It has been a little wild trip from Portsmouth NH (our second home) to Montreal. The weather was wonderful and the drive was surprisingly easy. The trip in the way reminds me my audio trips from the past, with talks and thinking about audio here and there and even in the car. Amy was surprisingly tolerant to all my audio interests and even to a degree abrasive. We did she have any chance?
My Notre-Dame Basilica was still standing. It was kind of new to me to bring Kitten to Notre-Dame as he never was in that church. Amy is kind of difficult traveling partner as she was literally all over the world and it is extremely hard to fine on map a country where she never was before. To my luck her former trip in Montreal she missed the Notre-Dame and he it was… There were no consents in there but we attended Saturday Palm mass. We are not religious and were trying to hear the organ, the organ sounded very boring. As sexy it looks and as magnificent acoustic environment in the church as boring sound of organ was in there. The services were also very un-stimulating, but I am not in business to review church services.
The whole Montreal environment was not up to expectation. The food was very touristy, kind of crappy and we do not get the distinctive cultural flavor that Canadian French might offer and famous for, well, perhaps another time… What was very cool in the trip is visit Vermont’s Burlington. It was much more fun and we very much look forward to return in there.
The show was exactly as I expected and remember. We spent perhaps 15 minutes to glide all rooms on the show and Amy was disappointed that I did not express any interest to listen anything. There was need as hearing a few notes from the room corridors was in most cases enough to discard any interests to the rooms. There were only two rooms where we did spend some times and I would like to mention them.
First it was German MBL. I never was a big fun of MBL and I think their stupidly-famous and well publicized model 101E was a celebration of blind conceptual adherence over feeling of reality. They never sound right and all MBL demos with them were ugly. I know that reviewers were choking on our saliva describing how magnificent sound was from 101E but there are reasons why I firm with my position that the reviewers are sold idiots. Anyhow, this time MBL demonstrated a new model that I never heard/seen. I think they call it MBL 111F. It is relatively compact, floor standing model with drivers sticking on right and left and JBL Omni tweeter atop. It kind of senseless and ugly configuration but this time MBL did pull it off and made it to look pretty and very compiled. Surprisingly it did attract my attention sonically as well. The guy who ran the room kindly agreed to play my music (his music was crap). It did not sound “spectacular” but it was heads and shoulders better that MBL even was able to accomplish. I did report to the guy who ran the show that there were severe phase anomalies at upper octaves. He begin to load me with bunch of crap informing me that this is completely different design, that everything is perfectly time aligned and what kind crossovers they used. In my past live I would saddest him that he was a worthless idiot who had no idea what he is taking about but the “moderating Amy” was right here with me and all that I said was “Thank you have much for your time”. Apparently my eyes did not lie and recognizing the pity I was looking at him the pure guy told me that I was sitting way off the dead center between the loudspeakers that they are time-aligned only for that dead spot. That was a reasonable response BUT… the guy was selling the loudspeakers that are designed to be Omni! Anyhow, I was waiting for the sit in the middle to be free for a few minutes but it was not freeing up and I left. I am very far from expending at this point to that new MBL a clear bill of health but I do suggest that that new MBL might be not as disgusting as older MBL designs were. The price for those new speakers was somewhere in $40s that is not too ambitions for nowadays.
Another room that I think worth to mention was Magico/Constellation room. They streamed music from Cygnus music server and did not play visitors music. As I asked them to play some classical recordings they kindly agreed. The guys who run the room were Constellation coordinator and he had some “hi-fi pop repertoire” at his music server. In the selection of the music that he had on his server I did not detect any well stated sonic statement, he rather felt uncomfortably to play classical music but he did comply with my request. The sound was quite interesting.
There were a few things that like very much and a few that I found remarkably ugly. What was truly astonishing in the sound of the room is the ease with which that system was running over dynamic range. It was not the dynamic range itself but some kind of amassing lightness and vividness with winch the sound was running up and down across dynamic range AND across octaves. That slightly was accompanied by some harmonic fastening but not in the way how I heard before as shortening decays did not produce the effect of shortening decays. It was very interesting effect and I need to think further about it. Without know that playback I would attribute it to the sound of amplifiers but I would be hesitant to say anything more definitive as I never dealt with any of the elements that were used.
There was a very ugly element of that sound as well. If to close eyes to the very interesting aspect of sound that I mentioned above than the Sound that Magico/Constellation room demonstrated was the pinnacle of the sound that stupid audio magazines so love to publicize. It was “the Sound of playful expressiveness by surrogates”. While I was listening the Magico/Constellation Sound I was not able to avoid a feeling of syntactic glitz. It was some kind of ever-presence of simulated stimulus that constantly keeps “impress” me. It was in everything, in tone, in the way how tones were connected, in the way how the playback enters lower octaves, in the way how the lower bass was developing. I did asked to play a few more recording and the guy did play them. It was remarkable the all music, but different recording and performing avenues had the same common denominator of “syntactic impressiveness”. If I had that sound home I would be very annoyed and would latterly trash playback that makes that Sound as it is nothing by a sonic dildo. I do not know what was responsible for that behavior on the Magico/Constellation room. It might be the sound of new Constellation amps. It might be the sound of Magico speaker, which is very highly candidate to be accused. It might be the sound of the DAW from which the music was playing. I do not have knowledge of the elements evolved to be able to debug it, neither it is not my objective.
That about it regarding the Montreal show. There was nothing more interesting in there in my view. The next day I visited to a local audio guy who demonstrated to me his installation. I would keep the visit private but there were some interesting ideas that were born in my head as a result of this meeting. I will post my thinking later on in a new thread.Rgs,
Romy the Cat
"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche