I must confess that I didn't know what to expect. This was my first visit to the Montreal Audio Show although hardly my first time in this lovely city. My wife and a close friend came along on the journey, not out of a desire to accompany me to the audio exhibition but rather, to absorb the rich atmosphere and culture that Montreal has to offer. While I slaved over a hot notepad and camera all day, they took in the art galleries and museums, wandered the streets of the Old City, admired magnificent cathedrals and sought out the legendary bagels. At night we all partook of Montreal's fine dining, from traditional comfort food like poutine with smoked meat to haute cuisine of world renown (with haute price tags to match). Montrealers know how to eat in style so we saw no good reason to be divergent.

My show reports have traditionally been broad overviews so don't expect in depth analysis. Mine is the audiophile tourist approach, to ogle at the eye and ear candy regardless of price tag. Exhibitions bring some of the best and finest the industry has to offer under one roof but show conditions are compromised scenarios at best. The accomplishment of even acceptable results under these circumstances is a testament to the hard work of the retailers and distributors who have fought hard to make their rooms work. The intent is to showcase and entice, not promote ironclad judgments.

Upon arrival on opening day, I made a walking tour of the venue to familiarize myself with the layout and very briefly poked my head into the various rooms to see what looked and sounded interesting for more extended visits over the three-day stretch. Exhibits were located on two floors branching left and right off the main entrance corridor as well as occupying a series of larger grand salons located on the lower level accessible by escalator.

Every day was a fresh start for many exhibitors, especially those on the open floor. Every night the tables were emptied and products were put away. Even the model of the Olympic stadium was shrouded beneath a snug fitting cover to await the dawn. And then, every morning tables and displays were remounted, unboxed and restocked before the arrival of the eager crowds.

The show organizers made a good effort to keep the program interesting, with live recording sessions courtesy of La VibZ Studio on a continuing scheduled basis, allowing the audience an intimate glimpse into the mechanics and decision-making process involved in producing a recording. There were also diverse lectures on numerous aspects of audio over the course of the event, as well as a number of live performances from several highly talented artists that took place in several locations, from intimate to large venue.

The press was very much in attendance—Stereophile's Robert Deutsch above—and there were familiar faces dotted throughout the landscape, listening astutely, taking notes and photos. I even bumped into Rene and Suzane Evans from seriously fun Mystic Audio, playing the audiophile tourists at the show rather than exhibiting. It was a lively affair, varying in attendance from jam packed to welcome lulls, and it was during those lulls that the music got interesting. Off went the obligatory big demonstration pieces and on went real music, some old, some new, many so musically intriguing they were worth following up on. Those moments reminded me that music is the main event, the shiny toys just the delivery system.

An unusual inclusion at the show was the Delaney Technologies Inc. exhibit in the mammoth Fountaine A salon. Mr. Delaney is not merely an audio engineer but an accomplished designer in the architectural field, currently pursuing the construction of a self-supporting retractable roof for the Olympic stadium, a model of which was on display. His audio offering at the exhibition was the unique Epicentre battery-powered speaker playing both recorded and live material. It was able to produce quite high-fidelity sound with extremely low distortion at phenomenal efficiency. According to the representative, less than a watt feeding a pair is sufficient for a crowd of 500 people and it further had the capacity to entertain 3'000 with 30 watts. Claimed battery life was 24 hours for a crowd of 10'000. Sonically this was no PA speaker. It didn’t have the characteristic penalty of deafening levels and skewed balance at close quarters but rather kept relatively constant loudness and balance regardless of distance. The Delaney proved that High End values and industrial design can coexist.