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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

Moving on to Angie's Analog Corner in room 773 I chanced upon some really nice looking pieces from Magnum Dynalab. I haven't seen their gear in many years, it seems, but clearly they've been busy designing new components. On top was their MD809 internet media tuner (around $7700). It also brings in broadcast radio as well as webcast. It has both front and rear USB inputs (plus S/PDIF in back) to take advantage of the built-in DAC. Below it was the MD309 hybrid integrated amp (again around $7700) with tube input stage and solid state output stage. The same integrated is also offered without the meters and touch screen in the middle at a lower price). And on the bottom was the MD107 triode FM tuner (around $4500) that also has DACs on board and slots in back for future upgrading. With the meters and touch screens their gear has a look similar to McIntosh, but different in that it is primarily aluminum in silver rather than black glass. Other finishes are available, I was told.


While the Magnum Dynalab gear was on silent display, excellent music was coming forth from the Acapella Audio Arts High Violoncell II speaker (around $45,000) with a plasma ion tweeter which is said to be the fastest tweeter in the world, having no mass, since there is no diaphragm. This model is about in the middle of the German manufacturer's lineup. The sound was gorgeous with Audio Research gear including the Reference 250 monoblocks and 40th Anniversary Preamp, plus an Esoteric K-01 CD player. Cabling was Transparent Opus. With amplified pop music the rig took complete control of the music moving it forward with great force. Count this as one of the Best Rooms at the show.


As I entered the Mystic Audio room just down the hall, I was greeted by Rene Evans with the fact that I had just come from a room  with a $140,000 rig, or something like that. He needn't have said a word. There was real music going on here, too. Central to the rig was the new entry level Blue Circle CS2 integrated amp putting out a mere 50 watts per channel for $2000 unless you want an optional faceplate in either metal or wood. Personally, I liked the utilitarian look of this prototype with just the wood knobs — and the unusual blue color was very alluring. An onboard DAC will cost another $850 and an onboard headphone amp will run you another $650. Blue Circle is a small enough company that they can do "made to order" gear. But this is no start-up, by any means. Elsewhere I've heard extraordinary music through their high end DAC. Here the CS2 was driving a small stand mounted Penaudio Cenya monitor ($4000+) from Finland. Blue Circle is also well known for their power conditioners and I was intrigued by the utilitarian versions, stuffed into plastic pipe to make it easy to keep them out of sight. These are available with either four or six outlets and at two levels of filtration to fit specific needs — all at very reasonable prices (like a few hundred $$, not a few thousand).


At the end of the hall in 778A&B Rutherford Audio put on a nice show with Elac speakers playing swing music from an original pressing of a Columbia 6-eye LP. The turntable was a vintage Roksan TMS3 with a Roksan Artemiz arm and Roksan Shiraz cartridge. The turntable had been re-wired and modified and the cartridge modified by Vertere Acoustics. The top polished plate on the front of the plinth was engraved with the signature of Toraj Moghaddam, the gentleman who guided me through the rig. A Primare preamp and monoblocks handled the amplification. Other visitors may have heard digital music from the Primare Blu-Ray player. The Elac seems to have been the FS 507 VX JET with the air foil tweeter they are known for, coaxially mounted with a ring midrange. Below it are two woofers, tuned to different frequencies, which they claim reach down to 26 Hz. The mid/tweeter unit is adjustable from the rear of the speaker to give either pinpoint imaging or more of a large venue sound. Rutherford also does audio installations on yachts, so maybe next year we will have a boat in the lobby instead of a Porsche?


In the adjacent Rutherford Audio room was a very refined rig with smooth sound pouring out from Genesis V speakers ($26,500). On the top shelf was the digital front end comprised of a laptop acting as the server for the new Primare DAC 30 ($3000) utilizing its USB input, of course. The fully balanced DAC has multiple inputs, plus balanced and single ended outputs, plus a SP/DIF digital output. It runs up to 24-bit/192kHz and judging from the music coming from this rig, it looks to be a real bargain. As my host said, "So for $100,000 you get change."  You also get another Best Room at the show. But somehow I suspect there was more than $2500 worth of cables in this room.


Next door at the end of the hallway were adjacent rooms presented by Plurison, always seen at the Montreal show. Naim was being shown there and I got a run-down on their music streamers that start a $3000, step up to a mid-grade and top out at $13,000. The two lower price ones have built in power supplies, with outboard units available as an upgrade. The top model requires an external power supply. My host also ran me through their N-Stream app (available at the Apple Store) which links to Rovi database (somewhere). It was a very well thought out app that gives you all you want to know about the album, the artist and suggested similar music. Elsewhere in the room I spotted their wireless Unitiqute on sale for $1995 and the newly introduced Unitilite all-in-one player ($3200, shown in the photo), also a wireless unit with built-in CD player that uses the same drive as their more expensive CD player, but with a more basic drawer mechanism. Naim is really covering ground from from very good looking entry level lifestyle products all the way up to respectable high end gear.

Branching down another hallway I first encountered Onda Systems in room 781 where I ran into the new Audio Physics Virgo 25+ just introduced at the Munich show powered by a Grandinote Shinai integrated amplifier from Italy with 37 wpc, dual mono and no feedback. It was described as a tube-like design with solid-state devices that uses an output transformer. Magneto-solid technology with tube-like circuitry invented by Grandinote, I was told by Reinhard Goerner of Goerner Communications, the distributor. Above the amp was the source which was a Chronolog music server from the German company Trigon that plays hi-rez files from USB, from an internal SSD, from the net, from CD and DVD, up to 192kHz. CDs and DVDs can be downloaded to the solid state drive and archived there. It has a lot more capability than I can describe here. Cabling was solid silver Riptide speaker cable ($8995) and Reference interconnect ($5800) from Onda Systems. I've raved about the rigs laced with Onda cables before and this one was even better still. The transparency, inner detail, and the ability to visualize the venue of the music were extraordinary — easily one of the Best Rooms at the show this year.

There is still more good gear to come so keep checking back. Sorry for the delay in this segment.


---> Click here for part 5 of Rick's TAVES 2012 report.



































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