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TAVES 2012 (Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show) Report Coverage
TAVES 2012 (Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show) Report
Part 4 Report By Rick Becker

  After completing Part 3 I headed for the High Point Market which is the largest industry trade show for furniture in the world. It scored more than 75,000 registrants, 2000 exhibitors, and people from 100+ countries around the world for the Oct. 13th through18th event. This also qualifies the market as one of the largest germ festivals in the country. I came down with an unrelenting cold that forced me to cut my stay a bit short and kept me from getting back to this TAVES report any sooner. Fortunately, I have my video notes and photographs to keep me on track.

Sunday morning we imported hot coffee from the McDonalds down the street, where we had breakfast, to the lobby at the Kind Edward. There, Robert Neill insisted we drop by his room for Worldwide Wholesales in the Parklane room on the second floor. We listened to the beautifully finished Casta Model C speakers ($28,000) from Italy with horn loaded tweeter and midrange along with a 15" front-firing woofer. Digital bits of Stevie Ray Vaughn were passing through an Auralic ARK MX+ USB DAC ($2000) that processes up to 32-bit/192kHz. The new JE Audio VS70.1 stereo tube amp ($3800) was fully balanced and put out 35wpc with KT77 tubes, which was more than enough to power the efficient speakers, making for a dynamic presentation. This was a new line to me, coming from Hong Kong.

 

  

Vince Bruzzese was in command at the Totem Acoustic room as usual where they played a wall full of Tribe speakers feauring their Torrent drivers. The sound here was both excellent and familiar and as you can see in the photo the décor has evolved from tribal to mod in recent years in keeping with the black, white and red finishes of the Tribe series of home theater speakers. Personally, I liked the red Tribe on black wall the best. Elsewhere, I heard speakers from their new Element series.

 

Up on the 7th floor again, if you could get past the scientific look of the Blueberry Hill speakers and actually listen, you realized this was one of the Best Rooms in the show. The vertical cylinders house powered, sealed 12" woofers. The top horizontal cylinder fires a Fostex super tweeter with an adjustment on the rear of the cylinder and the large horizontal cylinder houses crossover-less, bi-polar Fostex full-range drivers. In fact the horizontal cylinders can be independently aimed to achieve proper alignment  with the listening position. The cylinders are carved from layers of plywood so the rings you see are the end grain of the wood layers. The larger model speaker was $25,000 and the smaller one was $15,000. I've spoken with Marlen Mogilever before and he was engaged with another visitor at the time, so I merely listened and took notes, hoping to get back a second time. Blueberry Hill also makes some pretty extraordinary cables. The ones shown here coming out of the back end of a turntable ($3500-$4000) actually contain a built-in step-up phono stage which amplifies the low level signal as it comes right off the table. Raising the signal level at this point makes it less susceptible to deterioration as it traveled the distance to the Audio Research tubed phono stage. Marlen is clearly thinking outside the box with this concept. On the digital side I noticed an M2Tech piece of gear, but there was also a Blueberry Hill Flying DAC with separate power supply on another shelf. Music was sourced from an Apple MacBook Pro. I thought I recognized an Art Audio Diavolo amp on the floor among the spaghetti, which would also help explain the outstanding sound of this rig. Unfortunately, time slipped away before I could get back.

 

The RJH Audio Reference One speaker ($7995) easily grabbed my visual attention with its large, full-range Audio Nirvana driver surrounded by a gorgeous solid wood collar that extended beyond the top and sides of the floorstanding cabinet with twin front-facing ports. They were driven by a pair of Quad II Eighty monoblocks with a Quad QC Twenty Four preamp — all retro-looking amplifiers. The source was an Aura CD player. The electronics were on a handsome light wood stand that filled the distance between the speakers. A smaller model, The Songbird, is available from RJH Audio for use in smaller rooms. At 95dB/W/m efficiency the Reference One should pair very nicely with some affordable low-power tube amps. The music was dynamic and very transparent as you would expect from a speaker with such high efficiency and no crossover. And with a single driver there was point source imaging. Kudos to American Sound of Canada for bringing in this relatively new Canadian speaker. I wish I could have rubbed elbows with Ron Harper as this speaker deserves a lot more attention.

 

Across the hall in the Audio Pathways room the gear spilled over from the rack to the floor, the nightstand, the window sill and an ottoman. Audio Pathways is the Canadian distributor for a large number of very significant and established top shelf brands. I heard music sourced from both CD, via a Bel Canto transport, and a laptop seen just to the right of the right speaker. The DAC in use appeared to be the Bel Canto 3.5, their top model. I think the signal was passed on to the Audia Flight Stromento no.1 preamp and then along to the Audia Flight Strumento no. 4 stereo power amp seen on the floor. This elegant beast puts out 200/400/800 watts per chanel into 8/4/2 Ohms, respectively — more than enough to power the Vienna Acoustics The Music speaker from their Klimpt series. Transparent Cables made the connections. Also in the rack were a couple of pieces from VAC. Behind the left speaker was a topless Sutherland phono stage on a night stand and a Basis turntable on the window sill. On the other window sill appeared to be some Jeff Rowland gear and a Bellari single tube MT502 step-up phono stage and possibly another phono stage behind it. While the Bellari gear has styling cues that suggest a European origin, it is actually made in the USA. I've heard The Music before and loved it, and I did so again here, in spite of the music that was neither familiar or my taste. I was surprised that the mid-tweeter unit was not dialed in to the central chair in the room. The unique, almost full-range, flat driver in the head of the speaker is one of the finest in the world and the head unit is designed to pivot to accommodate the room and seating location.

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