A Visit to the Paris Audio Video Show

A Visit to the Paris Audio Video Show

Written by Ken Kessler

“We'll always have Paris...”

Ken Kessler dons a trench coat and fedora to retrace Bogie’s footsteps with a visit to the Paris Audio Video Show.

It’s been six years since I last attended the Paris Audio Video Show, and I am delighted to report that it has returned to the Palais de Congrès de Paris. Arguably one of the best venues imaginable for a hi-fi show, it can accommodate all manner of audio and video gear thanks to its scale and layout – an exhibition center like Munich’s M.O.C. rather than a hotel-type venue.

As the event’s name informs you, the combination of sound and vision is why the attendance was spectacular, with circa 20,000 visitors. An impressive crowd by any measure, the best thing about it was a demographic of individuals not needing Zimmer frames. Whole families, females, teenagers more au fait with gaming consoles than the Marantz Consolette – it was almost baffling, so accustomed am I to the clichéd, “beardy old men” profile of hi-fi show visitors. (Of which I am a part, though sans face foliage.) Much credit goes to organizers savvy enough and young enough to have used social media and who highlighted headphones, Bluetooth, A/V and other products which don't excite those more focused on $50K-plus phono stages and $100K speakers.

Aah, you’re thinking, “Do I really want to circumnavigate the massive multi-channel home cinema booths from the major Japanese consumer electronics brands, or detour around the acres of headphones, to find a few obscure tube amps?” Fortunately, there remains enough serious hi-fi equipment to attract the still-breathing audiophiles who established the event some four decades ago.

Separate corridors house the high-end gear, so you don't have to rub shoulders with tattooed and/or nasally-pierced Gen-Z types if that worries you. Familiar names such as Tannoy, NAD, D’Agostino, McIntosh, Wilson Audio, Krell, PSB, Astell & Kern, MartinLogan, REL, Roksan and dozens of others were there to ensure that serious separates were represented.

Paris’ premier A/V event has a way to go to attain the levels of international interest afforded to Warsaw and Munich, but I’m optimistic: the general buzz it created suggests a great future because seasoned attendees were staggered by the size of the crowds.

While not overburdened with global product launches, many of which awaited Warsaw the next weekend (see next issue), the French have a penchant for novelty and clever design features. My favorite discovery of the show – French Acoustics – is a powered portable speaker of the affordable, Bluetooth variety, if hardly what a seasoned hi-fi enthusiast would look at twice. And the proliferation of turntables being ogled by attendees younger than the wines in my cellar? They intimate that maybe hi-fi has a future.



Crowds appeared early on Saturday.



French Acoustics' utterly brilliant 10 x 4.3 x 4.3-inch Proton V2 wireless speaker is sold singly for €299 or €579 per pair. and they can be positioned in any way you like thanks to their angular design.



Headphone halls with hundreds of pairs of active cans are one way to attract a demographic too young to remember when Clinton was President, let alone DeGaulle.



Here's Jean-Marie Hubert, the founder of the show and one of France's high-end legends, returned to present brands including MartinLogan, NAD and Perlisten.



Lines formed around what is arguable Pro-Ject's most witty celebrity turntable so far, the brilliantly conceived Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon – though I still get a bigger kick out of their Yellow Submarine model.



Supatrac's Blackbird is a radical tonearm from Great Britain with – are you ready for this? – a sideways uni-pivot bearing providing adjustability while playing. It's available in 9-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch lengths.



A blast from the past hit me when I saw this Cary Audio CAD-300-SEI integrated amplifier, but what was more telling was displaying the amp without tubes to prevent theft.



Tessiture's concrete-and-wood No. 1 employs a heavily sculpted baffle which acts a single quasi-horn.



Perlisten was certainly making a lot of noise for a relative newcomer, especially with the S Series' S7t, an imposing 51-inch tall floorstander boasting lots of advanced materials.



Here's Perlisten's S5t tower, which uses the same 28 mm beryllium tweeter found in the dearer models.


Header image: Triangle's flagship Magellan Quatuor loudspeaker flanks the Borea BR08 – both front-ported, the former stands 4-feet, 3-inches tall, and boasts three woofers, while the 3-foot 4-inch Borea manages with two.

All photos courtesy of Ken Kessler.

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