In the Filtronique Son-Or room was a treasure trove of brands, most on static display. Nagra, Audio Research, DCS and Aurender were some of the names on the tables. Making some wonderful music in the room was a pair of Ryan loudspeakers from California with a McIntosh/Naim combination.

The Gershman room was showing remarkable sonic pedigree by alternating two fresh speakers from their stable. The revamped Grand Avant Garde G2 at $13'000/pr moved to a long throw aluminium driver with crossover changes and replaces the former port with a new bass trap arrangement. For $3'500/pr, the new Studio 2 is a sealed box monitor that claims response down to 20Hz with an 8-inch woofer at a reasonable sensitivity of 88dB and 6-ohm load. The two were paired with a full complement of Oracle product and a Musical Fidelity NuVista 800 amp. Both speakers retained the Gershman virtue of natural musicality coupled with exceptional resolving prowess. While the new Grand Avant Garde G2 represents an extension of its predecessor's benchmarks, the Studio 2 should carve out tantalizing new territory for the stand-mount audience seeking a real monitor reference.

Reinhard Goerner of Goerner Audio had brought the Wiener Lautsprecher Manufaktur Diva speakers and upscale Grandinote electronics along with Trigon components and Aria music server. These are monetarily on the serious side of the scale but luckily delivered on the music side with abundance.

Motet threw its HighEnd Headphone band in the ring with their top HiFiman product. The flagship Shangrila electrostatic headphones with matching amplifier run a cool $65'000 Cdn in full-on tubular glory. HiFiMan aim for reference status here and although there's competition even at this breathtaking price, they are definitely in the running for the title shot. Representative Peter Hoagland was in the room to bask in the glowing smiles of the listeners. The highly regarded Lumin network players were doing source duty. While checking out the Lumin, I came across long-time audio resource Rene Evans of Bonefish Audio Distribution who pointed out an interesting addition to the mix. The stock wall wart had been replaced by a hefty little BOTW power supply. Reviewers and knowledgeable audiophiles routinely bemoan the sonic compromise of the standard wall wart so for a paltry $500, this seemed to afford a disproportionate performance upgrade.

IsoAcoustics have done a nice transition from the pro audio industry to the audiophile end of the spectrum and were located in both the main Plurison room and a separate demo room. Garnering widespread acclaim for their versatile vibration management devices, they have recently introduced the Gaia line of isolation feet. These are weight- specific feet, including threaded hardware with upscale cosmetic credentials married to superb engineering. Prices range from $249 Cdn to $699 for a set of four depending on weight requirements. While the box sets were on static display, IsoAcoustics head honcho Dave Morrisson was personally conducting classic A/B tests with two pairs of Wharfedale speakers in the demo room. Again, the improvements were night and day and only the stubborn or deaf could refute the improvement.

Joseph Audio and VPI shared a room, making beautiful music together. If I'm not mistaken, the amazing $14'700 (Cdn) Perspective loudspeakers were on tap filling the room with unforced joy supported by Moon electronics and an imposing VPI Titan as analog source. Jeff Joseph and Mat Weisfeld of VPI were there to field the questions. For the audiophiles who admired the big VPI but found their musical taste bigger than their bank account, Mr. Weisfeld was showing a new product in the $800-$900 range, tentatively vacillating between Cliffwood and Challenger as projected model name.

Kevro had wowed them at TAVES with their flagship PL500 MkII big rig combo. Here the setup was notched down in mass but certainly not sound. Mr. Ginn and team Kevro did themselves proud with a setup comprised of the $18'000 Monitor Audio PL300 II speakers, Roksan Blak integrated at about $5'700, and Blak CD player at $5'000 all fed by a Cyrus XP-QX streamer/Dac at $3'500 and for cabling, Clarus single-crystal copper. The sound had a coherence, mass, and immediacy generally reserved for statement widebanders. That's quite the feat. For those needing incentive to take home a piece of the action at lower price tag, there were also more modest setups to entice.

Kimber assembled a ridiculously overachieving system that proved that big HighEnd sound doesn't require big heavyweight gear. The diminutive Neat Iota Alpha at $2'500/pr with its sloped front, small EMIT tweeter and upper/lower woofer pair were doing a creditable job of playing big and brawny with all the imaging prowess and resolution ability of an accomplished floorstander. The slender PS Audio $2'100 Stellar S300 class D amp and matching $2400 Gain Cell DAC/Pre were doing spectacular musical duty, wired (of course by Kimber Cable. This was one of those rooms where the eyes didn't want to believe what the ears were saying and return visits were required to enforce the experience.

Manning the hallways along gauntlets of tables is the tough road for some exhibitors. Unlike the lockable doors of demo rooms, the halls require nightly takedown and morning resurrection of all displays. Along those long hallways however was a treasure trove of finds, tone arm lifters to circumvent costly mistakes, tweaks galore, cables and connectors, loudspeakers of all varieties and a few eye-opening surprises like Hafler product and Dynaco tube amps, back from the mists of the past looking modern and fresh. The Gramophone Distribution Co. hosted Mårten speakers teamed with Luxman to build a fabulous setup. The $65'000 Mingus Quintet speakers and luxury Luxman equipment were working wonders in the room with the PR4040 turntable. Luxman was proudly showing its sparkling new EQ500 tube phono stage paired with their C700u pre, M700u Ultimate amp, Ultimate SACD player and Melco digital front end. This was high-cost high-pedigree fare that produced sound with density and quick responsiveness and imaged with near omni stability and room-filling volume.

Motet Distribution mounted a compelling combination of Triangle Delta Signature speakers at $9'000/pr with lovely Serbian Auris electronics connected with XLO cable. The stylish Forte 150 monoblocks come in at $20'000/pr, with their DAC and Pre rounding out at $5'000 each. The looks were refined and the system threw out exquisite sound with ease and grace. The reps were happy with the results of their setup and they had a right to be.

While Nordost is widely known as highly regarded cable maker, they still make it a point to demo just how well systems perform with their product. For this outing they chose an interesting mixture of Dynaudio speakers with Krell, Atoll and Antipodes electronics. The results were excellent.

Plurison emptied the warehouse for this show, occupying a large display room but also distributing their products in various other rooms throughout. There was a lot of big eye candy to make jaws drop and wallets tremble but also extensive other products to satisfy all price points. Devialet trotted out their new top-end Gold Phantom, sporting higher horsepower (4'500 watts per speaker) and an upgraded titanium tweeter for $3'995/ea. Cdn. Micromega had numerous displays. So had Focal, Crystal Cable, Clearaudio, Rega and Naim. The high performance/high value Cocktail Audio line of file storage machines also tucked in a corner. Reps were everywhere to answer questions and Plurison added vibrant color to the event both visually and sonically.

PureAudioProject and Grant Fidelity were demonstrating a variation of the remarkable T15 open baffle. The astonishing ability to mix and match their centre portion allows one to choose between classic wooden horn, Voxatix, Tangband, Beyma or RSS AMT drivers and create a multitude of different sonic flavours, each of immense appeal and each with unique sonic beauty. Prices range from $3'699 for the base model to $4'900 for the PAP Horn1 model designer Ze'ev Schlick had brought to the show. I was a little saddened that Grant Fidelity's Rachel Zhang hadn't brought her superb depth of electronic equipment to dazzle but the choice of ANK Kit 1 amp and DAC 5.1 Signature was a top alternative and the sound was nothing short of superb. Music was via MacAir and Tidal. Prior shows have found this room in contention for best of show. It was nice to see them live up to tradition.