The large Personal Audio Fest room was a little sparse of exhibitors but what was available was quite high quality fare. There also were individual rooms elsewhere for some of the bigger headphone rigs. The classic Grado and Sennheiser lines were represented as well as the AudioQuest Goldhawk, 1more and Astell & Kern product, (which were also to be found in the Plurison room). A welcome inclusion were the Questyle electronics which have consistently impressed with superior sonics. Another interesting fresh face was a company called Bluewave with their tiny Get wireless headphone amplifier. Going for 24-bit Bluetooth 4.2 at much improved bit rate, it renders almost any wired headphone in your collection wireless capable. At its modest $100 price, the Get sounded quite decent at first listen. My preorder is already in. It was time to hit the other rooms.

In the Acoustic Technologie room, the lovely $13'500 Opera Grand Callas speakers were being driven by a Unico combination of CD Due and 150 integrated. Whenever I previously heard Unico gear, there has always been beautiful music. This Italian pairing held up that tradition.

A newfound high point was Artist Cloner. This was my first encounter with their products and the $8'000/pr Rebel speakers and $6'000 Scorpi 50wpc integrated looked and sounded audiophile upscale with refinement and dynamic kick, throwing out a vast soundstage with speed and power. CEO Sylvio Comtois was on hand and offered a live versus playback demonstration of his setup with guitarist Maricio Solis. I stopped by this room a few times and walked away impressed.

Asona put together a musical combination of Hegel electronics and Amphion bound together by BIS cables.

The Atoll room saw their stylish and musically adept line of model IN300 integrated at $4'800, SDA100 and 200 streamers plus the CD 400 matched with the $4'500/pr Davis Acoustics Cezanne speakers. Atoll always acquitted itself well at prior shows and the combination here with the Davis Acoustics showed a good blend of punch and resolution.

Audio by Mark Jones definitely don't cater to the faint of wallet but Mr. Jones is an absolute master at assembling musical marriages of premiere high-end components. The Nordost cables, CH Precision electronics (which ascend to $95'000 for amplification), massive Kronos table and gorgeous Focal floorstanders were breathtaking in performance and looks and if you sat long enough to listen, taking out that second mortgage began to seem disturbingly reasonable.

Audio D'Occasion were the sole exhibitors to wave the electrostatic panel banner and their new $20'000/pr Martin Logan ESL 13A hybrids did seamless, highly detailed sonic wonders paired with Moon electronics and Oracle Origine table.

Audio Note were a popular choice at the show. In one dedicated room their P2 turntable on the analog side and CDT 1/II plus DAC 2.1x on the digital side were matched with the M2 pre and P2 SE signature amplifier into a pair of $6'563/pr JSpe loudspeakers. In a larger venue used for demonstrating live versus recorded events, they trotted out their M5 RIAA and a gorgeous upper-line integrated. Their products always honor the music, continue to win audiophile converts and their foray into the recording industry is an act of courage.

Audio Sensibility have been extending their reach in recent years from high quality/value cable manufacturer and component supplier to a superb series of Mundorf/Accuton monitor speakers. Mr. Huang's two latest offerings were upscale versions of the MA30 SG, which garnished very favorable attention at previous shows. Boasting new cabinets with lavish aluminum and black front baffles to augment the aesthetics, they also sported cryo OCC copper internally on the Statement and silver cable on the Signature versions at $5'999 and $7'999 Cdn respectively. Paired with the marvelous ANK tube electronics. the sound filled the large room with precision and grace. Brian Smith of Audio Note Kits (ANK) and collaborator Simon Au of AuDIYo and TAVES fame (carrying a Mundorf badge) were in attendance for the popular demonstrations.

Audioshop came out with all McIntosh hardware resplendent in green glow, feeding a pair of formidable Sonus Faber towers. The combination looked and sounded quite lovely.

Audiophile Experts was the only room to show the Esoteric line of components but feeding the large Focal Utopias, the sound showed expected high pedigree.

Bleu Stereo lived up to their name, lighting up the room in a blue glow. The choice of Balanced Audio Technology electronics, stunning Elac speakers and VPI table proved a winning combination that warranted extended listening.

Blue Bird Music upheld the grandeur of British sound with Chord electronics and a stalwart pair of Spendor's new D9 towers. In a separate room, the solidly built Dave headphone/DAC was available for listening pleasure.

The Canadian institution known as Bryston held court with their marvelous electronics feeding the prodigious sounding, comparatively under-priced flagship Model T speakers. At $8'695/pr Cdn, they challenge the pricier competition on every level and like the rest of Bryston's extensive product lineup, throw down the gauntlet with a 20-year warranty. On static display was a wide range of offerings from amps, preamps, integrateds, DACs to turntables and phono stages. Fresh out of the gate was their new BCD-3 CD player with a $3'495 tag. The listening sessions were always packed and Mr. Tanner was always there to orchestrate the musical proceedings.

I initially misread the logo on this room as CIR Acoustics. In fact it's Dr. Acoustics. DR was doing a convincing demonstration of power cable upgrades with a simple A/B of stock versus their own. The results were night and day decisive and as one person opined, 2if you couldn't notice that difference, you were at the wrong show". DR had an extensive product line on display including their new Antigone power distribution box. Sporting massive internal wiring and serious filtering, it looks like Shunyata or Akiko Audio, ready to clean up anything the hydro company can throw at it. This was a fun room and well worth an educational visit.

Codell were operating in several rooms but it was nice to see Linn get its own dedicated venue for intimate listening. It was minimalist in execution but musical in the best Linn tradition.

Coherent Speakers did a fine pairing with the well reviewed and much respected Triode Lab product fronted by the Baetis Audio music server and an Audio Note 2.1 DAC. For this Coherent outing, the star performer was the $3'600/pr Model 12 loudspeaker running at 96dB sensitivity and doing a stellar job with the prodigious 3½ watts thrown its way. Mr. and Mrs. Fazzalari supplied a safe haven for music rather than tired exhibition bombast so continued visits on the three day circuit were mandatory.

The Elac Americas room was a wakeup call for both the financially thick of wallet as well as the value conscious. At $1'500/pr (Cdn) in vinyl and $'2200 in paint and paired with accomplished Audio Alchemy equipment, the new Unify was pushing audio quality far above any rational expectations. This product muddies the hard edge between good value and high end. Clean tonal balance, decently extended range, dynamic bounce and imaging sophistication all hit their checkmark points. This mirrored my experience at TAVES 2016 with the inexpensive Elac B5. I mentioned this to the Elac representative and gave my congratulations to the superb efforts of their hot new designer, Andrew Jones. He smiled, quietly turned around his ID badge and said "I'm the hot new designer". It was an amusing gaffe but the compliment was well earned.

Erikson Consumer had a rather nice setup consisting of the Revel F208 at $7'000/pr with a trio of Arcam products, the $5'000 SR250 integrated, the $3'100 CDS27 (with network streaming) and their $1'200 IR DAC. Adjoining they were also demonstrating some of their Teac line with Master and Dynamic headphones.