Hifi Pig attended the Paris Audio Video Show this weekend in Paris, read the report and enjoy the photographs of some great audio gear.

A couple of points of order before we get into the nitty gritty of this show. First of all, it’s a number of years since Linette and I attended this one as we thought it was becoming a little too focused on the Audio Visual side of things, with the emphasis moving more and towards the visual, and secondly it seemed not to change much year on year. The second point I’d like to raise is the fact that a 4am start really does not agree with me. At fifty-two years of age, with boyish good looks being a long distant memory and me spiralling uncontrollably into grumpy “older” man territory, I need my beauty sleep – the sleep isn’t going to actually help on the beauty front but it does keep the worst of GOMS (Grumpy Old Man Syndrome) at bay, for a while at least. Add to the early start the fact that the two-tier train (I was quite looking forward to a double decker train-ride) arrived with just one level and our first-class seats had vanished into thin air – though we were finally told our seats were now at the other end of the train. SNCF (the National French rail service), come on guys, it’s early, I’m tired and emotional and the last thing I want to be doing is staggering from one end of a train to the other whilst the Breton countryside speeds past at an alarming rate. Like the band said “Things can only get better!”. Only they didn’t. Linette went to get caffeine and lots of it from the buffet car only to be told there would be no buffet service the whole journey. No, really, thing can only get better, surely, though a lack of coffee may cause a minor riot as I believe the French really do like their coffee in the morning. Fortunately, the Gilet’s Jaunes seemed to be otherwise engaged and the promised “Great Caffeine Riot of 2019” never arose.

The Paris audio Visual Show took place this weekend 19th and 20th October at two venues, The Novotel Tour Eiffel and The New Cap Centre, which are conveniently close to each other and only one Metro ride from Montparnasse train station. It’s a sensible location for a show for visitors; it’s easy to get to (early start aside) and the venues are well-appointed. We got there just before the 10am official opening and were very impressed with the number of people queuing to get in and by around 10:20 when we came out of the first demonstration room the place was already very buzzy. On the visitors front, the organisers we spoke to said that last year they had over 5000 visitors through the door. This is an encouraging sign to my thinking in that under one organiser the same event was a bit of a disaster but under another, it has become a huge success. I’d spoken to a few people before the event and the word on the street was that the French Hifi market was struggling a little, but the number of people attending this show would suggest that it is far from dead. I also spoke to a good number of exhibitors at the show and whilst one or two did say that the market was slow, another said that their French team had increased sales by 60% this year, adding that the team had actually gone out and sought out business – the days of “build it and they will come” are perhaps long gone for Hifi and brands now have to work hard to get the business.

This report is not going to highlight every single room, though we did go in every room that was not all-out audio-visual, and I’m going to focus on the rooms and stands that caught my attention the most, and of course, there’ll be lots and lots of photographs.

So, the first room, and it was a series of rooms really, was PPL (Professional Products Line) who had a whole array of very nice kit to have a look at and a nice system to listen to.

The main system was made up of a DCS Rossini DAC and Streamer, the DCS Rossini clock, Moon 740P preamplifier, Moon 860A V2 power amps, Mofi’s Ultradeck turntable, Moon 810LP phonostage and Raidho TD2.2 speakers. This was a nice sounding room when they were playing opera quietly but really filled the room nicely when they turned it up a little.

The big news in this room was the Moon 690 D (last couple of pics) which is a streamer and DAC costing around $10K and which includes MiND 2 streaming module. The DAC will convert MQA, PCM 32bits/384kHz and DSD native to DSD256. It’s also Roon ready.

Next up was Elipson speakers and some Bryton Electronics which again was a very nice sounding room with the speakers being Epsilon’s Legacy 3230s. Elison also had a lot of static displays showing off their products which you can see in the photographs…I couldn’t help but think that one of their products looks uncannily like a sword fencing mask – you’ll know when you see it.

Whether you are a gamer or a headfi nut, the Paris Audio Video Show really had you covered. There were, of course, the usual suspects we see a lot at shows but there may be a couple of images here from brands that are French and known mainly in France (3D Labs for example).

iFi were well represented and were showing off their new ZEN Blue Hi-Res Bluetooth streamer and their Zen DAC as were Focal, Meze and many more.

The Yamaha room probably won the prize for having the best laid out room. They were in a large space that had been separated into living “zones” with dining room, sitting room and bedroom with each space having a different system. The main system had Yamaha’s NS5000 speakers which gelled nicely with the rest of the Yamaha components to make a really good sounding system that was deep and dynamic. They even had a Yamaha Grand Piano.

Classe is a brand that many will be aware of but the speakers in this next room were completely new to me, photographed with their creator. The speakers are made by Paleon and are the Integrale model costing €22K without the footers, though why they didn’t give me the price with footers I’ll never know as they seemed (excuse the pun) integral to the design. This system sounded initially a little lack-lustre, but as soon as the volume was increased a little it really came into its own (despite playing Dire Straits) with great dynamics and excellent imaging. A name to watch out for on other shores perhaps.

L’Audio Distribution had a lovely little set up that sounded great once they turned it up to a volume where you could actually hear it. Vertere, Astin Trew electronics and a McIntosh preamp were partnered with speakers made by Franco Serbelin who founded Sonus faber. When the chap running the room popped on the bigger Vertere turntable the system really did come to life.

We did, as mentioned, avoid most of the AV rooms but this soundbar from Sennheiser was pretty convincing playing music from the recent Bohemian Rhapsody film.

This was pretty cool from GFK. Basically it’s a unit for your television but containing all the speakers you need, other than rears. Adele sounded pretty good on this system.

We’ve known Conceptas for years and so it was great to see the folk from there again at the show, including Anna Robathin who makes the well regarded O2A cables which were reviewed in Hifi Pig a few years ago and which you can read here.  The coffee table you see is actually a product by Block and is called the Stockholm. It’s a connected coffee table with Bluetooth, a wireless charger for your phone and integrated amplifiers to power the speakers. It costs €499 and I thought it was a pretty cool concept.

This PMC room was very good with them playing some nice guitar-based jazz and making a big sound in the process.

Klipsch had excellent branding all over the show including Tattoo artist and a barber, all which reflected their Heritage range brilliantly. The speakers in the room were the big Klisch Horns and were bing powered by McIntosh when we were in there. This was a powerful and dynamic system that I really did enjoy a lot.

Atoll and Atohm are two names that you always se together at French shows but rarely do ou see them outside their native country, which is a shame as both brands are very good sounding. Today they were playing Don’t Worry Be Happy and with the mids, in particular, sounding great and with a nice and deep soundstage. 

Hegel is a brand I’m really chuffed to see back and doing so well. Audioquest used their amp and a new Briscati M3 DAC for their demonstrations of power cables and it was pretty conclusive in my opinion. This was a good sounding room too with a nice and smooth delivery overall, but with a bit much bass for the little room.

We went to the launch of the latest loudspeaker offerings from Italien hyper-brand Sonus faber in the shape of their new Olympica Novas, at the recent Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (Scroll down this page to find lots of coverage from RMAF).  At the Paris show, we were treated to hearing a pair of the small standmounts partnered with a Lyngdorf all in one unit…and a very good partnership they made. the Lyngdorf has onboard DSP for room correction and you can even change the type of sound dependent on the kind of music you are listening to – one setting for jazz and another for rock etc…and even different television programs such as news or film. When we were in the room they were playing a piano piece that sounded very lifelike, though on a smaller scale, with the vocal sounding stunningly good and with a very detailed sound overall.

 

We know there is a lot of love for McIntosh, Sonus faber and Audio Research and so here’s a few gratuitous shots of their kit on one of the static stands at the Paris show. 

Audio Technica had a very nicely put together stand and were showing off their cans and record players.

Devialet’s Phantom speakers really do get moving when fed with music. Those bass drivers are in and out like the proverbial fiddler’s elbow!

Another all in one kind of unit for your telly which includes all the speakers you could ever need. This one is from Divatech.

After the launch of its new version 3.5 for macOS in Spring, Audirvana announced its new Audirvana Remote application available for iOS and Android at the Paris Audio Video Show on October 18, the day before the opening of the Paris show. For PC users, a version 3.5 of Audirvana for Windows 10 is also released. Audirvana software accepts all audio formats and resolutions, prioritizes music on the computer and adapts its settings to the sound system.

The software is available in macOS or Windows 10 version for a price of 78 € including VAT (75 USD excl. sales tax). The remote is available for iOS and Windows for €9.99.

Stable mates focal and Naim had a huge room and lots of things going on and judging by the sheer number of people in this room they are clearly very popular in France. As a bit of a departure from the usual routine, I took a listen to the Focal Stellia and Elegia headphones being powered by the Arche headphone amplifier and DAC. Both were very good sounding headphones with me preferring the bronze coloured Stellias for their more rounded and fuller presentation.

Jadis and Davis are two French brands that have travelled well and have a great reputation the world over. We got a chance to listen to the new Davis Courbet no4 speakers (making their debut at the show) which are a small floorstanding loudspeaker and sound much bigger than they actually are. Partnered with the Jadis JSi MKV DAC and 150/DA88 amp combo this really was a tight and tuneful system.

Magico, Soulution, Isotek and TechDas, what is not to like in this Sound and Colours room? I have to say I was really looking forward to this room and getting to hear this combo. Sadly for us, there was nothing playing in this room for all the time we were in there.

This next room featuring French brand Triangle and Swedish brand Primare was hugely popular and very busy. The speakers are the latest entry-level product from Triangle in the form of their Borea range with prices from a very reasonable €300 to €900.

The Waterfall, Helixir, PTP and Ana Mighty Sound room was very nice and very busy with scheduled listening sessions every half hour to accommodate their neighbours either side. We got to listen to the small speakers you see which are the Elora Evo, which along with a sub sounded massive in comparison to their tiny size. They then switched the Niagra speakers which were undoubtedly more refined and with better tops and more controlled bass but at €980 per speaker and a further €1500 for the HFZ sub the Eloras were very good. The turntable is worth mentioning too, it’s the PTP Audio Solid 9 that costs €2700 without arm or cart and is Lenco based we are told. The cartridge is from Ana Mighty Sound and costs €1700 whilst all the electronics were from Helixir – another new name to me.

Bowers and Wilkins will need no introduction but the electronics in this room really caught my attention. The pre and power amps are Michi which is the high-end arm of Rotel. The pre is the P5 and the amps are the m8 monoblocs which will deliver over 1000watts into 8 ohms. This was a great sounding room with bags of power and dynamics.

KEF were well represented by GP Acoustics with one room being constantly packed and playing a lovely sounding surround system that played some live Hans Zimmer when we were in there. However, it was the smaller of the two rooms that really caught my attention. The little KEF LSX speakers are active, have onboard DACs and sound way better than their asking price would suggest. They are also hugely versatile and well thought out with regards to catering for the connected home and modern listening habits. They really are a great little speaker!

More static stands with this one showing off some of the ProJect record players.

Musical Fidelity’s static stands had their electronics and their Roundtable record player on show.

Fyne loudspeakers from Scotland partnered with Clearaudio, Taga and Synthesis , but sadly nothing playing in this room when we went in.

Jean-Marie Reynaud and 3D Labs are names that crop up whenever French Hifi is discussed and with good reason. This was a sweet-sounding room with a very pure presentation that I really did enjoy a lot.

Technics were playing some Issac Hayes on the 1200GR but were also busy selling to prospective customers, which was nice to see. We have the 1200G in the smaller of our systems at the moment and you can expect a review in the coming days.

France Marketing is another well-known distribution company here in France and this system bringing NAD, Roksan and Martin Logan together was very good sounding.

Heinz Lichtenegger was doing a speech when we went into this room featuring Project, Ortofon, Musical Fidelity and Vienna Acoustics. sadly we only caught the end of his talk but Heinz is clearly passionate about music and bringing great audio to the masses. He was asked about the rise of streaming and the connected speakers we see lots of with him responding that he didn’t really consider this to be a serious way to listen to music but did say it was “OK for background”. He also made an interesting comment along the lines of him believing that (and I paraphrase) “cheap bluetooth and the high-end are killing the industry” adding that “Rich people don’t care about sound”. It was an interesting and brave comment to make in the company he was in and so all power to him. He played Beethoven’s 6th which sounded great on this system with lovely placing of the instruments.

Opus 51 were playing Leema Acoustics electronics through Lawrence Audio loudspeakers giving a chilled and relaxed presentation of a version of Take 5. Everything felt in control and despite the volume being pretty low, it was still very detailed. 

The Dali room sounded good too.

Occasion sell second-hand Hifi in France and had some classic kit. I was drawn by the linear tracking Technics turntable as my first turntable was from the same series, the SL DL1.

The final room of the day was the Cabasse room where they were showing off their new Akoya speakers (the smaller of the two you see). They are a connected speaker that can be used standalone or in pairs. We only got a brief listen but expect a review in the near future of this €1490/speaker solution.

And that’s it. Thanks to everyone who said hello and made us feel very welcome and to the organisers who did a splendid job. I suppose the mark of a good show is if you leave feeling you would go next year and there was a resounding yes from both Linette and myself. We’ll just leave you with a few of the snaps we’ve not included yet.

Read Linette’s Bird’s Eye View report here!

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