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March 17th: The show must go on
     And it very nearly didn't. Britain's Chester Group, whose third Montreal high-end show this would have been, pulled the plug with just nine days notice. Nine days! Why? Not enough exhibitors, even though the organizers had sought irrelevant exhibitors, such as those selling stage lighting.
     But then something remarkable happened. The show's previous owners, Michel Plante and Sarah Tremblay, picked up the phone. A number of companies had refused to attend the Chester event but were devastated by the show's disappearance. A non-profit organization was quickly formed. Exhibitor fees were slashed, and attendence would be free. Can you actually organize a show in just a week? Judge for yourself.

salonlist

     It's going to be a little chaotic, inevitably. But that's a good list. Note that François Charron, who was handling a lot of the logistics, is back too. We'll be there, of course, and our blog will be up shortly is now on line.
     The show opens Friday the 18th, at 11 am.

BY THE WAY: We have an extended version of our weekly Flash Sale during the Audio Fest.

March 17th: RenewalsMicrologoMaggie
     We've been sending out renewal notices to our subscribers. We started with subscribers to Maggie's electronic version, and the notices for subscribers to our print issue will be out shortly.
     After that, we'll be stuffing forms into envelopes, because snail mail is not quite dead yet.
     We should tell you that a handful of the e-mails we sent out with the download link for issue No. 97 were returned. If you didn't receive your link, it may be because your e-mail address has changed, and you didn't let us know. In a couple of cases, subscribers had their notifications bounced by some cockamie anti-spam service. We recommend that you use a universally portable e-mail address for your subscription, from gmail for example.
     You haven't forgotten this weekend's high-end show in Montreal, right? We knew you wouldn't.


March 10th: Scrambling to save the Salonaudiofest
     The Chester Group was quite clear as to the reason it was cancelling (or "deferring") the 29th edition of the Montreal show: there were hardly any exhibitors coming. Which is not a surprise, considering the efforts that the Chester Group was making to chase them away. But cancelling it on such short notice borders on the unethical.
     Did we mention that this was to be the 29th edition?
     No one was more upset about the death of the Salon than the two people who used to own it, Michel Plante and Sarah Tremblay, and they quickly moved to save it. Sarah was still working with the Chester Group last year, but quit before closing time. And Michel became Canadian marketing director for Plurison, the large audio distributor. A few phone calls allowed them to recruit some industry leaders who were still supporting the show. Or would have if they had not had to deal with the Chester Group.
     We don't yet know how many exhibitors there will be. Some, like Bryston, pulled out as soon as they heard the news. You won't need a ticket, because for this one time entry will be free. The dates are the same, and so is the venue.
     You might wonder whether Michel Plante, being a part of a large distribution company, might have a conflict of interest. Phooey! Last year, the dreadful show put on by the Chester Group was supported mainly by Plurison. The company has grown over the years in part because of this long-running event. It has a business interest in keeping it running, sure, but so do we all.
     See you there?


March 9th: Montreal show dies, reincarnatesshowwindow
     People have been asking us whether the Montreal Salon, scheduled for March 18 to 20, was really going to take place. Our answer was that it probably would, but it might be the last one. The Chester Group, which purchased the show, appeared to be run by idiots, and the industry was bailing out.
     So the past 24 hours have been interesting. Yesterday, the Chester Group confirmed what we had feared: the show was cancelled, and would be rethought, with new venue, dates and orientation. Since then, some industry people have created a non-profit organization to take over the show. It will be called the Montreal Audio Festival, and Le Salon Audio de Montréal.
     Who's behind it? One of the key people is Sarah Tremblay, who had been working on recent shows, but was so upset with the incompetence of the Chester Group that she had resigned in mid-show, gritting her teeth until closing time. Interesting tidbit: an earlier press release by the Chester Group had claimed that Sarah would be working on the 2016 Salon after all. That was, of course, a lie.
     Stand by for more. A Facebook page and a Web site will probably follow shortly.


March 8th: UHF 97 arrivingLogoMaggie
     The new print issue will be delivered to us, and to the various distributors, Thursday. In the meantime, Maggie will be working on her electronic version, and it is mere hours away from going on line.
     So here's an important heads-up: When issue 96 came out, our e-mails with download instructions bounced back, presumably because subscribers had changed address without letting us know. If that's your case,
e-mail us now. UHF No. 97 is packed with information, and we don't want you to miss it.
     When will you get your print issue?
     The copies should be in the mail by Friday. By next week, the majority of readers in Ontario and Quebec will have it. It will spread rapidly after that.


February 26th: UHF 97 in productionminicover97
     What have we been up to since CES? We were in a sprint to finish issue 97 of UHF. It's now in the hands of the printer.
     What's in it?
     Well, you can see one of the products reviewed, because it's on the cover: the ADL GT40 Alpha, the higher resolution of the GT40 we had already reviewed. We refered to it as the Swiss Army knife of audio. It's a DAC, it's a phono stage (MM and MC), it's a headphone amp, it's a preamplifier, and it's a digitizer, to turn analog signals into digital.
     We listened to Bryston's A-2 speaker, a less expensive version of its high-profile Model T.
     We try the new Moon 280D DAC. For the moment, that's what we're listening through.
      We also tried an LP-cleaning machine from Music Hall. It wowed us so much we actually bought it. And it has just been added to our
Audiophile Store's analog page.
     We also lend an ear to a couple of streaming services (Apple Music, Spotify), with of course an audiophile ear (you know us). We survey high-definition audio formats (left to their own devices, they're multiplying). And we look inside Blu-ray: how they made it, how they plan to make it even better.
     The print issue will be here in early March. Maggie's electronic version will be here even sooner.

BY THE WAY: A special price on the LP cleaning machine already mentioned, and the chance to get the DAC we've been using, complete with the Stello USB interface. It's over at our Flash Sale, this weekend only.


January 10th: CES over, back to the real worldCESice
     Saturday was the final day of International CES (as the organizers insist we call it). The official news release calls it the most "expansive" CES yet: over 3,800 exhibitors installed over almost 2.5 million square feet. The number of visitors will be the subject of a future press release, but the current estimate is more than 170 thousand, including some 50 thousand from outside the United States.
     Was this edition the biggest ever? Not the high-end audio part. Oh, there was lots to see, and to hear, but some of the floors of the Venetian hotel were sparsely populated. Worse, some of the rooms were occupied by companies having no connection to audio, such as a hard drive maker, and even a life insurance company.
     We've complained about CES being too early, requiring us to pack up and travel right after the New Year. In 2017 it will be worse: January 5th to 8th.That means press day will be on the 4th, and CES Unveiled, the event where we photographed this ice sculpture, will be on the 3rd. A few more years, and CES will start on Christmas Day.
     We've updated
our show blog, and there will be more to come in the next couple of days. As for us, we're preparing for the real world. Our offices reopen on Wednesday.
 


January 5th: CES under way

realworld
     So here we are once more in Las Vegas. No, it's not the real world, but neither is CES, which we are here to cover.
The introduction to our blog is already on line, and it will be updated shortly.
     Our office reopens January 13th. Stay with us for CES fun.
 

December 30th: Ready for CESvenetian
      Our bags are packed, and we're ready to fly to Vegas for our latest pilgrimage (if that's the word) to Vegas, for CES. Is it still the largest consumer electronics show in the world? It's certainly big, bigger than we could cover in four days plus two press days. But we'll do our best
     We now have our
Vegas preview, which will become the show blog as the days advance. We're aware that, with tens of thousands of journalists (and "journalists") covering the show, there will be more stories available than anyone can read. Or want to read. However, we like to give the blog our special point of view, Our CES coverage is different from other coverage for the same reason UHF Magazine is different from other magazines.
     The picture at right, by the way, shows the Venetian hotel at twilight. Most, though by no means all, the high-end exhibits will be at the Venetian.
     During the show, our office will have the usual skeleton staff only. Full service will resume on January 13th.
     From our small but loyal team, our wishes for all that's good in 2016, and especially plenty of great music.

 


December 18th: Tests done for UHF 97GT40Alpha
     This is one of the products whose review you'll see in our next issue, which is nearly done.
     It's the latest version of what we called the Swiss Army Knife of audio. For under $800 (in Canadian dollars, yet), it is:
     1) A preamplifier,
     2) A phono preamp, MM and MC,
     3) A digital-to-analog converter, with 24/192 kHz USB resolution,
   4) An analog-to-digital converter, so that you can digitize LPs, cassettes, or any other analog source,
     5) A headphone amp.
     Did we mention it's under $800?
     Our Audiophile Store was carrying the original GT40, and we have stock of the new one as well (
see it here). The full report will be in the new issue of UHF (No. 97), coming soon.


Maggie's electronic version of UHF
looks exactly like the printed version.
Only it's cheaper.
And you get it faster.
Click to meet Maggie!



December 11th: What happens in Vegas...sheri
     Okay, we're being inundated with press releases for products to be shown at CES in Las Vegas next month, but this one had to be a gag. Sheri's Ranch, one of Nevada's legal (and licensed) brothels, bills itself as "the unofficial brothel of CES," says it wants to "give back," and is having a draw. Three "lucky" CES attendees will be able to get laid...for free.
     Now, prostitution has always been one of the features of Vegas. Big trucks with luminous signs advertise "girls that want to meet you," and they mean in the next 20 minutes. But that's illegal, even if it's tolerated, whereas Sheri's is actually licensed. Yes, they have a Web site, and no, this doesn't seem to be a joke.
     Here's the offer: Each of the three lucky winners will receive round trip luxury car service from Las Vegas to Sheri’s Ranch, a champagne and surf and turf dinner in one of the brothel’s VIP sex cottages with a participating courtesan of the winner’s choice, and one full hour of hot, unbridled sexual activity, all FREE of charge!
     Well, they do say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Do viruses know that?

 


December 4th: Totem on Kickstartertotemkin
     Totem was back at the Toronto show, after a marked absence at several audio shows. It had its usual large room, but not much to fill it. One end of the room was showing the Forest speakers, which are very good but not precisely new. And the other end was dedicated to the Kin Mini Flex, a small speaker that had just been placed atop another speaker.
     Really? The Kin costs $400 each, and a pair can be matched to a very small subwoofer. It sounded reasonably good, if a little punchy (that's not truly a compliment). Was nothing else new? Yes, but for that we need to look on Kickstarter.
     You probably know what that is. Companies with more ideas than cash advertise their as-yet inexistent products, and invite you to invest. You put in some money, and if the project meets its goal, you'll have first dibs on the production version. Totem's Kickstarter project is for...an amplifier.
     There was a Totem integrated amplifier years ago, custom-built by Simaudio. But the amplifier couldn't drive all Totem speakers adequately, and the two companies got into a war of words about it.
     The new Totem amp, if it is actually created, will be a digital (type D) unit, with apt-X Bluetooth and a whole range of digital features. Totem says it has raised nearly 60% of the total amount sought so far, or just over $57,000. You can see its plans (and invest if you are so moved) at
Totem's Kickstarter page.


November 7th: Focus Audio amp at our Audiophile Boutiquefocusampopen
     You may recognize the picture at left, because that amplifier was on the cover of UHF No. 95. It's the Focus Audio Liszt Prelude, a very high-end integrated tube amplifier, made in Canada, from the well-known maker of loudspeakers. We liked it, and we've added it to our
Audiophile Boutique's hardware page. The amps are new, with full warranty, shipped to you directly from the factory. Our price is way below list, and it gets startlingly better if you bundle it with the interconnect cable you'll be needing.
     That page includes a number of other interesting products, including the Moon CD3.3 (a player with accessible 24/192 DAC), a lovely Thorens turntable, and a number of other products, all at special prices.
     As is usual with products in the Audiophile Boutique, the amplifier is available in limited quantities, which means we can't offer rain checks. When they're gone, they're gone.
     As usual, we don't stock anything we wouldn't recommend to our friends. Which many of you are.

 

November 6th: 6,500 attendees at TAVESsuave
     That's what it says on the news release by the organisers of the Toronto show. That number does include industry people and us, the pixel-stained wretches of the fourth estate, but the total number of consumers comes to 5,800. Impressive, considering that, for the first time, the show was way north in Richmond Hill rather than downtown.
     Are those figures inflated? Well, TAVES offered free entry to anyone with a room key from the hotel.
     Exhibitors? TAVES says there more than 100. How impressive that is can be difficult to gauge. An "exhibitor" can be a company like Plurison, with a mind-boggling variety of products over a huge space, or it can be someone selling surplus CDs from a table.
     But we don't want to exaggerate the skepticism. We wish the Toronto show well, and we always have. Of course, there's a consensus that there now too many shows in North America, and there are some we would like to see put out of their misery, but the Toronto show is not one of them. Nor is the Montreal show, despite our dismay at the way the last edition was run.
     Will the 2016 TAVES be in the same venue? Some exhibitors, especially the ones in the basement of the Best Western hotel, were less than happy.

BY THE WAY: This weekend's
Flash Sale is now on, and there are a number of one-off products you'll want to see. Did we mention there's only one of each?


November 5th: Winding up TAVES
     We've now
completed our blog on this, the new Toronto show...which was not actually in Toronto.
taveshall
     It was in fact way north in Richmond Hill, on Highway 7. If you're not sure where Highway 7 is, let us simply say that it was useful to have a GPS.
     Two us spent two days at TAVES. Drop by and see what we saw. And heard.

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