Toronto Audiofest 2023 Show Report
With Capital Audiofest coming up later this week, I am going to have to speed through this final part. Put on your speed reading glasses as there was a lot of good gear in these two levels.
However, most people approached the hotel from the parking lots behind the building. Signage encouraged them to circle the building to the right and enter from the front door, but savvy veterans entered directly from the door at the back of the building. From this direction, the Atmosphere North room was easily visible and marked with more signage. So let's dive in!
Atmosphere North MOON by
The 801D speaker epitomizes Bowers & Wilkins' modern, yet elegant design. As I have said over the past year or so, this newest generation makes a significant step forward with more resolution and transparency, less coloration from the cabinet, and a smoother top end. The Cardas Clear Beyond speaker cable likely made a significant contribution to this system. Their graphic display was easy on the eyes and the block panels on the front wall also contributed to the abundant sound quality here. If I didn't have large windows on the front wall of my listening room that gives me a real winter landscape, a mural and sound treatment like was seen here would make for wonderful décor — without the advertising, naturally.
Dixon Audio Note UK
The large integrated amp with the open chassis was a Mieshu Phono 300B, a Tonemeister ($24k with 300B tubes you can see popping above the faceplate. The 8 glorious Watts per channel into 8 or 4 Ohms was plenty for this smaller room, roughly a quarter the size of the previous room above.
The Audio Note AN/E-SPE HE speakers with field coil driver are 97dB/W/m efficient and come in a variety of forms with different finishes — both standard and extra-cost real wood veneers on birch plywood. The pair heard here were in a stunning high gloss Makassa Ebony ($18,500).
The turntable was an Audio Note TT-Three, a belt drive design with three motors and an external power supply. It was fitted with their own tonearm and IQ2 cartridge with the complete package going for $25k. They also had a CD4.1 CD player on a lower shelf at $22k and the entire rig was wired with Audio Note cables. For around $100k, this is an end-game, forever system that will not drag you down the audiophile rabbit hole in search of something better. You will be too busy enjoying your music.
Easton Audio by Mark Jones
The equipment here was all top notch and Mark was spinning vinyl on a top model from Linn. Most of what I heard was quite good with excellent resolution and transparency. But I was put off by the treble region that seemed a bit shrill. CH electronics are neutral and revealing, so maybe this was just not the best combination — at least for my tastes.
The Clarisys speakers from Switzerland are gorgeous and the build quality is flawless. As I recall from Axpona, they are expensive, but not way over the top, relatively speaking.
Linn turntables had become obscure until about ten years ago, maybe even less, when they started to take the revival of vinyl seriously and put more R&D into the LP12. Mark has been bullish on them for the past few years with good reason. Linn has also paid more attention to their marketing and now offers three distinct models, though different components can still be upgraded and they are also backward compatible with older models.
There was certainly plenty of power available from the CH amp from Switzerland. I wasn't able to hang around for another LP but it seemed to me that the meter on the front of the amp automatically adjusted its range when the music became softer. In my photo above it read a precise 29.1 Watts at the midpoint, but when the music was louder that same position on the meter would indicate hundreds of Watts. I'll have to keep that on my radar the next time I encounter these monoblocks.