The iconic venue, known originally as the PLM Saint Jacques, was built in 1972 and designed by Pierre Guidicelli. It has been home to numerous Hifi Shows and the last one on November 21st and 22nd. I sent my own reporter in the person of Jean-Paul Guy, owner of GUY H.F. and speaker manufacturer extraordinaire for decades. He was kind enough to take photos of what he thought interesting and added a few notes that I will post here 'en anglais', lucky readers!
And no, Elipson was not there, as they had chosen to exhibit at the the other Hifi Show organised by Jean-Marie Hubert a few weeks before. But you know my passion for Elipson...
The "cloud du Salon" was in fact Deviate with their fabulous amplifiers but mainly for JPG and myself, the Phantom speaker! Jean-Paul has actually revealed to me that our other friend Philippe Lesage, ex Technical Director of Addax when I first met him and now director and owner of PHL Audio was heavily involved in the design of the bass drivers. He was also involved in the design of the drivers for the 4260 Elipson a few years back and in the design of my main driver for Microphase, an enhanced version of the MHD10. Mr Legorgu, Director of Addax at the time said to Jean-Paul: "I have just hired a savant!". Not a small token of appreciation! Philippe actually took over from Jacques Mahul, who didn't do too badly either after leaving Audax...
I have recently posted about my first experience with the Phantom, and interestingly enough Jean-Paul have a similar conclusion saying this might be the end of the Utopias, Wilson Audio and other big contraptions. He is also mentioning the reference to Cabasse with the same comment i-e, this works!
I will continue with other French products like LEEDH, the amazing small speakers designed by Gilles Milot, another ex-Audax engineer, by the way...Jean-Paul, who is an art lover and connoisseur, calls him the "Giacometti" of the speakers. You can find more information about Gilles Milot and his speakers elsewhere on this blog. Since my last encounter, Gilles Milot has developed a matching subwoofer. There are obviously similarities in the design intent with the Deviate phantom, although this one is passive for the satellites, but active via a traditional amplifier for the subwoofer.
.This new subwoofer is based on the isobaric principle popularised by Linn decades ago. Here two 23cm drivers face each other in a 16L enclosure (Atohm LD23CR08) and two Pro Audax 38cm (AAC PR38T0). A two-channel 300w plate amplifier also from Atohm drives the woofers and gives the system the efficiency and the low end of 20 Hz at -1dB (to be compared to the 16Hz of the Phantoms). The main benefit of using this subwoofer with the E2 is to relieve them from trying too hard to move air to reach down to 50Hz, giving the whole system breathing space. If you read French, then I recommend you read the review on EVMAG here
The usual suspects were also there as in Focal presenting the new SOPRA, an avatar of the Utopias driven by Octave Audio amplifiers, PE Leon using YBA amplifiers and Davis Acoustics still pushing the Karla, one of their best design ever.
There was also an interesting contingent from our British friends who crossed the Channel for the occasion... B&W were presenting the famous Nautilus, and the new 802 D3 with amplification from Classé Audio and Devialet, KEF with the Blade 2 and Pass Labs amplifiers (not for the faint hearted...)
I couldn't resist sharing this video with you...It will save you the time to search for it!
This is by no means exhaustive and I have to say a "grand mercy" to Jean-Paul Guy who went to Paris from his sleepy village of Bourbon-Lancy specially for the occasion, at a time where most Parisians were staying indoors after the terrorists attacks. Well done my friend!
Pascal Louvet has been at it since 1976, and it shows.
His new venture, the Neilos, is quite a grand affair: 4 drivers, 4 way filter and 38 kgs of grand design.
Interestingly enough, the bass is handled by two different drivers; a 20 cm Kevlar unit from Davis in a transmission line, a 17 cm in carbon, also from Davis in a bass reflex enclosure, then a 17 cm in paper from PHL Audio in an open box, and a Fostex tweeter.
This gives the speaker a 93dB/1W/!m sensitivity and a beautiful generous sound, definitely well driven by the Canor valve electronics and his own Audioanalyse Lurne turntable.
I need to go and visit him next year, as his atelier is near Bordeaux, hopefully amongst the vines!
LEEDH C - Gilles Milot - Acoustical Beauty
Gilles Milot has a long tradition of innovation in speaker design, first at Leedh in the 80s, then as the Technical Director of Audax, after Philippe Lesage's tenure.
In his new venture, Acoustical Beauty, Gilles has reinvented the driver itself, by totally removing the iron from the motor - using very powerful neodymium magnets in an attempt to get rid of a large source of distortion, and then going even further by replacing the suspension with what we could call a ferrofluid bath.
The membrane is also unconventional, as it is very small and rigid being made of a carbon alloy almost as rigid as diamond and beryllium, but at a fraction of the cost.
Gilles compares his invention to the same technological leap that saw the TV set becoming a flat screen.
The results are particularly good in the mid and high range, not so convincing in the bass, but Gilles promises us a new version with more little bass barrels - see conceptual drawing below.
KEF: 50 years of acoustic design culminating with The Blade
Ken Kessler was there signing his reference book on 50 years of KEF innovation - see below. It is a beautiful coffee table book that any serious audiophile should have...(and no, I am not paid for the plug!).
The bigger piece of news was indeed the first public showing of "The Blade", an extra-ordinary piece of technologie, ticking all the boxes of good acoustic design:
* Form follows function (think Elipson 4260 in one box...)
* Time coherence - coaxial midrange and tweeter
* Smart bass drivers arrangement
* Stiff cabinet
* Good WAF
Dubbed the "the world’s first Single Apparent Source loudspeaker", it is an unusual bundle of smart ideas, some tried and tested with the 140K$ Muon, now in a slightly more affordable and easy to own package at 45K$.
What I like the most about this speaker is its coherence: you really get the sensation of a point source with an extraordinary wide and still pinpoint accurate image. The bass foundation is rock solid, and the details higher up in the frequency range are very delicate and precise. KEF claims .5% distortion from 40Hz to 100kHz, and .2% from 200Hz to 10kHz, and it sounds like it! The McIntosh amplification certainly helped as well...
One of the best listening pleasures at the Show, for sure!
JMB Acoustique: Bertrand Valere, the gentleman of the trade
Who can spend months designing a speaker in "Hommage" to Andre Charlin, and then sell a pair for 1500 euros in 28 different finishes!
The "Colonne JMB Accoustique" is a modern take on the famous electrostatic hybrid columns, one of the few systems I had a chance to listen to and wonder about at the start of my HiFi journey.
It sports a ribbon tweeter, and a 165mm bass-midrange firing up and loaded by the column, delivering 90.5dB efficiency and a frequency range of 41Hz to 22kHz, and it sounds delicate and powerfull - I would happily live with a pair of them!
Bertrand and I shared a "steak frites" and a glass of red wine near his office on my way to Point Musiques on my last day in Paris, and it was a delight to share that French staple of a lunch in the company of a man living his passion and quite "out there" in his design propositions and certainly a gentleman.
If you look at "La Chose" (meaning "The Object" roughly...), it is a very clever design of the open baffle variety, and quite a sculpture - may be not of every body taste - but amazing nevertheless, and very rare, as only 50 pairs will be ever sold - so hurry up and order one!
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 not visited this exhibition for 15 years, I have been surprised to see a number of new, innovative, successful French Hifi companies, primarily in the realm of speakers and turntables, but also valve and silicon-based electronics.
Obviously some of the most famous and long established brands were there as well from Elipson to Micromega, Davis Acoustics to Focal.
The newcomers of note were from A to W: Atohm, Jarre Technologies - yes, it is Jean-Michel - , JMB Acoustique, KTR Lab, Leedh, Pierre Riffaud, Soledge, Stenheim,
Stormaudio, Vismes and Waterfall Audio.
Famous absentees: Cabasse, Jean-Marie Raynaud, Triangle to name a few.
Some of the famous Brits were here too: B&W, Chord, Cyrus, KEF, Lowther, Michell, Mission, NAD, Naim, Roksan, and Rotel to name a few.
A few Americans like JBL, Vienna Acoustics, you guessed it from Austria, Saegan & Shanghlin from China, nobody from Australia though, but the famous Perraux from New Zealand, and the powerfull Japanese Yamaha and Pioneer, giving an extraordinary multichannel musical demo!
Here are some pictures to satisfy your curiosity.
We will review some of these products in more details later, so stay tuned!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.