Got back after going through various systems at the Montreal Salon Son & Image show. I didn't know what to expect, but was clearly expecting too much. Didn't get any spiritual, out-of-body experiences from the speaker setups. Most systems were in very small (like 12x10) hotel rooms, and many of them were congested (didn't help that the speakers were played more loudly than normal, to compensate for the high ambiant noise). I'm also not familiar with the music being played (100% jazz); but I did bring my own CD to try on a few systems.
There were two very large show rooms. One of them featured La Sphere They looked freaky and I didn't want to stay in the room for too long. The other room had Ocellia Signature speakers. The presentation was effortlessly natural and concert-like, but it wasn't played very loudly.
The Harbeth Compact 7 was setup in a small room, driven by a Rogue integrated amp. It was a refreshing change from most of the other setups, which were too forward and congested. I really liked its tonality with vocals (demo'ed my Das Rheingold for this one). I thought it could use a bit more bass impact and detail, but that could detract from the overall presentation. Also, the "Compact" 7 is bigger than I thought and I don't think I'll get them after all. May arrange a demo for the P3ESR instead, though I have my doubts on how much bass it can put out.
There was a Joseph Audio stand mount that was really impressive. It is the "head" of this speaker. It had great presence and big sound, only congested a bit during very loud passages (again, the small room is mostly to blame). I listened to my own Wagner CD. Only complaint is that vocals were a bit too "big." I would like to try the RM7XL, but they weren't there.
There were a lot of systems featuring Verity speakers, including a drool-worthy setup featuring a 4-box dcs Scarlatti stack. Didn't hear it with my own CD though.
Back in familiar territory, I finally got to hear the PS1000 (with RA1 and Ayre CX5) and HD800 (Grace M902 fed by a Cambridge CD player, and then a separate system with a Burson(?) amp fed by a Denon DVD player (not 29xx/39xx)). PS1000 was doing good until I got to the vocal parts- the amount sibilance was terrible.
I would definitely like to try out the HD800 for long term. The build quality is excellent (contrary to whatever douche??nyc posts, reason #9000 not to read head-fi). Anyways, the HD800 presented big scale music effortlessly. More so than my K1000 and HP2. More transparent? I don't know yet. Downsides? Presentation is a bit distant and cool; bass isn't "full", but impact is good enough. Should go well with the Moth 2A3 amp I thinking of getting.
I'm arranging a in home demo of Legacy Audio Studio HD monitors. Woot