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Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show (TAVES 2011) Report
Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show (TAVES 2011)
Part 3 Show Report By Rick Becker

  

Mike Tang Audio had one of the most interesting presentations at the entire show…if you made the effort to hang around and listen to Mr. Tang himself. I did, for a few moments, and was treated to his expose of speaker building using 0.75” solid walnut or plywood cabinets to build speakers. The plywood cabinets are available in your choice of finishes. In this model he chose solid walnut and armed it with a 5” full-range Feastrex driver from Japan — the very expensive brand I stumbled upon in a glass showcase at the end of my Montreal report earlier this year. (Tang is the Feastrex importer for Canada). Now I could hear it, and as you would expect, it was the epitome of coherency. Obviously, it is not for head bangers but it sounded superb in this finely balanced system presented by Tang. The front end was equally inviting and Mike continued his expose on maximizing the performance of the vintage Thorens TD 124 which he stripped from its original cabinet and mounted on his own platform supported on cones of some type, though they didn’t look like the Orb of Japan cones, another brand that Tang imports. Vibration control was central to the modifications. The addition of a second arm made from wood was very intriguing, but I couldn’t hang around long enough to ask him about it. Apparently Mr. Tang also offers his services as a consultant to help individuals tweak their systems. His rig in the room contained a low-powered tube amplifier of some sort and was wired with Nordost cables.

 

  

Charisma Audio was a familiar name from the Montreal show, and Bernard Li was a familiar face, but the gear in the room caught me completely off guard. The most conspicuous product was a Scheu Diamond turntable with a thick pink acrylic platter and a plastic Scheu Cantus unipivot tonearm ($1500 arm alone, $5200 for arm and table) that is completely unique in my experience of analog gear. It is not a joke and it takes audio gear into the realm of serious Art. A more modestly priced ($1500 for the table only) Scheu Cello turntable was also very handsome. Equally beautiful was the Capriccio Continuo (ADT) monitor on its purpose built stand. A woofer module is available to replace the stand if you have a larger room, but the music here in this small room was excellent without it. I was particularly intrigued by the acid etched (?) cone on the mid-woofer in this monitor. The electronics included Audio Exclusiv solid state phono stage, a tube line stage and a hybrid power amplifier with a tube input stage. On silent display were two very attractive hybrid integrated amplifiers from Audio Exclusiv, a near 30 year old company from Germany that Charisma has recently introduced in Canada. A silver DAC from Calyx Audio, a Korean company that has evolved from making parts to now include its first complete component, caught my eye. Bernard showed me a black sample that was built like a tank and felt like a brick. It runs off a wall mounted DC transformer or USB power and features the Sabre chip that is such a hot topic these days. I was so impressed I asked him to wrap it up for me. A review of this fine $1800 DAC is forthcoming.

I missed the photo op at the American Sound of Canada room where I was totally absorbed by the music coming from the Vienna Acoustics The Music speakers ($27,500) driven by Esoteric Audio preamp, power amplifier, phono stage (for the Oracle turntable) and CD player. The Music has an unusual flat nearly full-range driver that is supplemented with a super tweeter and three woofers in a bass cabinet. It is unique in that the top head can be angled and pivoted to maximize the listening experience for a given room and/or seating position (within reason, of course). While not a new model, it was delightful to revisit this very fine speaker.

Also missing are photos from the VMAX room where Richard Kohlruss played a very nice sounding and modestly priced Amphion floorstanders ($3895 in mat black or white, or $4295 in real wood veneers). A Triangle Acoustiques Color monitor ($895) also looked like a good value given the history of that company, but I did not get back on Sunday to hear it, unfortunately.

 

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