound better than their often more expensive big brothers was born out at this particular show. Yes, some of the smaller systems cost a pretty penny as well. But in general, the large systems in the large rooms sounded really quite poor compared to the systems in the smaller rooms.

This probably just goes to show a number of things:

* How much harder it is to fill a larger room with a high-quality 'big sound'

* How large 'impressive' systems often suck at doing much else besides being impressive

* How some people think putting a large speaker in a large room will automatically produce desirable results for the listeners

* How some exhibitors think a big system in a big room makes them look like a big dealer (and maybe they are right)



As usual, some rooms were just too damn loud.

If it hurts, turn it down.

But on a percentage basis, this show was better than average in terms of the music in the rooms being played at sufficient yet enjoyable volumes. I can think of only two rooms that were consistently over SPL'd: The Lexicon room playing videos (funny, all the people coming into this very large room upstairs would cluster near the rear of the room, leaving the cushy-looking couch empty. Every time Neli came near this room she started whiiiining and complaaaaining, twice this was because we had to go into the room twice, the photos the first time through not being very good). And the Avalon, VTL room also SPL'd us to death.

Just because it can go loud, does not mean it has to be played loud.

Yes, yes, hearing loud music from the corridors has a tendency to bring people in to see 'what's happening man'. But if the exhibitor uses this technique, the sound had better be good enough to reward their visitors for making the effort to come in.

The Sonus Faber, Ayre room was the exception. A large room that sounded very nice. They didn't play it REALLY loud. They didn't try to pressurize the room. The sound was just nice and pleasant and a joy to listen to. The large Verity, WAVAC room had reasonable SPLs as well, but they had other problems...

Room by room, then, here are our impressions of the very best and the most expensive rooms.


The Brinkmann* cartridge and new 12" tonearm on their LaGrange turntable.

Tri-Cell Enterprises'
HRS (Harmonic Resolution Systems)*

Lo Med Hi

Lithophon tweeter
Lithophon midrange driver

We spent a lot of time in this room, resting between forays extending to the various wings of the exhibition. The sound was well-balanced, with not too much detail, not too much bass, not too loud, fairly evenly distributed from top to bottom frequency-wise.

In some sense, the overall balance here wasn't a surprise. Besides the Brinkmann* LaGrange turntable (with the new, longer 12 inch tonearm - no I did not personally notice a difference in sound but this was in an unfamiliar system and we had not heard the LaGrange before either) and the HRS rack, there was nothing in this system that was obviously 'state of the art'.

From the about $17K speakers, the Hovland (I think) cable, the reasonably-priced Brinkmann electronics and the very neutral digital transport and DAC, everything was at least competent, if not excellent.

And I guess that is how I would describe the sound. It was playing the Kind of Blue LP (after playing Stairway to Heaven on vinyl - thanks Lawrence :-) which I am very familiar with (and who isn't), that I really noticed the lack of harmonic structure, richness and natural bloom.

Yep - 'Stick a tube in it' (the system) comes to mind.

In general, though , this was the theme of the good rooms at the show. A distinct lack of the ability to communicate emotion and harmonic richness. The rooms with the warmer speakers, with the better solid-state amplifiers, did better than those without.

There was also a noticeable lack of PRaT (pacing, rhythm, and timing also known as the ability to force the listener into tapping their toes to the beat, whether they want to or not) at the show.

Funny, 'sticking a tube in it' did not work for many systems here - as the few systems with even a touch of emotionalfullness were the Kharma, Peak Consult and Sonus Faber systems - all but the Peak Consult were fully solid-state.

Overall, this was one of the best sounding rooms at the show.

At least, that is how it sounded to these ears.

The Sonus Faber Amati Anniversario

Son or Filtronique's
Sonus Faber
Magnum Dynalab

Lo Med Hi

Sonus Faber Guarneri Memeto

Magnum Dynalab MD 109 Triode

This room had a very enjoyable sound. Being in here quite a few times to photograph the very photogenic Sonus Faber Memento, Stradivarius and Amati speakers - the music was always pleasant and musical.

The Ayre amplifiers seem to drive the speakers quite well. Although not being the last word in resolution and transparency, they had a good amount of detail did not impart any solid-state signature to the sound that I could hear on these speakers.

As usual with Sonus Faber, the sound was a tad on the warm side and a little rounded - but in a nice way. And the bass, as is also as usual with the Amati speakers, was a little dull, laid back, and lacked much detail or depth.

But if the Prime Directive of system design is to build something that is at least a joy to listen to, and I think it is, then this system was a resounding success.

And if some other, higher numbered, lower priority, directive is to make the system pleasant to look at - and looking at their systems is by all accounts one of the things audiophiles do a lot when they listen to a two channel video-less system - then starting with these speakers adds another great big checkmark.

Although this room had a tuner hooked up to the system - I am not sure if they played it. At least, while I was there anyway, not hearing any 'commercial breaks'.

Overall, this was one of the best sounding rooms at the show.

At least, that is how it sounded to these ears.


The MBL CD player

GTT Audio's

Lo Med Hi

Kharma Ceramique CE 3.1c

Kharma Ceramique 3.1

This room also had a very enjoyable sound.

The new Kharma* Ceramique CE 3.1c speakers are the baby brothers of Kharma's world famous Ceramique 3.2 speakers. They appear to be only slightly smaller, but come it at just a little over half the price. How do they compare? Are they an acceptable substitute for those that cannot lay out the $22K or so for the 3.2 speakers?

We also heard this exact same system, or something very, very close to it, at CES 2006, and in a similarly sized room, but with the Kharma Mini Exquisites - their top of the line 2-way speakers. So we have some slight familiarity with how the other components in this system sound.

The little 3.1 sounds  a lot like its bigger brother, the 3.2. Same great sound-staging, imaging and dynamics. Same tonal purity, although perhaps a little leaner - I often wanted a tube in the system somewhere to flesh out the harmonics and bloom a little (let's see, I also thought this would help in the Brinkmann room, the Sonus Faber room, I am not going tube happy, I promise :-).

The 3.1 also seemed more.... personal... and intimate.

This intimacy provides a greater sense of presence and... touchability. Not so much solidity as palpability. Hard to describe, it is like the music is speaking to me, and only to me, personally. This is opposed to the more common (well  not that common, but what the best larger speakers offer) 'you are there' effect where the listener is a member of the audience and must make contact with the musicians in the metaverse somewhere, as opposed to right here.

Told you it was hard to describe.

Overall, this was one of the best sounding rooms at the show.

At least, that is how it sounded to these ears.

The WAVAC amplifier

Verity Audio Lohengrin

Lo Med Hi

Verity Audio Lohengrin

There was some interest by many people at the show in this room as this was the first time the Verity Audio statement speakers, the Lohengrin, had been exhibited at a show (AFAIK).  They also had a large room and a top-class expensive setup with a WAVAC amplifier, dCS stack for the digital front end, and Nagra doing preamplification duties.


For one, people who think the WAVACs are 'tubey' sounding, well, we disagree. This is one of the more neutral sounding amps out there, including both solid-state and tube-based amplifiers. There are solid-state amps that are warmer than these amps.

Second, the tell-tale midrange 'super pump' dynamic of the WAVACs, especially detectable on piano notes, is still alive and happy. At first I thought this was the best, most realistic piano reproduction I had heard when I heard it on the ESP speakers at CES 2004. But now I am not so sure.

The rest of the frequencies... seemed a little compressed. The bass especially - which also hugged the speakers some. But even the lower midrange seemed cutoff and clipped.

There was also a lack of emotion, a lack of PRaT, coherency, sound-staging, ...a lack of enjoyability, actually.

Although probably held up to a higher standard than some of the other rooms because of its cost and size, this room still failed to provide the most basic needs of this audiophile.

At least, that is how it sounded to these ears.

Modwright-modded Sony NS9100ES CD / DVD player

Cyrus Brennenian
World Power

Lo Med Hi

Edgarhorn speaker

Modwright-modded Sony NS9100ES CD / DVD player

We heard this room a number of times, trying to 'figure it out'. Regular readers of our reports know that we really liked the Cogent horns that we heard setup in Las Vegas at CES 2006. We really, really liked them.

This system did not sound like that system. There was some of the same tonal purity, yes, and some of the same macro-dynamics. But the midi-dynamics and micro-dynamics were compressed and even clipped-off here. The notes did not follow through, did not decay correctly, and therefore sounded unnatural - much like the Avantgarde horn speakers - to the point of unrecognizability.

Well, it wasn't that bad, but it did strain the recognition part of this listener's old brain when it tried to map sounds heard to original musical instruments played, even on percussion which is usually a fairly easy exercise,. And so it all in all did not sound real in this room.

It wasn't harmonically rich enough, or PRaT'ly enough, or anything else enough to put it over the bar to make it enjoyable. As a pure 'impressive' system it did succeed - but I think they were probably going for more than this.

The combination of small room and new speakers and who knows what else caused this room to be disappointing.

At least, that is how it sounded to these ears.




Lo Med Hi

Avalon Eidolon Diamond

Timing Applications D 10 CD / SACD player

This room had one of the most impressive layouts of any room at a show we have ever seen. The Montreal show had much more stuff on static display than other shows - and this room just blew out the doors.

Unfortunately, even though they had other amplifiers and other speakers on standby (like the Rockports), they apparently decided to stick with just the big VTL amps driving the Avalon Eidolon Diamond (at least we think it is the Diamond, it is not as if we personally can tell the Eidolon from the Eidolon Diamond from the Eidolon Vision just by looking at them).

OK, people will think I hate the VTL amps (I wonder why?) but these amps apparently do not have the ability to do micro-dynamics or micro anything as far as I can tell, having heard them over and over on some of the most resolving speakers known to peoplekind (for example the Wilson MAXX).

What does this mean for the listener? It means everything has a hard sound - having no delicacy nor subtle shades of harmonic or dynamic information. The perhaps dozens of shades of a typical note are compressed into one 'bleep', and when the human ear cannot resolve a note into its several shades - the overall effect is a single note at a single frequency, at a single volume, the particular frequency therefore lasting longer, sounding less realistic and more unnatural, and not blending with other notes in its vicinity very well. It just sounds much more like noise.

The VTL seems to be designed for systems that are designed to be impressive and nothing else. In this they succeed.

People who read our reports and the Audiophile's Guide to the Galaxy know that we think Avalon makes some of the very best speakers out there. Above all, despite any shortcomings that they may or may not have, they are almost always quite musical and enjoyable  to listen to.

But not here, unfortunately.

In this room, they played the sound very, very, very loud.

The Mixibitors hopefully got a chance to play with this room. At least, that is how it sounded to these ears.

The Redpoint turntable with Phase Tech cartridge


Lo Med Hi

VAC 110/110 Beampower amplifier

Hansen speakers

This room was using a Redpoint turntable that was not red. It was silver. Well, brushed aluminum or something. It wasn't red.

The sound was quite dynamic at all levels and had good separation and texture and body. I think it was missing some amounts of subtle information that prohibited it from being very coherent, for me anyway. There was also a lack of emotive character and continuousness.

The lack of coherency  and continuousness seemed to result in each note sounding like it was in its own space as opposed to sharing the space with the rest of the music. Each note sounding nice and beautiful, but detached. This effect, now that I am describing it, is quite common I think to many systems we have heard over the years.

That said, it was one of the better sounds at the show and Neli mentioned several times that she liked it quite a bit.

We heard these speakers at RMAF and CES and hope to hear them again. These are speakers that look solid, and heavy. And they are. Wait, they, the Prince, are not so bad, coming in at 230 lbs with crate. The Hansen sound is big and open, with good separation and timbre, much like the Acapella and Dunlavy house sounds.

At least, that is how it sounded to these ears.

The Official Montreal FSI 2006 Show CD

Fidelio Audio's

Lo Med Hi

Nagra PMA amplifier

Nagra reel-to-reel table recorder

Fidelio makes audiophile recordings and they setup a room at the Montreal show each year to show off and sell their CDs.

We bought the show CD, shown above, and a couple of others of theirs and have played them here this week during extensive cable auditions on a  very resolving system. Extremely well recorded.

This system was very well designed, the sound being very balanced top to bottom, in terms of harmonics, dynamics and overall character. It just shows you can hear it when someone takes the care to build a system, carefully balancing each part so that it works well with the others.

This is opposed to most systems at most shows which are thrown together, never heard before and never again to be heard after their show. Sometimes I wonder why they even bother showing up - but I guess it is a testimony to the overall quality of the components that something listenable usually does get built.

The Parsifal speakers in this room sounded as good as I have ever heard these speakers sound - or any Verity speakers for that matter. If you must have these speakers in your system, and you have a room about this size, you will probably be doing yourself a big favor to try and replicate this system in your listening room - perhaps switching out the Nagra solid-state amp for their tube amp, which is what I heard Fidelio did last year. And perhaps using your CD player of choice - but maybe that is just me.

There was of course limitations in resolution and harmonic depth and top to bottom coherence. But overall, this was one of the better sounds at the show.

At least, that is how it sounded to these ears.

A Simaudio Moon amplifier on static display


Lo Med Hi

Dynaudio speakers


This was another impressive room visually, the walls decked out in black cloth, and almost all of the Simaudio stuff must have been on display.

Sonically. Well Neli hated it. During the time I was in there they were only playing gentle new age music which did not sound too bad to me (yes, some systems can even have a hard time with this kind of music - so this system was at least better than those).

Otherwise, not much to say - as I didn't really get a good listen in this room.

At least, that is how it sounded to these ears.

An experimental David Berning preamplifier (the final product looks different, see our main photos pages)

Peak Consult
David Berning
Emm Labs*

Lo Med Hi

Peak Consult speaker

mmm. mmm. mmm. Now this was interesting.

First we have Berning's very, interesting, looking preamplifier. Took us a while to figure out it even was a preamplifier. Now, there are some different-looking preamps out there, so this is not the first time we were slow on the uptake. But... well, look at it!

The plastic bubble thing at the left there on top of one of the coils is the left-channel volume control, as I understand it. No, as Neli was relieved to find out, this is not the way their final product will look. I guess this kind of design is a thing only a male would like the look of  (and I do!).

Second, the room used these speakers which, for all their expense and apparent recent popularity, we think sound very closed in and uneven, at least dynamically. But lo and behold they actually sounded OK in this room.

The sound overall was quite nice and allowed a good deal of the Meitner digital's purity of tone and dynamic truthfulness to come through.

So, surprise, surprise (after these Peak Consult Empress speakers made problems for at least two good sounding systems at CES 2006 - a Continuum-based system and the Zanden system, all IMHO of course), we think this was one of the best sounding rooms at this year's Montreal show.

At least, that is how it sounded to these ears.




The show this year was held for the first time in the Le Centre Sheraton hotel in Montreal in what appeared to be a mixed business / shopping district. The weather was quite nice, relatively, and seemed to hover in the 40s with about a 15 mph breeze that always seemed to come from the direction we were walking in.

We heard a number of wistful complaints that the previous year's shows were in a hotel that had larger rooms, which allowed systems to breath and develop their sound a little better - not to mention having more room for the milling about of the audiophiles. Not having been to the show before, we can only judge the rooms based on the generic audiophile-grade room-measuring guessometer - and the rooms did indeed seem to be small, but not unlike the smaller rooms at the RMAF: Rocky Mountain Audio Fest or CES - and they also seemed to be relatively well insolated from their neighbor's potential sonic excesses.





The Flight

Denver to Chicago to Montreal.

Air Canada / United was a smallish plane (two seats each side of the center aisle) that had a little screen on the back of the seat that one could play music videos or movies or canned TV programs on. I was going to watch the new Dr. Who TV show (again) but instead tried to watch the movie 'Zorro'.

Here are the definitely non-audiophile quality throw-away headphones we got to use.

Let's see. Lean. Very lean. How lean was it? It was so lean that voices and all sounds sounded like metal clicking against more metal.

Harmonic content non-existent. The frequency range was limited to. oh, say to between 1000 and 2000 Hz. This meant voices and everything else was in this frequency range. The bad part (yes there is a bad part) was that the planes engine noise was so loud that one had to turn up the headset volume quite a bit to hear anything. But then the pain of the loud metallic clicking noise that was standing in for sound forced one to turn down the volume. But then one couldn't differentiate what was going on anymore from the sound of the plane itself.

Hey at least I was able to jiggle the connector some so I could get what I can only presume was dual mono. Poor ole Neli had to listen with only one ear.

After the movie server rebooted itself once - I started laughing (I know enough about software to recognize a persistent bug when I see it) and went back to reading my book. I noticed two more spontaneous reboots, forcing everyone to robotically use the touch screen to get back to the same place they were in their movies before the crash. And this while just happening to look up a couple of times while reading.

We thought our ears recovered pretty much entirely by the last day of the show, which is when we do our most critical listening.






We arrived Thursday night. The show was to open at 10:00 am Friday morning. We ran into a couple of people we knew on the way up to our room on the 8th floor. I do not know about you, but after a long plane flight and customs and dodging flocks of wheeled carryons - the IQ and ability to focus seems to drop to dangerously low levels. So after not saying much and nodding and smiling a lot we made it to our room.

The awesome thing was that while making that beeline to the room, we couldn't help but notice that right there, on our floor, was the Hansen / VAC / Redpoint room. Say what? OK. Cool. One of the exhibit rooms was on the same floor as our sleeping room!

Yeah, like perhaps most people over the age of 35 or so, the thought that we might end up somewhat sleep challenged being so close to a room with high-powered (aka loud), albeit high-fidelity, sound system did cross our minds.

After the traditional (for us) long detailed discussion about where we were going to go eat, with as usual the clock running out forcing us to do something, anything for food, we left the hotel to head over to Chinatown. Lo and behold, as we left the room to head to the elevators... Matey, thar be a boatload of exhibition rooms on our floor! How cool is that?!

Skipping over the mediocre dinner and subsequent marital recriminations about just who was responsible for which parts of the decision tree that ended up with us deciding to go to Chinatown, deciding to stop at the first bunch of restaurants we saw, and picking out this particular loser of a restaurant that used frozen veggies for their vegetable dishes... we got back to the room and got ready for the next day - hooking up the laptop to the hotels internet etc.

As the hours rolled by towards midnight, we would hear, sometimes far off into the distance, sometimes closer by, one system after another, sometimes two or three almost simultaneously, getting fired up for the first time as they finally got everything hooked together and warmed up enough - blowing out the exhaust pipes as it were, testing the limits of the room and system - slowly quieting down over time as they figured it was satisfactory and ready for tomorrow's opening day. Funny though, how the music of choice for warming up a system was rock & roll, but this turned out to be mainly a Jazz and Classical music show.





Day One

The next morning, we were out of the room at 10:00 am (Yes, really, 10:00 (ten!) in the morning. Me. Who always sleeps in late... two timezones to the West) and went straight to Tri-Cell's  Brinkmann* room - which also happened to be on our floor. Why Brinkmann? Because Neli wanted to go and say hi and I figured we had to start somewhere, so I tagged along. The show was still pretty empty - hardly any showgoers besides us two - so they were kind enough in this room to let me snap a few million pictures, allowing me to get a handle on the typical lighting situation that we would be encountering at the show.

I really didn't pay much attention to what I was hearing that morning. It was so early. Neli and I soon split up, met up, and split up, and met up again - more or less making it through the whole show that first day together. It really helps to hear most rooms with a pal so you can talk about what/how you each heard the various things you heard later - to both reinforce, highlight, and differentiate each others experiences. Kind of like listening in stereo instead of just to stereo.

Took lots of photos, of course. My apologies to all the show goers for the camera noise and distracting flash. This camera has a loud shutter - or at least is seems loud when it is so close to my ear - and any noise at all is too much noise. But everybody seemed to more or less put up with me and I hope they understand that the photos are for all those people who could not make it to the show (and those who went who did not get to see everything - or who went but have bad memories like me!).





Photography Components

The camera setup I used was a Canon 20D with a 580EX flash paired with a Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce. I used the Canon 16-35L lens on full-auto for the room shots and at f/11 with a shutter speed of 1/40 second at ISO 400 for most of the closeups (after doing almost 1000 test snaps pre-show here on one of our systems in a similar, mostly artificially lighted room, ISO 800 was found to be too grainy for the type of crop and zoom work we do on some of the photos). We also used a Canon EF 50mm 1.4 mostly at the same f/11 setting.

I used f/11 for both its sharpness and for its someone deeper depth of field in order to get as much of the typical faceplate shots in focus as possible. Yes, f/11 is somewhat light-challenged so for especially problematic black components it was stepped down to f/8 or so.


Finally, it is a truism that people we meet at shows, both exhibitors and attendees, are such nice people that we just want the show to go on forever. All the bickering about tube versus solid-state, horn versus cone drivers, and the like is left at home and on the web - and the shared interest in making sweet music draws everybody together in each of these festive (but also serious, of course :-) occasions.

We do not take pictures of people for our show reports, thinking that people deserve what little privacy they can get these days. And we have seen no studies that correlate the attractiveness or the photogenic features of a designer with the quality of sound that their products produce. Of course, if there was a study that could show this then it might explain a lot :-)





Some of the coolest-looking stuff was on static-display

Unison Research

David Berning


This was a very good show from the point of view of people who could not go. I mean by this people who go through our photos of the show. This is because there were a lot more things on static display at this show, more than any other we have seen. I mean a LOT more. And when someone is going through the photos of the show - they really do not care if power was supplied to the component in the picture or not.

So in a real sense, this show was as large as the largest show, CES. It is just that not all of the systems in Montreal were plugged in and making music.





Use the stairs if you can

As usual at these things, the hotel elevators were useless during the peak hours of the show.

Here we see audiophiles (and ordinary hotel guests, the poor folks) milling around for up to 20 minutes waiting for an elevator going their way.





Show Daze

What is it with shows that after the 1st day or so I can't think straight?

I've been to enough shows to recognize this - and I tell myself over and over:

"there is something you should be doing right now. There is something you should be listening to and you know you are going to regret it later if you space it out."

But for the life of me, at the time I just can't figure out what these things are that I am supposed to be doing. It becomes obvious later, after the show daze has warn off - but, of course, then it is too late.

What were these things I was supposed to be doing this show?

Listening more to the big Dynaudio room and the Focus Audio / Vitus Audio room.




The Second Day

The second day I took the camera around using a different lens, the 50mm fixed focal length, and re-visited the rooms that I remembered as have really cool looking things I wanted to try and get a sharper photo of. This included the Kharma speakers, HRS equipment rack and the Brinkmann turntable - both because they are indeed cool looking but also for photos for the dealership part of the website. Also included the Pathos CD player, the Sonus Faber speakers (all of them) the big WAVAC amplifier and dCS equipment stack in the Verity room, the Unison stuff in the Avalon room, the Berning experimental preamp, etc. You get the idea.

Some of these came out to be really quite spectacular. And some not quite as spectacular now even as good as with the 16-35L lens.

Next time, I think I will try and do another complete circuit with the 50mm, though it is not wide angle enough to do 'whole system' shots, it can do most everything else.

The real problem is light. Not enough of it. Because all the things I want to take pictures of are indoors. You will notice that most ads for cameras and lenses have example photos taken outside. Where there is lots of light.

The crowd was the heaviest the second day, Saturday. To the point where it was hard to get in to hear things, or to take pictures. Luckily going to photograph just the coolest looking things early in the morning was accomplished before about 11 am when the crowds really started.




Waiting For the Sweet Spot

There is this funny technique to get in to hear a system during these busy times. Often there are people packed into the room and even in the entry way into the room.

So one just stands there, and by standing there one indicates one's interest in getting into the room sometime in the near future.

Then some people leave, usually it is at least two and sometimes one or three. It is like one person's exiting inspires others that it is either OK to leave, or that they have heard enough, or that the exiting person gives them confidence in their conclusion that the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is not to be heard in this room - on to the next (well, that is what *I* listen for, don't you? :-).

So then one moves further into the entry way as people rearrange themselves closer to the target - the target being The Center Seat (hopefully somewhere near the sweet spot, though it is often in front of the real sweet spot).



Sometimes one first accepts a lesser position, for example in the center of the back of the room (mentally trying to discount possible bass anomalies caused at that position), thinking that the time required to get The Center Seat may not be worth it, and that maybe the sound should be as carefully evaluated as possible from a lesser location first to see if it is worth the investment of more time in this room.

One does not want to invest a half hour to get The Center Seat in a room that sucks. Been there. Done that. Don't do it anymore.




There seemed to be the usual ratio of women to men this show - about 10 - 15%. There seemed to be more women downstairs than upstairs (the show was kind of divvied up into two major sections: floors minus 2 through 4, and floors 7 through 11).

The show ended at 7:00pm. This was a good time and is about the time when I started getting hungry. The first day ended at 9:00pm and I have to admit that we left around 7 to go get something to eat. Hey, all that walking and lugging that camera around makes a person hungry - even if it was only 5:00pm Boulder time.

Yes, we both felt guilty about leaving early when there was more show to hear. Yes, we have a list of more excuses available upon request - and only some of which we will make up at that time - but we freely admit our guilt and plead, uh, wimpiness.

We went to supper at a mixed Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese food restaurant. Actually quite good. After hatching plans to lay waste to the audiophile world as we all know it we got back to the hotel way late. *I* spent the next two hours choosing, photoshop'ing and uploading pictures to the daily show log on the website while Neli slept and slept. :-)




The Third, and Last, Day

This day I resolved to make another pass through the show, mostly listening, but also taking photos of things that I noticed did not come out too well the previous nights as I was reviewing the photos for posting up on the 'dailies'.

Now, this can be somewhat misleading, as my laptop has an old screen that does not show colors and shadows very well. It helps if one looks directly at the screen, but still...

Anyway, I began to worry about the well-known transitory state of data stored on computers, specifically the 4 GB or so of photos I had just put on the laptop. So I resolved to go shopping to get some CDROMs to back up the photos to.

I had also planned on getting some more batteries for the camera's flash - as it had already drained one set and was nearing the death of the second (my recharger, a Monster battery recharger at that (yes, that Monster), weighs about 3 lbs - no kidding - so I had decided not to bring it).

Luckily, unlike the Las Vegas strip, where everything is 10 miles from each other and there are no stores in walking distance, Montréal had real stores and it was only a mile or so until I found a cool little store that cold cool stuff like old-style CDROMs that my slower computer can write - and I now pine for a laptop with a decent screen and a DVD recorder). At this store I also picked up a Sony battery recharger, that not only came with better batteries at about 1/2 the price, but also only weighed a few ounces.

Don't we love those Monster products?

This day went quietly. Much fewer people showed up than on Saturday.

Did our final listening, the results of which, room by room, are described in the left hand side of this report, and called it a show.

We left the next morning - leaving behind a shell of a hotel. Quiet. Dead.

Until next year that is!





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All pictures in this report are freely copyable and distributable.

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