This page is in part supported by the sponsors whose banners are displayed below

This year my 14-year old son Patrick accompanied me again to the Festival Son & Image and proceeded to surprise me with his interest and stamina. By Saturday afternoon I was d-o-n-e whereas Patrick was keen to sample more rooms. Next year he can do his own show report. He even picked up a couple of LPs from one of the many software vendors --Linkin Park and Metallica -- and was especially thrilled when exhibitors played his requests. Quite a few folks were relieved to kick out the jams for a spell having tired of the usual audiophile crap played at shows. Patrick made an interesting observation; "If they want more young people to get into audio, then they need to play music kids like and not the soft stuff these old guys listen to. My friends would flip over how good Metal and Rock could sound." While most 14- year olds don't have the means to buy a decent system, they will eventually. Put the hook into 'em now I say.

We only spent a day and half at the show so this report is hardly extensive. Some rooms we got to, others we didn't, some we avoided like a plague. If I left somebody out, it could be for any of the above reasons. It seems every time I write a show report I get complaints from some exhibitors about incorrect or missing info. Here's a tip: leave a stack of info sheets on a table in each room listing equipment on display as well as the retail price. Therefore, if you don't see prices or a complete description of components in a room, it's because that info was not readily available.

Thanks to the many readers who stopped to chat and for your positive comments. I am always pleasantly surprised that anyone reads my articles. Kinda scary when I think about it. I never quite know when something I wrote a couple of years ago might creep up and bite me on the ass. I also had an all too brief chat with fellow scribe Sandy Greene from Sonic Flare who seems to have musical tastes suspiciously close to mine.

Patrick had quite the extended and animated chat with Harbeth's Alan Shaw. But then again Alan wasn't going anywhere soon as British Airways had abruptly cancelled his return flight. Incidentally, both Harbeth rooms were among our favorites of the show. I was blown away with the Monitor 40.1's musical coherence and articulated presentation. Even with their rather ho-hum appearance, they simply danced with their DNM 3D-6/PA3S pre/power combo ($21,190) and Resolution Audio's Opus 21 two-box CDP/PS front end ($3,500). Cabling was DNM's Precision SC and IC while HRS provided resonance control.

The smaller HL5 next door was also terrific. They were connected with Audio Research's REF 110 amp ($11,500), LS26 preamp ($6,700) and CD3 MkII CD Player ($6,150). Black plastic spinning was via a Simon Yorke S9 table ($9,000), 47 Labs MC Bee ($1,100), 47 Labs Phonocube ($3,000) and Graham Slee Era Gold Reflex w/ Elevator combo ($2,348). Cables were Kimber and stands were Skylan Stands custom built for Harbeth.

Also sharing one of the Harbeth rooms was Simplifi Audio's Tim Ryan who offered me an in-depth look at Resolution Audio's fascinating Opus 21 system. Think of it as the ultimate High-End mini system where you only require a single power cable and no interconnects. How can this be you ask? Each piece is equipped with a 25-pin DIN connector that distributes power, signal and system control to each component. Simply stack them one on top of the other. You could start with the aforementioned CDP with PS power supply center and later add the S30 integrated which features design input from DNM's Denis Morecroft or the more powerful s80 and then finish off with the intriguing iXS. The iXS includes additional inputs plus MM/MC phono stage, headphone output and AM/FM tuner. The iXS even offers a wi-fi link which provides a web interface to control the entire system. iTunes will also automatically detect the Opus 21 system. All digital inputs such as USB and wirelessly streamed music from iTunes is routed through the DAC in the CDP. I'm not sure how all this works but I hope to find out. After a chat with Tim and Harbeth distributor Gunnar Van Vliet of Ottawa based Planet of Sound, hopefully an Opus 21 system review with Harbeth speakers, perhaps the Compact 7ES-3, will be possible later this year.

Charisma Audio had a nice system featuring tiny Harbeth monitors driven by an Audio Space Reference 3.1 integrated (CDN$3,499), Scheu Premier Mk II table (CDN$2,549) with 80mm platter (CDN$449) and 12" Scheu Cantus tonearm (CDN$1,499). Cartridge was the ubiquitous Denon DL103. The Scheu used the MM stage of the Ref 3.1 with an outboard step-up transformer. Various Shanling gear and Scheu turntables were also on display. I currently have a Scheu's Premier Mk II in for review and a lovely sounding table it is. More on that in the coming weeks.