Closing Words

Pictured above is show co-organizer Sarah Tremblay (third from left, holding scissors) performing the ribbon-cutting ceremony to begin the 35th anniversary of the Montreal Audiofest. Photo by Séisme Média/Anik Lemieux.

By noon Friday, the 2024 35th edition of the Montreal Audiofest had sold more admission tickets than it had the entire weekend last year, which is great news for the organizers and industry. For the audio reporter seeking a listening seat, never mind in the sweet spot or a good angle to take a photo, it required I do more strategizing than usual—including negotiating several out-of-show-hour visits with exhibitors.

Fortunately, Sunday’s thinner yet still robust crowd allowed me to catch up on my reporting. Sunday also proved to me that, with some innovation, show organizers can make a difference. Not only as far as the show itself goes, but perhaps even in the audio world at large.

I’m talking about the organizers’ decision to make Sunday “Audiolescent Day,” a bring-your-teenager, get-in-free event that worked as hoped, I imagine, by the looks of how many teenagers showed up. Kudos not only to the organizers for this but also to the parents who presented this as an excuse to convince their offspring to join them in an audio experience they could bond over. Hopefully, the audio seeds that have been planted will flourish.

My biggest takeaway from the audio show trend-wise? Hi-res may have been a fad. 90% of exhibit rooms streamed music but only a couple (when I was there) streamed material with greater than 44/16 resolution. My guess is that as equipment gets more resolving and revealing, we’re discovering that the lowly 16/44 resolution isn’t so low after all, and that it can sound much better than we gave it credit for, even in the most expensive systems—or because of them. Exhibitors seemingly saw no need to play hi-res files to make their systems sound better.

A particularly comforting development at the show, especially as far as my reporter ilk and myself are concerned but also certainly for visitors, was the fact that almost every exhibitor had a component/price list. Either taped to the wall or printed on a sheet, it existed. Proof that if you repeat a message often enough, it will sink in. I even saw pride in the faces of those who could produce a list on demand, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. To those exhibitors whose rooms I missed or ran out of time to write about, I’ll do my best to get to you next time.

Thanks to all who helped me do my report and who bothered to read my scribbles. À la prochaine.

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