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

Toronto Audiofest 2022 Show Report Part 3
Musical magic while listening on Level 2.
Show Report By Rick Becker

 

Toronto Audiofest 2022 Show Report Part 3 Musical magic while listening in Level 2.

 

  Level 2 was comprised of a hallway of hotel rooms, a bunch of conference rooms, and a walkway around the atrium where there were a variety of tables with either silent or headphone displays. Stepping off the elevator, there was a table with a cable vendor in either direction. One was for Audio Sensibility — very familiar to me as I've very favorably reviewed many of their products since they first began. And the other was Neotech, a relatively quiet company on the high-end scene.

 

 

It turns out Steven Huang of Audio Sensibility is now doing the importing and marketing for Neotech in Canada. Audio Sensibility bulk cable is built to his specifications by the same large Taiwanese cable company that owns Neotech (and also does OEM production for a number of big-name cable companies in the industry). Steven does his own cryogenic treatment and assembly in Canada where it is sold directly through Audio Sensibility while the Neotech line is imported as finished cables and sold through a dealer network.

He says that while Neotech is a well-made, high-value line, the company has been relatively quiet in its marketing efforts because Neotech makes sufficient profit given they buy bulk cable directly from the parent company. Steven hopes to turn that around, which will also benefit Audio Sensibility by consolidating their shipping and warehouse expenses.

 

 

One of Steven's strengths has been to fill niche markets as I found out by installing an Audio Sensibility DC power cable on the separate power supply of my Calyx DAC. (It made a serious improvement.) The newest niche he has developed is the CryoClear Analog RCA Adapters for standard DIN, as well as proprietary DIN connections from Grace, Gold Note, and Naim. These adapters (sale price, $170) allow you to use the high-quality standard RCA interconnects of your choice to connect your turntable to the phono stage. Steven manufactures the black box using 3-D printing. The extended bottom plate has holes to facilitate attachment to the turntable plinth or shelf. Very cool!

From there, I moved into the hallway of hotel sleeping rooms where two presenters were located. I slid into 219 hosted by the importer Tri-Cell Enterprises and retailer Executive Stereo.

 

 

As I've said, I'm particularly attracted to turntables — especially those with a pretty plinth and this Acoustic Solid 113 turntable ($4165) from Germany with a bubinga plinth, equipped with a Sorane TA-1 tonearm ($1820) captured my heart. It was equipped with a Hana MH Cartridge ($1480) in a package deal for $6K. I also noticed an HRS record weight and the sophisticated feet on the turntable as well as an aftermarket HRS R3X Isolation Base ($2475) added to the top of the equipment rack.

 

 

On the next shelf down was a HiFi Rose RS150B Reference network streamer (($5995) that I had seen earlier in the show, followed by the HiFi Rose RA180 Reference integrated amplifier. And below that was a Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Series 3 ($13,950) with a corresponding Alpha USB interface ($2590) to enable streaming. On the bottom shelf was a Playback Designs MPS8 Dream Play SACD / CD player with Stream X2 installed ($37,500). All of the cabling was by Cardas Audio for an undisclosed but not insignificant sum. Music was pouring forth from a pair of Joseph Audio Pulsar 2 Graphene speakers ($13,650). A pair of Vivid Audio Kaya S12 bookshelf speakers ($8500) was in the room, but not playing when I visited. This was an expensive rig.

At the request of a showgoer, they beamed up Joe Cocker with "Woman to Woman", unfortunately not the "live" version I enjoy so much, but it revealed the excellence of this rig with high resolution and excellent spatiality. The Joseph Pulsar was tight as deep as it went, but those accustomed to full-range speakers could easily notice the deep bass was missing. Joseph's floorstanding models address this shortcoming, as you would expect.

 

 

 

Moving on to room 227 hosted by Crown Mountain Imports, the Isol-8 SubStation Integra ($5400) power conditioner on the bottom shelf was made by the guy who used to do IsoTek. Along with the Trilogy Audio Systems 925 integrated amp ($22,990) on the middle shelf and the Luxman D-10X flagship CD player ($23,095) that does SACD, CD, WAV, FLAC, and proprietary lossy MQA, also serving as a DAC for your streamer. The Luxman incorporates a new digital chipset from Japan which may find a home in other digital products over the coming years. All three of these items were Canadian show premiers, though some were introduced a couple of years earlier during Covid. Trilogy is a tube-based unit well known in the UK but seen less often in North America.

 

 

Likewise, the stunning ProAc K1 ($12,475, or $14,325 in the premium Tamo Ash finish shown) was also a Canadian show premiere. The stands, which are specific to the K1 series were an additional $2650. The 6.5" woofer is said to go all the way up to 30kHz, thus duplicating the range of the ribbon tweeter. If so, this suggests the same kind of thinking going on in Magnepan's concept subwoofer I wrote about in Part 1 of this show report. With 8 Ohm impedance and 91dB/W/m sensitivity, they recommend amplifiers in the 10 to 150-Watt range, suggesting even robust 300B tube amps might drive it well at reasonable levels.

A variety of real wood veneers are available. As I've always said, I've never met a Proac I didn't like and this being the first one I've heard with a ribbon tweeter, it sounded better than the rest. My thanks to Alex Tiefenboeck of Crown Mountain Imports for his tour.

From there, circled back to the Mayfair room where Jacques Riendeau of Oracle treated me to a tour of his Oracle turntables and phono stages. After taking some photos, it was time to prepare for the industry banquet so I returned to my room and unloaded my briefcase and camcorder.

 

 

 

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