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Paris Audio Video Show 2021

Rc Lobarniz

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Sonus Faber / McIntosh
View attachment 162017View attachment 162018
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 whatever SF flagship, 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...;)).

View attachment 162020
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.

MBLView attachment 162032View attachment 162033
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 / WhateverView attachment 162039
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 / MarantzView attachment 162053View attachment 162054View attachment 162055
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...

View attachment 162062
Very cool chess player robot. Focal Chora 826-D and Naim Mu-So 2 behind.


... Well, that's all, folks.:cool:
Thanks a lot, really well done.
 

fredoamigo

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I prefer coffins to supositories ;) and it's more convenient to stand upright ..

images
 

Aperiodic

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Nice report and better photos than the intro would predict. But overall, a reminder of why I stopped going to audio shows a few years back. They are much more about conspicuous consumption than about music or the reproduction thereof. There actually is good, rationally priced, musically satisfying equipment out there, but you generally won't find it at the shows, "The price is the product." -Brian Cheney
 

stunta

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Why do I dislike the design of 95% of all devices? Why do companies make speakers that look like coffins?
I think companies are trying to make their models stand out and have a unique look, kinda like luxury cars. People tend to show these things off to friends and its part of their décor.

Very nice report @VintageFlanker. I too have the Pixel 5 (Pixel 6 soon). You must have steadier hands than mine!
 

Mr. E. Guy

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I miss the opportunity to demo systems and to chat with the creators of the gear, an inimitable luxury that the shows offer.
 

Music1969

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Did any of these rooms employ the use of digital room correction

Would have probably helped a bit / a lot lol
 
OP
VintageFlanker

VintageFlanker

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Did any of these rooms employ the use of digital room correction
I think they prefer so spend cash on ultra expensive transports, power conditioners and cables.

Only Atohm used what seemed to be an active crossover to prevent drivers excursion, they said. (I missed this part of explanations, TBH). Did not seem to use any sort of room correction anyway.
 

boXem | audio

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Did any of these rooms employ the use of digital room correction

Would have probably helped a bit / a lot lol
Won't change a bad room into a good one anyhow.
And since properly designed speakers are supposed to be relatively "room insensitive", using corrections could be considered as cheating, no?
 
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VintageFlanker

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Won't change a bad room into a good one anyhow.
And since properly designed speakers are supposed to be relatively "room insensitive", using corrections could be considered as cheating, no?
Agreed. If every speaker is EQed to have a flat FR, then there is no point for sound demos.
 

Music1969

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Won't change a bad room into a good one anyhow.
And since properly designed speakers are supposed to be relatively "room insensitive", using corrections could be considered as cheating, no?

Won't change a bad room into a good one but can definitely make a bad room less bad?

Cheating to impress people with better SQ (!!) can't be a bad thing?

The alternative is you don't 'cheat' and people get the impression the show room just sounds average?
 

boXem | audio

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Won't change a bad room into a good one but can definitely make a bad room less bad?

Cheating to impress people with better SQ (!!) can't be a bad thing?

The alternative is you don't 'cheat' and people get the impression the show room just sounds average?
The purpose of all this is to sell stuff if I'm not mistaken. Can we really consider that cheating can be a good thing? Asking for a friend who sells audio electronics
;)
 

Ra1zel

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The only audio show I ever attended was in Warsaw (I think it's much bigger than this one?), but multiple times year after year, and what I noticed that recently (last one was in 2019) more and more exhibitors indeed used DRC - mostly Dirac and the one build into lyngdorf stuff. Honestly in my opinion that's great since a lot of rooms at show conditions exhibit unbearable modes.
 

Spocko

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The only audio show I ever attended was in Warsaw (I think it's much bigger than this one?), but multiple times year after year, and what I noticed that recently (last one was in 2019) more and more exhibitors indeed used DRC - mostly Dirac and the one build into lyngdorf stuff. Honestly in my opinion that's great since a lot of rooms at show conditions exhibit unbearable modes.
And you can mostly only smooth the peaks, but deep nulls are not so effectively treated with DSP so demo rooms should just have 4 subs each connected to a multi-sub DSP! This should drive a few sales
 

Descartes

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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 @KORnY 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 / ATCView attachment 161396View attachment 161397On 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...

TechnicsView attachment 161405View attachment 161406
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.;)

View attachment 161424
Two floorstandings demoed: The mid-end SB-G90 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
View attachment 161429
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 I don't 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 / NaimView attachment 161603
View attachment 161524View attachment 161437
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...

View attachment 161582
Focal Radiance, Stellia and Clear MG. Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition.

View attachment 161583Again, from left to right : Kanta N°2, Aria 906, Aria 936K2, Chora 826, Sopra N°2 and Sopra N°1.

Davis Acoustics / Jadis
View attachment 161532View attachment 161533
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 ElectroniqueView attachment 161544View attachment 161545View attachment 161546
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, AM400 power amp, ST200 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 / PrimareView attachment 161563
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".
Thank you for sharing these Focal have to sound good at $35,000!!!
 
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