Vancouver Audio Festival @hificentre 2017

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Another one bites the dust.

They're dropping like flies.

What's done, is done.

Audio shows, that is.  

Okay, that's enough of that. 

Sadly, the Vancouver Audio Show lasted but two years, and along with the more venerable Montreal Audio Show, succumbed to market forces, lack of interest, high prices for exhibitors, etc. Usually, when something like an audio show closes, it's gone forever. Interestingly, both Montreal and Vancouver have been resurrected by local, passionate audiophiles. 

By all measure the new Montreal Audio Show was a great success and will continue. It reminds me of when Walter Legge disbanded London's Philharmonia Orchestra in 1964 and sold off the name. The orchestra immediately rebranded and formed themselves as The New Philharmonia Orchestra, still going brilliantly today as the Philharmonia (the original name was secured in 1977). Let's hope both Montreal and Vancouver shows demonstrate such longevity.

The Vancouver Show died with a whimper, slowly erasing itself from the organizing company's website like the family photo in Back To The Future. Nary a sorry or see you later. The Montreal Show exploded in all the bullshit the web can conjur. Lots of piling on by people who knew nothing of the circumstances. And while business is business, surely there is such a thing as vision or projections from the organizers. They can't afford to play anymore? Well, hell, just say. But much sooner, please. 

All that said, there really are too many audio shows. Hey, I love them. As soon as I finish covering one, I'm Jonesing for the next one. But if they are going to be sustained, we could miss one or three and possibly the others would be better attended. Who am I to rain on their parades? But I do hear a lot of complaining. From both sides. 

Not including Asia and Australia (Bangkok and Singapore have shows and there is one run in Oz), we have three in Canada, three in California alone, as well as CES, NYC, RMAF, Capital Audiofest, Axpona, Munich in Germany and Bristol in the UK, and others. One a month vying for a very limited number of exhibitors and dosh. 

HiFi Centre, one of Vancouver's premier high-end stores rode to the rescue this year and offered their place for an audio festival. Not as large as a regular show, but exciting nonetheless, and very generous. Free entry and free parking.  And located in one of the world's most beautiful cities. Thus, the Vancouver Audio Festival was born.

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The show ran for two days, Saturday and Sunday, 10 to 5. For us, that meant an early trip to the Victoria ferry. A quick 90 minutes later, and we were in Vancouver. 

A busy day's teaching schedule on Sunday meant a quick visit on Saturday only. As the show was fairly small, it was an easy task and I got to hear all the rooms. 

BC Ferries' time. 90 minutes north to Vancouver.  

BC Ferries' time. 90 minutes north to Vancouver.  

HiFi Centre consists of sales spaces and five, very well treated listening rooms. We we here for a good time, not a long time. 

I was introduced to Igor Kivritsky, owner of HiFi Centre and organizer. Sure, being a single store, choices were confined to the lines he sells, but the reps for all his equipment were there to explain and demonstrate.  

Igor Kivritsky.

Igor Kivritsky.

Some of the rooms were too small for the gear they were hosting, one room's sound II'll leave to 'show conditions', but the other rooms sounded wonderful. Well matched gear, demonstrated masterfully. 

We began with lifestyle and SONOS. The new Play:5s were playing in a stereo pair in tandem with the SUB. Lively and dynamic sounds via Blind Boys of Alabama and one of those annoying Chinese drum recordings that sounds incredible for 16 bars then quickly overstays its welcome. Very good sound, nonetheless, and charmingly demonstrated by SONOS' west coast sales manager, Michael Freedman. Review of the new Play:5 is in the works.

Michael Freedman.

Michael Freedman.

I was told that the new location for HiFi Centre is bigger and superior to the previous locale. Other than the five rooms, there's a B&O boutique and lots of displays with turntables, speakers and headphones. 

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A phalanx of B&W Loudspeakers. 

A phalanx of B&W Loudspeakers. 

Sounding particularly wonderful was the McIntosh room with the magnificent MC601 monoblock amplifiers (USD$20,000/pair) driving Sonus Faber Cremonese II Loudspeakers (USD$45,000/pair) to great heights playing a spectacularly sounding digital file of John Moulder, guitar, specifically Chick Corea's Spain. The sound was effortless, brilliant, stunning. Cabling was by Transparent. Opus Loudspeaker cable (USD$39,000). 

McIntosh MC601 monoblock amplifiers (USD$20,000/pair).

McIntosh MC601 monoblock amplifiers (USD$20,000/pair).

Sonus Faber Cremonese II Loudspeakers (USD$45,000/pair).

Sonus Faber Cremonese II Loudspeakers (USD$45,000/pair).

So, a fairly small show, but a very pleasant afternoon listening and talking to passionate audiophiles. It was welcome and very much appreciated, but I hope this morphs into a full show. Vancouver the Beautiful deserves it. 

Also seen and heard. 

Focal Stella Loudspeakers (CAD$110,000/pair). Small room for these behemoths, but incredible sound nonetheless. Driven by Naim. 

Focal Stella Loudspeakers (CAD$110,000/pair). Small room for these behemoths, but incredible sound nonetheless. Driven by Naim. 

Static only. Clearaudio Innovation Turntable (CAD$13,995).

Static only. Clearaudio Innovation Turntable (CAD$13,995).

The new Naim Uniti Atom. Mighty. USD$3000.

The new Naim Uniti Atom. Mighty. USD$3000.

Elipson Turntable. 

Elipson Turntable. 

Classé Delta Pre (CAD$10,000) and the Classé Delta Stereo Amplifier (CAD$12,000).

Classé Delta Pre (CAD$10,000) and the Classé Delta Stereo Amplifier (CAD$12,000).

Rashpal Rai of Audioquest with his Niagara 7000 Low Z Noise Dissipation Center (CAD$9,950).

Rashpal Rai of Audioquest with his Niagara 7000 Low Z Noise Dissipation Center (CAD$9,950).