As far back as 2010, both Ken Kessler and Paul Miller, not renown for being Franco-hifi-philes were raving about this new range of hybrid analog-digital amplifiers from France.
I had a chance to listen to them for the first time at the CES in Las Vegas three years ago and again recently in Melbourne, where they were paired with Atom GT-1 speakers to showcase the new SAM technology that basically uses the DSP capabilities of the amp to linearise the speakers
As for the title of this article, I hope you will forgive me this very bad joke...Having being living with a Scott for the last 30 years, I thought the reference would be funny. Other might have thought of the Phantom of the Opera - we all have our idiosyncrasies, n'est-ce pas?
These new speakers are a mix between the spheres from Elipson and a baby Blade from Kef, both in form and concept at first glance, but obviously there is much more to it than meets the naked eye! First there is like 3KW of Class D amplification in the top model, more akin to the Kronos from Kyron Audio, although in a closed cabinet. The main concentric midrange and tweeter driver is reminiscent of Cabasse, but looks even more polished - a word that would be the best one word description for such a beautiful object. Ken Kessler who is also a famous reviewer for luxury watches, believes high-end HiFi should be marketed as a luxury brand to have a chance of survival and growth. And guess what? Devialet is now part of LVMH, the luxury brand umbrella par excellence! This new concept and marketing will propels this product to the highest possible recognition and suitable market. Smartly, the product is also conjugated down both in specifications, power and price for the mere mortals that most of us are and who would be more interested in the sonic result than the "show off" effect of owning such a luxurious product...And to be consistent with this new image and partnership, Debvialet has open the quintessential "flagship" store in the heart of the trendy fashion district: Place des Victoirs.
This will become a Vintage product! It is a revolutionary product that incorporates the best of DSP technology, Class D amplification, great looks and high-end performance. Can't wait to get my hands on a pair of these beauties for an extensive listening session and to report to you!
Dan D'Agostino - The Momentum amplifier
What do you do when you leave the business you helped create 30 years ago?
Dan D'Agostino, involved with Krell for three decades designing some of the most famous amplifiers, didn't take long to answer this question: he started to think of his next amplifier, the 300W mono amplifier he called the Momentum.
Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to listen to it as it was only on static display at the Show.
But allow me to quote Ken Kessler, in his review of the product in the July issue of HiFi News in his typical style:
"What occured was atypical. The gear arrives, I hook it up, I switch it on, I set the CD player to "repeat whole disc" and leave it to cook for a day or two. Yes, I usually have that kind of willpower. But as I was leaving the room,the bottom end of the first track on Keb' Mo's Peace (Back by Popular Demand) curled around my ankles and held me in place. With my back to the bloody system, no less, I knew, I just knew that I was in presence of something so rare, so special, that I had to stay, protracted warm-up be damned".
And this is coming from the most seasoned HiFi reviewer in the World. So go and get to your closest dealer for a listen, and if there is not one in your vicinity, then move!
Canor - an interesting surprise from Slovakia
Canor is not very well know in Western Europe, so it was an interesting surprise to find out that they have been developing and manufacturing high-end audio products for more than fifteen years.
CANOR is a tube specialist, the prototype of yheir first serially produced TP101 integrated tube amplifier was presented at the exhibition in Brno (Czech Republic) in April 1995, as stated on their website.
They were feeding a pair of Neilos speakers from Pascal Louvet, and fed by either their own valve CD player, or the vintage Audioanalyse Lurne turntable, a private possession of Pascal Louvet.
It was certainly a very good combination, resulting in music being played, rather than being exposed to a HiFi system.
Cabasse - Honey, I shrunk the Ocean!
Cabasse was having almost a static display at the show, showing only their in-ceiling and small speakers offering for the Home Cinema market.
A shame, as I had the chance to listen to a pair of Ocean, demoed by the man himself, Christophe Cabasse in Melbourne on my return. Stay tuned, as I will share a video of this event on my Interviews page soon.
Trust me, that was a real treat!
I was lucky enough to share an interview by the organiser of the Show, Jean-Marie Hubert ( who I have known for a very long time...) with Ken Kessler of HiFi News (and other high profile HiFi magazines) fame.
Click the link to stream the interview:
I have chosen to review the show in reverse alphabetical order for a change, so here we are starting with W!!!
Wisdom Audio is new to me but have been around for quite a while, 1996 to be precise...
David Graebener is the "eminence grise" behind the company, with 30 years of experience developing planar transducers.
Jerry Hanna - in the photo - is vice president business development and worked at Madrigal for some time (as a few of the executive team members) was very good at explaining and demonstrating the virtues of their planar technologies.
The column you see is a full range device going down to 80Hz on its own!
There is a HUGE subwoofer to cater for the lower 2 octaves (45x90x150cms!!!)
The system claims 100 db/W/m, which together with the cylindrical directivity pattern of the satelites gives a very realistic and precise sound.
Not quite as impressive as the Everest system from JBL demonstrated next door, it was nevertheless the next closest thing to live music.
Quite an achievement, and certainly less unaffordable than the Everest
(Do you need to climb the Everest to achieve Wisdom???...lol!)
Dave Wilson does not need an introduction, as he has been designing "reference" systems for over 30 years.
The new Sasha demonstrated on the stand of its French distributor Europe Audio Diffusion (EAD) is the latest incarnation of a long series of extraordinary speakers on which the most famous would be the Watt/Puppy, a satelite/subwoofer combination, my favourite arrangement as you probably know by now, if you have followed this blog for some time...
It is also a "money is no object" kind of proposition and the reference speaker of the revered Ken Kessler - not an easy treat to achieve!
In good company here driven by Audio Research electronics and next to the latest version of Magnepan panels!
EAD also distributes Macintosh and the new Dan D'Agostino amplifier (unfortunately on static display only...)
This is not for the faint hearted, but certainly one of the best sounds at the Show.
Third award for the Niagara, top of the range for this unique concept of glass cabinet loudspeakers.
Powered by Atohm drivers, another sublime French loudspeaker manufacturer, these original products are both very good to your ears and with a very high WAF index. Waterfall is distributed all around the World and as far as...Australia!
Nadine and Cedric Aubriot are a very handsome couple running the show and they have managed to assemble a diverse range of products well targeted to the melomane as well as to the CEDIA type clients who want a decent sound from a discrete system.
Here I am in Paris again, visiting the Paris Hifi Show, one of the five shows around the World worth visiting - according to Ken Kessler, who knows them all!
By the way, who knows what are the other four? I will answer that in my next post!
Actually, you can spot Ken waiting to get his Press Badge in the photos....
It seems that this is a year of anniversaries: Kef's 50th,
Pro-Ject's 20th, Elipson's 60th, Triangle (although absent...) 30th, and I am sure I am missing a few...
I will be reviewing the Show in details over the coming days, but thought I would give you a glimpse of Day 1 now:
I am happy to report that I will be covering the show officially this year for the Australian Hifi Magazine,
I feel very honoured to be the chosen one!
Here are two links to the show's website for those of you that are keen to visit:
Dates are October 1st & 2nd at the Pullman Rive Gauche Hotel.
One scoop: Ken Kessler will launch his new book on the history of KEF,
who will be celebrating their 50 years of designing beautiful speakers and will introduce the "Blade"
Some of the French brands already registered to exhibit:
See you there!
Or stay tuned for more news on this blog...
I have known and respected Ken for about 30 years now, so I was quite keen to read his review of the Paris Hifi Show.
Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to reconnect with him at the Show.
But, I was quite chuffed reading his prose in HiFi News February issue(I always enjoy his prose, as he is a real writer, AND he is not afraid to publish his own opinions...), as we have spotted some of the very same products as being relevant: Vimes, Aerosystem by Jarre, Soledge Maestro, Elipson (bien sur...) and Pierre Riffaud's turntables for instance...
Update on 16/04: Well, I have now received the March issue of HiFi News, and here he is again, showing to the world his collection of gear and software.
I cannot recommend you more than rush to your newsagent and buy your own copy now.
This one will be sold out for sure!
And the good news are that my wife realised that I am not that mad after all !!!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.