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TAVES Consumer Electronics Show 2017 (Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show) Report
TAVES Consumer Electronics Show 2017 Show Report 
Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show Part 1
TAVES 2017 Show Report By Rick Becker

 

I caught Francis Chung of Toronto Home of Audiophile and Mike Lang of GoldenEar Technology posing, along with the Triton Reference, in the Pachter room. The TR is their new flagship model at $8500US ($10, 999 Cdn) and I have to admit this is the first GoldenEar speaker I've felt that I can truly rave about. Earlier models were often heard with price-appropriate solid state gear that didn't create the synergy l love with tube powered systems. The same situation presented itself here, but the solid state gear happened to be the very tube-like Pass Labs gear for amplification and as expensive as the Pass gear is, it was appropriate for the new Triton Reference.

Also in the system was a pair of DACs that I've compared before and asked to hear again. The first was the PS Audio DirectStream DAC with the latest Huron download. My audio buddy, Tom Lathrop, had just bought one and brought it over to my system for a listen. Using a Synergistic Research digital power cord and their MIG2 footers, I was so amazed at what I heard at home that I almost bought one on Audiogon before coming to TAVES. Here at the show, I was able to compare the $6000US ($7799 Cdn) DirectStream DAC with the $27,300 Cdn Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference Series using the new PS Audio DirectStream Memory Player ($5399 Cdn). While these two DACs are not in the same price league, it was a wonderful opportunity to compare a DAC that would more likely be found in a studio mastering rig with one that would more likely be found in an audiophile rig.

The Berkeley was revealing of minute detail, extremely neutral sounding without any hint of editorializing, yet also very easy to listen to without strain — exactly what you want for mastering CDs. The DirectStream was also very easy to listen to without strain, but it had warmth that invited me into the music and evoked an emotional response to the music, so in some way it must have been slightly colored or editorializing. I liked them both, but they were different...and the cost was certainly different. Since I have just installed a Synergistic Research Blue fuse in my DAC at home, I'm going to let that burn in and see what it sounds like. I may not want a new DAC after all. The other important take-away here was the superlative performance of the Triton Reference which easily revealed the differences between the DACs and seems to be an outstanding bargain. Finally, I've found a comfortable seat on the GoldenEar bandwagon. Also new in the rack here was the Pass Labs XP 12 preamp ($8150 Cdn). Connecting the gear was cabling by Siltech and power cords by Gutwire along with a special Gutwire grounding cables of some sort to which I should have given more attention.

 

In the Berton 1 room retailer Audio One had a relatively modest rig set up driving B&W stand mounted 705 S2 monitors run in bi-wire configuration along with other B&W models on display that might have seen service over the weekend. With this popular speaker brand their room was busy on the several occasions I passed by, so I didn't get a chance to really listen to this rig. It featured an AudioQuest Niagara 5000 power conditioner, Dell laptop for files, Bryston Digital Player and BDA-3 DAC, BP-17 Cubed preamp and stereo power amp, all on the Solid Tech rack.

 

Across the hall in the Karsh room I met Richard Kohlruss, distributor of Hegel products and owner of distributor ASONA, who had a couple of tables I would see later on in the Mirvish Hallway just past the Tickets & Registration tables at the entrance to the show. Richard had a very nice sounding, simple rig featuring a Hegel Mohican CD player ($5000US), as in "The Last of..." a unit designed specifically (and exclusively) for Redbook CDs. There are, after all, millions of them still out there and people seem to be willing to hang onto them. At least they aren't showing up at garage sales in significant quantities, yet.

The Mohican was wired into the new Hegel H190 integrated amp ($4000US) that should be shipping about three weeks after the show. It features a built-in DAC that can stream most anything, a headphone jack, 150 Wpc that are stable into 2 Ohms and a huge damping factor to control difficult speakers. Like the Mohican, it comes in the traditional black and lifestyle white. With Class AB circuitry, it is no lightweight, coming in at 42 pounds. It easily drove the Cabasse floor-standers from France that featured coaxial tweeter and midrange as well as a pair of woofers. The subwoofer in the corner was not active. Also on silent display were a Pylon Audio stand mounted monitor and floorstander from Poland. We've reviewed one of their speakers.

 

In the Danby room hosted by Kevro International I encountered another fine sounding rig with Roksan electronics and a very nice looking Roksan Radius 7 turntable ($2,999 Cdn) driving Monitor Audio speakers. The stack included Roksan's K3 integrated amp ($2499 Cdn), K3 power amp ($1999), K3 CD player ($2499) with 24 bit/192 kHz DAC, K3 DAC ($2499) which also does DSD up to DSD 128, and a Torus Power conditioner. Since there is some duplication of function here, I'm not sure what was actually actively playing, though obviously the tonearm was at rest.

 

Next door, but across a hall in the Atwood hallway I entered the Pinsent 4 room hosted by Tri-Cell Enterprises and Executive Stereo. Not only was it exquisitely laid out, but it was immediately obvious that this was one of the Best Rooms at the show—and there would not be many this year. I've been a fan of Vivid Audio since they first appeared in North America (when... some 10 years ago?) and I initially thought the oval form of the early models was too extreme for most people, the Giya even more so. But it is hard to ignore quality and they've been doing well for so long now they seem destined to become classics. (Gasp!). The Giya G2 ($66,000 Cdn) in white with blue spotlights shining on them were playing when I visited on two occasions

 

Top down on the Massif Audio rack ($2500 Cdn) was an Acoustic Solid Solid Machine Small R turntable with three tonearms (Abis, WTB-213, Jelco) for $10,739 with all three arms and armboards; less with fewer arms. At least one of the cartridges was a Benz Micro Glider SL low output MC ($1190 Cdn). Below that was an Acoustic Arts Reference Tube Preamp II Mk2 ($15,830) and below that was a Thoress Phono Enhancer ($13,750). And on the bottom shelf, as best I could tell were an EAR CD player & DAC, both priced with five figures. On Salamander amp stands next to the speakers were the Acoustic Arts monoblocks, priced at $24,770/pair.

Also noted were black vibration absorbing devices the shape of a large cell phone from HRS on the top of each monoblock. Behind the rack on the floor was a Synergistic Research PowerCell 12 UEF SE ($8500). From my own experience with the PowerCell8, I strongly suspect much of the bloom and air of this rig, as fine as the other components are in themselves, was due to the Synergistic PowerCell used here. It wasn't just the tube gear. Cabling was Cardas Clear speaker cable and Cardas Clear Beyond interconnects and power cords. I would have loved to spend then entire weekend in this room. It doesn't get much better than this and a lot of others apparently thought so, too, as they listened attentively.

 

On silent display in Pinsent 4 was a trio of cherries that, in another room, would have been prime candidates for a first class rig. First is the Acoustic Signature turntable with a gorgeous wood plinth. And down in the shadows I spotted a gorgeous EAR V12 tube power amp from Tim de Paravicini and a Chord Dave DAC, all three being serious material for lust.

 

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