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TAVES Consumer Electronics Show 2015 (Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show) Report
TAVES Consumer Electronics Show 2015 Show Report
Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show Part 2
Report By Rick Becker

 

  Out in the hall again, it's not unusual to recognize a face now and then as people travel from one room to another at a different pace. And it also happens from one show to another…not just other media faces, either, as there is a coterie of audiophiles who attend multiple shows — some near, some far. It was a happy surprise to encounter cellist Vincent Belanger whom I've heard play live along with his recording at both the Montreal and New York shows last year. I've used his CD in my reviews since then and it has moved me to tears. If you're into solo cello music you should pay attention here. Vincent is using Indiegogo to raise money to record a new album that will be available in CD, LP and hi-rez download. It will be recorded in an old church in Boston with excellent acoustics and featured what is said to be an exciting repertoire of classical music. He invited me to hear a raw recording of one of the pieces in the Focal/Devialet room presented by Plurison, which I did on Sunday. Suffice it to say I've committed to buy the LP. You can check it out yourself at this link. Do so promptly, as the campaign ends very soon. Don't think; react!

 

Speaking of hallways, I couldn't help but notice this guy's leather jacket with its rich patina and colorful logo. I thought he might be a Native American lacrosse player, so I asked. Nope. Chicago hockey team. And he bought the jacket because he got a good deal on it. He's never been to Chicago. Violent sport, that hockey.

 

The Triode Lab/Finale room was a candy store for both the eye and ear. The front end was a brand new Oracle Paris CD player ($3750 CAD) in a yellow chassis with their signature sloping top at the right front corner. It fit right in with the misty green Triode Lab tube preamp ($3900 CAD) that was connected to a pair of orange Triode Lab 2A3 Monoblock II monoblocks ($6900/pair) with parallel 2A3 output tubes delivering 9 watts each channel. This was the world premiere of this upgraded model featuring premium James transformers. That was plenty of power for the Finale Vivace Mini single driver speaker ($4500) with 92dB/W/m efficiency and 16 Ohm impedance. I noted the port on the rear and absence of parallel sides in the design, which concealed an internal labyrinth that boosted the bass by 10dB, giving the speaker an in-room frequency response of 50Hz to 20kHz. The 2.75" driver was custom made in Italy for Finale. The speakers are made in Quebec, while the amplifiers are made here in the Toronto area. The speaker cable was quite thin by audiophile standards and had no brand name, according to Robert Gaboury whom I've known from his Gemme Audio days and now flies under the banner of Artheluthe and Pure Vinyl.

Naturally, the one piece of gear that really piqued my interest was the orange Finale F-3008S 300B Signature FFX stereo integrated amp ($6995 USD) that was not in service. Output tubes were 300B and there was a second set of speaker binding posts on the opposite side, allowing for connecting to 4, 8 and 16 Ohm loads. It features a complete set of Hashimoto/Triode Lab Transformers. Having reviewed several of their amplifiers, I can highly recommend them, but also caution you to read the reviews carefully as each model sounds different, depending on the transformers and tube type used. These folks are more than capable of helping you select the sound quality you seek, providing your speakers are sufficiently efficient. There is a magic that can occur when you mate single-ended triode tubes with single driver speakers and this room had it. If you're a tube lover, as I am, then you probably thought this was one of the Best Rooms at the show. Be forewarned that their website is a bit confusing. When you click on Products and then click on more, you will enter the Finale amplifier section, where you will also find information about the speaker. It's worth exploring, and interesting to see the world wide network they are developing.

 

Crossing the hall to room 7215 I encountered another fine sounding room set up by Fairview HiFi in conjunction with the distributor Tri-Cell Enterprises. My analog partisanship is displayed by the photos above. Unfortunately neither was playing. The svelte black and wood stain table was the Mediterraneo by Gold Note ($9850 CAD) with a Benz Ace cartridge. The red table was a Gold Note Valore shown in real leather which is also available in green, sand and white leather for $1600. The Valore is also available in a soft black or soft white lacquer for $1300 complete with tonearm as a plug n play unit without cartridge. Across the room was a clear acrylic model 425 ($2100) which has the ability to switch tonearm and armboard. It's available in lacquer finish ($1700) and with leather ($2000). Gold Note, which is from Italy, used to be called Blue Note, and they offer cartridges from basic moving magnets all the way up to a $10,000 moving coil. A Gold Note PH-7 phono stage ($1500) capable of handling both MM and MC cartridges was hiding beneath the gorgeous Mediterraneo. Thanks go to David Geist from Tri-Cell for all the details.

What I heard in this room was Riders on the Storm by The Doors played on an Aesthetics CD player feeding their Jamis-Signature preamp ($13,985 CAD) resting on an HRS S1 base ($2235) acting as a shelf on a four shelf HRS SXR equipment rack ($6710). An Aesthetics Atlas power amplifier ($11,225) drove Joseph Audio Pulsar speakers, though you may have heard the Joseph Audio Perspectives ($16,900 CAD) playing where you were there. Backing up the stand mounted Pulsars were a pair of Stein Music H2 boxes ($1100 each) on stands that were said to clarify the music. While I normally rave about Joseph speakers and Aesthetics gear, I was moving too fast through this room — hence the dearth of photos — and I didn't get a good listen.

In the Thonet & Vander room I heard a Bluetooth 2.1 system for $139 CAD that represents a starting point with far better sound at a lot less money than where I began listening to music back in the 1960s. They also played a pair of bi-amped speakers with Bluetooth for $389 CAD that sounded considerably better, and a pair of single-amped Bluetooth speakers for $229 CAD. These units were designed in Germany and manufactured in China to hit these affordable price points.

 

DVL Audio is an importer of über expensive and high quality gear from Europe and presented here an ensemble of CH Precision gear from Switzerland that was very precise, neutral and fast. The chain begins with a D1 SACD/CD transport ($38,000 USD) feeding a C1 DAC/ Controller ($33,000 USD). These are modular units that can be upgraded with various features for your particular needs, and the software is upgradeable. The analog signal from the DAC was sent to the L1 dual mono Line Pre-amp ($33,000 USD, again, just the base price). The power amp was the M1 2-channel Reference Power Amp listed at $95,000 for the pair being used in bridged mono mode, capable of delivering 700 watts into 8 Ohms to the speakers. The speakers were Wilson Audio Sophia, the first version, dating back to 2004, but still sounding very, very good. The balanced interconnects and speaker cables came from Argento in Denmark, but are branded with the CH Precision name. I spoke with Florian Cossy, the designer from Switzerland, who said they began six years ago with an SACD player and have progressed by adding a component to the line each year. The components have touch screens and the amp was set to display the power output in real time. In listening to Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man I noted the meter read well over 400 watts yielding not only extreme precision, but also outstanding dynamics. The 120dB signal to noise ratio of the DAC was somewhat wasted by the conversations in the room but it was easy to figure out this was one of the Best Rooms at the show. Nonetheless, when you're spending this kind of money, you will want to fly in for an audition to be sure that sound this pristine is what you really want.

 

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