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Paris Audio Video Show 2021

VintageFlanker

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Hey folks,

Last Sunday, I went to the Paris Audio Video Show, which took place during October 23 and 24.

Usually I am not a big fan of this kind of event, but the entrance was free so... More importantly, I had the pleasure to meet @renaudrenaud (again!;)), @SubOjectivist and @K0RnY and we walked around together. This year, PAVS was in two different spots : New Cap Event Center and Novotel Tour Eiffel. We only had time for the latter. In fact, there were three, since TotalDAC had its own showroom in a yacht on the Seine (no kidding). I took quite a few poor quality shots with my phone, but I decided to share them anyhow :

Aurender / Aavik / BØRRESEN
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The room was labelled for the Aurender ACS10 only (on the floor under the rack). I personally don't understand why anyone would need such an expensive system to demo a streamer transport. On top of it, there is the Aavik I-280 Integrated, then the DAC-D280 (10k€ each). I was not familiar with the brand before. I have no idea what is standing around, but I feel like these could raise some red flags... Floorstanders are the BØRRESEN Z3. The system didn't sound right. Like, at all. There was a massive treble peak hurting my ears and the center image was literary absent. Very poor spacial abilities, the speakers were unable to fade in the room and you could locate each precisely from low mids to highs. There was a decent amount of low end, tho. I then discovered their price for a pair: 25 900€... or 31 900€ if you want them cryogenized !:facepalm:

Anthem / Paradigm / ATC
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On the rack, you can see the Anthem STR Preamplifier, STR Power Amplifier and the MRX-1140 AVR. These were paired with the new Founders series from Paradigm. This is the Founder 80F on the left and the quite big 120H on the right. Between is the ATC SMC50 ASL, which has quite an unacceptable cheap vinyl wrap for the 18 990€ asked. No listening impressions...

Technics
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Great room. I'm simply in love with these amp's industrial design. The one in black is the flagship SU-R1000 and the smaller in silver is SU-G700M2. Both are in-house Class D designs, BTW. On top of each, two SL-G700 SACDP/streamers. I have no interest with turntables, but you have the references indicated.;)

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Two floorstandings demoed: The mid-end SB-G90M2 and the flagship SB-R1. I only listened to the former and it was... really good. Fairly accurate, unusually wide soundstage for a coaxial design. Wherever I was I felt right in the sweetspot. Strong dynamics, no harshness. Looking at the inside, it is also well-built with plenty of bracing for such a compact tower. It was told to me that it costs "only" 3999€/pair.

Yamaha / Audioquest
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Here, you've got the Yamaha N-S3000 monitors feed by the A-S3200 and CD-S2100. And of course a Niagara power conditioner at the bottom. And a ton of cables no one should give a f**k about... If I worked at Audioquest, I would be embarrassed trying to demonstrate any BS claim with such a set-up (and would feel ashamed for the poor Jimmy Hendrix being played). It sounded decently detailed but at the end overly bright and quickly fatiguing. I gave up after only a couple of minutes. Maybe it is that kind of system : "revealing enough" to show differences between cables... I don't know. Before we leave, I remember @renaudrenaud behind me having a heart attack, when he heard the salesman from AQ telling somebody: "Yes, our USB cables eliminate Jitter".

Random...

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Audio Technica ATH-AWKT, ATH-AWAS and ATH-AP2000Ti (They really need to do something about these names...:rolleyes:)

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Brand new active/wireless range from Dali. From right to left, Rubicon 8 C, 6 C and 1C.

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A bunch of REL subs...

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Storm Audio ISP Core 16 AV Processor and PA MK2 multichannel power amp

French Touch...:cool:

Jean-Marie Reynaud / 3D Labs
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This was a world premiere for the new Orfeo Grande floorstanding (not yet referenced online). For those who are no familiar with the name: Jean-Marie Reynaud (JMR) is one of the most highly regarded speaker brand here in France. This is a family company and Jean-Claude Reynaud, actual CEO and designer was there in person to present his speakers. Sadly... we arrived either too late or too early (one demo per hour) to give it a listen...:confused: Gears from 3D Labs were uninteresting. I have no consideration for a company that simply put an all-in-one Pascal module in some generic aluminum box and then ask 3990€ for it.

Focal / Naim
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OK, so... let's talk about the star of the show ! What you see is the Focal Scala Utopia Evo AKA the entry-level tower in the Utopia Evo line. It costs 35k€ for a pair when the top of the line (Grande Utopia Evo) worth... 180k. It was demoed with plenty of Naim electronics (Focal owns the brand): NC552 Preamp, NAP300 power amps, ND555 Streamer. Last but not least, the Naim Solstice limited edition turntable in the spotlight. So how did all this sound? Kind of a mixed bag. The Scala had no doubt outstanding abilities : the low end was to die for. Deep, articulate, clean. Midbass was even more impressive, and drums from Pink Floyd - Money just sounded like real life. Razor sharp imaging and plenty of details in it. On the other hand, some vocals happened to sound harsh. This was even more apparent with the last song played (Jacques Brel - Ne Me Quitte Pas), sometimes way too sharp. I don't know if this comes from either the speakers, electronics, placement or room (I was straight on-axis, BTW) but I will sure give another listen to the Scala someday in the future...

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Focal Radiance, Stellia and Clear MG. Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition.

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Again, from left to right : Kanta N°2, Aria 906, Aria 936K2, Chora 826, Sopra N°2 and Sopra N°1.

Davis Acoustics / Jadis
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Floostandings are the Davis Courbet N°8, sitting with the "Olympia Anniversaire" bookshelves. (I can't find it online). Gears are Jadis DA88 and I-70 integrated tube amps. Source was the JS2 MKIV DAC (never heard of the previous ones...). Sound impressions: No words. Just awful. I have no clue how any competent designer could either listen or measure these and give them a pass whatsoever. Courbet N°8 were a touch less worse, thanks to their deeper bass extension but far from listenable anyway.

Atohm / Atoll Electronique
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Easily my favorite demo of the show. Atohm is one of the most trusted driver manufacturers here. They publish complete datasheets with Klippel measurements. I had no experience with their GT range before and wanted a listen for a long time. Atoll, on the other hand : not a big fan. I find their products overpriced and kind of lacking on the technical side. Here are, from top to bottom : PR400 Signature preamp (edit: next to it is the Atohm RS700 DSP power amp), AM400 power amp, ST300 Signature streamer and IN200 Signature integrated amp. Speakers are from sides to center, GT3-HD, GT2-HD (Towers) and the tiny GT1-HD (standmounts). They all performed excellent. Smooth and balanced. Very different music styles were played (including dubstep... no joke) at several SPLs and they did a great job every time. Soundstage was exceptionally consistent, each fade-in so well that at some point I was unable to locate which one was playing. Even when I was standing up in a corner of the room, they still sounded decent off-axis. I guess these should measure with some very wide directivity. If I happen to go back to the passive world, I would seriously consider Atohm GTs. These won't come cheap, tho : 7980€ for a pair of GT3-HD, 4490€ for GT2s and 2490€ for GT1s.

Triangle / Primare
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New Antal 40th Anniversary edition with AIO Twin active bookshelves. On the furniture : Primare A35.2 power amp, PR35 preamp and CD35 player. I did not listen, but I am already quite familiar with their house sound.

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From left to right: Magellan Duetto, Signature Alpha (one of my favorite looking speaker of all time), Signature Theta and Antal 40th again.

Devialet
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Pair of Devialet Phantom I 108dB and the cheaper models in black, including the tiny Reactor. Surprisingly, these sounded "OK" for lifestyle/mainstream products. You've got plenty of output and unexpected deep bass, but also weird imaging and it lacked quite a bit on midrange accuracy. Now, it costs 2990€ each and another 349€ for each stand. Meh... my A500s no doubt run circles around these.

Others...
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These are the gorgeous Waterfall Victoria Evo. Full glass cabinet with Atohm drivers.

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Here is the new Cabasse Master: The Pearl Pelegrina. It is a powered/wireless, DSP-based loudspeaker you cannot dissociate from its stand (all the connectivity is in the base). It is announced to be a limited edition and the pair will be sold 25k€. Cabasse surely likes extraordinary claims. I mean: "10Hz-27KHz... 134dB SPL. 1850W." (not a typo). Should I understand this may be able to output 10Hz at 130+dB? Yeah. Sure.:rolleyes: Later, I learnt that the Pearl were demoed in a proper room somewhere else, but here at the Novotel the pair was just sitting in the hall next to the stairs, with tiled floor around... By the end of the expo, they put them on, blasting some music, but the place was completely inappropriate to give it anything close to a proper listening.

Well, I'm running out of ammo (limit of 31 files to be uploaded), so stay tuned for "part 2".
 
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VintageFlanker

VintageFlanker

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Sonus Faber / McIntosh
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Pick your poison. Presented with the Sonus Faber Lumina III, The MA12000 and MA8900 integrated amps, MC1502 and MC462 power amps, CS22 and CS2 preamplifiers. Unfortunately, all of this was part of a not-running showcase. It was too late where I heard from @renaudrenaud that I missed the real sound demo, with some McIntosh paired with SF Lilium, in the room nearby. So sad I lost my chance to give them a listen (but he did, so maybe if he could share any impressions whatsoever...;)).

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From left to right: SF Seraphino, Maxima Amator, Olympica Nova II, Nova III and Nova V. Gosh, these all look absolutely gorgeous. I wasn't familiar with higher-end products from this brand (nor that I could afford any) but I was literally sold to this standard of aesthetics. The level of craftsmanship, fits and finish is absolutely stunning. What you've got is nothing but real wood, genuine leather and premium materials. The grilles are ones of the coolest I've seen in the entire industry: imagine a curtain made of leather strings. I could play with that all day long:p. Still, I am kind of sure this is not acoustically transparent (but no grille really is) :
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C8 Tube Preamplifier with Electa Amator III.

MBL
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If I'm not mistaken, here is the priciest system of the show. What you look at are 65k€ speakers (Radialstrahler mbl 101 E MKII) with every separate costing at least ≅21 to 41k€ each. I do not remember which is which, but there is a list of the Reference Line here. We had a demo with first tracks from CD, then with LP. How it sounded? Interesting, I would say... and mostly impressive. Since the speakers are omnidirectional, it seemed to fill the entire room, helped by reflections from every wall. As such, I also felt like the imaging was kind of weird. I mean: not "bad", but very unusual. What impressed me was the ambient smoothness/lack of hardness for everything from 1Khz and above. Full-bodied vocals, but not realistic either, due to the omni dispersion. The low end was deep. Like: deeeeeep. Once at home, I checked some measurements and it appears that 101E does have a fairly balanced FR, up to a massive drop-off at 15Khz. All together I must confess I liked very much what I heard overall... until the next track which was played from LP. Peggy Lee's Fever came with a very audible noise floor and random crackle noises every few seconds. Great ! (I'm sarcastic, if you are wondering) Now, I am just thinking: during the entire Show, I heard marketing guys claiming either "we make digital gears sounding as good as analog". Or "we make analog gears sounding as clean as digital". Seriously, what's the point? Makes no sense to me.

Magico / Whatever
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I have not a lot to say about this room. Plenty of probably overpriced gears. I recognized Antipodes K50 ($15000 Music Server Transport) and Soulution Series 5 I-don't-know-what thing. You tell me the rest. Sorry, if I sound a touch jaded, but my interest went away when I was saying to the guy from Magico I was a bit disappointed by the unexciting design of the A5s (looking like generic boxes). He responded: yes, but you may put the grilles on. Cool. Now, it just looks like nothing. I had a hard time when he seemed to justify that the 32 000€ one pair costs would be somewhat affordable. Alright. Listening demo was 30 min later, we missed it at the end. I did not bother.

Bowers & Wilkins / Rotel Michi / Marantz
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Last demo of the show. Exceptional atmosphere, with the sunset hitting the massive bay window, through which we could see the mythical Maison De La Radio. The new Diamond 800 series was demoed, with 805D4 bookshelves and top of the line 801D4 floorstanders. We listened the latter, feed by a pair of Rotel Michi M8 monoblocs and P5 DAC/Preamp. Marantz SACD 30N and PM-10 Integrated amp (which, BTW, uses four NC500 OEM bridged) were also there, but turned off. So, what about my impressions? Not what I expected. My own experience with lower models such as 600s, 700s and CM series has been quite underwhelming. To me, B&Ws sound heavily colored and way too bright. Not fan at all, and this is backed up by just about any measurements available out there. So, what about the new 801D4s? Straight On-Axis : no problem ! Wut? I had to listened twice : No, it was not bright. One past the surprise, I had to focus on the rest with only one song (Peggy Lee's Fever, again. A real audiophile gimmick...). Well, I'm not sure... first, I don't know what to think about the bass. I felt like it lacks quite a bit on density, especially for such big speakers, packed with double 10" woofers (looked like 12"). Then, I had a hard time trying to point out any strong or obvious abilities that were immediately noticeable with the Utopia Scala (both are priced the same, BTW). I was still thinking where the sound ended, and with it the entire Show, since it was 6pm already. I may have to look further with this speaker. Other room, my own songs with "proper" critical listening, maybe. Until then, I cannot consider it to be anything close to a flagship performer.

Two words about the Michi. First, the M8 has already been measured by Hi-Fi News as SOTA Class AB performer. But it uses two fans to cool it down. After the demo, I stuck my ear to one, and I wasn't able to hear any audible noise from the fans (though amps have been running all day). That is good. What is not is the screen. At this price (13 200€ pair), we should expect some OLED screen with 100% dark blacks and better viewing angles. Same remark goes for Anthem STR I saw earlier in the morning....

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Diamond 805D4 (bookshelf), 804D4, 803D4 and 802D4.

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A lonely B&W Nautilus. 706 S2 and Marantz PM7000N in the back.


Random #2...
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The new Audio Research I50 integrated (in red). A massive 160S tube power amp, with gorgeous transparent VU Meters. Reference 6SE Preamp and PH9 phono stage beneath.

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Canton Smart Reference 5 K (active wireless floorstanding) and Reference 9 K standmount.

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Lost in this jungle, a pair of Genelec 8331A with GLM4 calibration.

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AGD The Audion, Andante and Vivace. The Adante is a (15 595€) R2R DAC. Both gears around are monobloc amplifiers with "GanTube technology". I understand that it would be some Class D designs with tube buffer (?) Anyway, I cannot afford either at 7500 and 15k each...

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Very cool chess player robot. Focal Chora 826-D and Naim Mu-So 2 behind.


... Well, that's all, folks.:cool:
 
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LearningToSmile

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Very interesting write-up, I enjoy reading about gear even if I will never buy any of it(well actually Technics SB-G90 sounds neat and is in a price range I will be looking at when buying floorstanders down the line so who knows). The pictures were perfectly nice, too.

Sadly there weren't really any shows near where I live these past few years, but I'd definitely like to visit one someday.
 

PierreV

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Thanks for the nice pictures and virtual tour!

As far as the Utopias Evo are concerned, I just went for a listen to double-check my impressions. Bass handling, I share your impressions in general, although the drums in "Money" don't sound any special to me. My go-to recording to check percussions is Xenakis' Psappha ( try it if you don't know it - but maybe not at this late hour if you have neighbors ;) ) where they do a great job. The good thing about Psappha is that you typically get metal, wood, and skin percussions.

Voices are usually very lifelike, Birkin, Brel and other classics always seem to be "in the room" (but of course, I guess I have learned to listen through my room by now). It could depend on which Brel recording was playing too. There are so many of them. I went for a very loud "It's Not That Easy" by Lady Blackbird as a stress test and did not notice anything annoying.

Unfortunately Focal is really pushing its prices up now on the high-end, I think the list price for my pair, the version just before the one demoed (EVO II), was around 22000 / 24000 EUR. Changes between versions certainly weren't big enough to justify a 50% price hike: there's a video on youtube about the changes and the Focal guy mostly talks about the choice of custom finishes ;)

The "lower-end" (but good imho) range is always heavily discounted around here, the high-end keeps creeping (or rather sprinting) up...

I am not really emotionally tied to Focal: in practice, comparative listening with other similarly priced speakers I own is a surprisingly close contest that I thought the Focal lost (until I tested blind... as usual).

I think the sweet spot in Focal's line, at the moment, is the Kanta. While I haven't heard them in my room, I have heard them elsewhere and certainly did not think they were clearly inferior to the Utopias.
 

JRS

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Great job. Too bad about the Borrensen's making such a crappy showing--bristling with high tech, and reputed to be very good to superb--but yea screw the silver and cryo gimmick wiring. One thing about the flagship Borrensen that I find intriguing but may be BS--claims to have adaptive loading, ranging from IB thru closed to full out vented depending on drive level, though I suspect that could be said for any vented enclosure.
:rolleyes:
Reminds me that I miss dearly the RMAF since leaving Denver.
 
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fredoamigo

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thank you @VintageFlanker for sharing with talent this first show since the Covid period in France .
I didn't go to Paris which doesn't prevent me from having a similar opinion about Atohm and Davis ..ah yes !!.I would like to listen to the Technics they intrigue me that one !;)
 
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renaudrenaud

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Thanks a lot Louis, nice pics and detailed explanations.

I was there and was a bit surprised. One guy explained some USB cables are able to reduce jitter. Well, with USB asynchronous communication, it's kind of discovery for me.

Another thing : a vinyle turntable with an arm in titanum. For this of course you have to extrude the arm from a block of metal. Titanum is very expansive so you have to pay for the entire block and just have the arm. For the vinyl turntable. Ok ok.

And then, streamers at 2000 or 5000€. Well, with a Raspberry you can alos have a streamer, it costs 50€ and you are able to update the system, the OS or the apps. And it runs. And it is open source.

For the DACs, I am very happy with the Topping D10 Balanced but it seems you can have at 5000€ an entry level DAC...

And I also found some CD players. Guys, you can have a Daphile on a Radxa card for 100€ and use the CD player to send the data over USB to the DAC. Why do I need a CD player @5000€ when if I want to read them, in case I do not prefer to rip them, I can do it for 100€ with ALL the data routed to the USB port ?

So, I wonder how many years all these bullshits will continue to be on the market, expansive gear with zero advantage in term of technology (I don't speak about social representation, this is not my subject).

So, PAVS was a nice experience: it's the same as it was 30 years ago when I decided to stop to go to this kind of events: nothing to learn. But the positive point was to be able to see some friends and it was a great pleasure.


Ho yes, I prefer the PEARL USB cable, the FOREST one is a bit dark with less sparkle in the mids and a the bass is a bit lazzy.

I suggest new brand name. Something like "Audiobullshit" or "EasyMoneyQuest.

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fredoamigo

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guys .... none of you have listened to the Cabasse Pearl Pelegrina proclaimed 8th wonder of the world?;)
 

shal

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Here is the new Cabasse Master: The Pearl Pelegrina. It is a powered/wireless, DSP-based loudspeaker you cannot dissociate from its stand (all the connectivity is in the base). It is announced to be a limited edition and the pair will be sold 25k€. Cabasse surely likes extraordinary claims. I mean: "10Hz-27KHz... 134dB SPL. 1850W." (not a typo).
No , it's not 1850W .... that is only the amplifier for bass :)
Treble: 300 W RMS / 520 W peak Medium: 300 W RMS / 520 W peak Low-medium: 1250 W RMS / 2500 W peak Bass: 1850 W RMS / 3700 W peak
 

Breizhspirit

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Hi VintageFlanker,
Thank you for this superb review as well as for your tongue-in-cheek analysis which is the best of any I have read including the professionals.
For the pearl Pelegrina I think you made a typo because it is announced for nearly 20000 W RMS on the Marseille side :oops:.
I wait for the part 2.
Breizhspirit
 
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VintageFlanker

VintageFlanker

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And those images look great. Are they really from a mobile phone?
Google Pixel 5, yes. Still quite noisy under low light conditions. But great for what it is (a phone!).

Promoted to home page.
WOW. Can't thank you enough, bossman !!:cool:
 
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