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TAVES 2012 (Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show) Report Coverage
TAVES 2012 (Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show) Report
Part 3 Report By Rick Becker

  

Continuing on to the next Tri-Cell room, on silent display was a beautiful pair of Opera Grand Callas speakers ($7200) with three rear firing drivers covered with a metal shield in addition to a column full of drivers on the front. In the active system were Opera Quinta speakers ($5400) with a wood and leather cabinet driven by a Unison Research Unico Primo Stereo hybrid tube/MOSFET integrated amplifier with a Unico CD Primo tube CD player as the front end. This was a very good sounding system for not a huge amount of money. Going back to the Unison Research Symphonia shown at the end of Part 2, the price for this pure Class A 27 wpc integrated amplifier was $4000, a very reasonable sum for a an amplifier that could be displayed in the most elegant homes. A more modest integrated was their Simply Italy design in black with some polished aluminum reflecting the two EL34 output tubes for $2000.

 

In the next Tri-Cell sponsored room I was treated to a recording of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra at the Brussels World's Fair on an Omega Stereophonic Disk (OSL-16) that belied its 1954 origin. Of course it didn't hurt that it was being played on one of my most favorite turntables — the Kronos, which I have raved about in the past. It features twin platters, rotating in the opposite direction to cancel out the torque effect. Two thin belts are used on each platter in this suspended design and there is a separate power supply as you would expect in a $28,000 turntable. And that's very modest compared to the top shelf competition it plays against. The stand on which it was mounted is their own prototype design. The system included an Acoustic Arts stereo power amp, a Zesto Audio Leto Preamp and Zesto Audio Andros PS1 phonostage, both extraordinary looking tube designs. Louis Desjardins, a most likeable and unpretentious designer and builder of Kronos, was on hand to explain the importance of the second platter which lowers the noise floor and allows the dynamics to really explode. I had a very interesting conversation with him about another item in his “to build” list and hope to have a review of it within a year. The tall floorstanding speakers were the German ASW Magadis, their top reference speaker with ceramic midrange drivers in a D'Appolito configuration with a Mundorf Air Motion Transformer tweeter. It was covered in a beautiful Tiger Maple veneer in a clear finish. Efficiency is 92.5 dB and impedance is 4 Ohms. While this room did not match the Big Name components Kronos has been shown with in the past two years since its premier, nonetheless, it was one of the Best Rooms at the show.

 

Jeff Joseph, looking leaner these days, but not mean, was proudly displaying his new Perspective speaker ($12,200), a two and a half-way floorstander featuring the same Sonatex Hexadyn tweeter and woofer as his Pulsar. The lower woofer carries only the bass and the crossover is modified to accompany the three-driver set-up. The back side features a large port and very significant binding posts. Music was sourced on a laptop, which is Jeff's preferred method, and fed to the new Aesthetix Romulus CD player ($7500) and then on to a ModWright KWI 200 integrated amplifier ($5000). Being a tube guy, I can tell you I didn't care in the least that this was a solid state amplifier, which is very high praise. I knew immediately upon entering that this was Jeff's room, as the speakers were set up on the diagonal, and the sound was unmistakably Joseph Audio. Over the years, and here, too, I've found them to be excellent, musical and immediately engaging, no matter what the genre. In fact, I stopped by on Sunday when he was playing the stand mounted Pulsar and the sound was practically indistinguishable, save for perhaps the deeper bass of the Perspective. If it were not for the beauty of these speakers at the top of his line, they would completely disappear. And you can have them in a variety of finishes to match the finest décor. I've heard Joseph speakers over a lot of years and I can verify that they play well with a very wide range of electronics. The only thing missing in his presentation was reference to the more affordable models, including an in-wall they manufacture. Year after year Joseph speakers show up as a Best Room, and here, it was among the very best of the best.

 

In yet another Tri-Cell room I came upon this Brinkman Bardo turntable (33 and 45 rpm) equipped with a Dynavector DV 507 MkII arm and XV-1 cartridge. This was the first I've ever seen this arm in action. Keeping the record from flying off the platter was the new Harmonic Resolution Systems (HRS) ADH (Analog Disk Heavy), a heavier version of the ADL I reviewed years ago. While not much larger than the ADL, the ADH exhibits a lot of non-magnetic stainless steel and less vibration absorbing compound, resulting in about three times the mass. It is designed to work with mid to high mass turntables. Nonetheless, it did not look or feel as heavy as I expected it would. And the profile is very similar, if not identical, to the ADL, which means it is easy to lift and secure in hand. The HRS logo is engraved into the top giving an easy reference when listening in near darkness as to whether the table is spinning or not. The electronics in the rig were Ceol (pronounced Kay-ole, which is Gaelic for “song”) which utilize EAT tubes, a very high quality brand with a three year warranty. The DVD player looked to be a Sony modified by Ceol. A Ceol stereo amplifier was driving speakers that looked something like the vintage Wilson Watt/Puppy combination, but there was precious little information present in this room and the multiple conversations going on made it difficult to get a grip on the music. I can assure you that HRS blocks were damping all of the electronics, however. Spotted in a corner of the room were Black Ravioli pads being offered at Show Special pricing at 1/3 off.

 

Sticking my head into a room sporting a home theater set-up I spotted the new PSB headphones running out of a laptop equipped with the new Dragonfly DAC in a USB port. I had missed an opportunity to listen to the PSB headphones at Montreal earlier this year, so I jumped at the chance here. Not only did they sound very good, but they also come equipped with a multi-position, plus defeatable noise canceling circuitry. They obliged me by cranking up the home theater presentation so I could test the noise cancellation and indeed, it worked very well, but you will still be able to detect incoming missiles. The tiny Dragonfly DAC did a respectable job for its price, but serious stand-alone DACs need not fear them.

 

As it was after 5pm, now, Linda and I dropped down to the Sovereign Ballroom where the music told us that it was Hotel California, not the King Eddie. Four tall speakers were paired as matched bookends on the stage with four large monoblocks plus ancillary gear that packed a wallop if not completely mastering the large ballroom. The original intent was to have this be a stage for Cindy Gomez to perform with a rear-screen projection set-up behind her. But obviously they ran out of space on the risers. Consequently they set up Cindy & screen with some tripod mounted entry level pro-audio speakers. After listening to high-end rigs all day, this was a let-down on one level, but enlightenment on another. If the performance is good, it matters less what the gear sounds like in a live presentation. Cindy dutifully hung out with the crowd of trade professionals and journalists after her show.

 

Again this year the TAVES show coincided with the Nuit Blanche where blocked-off streets filled with thousands of people tracking down contemporary art installations from sunset to sunrise. There were over 150 projects ranging from small to spectacular. You needed a map (provided) to find them all. One such project involved three performers in evolving positions on a holed wall while video projections filled the white wall. Another item that caught my eye was the “Other Car” bicycle which I thought was an innovative answer to the slightly more bitter winters on this side of Lake Ontario. Closer inspection, however, revealed that the enclosure is solely for the passenger. The pedaller rides behind in a traditional upright position. I'll have to return in January to see how this works. Next year Nuit Blanche is scheduled for October 5th, so hopefully access to the TAVES show will not be encumbered with blocked streets. Further information can be found here: at this link.

We called it a night then, and I'll call it a night now. So much for the coverage of my first day at the show, but there is a lot more to come that I heard on Sunday. Unfortunately I have to take off on business to the International Home Furnishing show in North Carolina for a week so Parts 4, 5 and 6 will be delayed. For those reading this that might be headed to the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2012 I can tell you that Roy Gregory's seminar on tweaking high end systems was very informative if you're lucky enough to get tickets to experience it. In the interim, have fun and Enjoy the Music!

Safe journey.

 

---> Click here for part 4 of Rick's TAVES 2012 report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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