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SoundStage! Update

Festival Sound & Image Wrap-Up

April 24, 2007

On my trip back from the Festival Son & Image in Montreal, the snow and rain blanketing the East Coast didn't delay my flights at all (the ground crew in Montreal knows how to deal with snow), but a maintenance issue and windy weather did -- for five hours. Thus, I spent ten hours on an airplane, which gave me time to catch a second respiratory ailment for 2007 and think about the audio show that had caused it.

Just funnin', of course. In the end, the Festival Son & Image was well attended, especially on Saturday, when the hallways, stairwells and rooms seemed packed to capacity. The crowd in some areas of the Sheraton Centre was as thick as for CES, a testament to the interest that Quebeckers have for music and its reproduction.

The entire show, however, was a different matter, at least to the jaded eyes of press like Doug Schneider and myself, who have covered more shows than we can remember. New products were scant, and interesting reasonably priced products were in even shorter supply. This made for many systems that scraped the stratosphere in terms of cost, but often displayed mixed sonic results.

Doug and I had to search for particularly impressive demos, and chief among these was one with a built-in advantage. Derrick Moss's Aurum Acoustics Integris CDP/Active 300B complete system is made to be used as a unit, so all Derrick has to do is position the speakers for best sound, which he does each and every time out. Looking through past show reports, I see that we first encountered Derrick's system in 2003, and we have steadily praised it since. Now we can count on it to produce consistently great sound -- and this year in Montreal it was responsible for the best sound we heard. Yes, I'm sure that Derrick would have liked to have a larger room, but his system's tonality, retrieval of detail and sheer involvement factor outweighed any issues of space. This is the system to hear if you attend a show where it is on sonic display. In Montreal this year, it was the ambassador for the potential of high-end audio.

What else? Hopefully you've already read about it all in our A/V Tour 2007 coverage, which we posted dutifully each morning we were in Montreal. As we cover more shows, I understand better why no one else tries to replicate what we do -- produce live coverage with finely edited pictures and all details that pertain to the products and systems we cover: it's damned hard work that never seems to end! After walking around the show during the day, our toil begins and continues late into the night. Then it happens all over again the next day.

I can't say for sure that we'll be back to Montreal next year. CEDIA has commenced its own spring show, and it's held in Las Vegas -- an upgrade in climate over Montreal in April. The A/V Tour must go on, however, so we'll be somewhere in the spring of 2008....Marc Mickelson, editor@soundstage.com

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