Steady and consistent were the words to describe this year’s attendance for the 2023 Montreal Audiofest. While some manufacturers passed and didn’t display at last year’s first post-Covid mask-wearing show, all the heavy-weights in the world of audio were back on the floor for Audiofest 2023. How refreshing to be at a show that feels like shows from the past, with no pandemic anxiety. Here are a some of the few highlights from 2023.
The first room most attendees would have experienced was hosted by Lenbrook, the global distributor for brands including NAD, Bluesound, PSB. Shown above is the NAD Masters Series M33 Bluos streaming pre-amp DAC / integrated amplifier, $7,800.00 paired with the NAD Masters Series M23 stereo amplifier, $4,900.00, powering the made-in-Denmark, DALI KORE loudspeakers, $160,000.00/pair. Connectivity and line conditioning by AudioQuest. Talk about setting the bar high with the first demo coming in close to $200,000!
Adding to the enormously popular “vintage inspired” line, NAD displayed the C 3050 non-limited edition stereophonic amplifier. Late last year, NAD released the C 3050 LE that was limited to 1,972 units to celebrate NAD’s 50th anniversary. Those units sold-out almost immediately. If you sadly missed out on the limited edition version, NAD’s C 3050 looks almost identical to the LE version except instead on a real open-grain walnut sleeve this version uses a vinyl wrap to create the vintage look. You’d have to be an expert in finishes to pick up that this one isn’t real wood. $1,900.00
Canadian distributor Erikson Home, highlighted the Thorens TD 124 DD, a $20,500 custom-made-to-order turntable that was originally introduced in 1957 and mostly used for commercial broadcasting in studios around the world. The high-precision direct drive turntable ships in a custom hard case and comes with a certificate of authentication.
Sticking with the what’s old is new again theme, Erikson also showed the JBL classic L-series of speakers with the original 1970s colours for grills.
KIN by Totem has firmly left the Totem nest! The new sister-Totem brand is having a ton of fun building on a youthful brand identity, colourful imagery and a “Daisy Jones” vibe. While past audio shows have seen KIN and Totem share booth space, both KIN and Totem had separate spaces at Montreal Audiofest allowing each some breathing space to highlight their own identity. The strategy of building an audio brand for the next generation is being accomplished with energetic videos, youth influencers and streaming products that align with how today’s youth discover music.
While KIN by Totem is having all the fun, Totem’s flagship brand still draws the crowds and company founder Vince Bruzzese, who was not in attendance in 2022, entertained a standing room only crowd of Totem loyalists who enjoyed a debut listen of the made-in-Canada Bison Twin Tower speakers. Totem always has the best demo music and as usual, Bruzzese always adds a new song to my library. Have a listen to the version of “Hey Joe” by Markus Phillippe – saxnbass. Wow!
Masimo Consumer, the new owner of what was the brand roster known as Sound United had a massive presence at the show covering brands; Denon, Marantz, Polk Audio, Definitive Technology, Bowers & Wilkens and Classé. To highlight Bowers & Wilkens automotive partnership, the brand brought along a green Maclaren Superlight GT that was roped off at the bottom of the escalator.
Masimo Consumer used the show to highlight the new look for Marantz model 40n integrated HEOS built-in streaming amplifier in an all-aluminum chassis.
While Bryston used the Montreal Audiofest to launch new speakers and a new preamp they also brought along some vintage Bryston before the company was even in the audio business. So while many manufactures introduce re-issues or vintage inspired products, Bryston just brings this along to the shows to showcase vintage authenticity! Bryston’s core business in the early days was medical electronic like blood analyzers. The first amp that ever built was a 100 Watts per channel and called a Pro3. For a history of Bryston click here
Arguably the best-looking room at the show, and certainly the room with the best lighting, Yamaha showed us what an $80,000 set-up sounds like. On display was Yamaha’s C-5000 two-channel pre-amp, $14,000. M-5000 two-channel power amp, $14,000. GT-5000 belt-drive turntable $13,000 and the Tamaha NS-5000 3-Way speakers that retail for $22,000
Gentec International distributors of Klipsch brough the massive klipschorn AK6 loudspeakers that weigh a jaw-dropping 226 lbs each. Have a look at a video we did earlier in the year introducing the AK6 to Canada. Gentec has listening rooms upstairs dedicated to German loudspeaker manufacturer Magnet powered by Teac.
It is always exciting when we learn of a new audio retail concept and there was plenty buzz for Centre Hi Fi’s announcement on the launch of their high-end audio concept shop called absolu that the company will be rolling out as a store-in-store concept throughout the year.
Always a highlight at the Montreal Audiofest is the dedication to live music through their partnership with VIBZ recording featuring Focal Professional. Musicians Anne Brisson, Give and Isabeau Corriveau provided mini concerts throughout the weekend show. Here is a close up of the gear that’s required to put on a show.
What may be one of his last official public events, Derek Collier from Trends who has recently announced his retirement at the end of this month, was in full form working the Elac and Cambridge demo rooms.
Kevro International used the Montreal Audiofest to showcase the third generation of the Monitor Audio Platinum 300 3G Floorstanding speakers.
Congratulations to show organizers Sarah and Michel on another successful edition of Audiofest!