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Toronto Audiofest 2022 Show Report Fine sounds on the fourth floor.

Toronto Audiofest 2022 Show Report Part 1
Fine sounds on the fourth floor.
Show Report By Rick Becker

 

Toronto Audiofest 2022 Show Report -- Fine sounds on the fourth floor.

 

  On a Saturday morning better suited to hiking up a mountain in the Adirondacks or enjoying the fall foliage on a bicycle in western New York, I cruised up to the Toronto Audiofest because, well, that's what I also do. And I hadn't been there since the 2019 show, what with Covid and border closures. It was really good to be back again. And at the industry banquet that evening, it was announced that attendance had reached 2500, more than double last year's show, so I was not alone in my priorities. People at the banquet were really happy about the attendance.

The prices are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise stated... or unless I've made a mistake, which happens. Speakers are priced per pair. And unlike past show reports, I will refrain from identifying the Best Rooms until the end of the report to avoid awarding too many rooms in this more modestly sized show. There were a lot of fine-sounding presentations despite the size of the show.

 

On October 23, 2022:
$1 USD = $1.37 Canadian Dollar
$1 Canadian Dollar = $ 0.73 USD

 

The Fourth Floor
Starting at the top of the show, right off the elevators in Room 423 was Tri-Art Audio. To any newcomer to luxury audio, encountering this room would surely have seemed like they fell down the proverbial rabbit hole. Yet this is one of the most consistently innovative companies and this year's room did not disappoint. The horn speakers were the immediate attention grabbers, though I was also struck by the new (to me) dark, stripped look of their plyboo wood chassis.

 

 

 

The speaker begins as the conventional speakers they've had in the line, but with the aid of the custom stand, can evolve into the full horn version. The equipment stand in distressed black finish ($2203) was particularly impressive and would be very attractive with more conventional components as well. On top, in a lighter finish was a separate transport and DAC on the left, and one of their several mostly wood turntables ($1300, incl. tonearm). Note their special footers under the turntable.

 

 

The components on the lower shelves, from the top down, were the Phono (for MM/MC, $780) with a built-in cartridge de-magnetizer — a very rare feature according to Steve Ginsberg. The Phono had gain control and cartridge loading for both MM and MC cartridges.

 

 

Next was a passive Preamp with loading on the knob on the left and a headphone jack on the right ($2479), and a pair of 60-Watt monoblocks ($3900). All of these include the tube-buffered power supplies in the smaller chassis to the right of each component. The amount of buffering can be adjusted with a knob on the top.

Near the end of the show, I came across their amp stands in the Altitudo Audio room that I thought was unique and very attractive. The music here was very transparent, highly resolved, and very inviting, as it has been over the decades I've visited their rooms. They set a high bar for the rooms that followed.

It was a bit of a hike to the next room down the hall, through the S's past the service elevator, but the floors of the hall were marked with arrows to keep you on track, and signs were hanging from the ceiling at each door identifying the name of the company as well as whether they were a manufacturer or a retailer. Very helpful. There was also the occasional stand-up banner in the hall to grab your attention.

 

 

Room 437, home to Baetis Audio and Coherent Speakers is another perennial favorite of mine. Baetis makes superb servers tailored to your needs (at premium prices) and Coherent Speakers makes one of the most inviting, high-efficiency speakers at relatively affordable prices. Typically they are driven with low-powered tube amps that present air and mid-range emotional response like no other combination. Show after show, I gravitate back to their rooms. Here, they were presenting their 15" coaxial floorstander with a tiny super-tweeter just above the large coaxial driver. Below the Baetis on the rack was a T+A DAC 200 with a very useful set of meters.

 

 

Powering the Coherent speakers was a Tektron TK Two 2A3/50S-i stereo power amp putting out a whopping 3.2 Watts per channel (Wpc), though you can also use a 45 tube (1.8 Wpc) or a 50 tube (3.5 Wpc). And if you want a real muscle amp, you can go with the famous (though not usually as good sounding as the lower-Watt bulbs) 300B tube of your choice.

 

 

 

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