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

Toronto Audiofest 2022 Show Report Part 2
Thirst for more on the third floor.
Show Report By Rick Becker

 

Toronto Audiofest 2022 Show Report Part 2 Thirst for more on the third floor.

 

  First, to finish up a detail from Part 1, Mike Tang can be reached via e-mail at  by people in need of phono cartridge repairs. Mike will be glad to email photos of his previous accomplishments. And a tip of the hat to Vilip Mak of Audio Excellence for putting me in touch with Mike. (We will be getting to the Audio Excellence room much further on in my coverage.)

Having completed the fourth floor, I returned to the elevator and dropped down to the third floor to maintain my orientation in the building. Room 325, hosted by Vinyl Sound was just to the left as I exited the elevator bay.

Harbeth SHL5plus XD stand-mounted monitors were sounding good with the 20mm dome super tweeter that has transformed the XD series, bringing more presence to the treble range and making Harbeth more competitive in today's market. A Gold Note turntable and phono stage were at the front end and an Accuphase integrated amplifier drove the Harbeths.

 

 

Further down the hall to the left in room 333, hosted by Toronto Home of Audiophiles, Ltd. was the first of two pairs of Gershman Acoustics Grande Avant Garde speakers ($17k) at the show. Atop the Solid Tech rack was an Accuphase DP-570 SACD / CD player ($15k) with a much smaller Weiss Engineering DAC 501 ($12,495) with DSP and a headphone amp just to its right. Below that was a Pass Labs XP22 preamp ($14,399) with its separate power supply. A Pass Labs X150.8 stereo power amp ($10,499) also appeared on a stand to the left of the rack and an XA25 ($7,499), one of their most popular models was off to the right.

A PS Audio DAC and Player appeared to be an alternate digital front end (~$19k). On the bottom shelf was a MaxCon Extreme power conditioner ($5k) and Gutwire, a popular Canadian brand, provided a variety of AC power cables, as well as speaker cables, interconnects, and a series of ground cables that plug into duplex outlets. Stepping up to a much higher price league, a Siltech digital cable ($4500) and interconnects ($11,199) were also listed. The room was packed and I didn't get a good listen, but knowing what I know about Gershman speakers, it didn't surprise me this was such a popular destination at the show.

 

 

Before I could get into the next room, 337 hosted by Sonic Artistry and Nordost, Trevor Doyle recognized me, despite my scruffy beard, and announced my arrival to folks in the entryway. It had been probably five or six years since I had seen him, due to Covid and the difficulty of presenting his massive Massif Audio Designs equipment racks to rooms at shows. He has come up with another, more portable product, which appears in my Fall Tweakfest reviews elsewhere in the November issue. For those with expensive, high-resolution turntable setups, his exquisite record weights made from exotic woods pull out tonal quality and detail you will not get from typical metal weights.

 

 

Trevor was particularly proud of a series commissioned by a Japanese retailer with their logo emblazoned on top. In the room, he had solved the problem of delivering heavy component racks with a small custom rack that served to display a demonstration of Nordost footers. At the top of the rack was a slim Nordost Ethernet switch supported by a trio of Nordost Sort Kones. The difference in sound quality with and without the Kones under the switch was easily detected. As we say, everything matters.

 

 

Above you see the Massif rack along with various Nordost products including their Ethernet switch on top, Qkore power conditioner, and Valhalla 2 speaker cable entwined in the pillars. All totaled, with a complete cable loom of Nordost Valhalla 2, the Nordost products alone came to $89,000. It was hard to miss the robust Massif amp stand with the DarTZeel LHC-208 MK II integrated amp on the floor. This was the North American debut of this amp with a built-in streamer and DAC for $29,500.

It was driving StenheimAlumine Three speakers ($45,500) with outstanding resolution, transparency, and dynamics. I caution people to listen to these speakers before buying as the treble does not roll off like more conventional speakers. On another amp stand was a MERGING+NADAC networked streaming DAC with a built-in Roon core for $18,799. Large acoustic room treatments were on the front and side walls to control the room. Jonathan Badov of Sonic Artistry was the gracious host here.

 

 

Denon, with a CD player and integrated amp, and Polk, with their R200 stand-mounted speaker ($999) teamed up with a minimal system in room 339, but this was in the realm of mid-fi, which has come a long way, but it is not the realm we typically cover.

 

 

 

Likewise, a Denon PMA 1700 integrated amplifier ($2749) teamed up with a Definitive Technology D17 flagship speaker with dual 10" side-firing passive radiators ($4800) in room 341. This room sounded quite good for not a whole lot of money.

 

 

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