TAVES 2013 (Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show)
Part 4 By Rick Becker
Samsung took a
large room and set up a variety of large screen TVs, I marveled at the perfect
focus and grain-free images presented in 4K UltraHD. It was interesting to walk up reasonably close to
the screen and still not be able to see the pixels. Still, this is not the way
see our world. There is no sense of peripheral vision and the sense of depth
is a construct of relative size, not a combination of perspective, focus and
actual distance. In an important sense, it is the same story of analog and
digital audio metastasized to the visual arena. Certainly there are gains, but
also there are losses.
The Palm Court room was once again filled with tables of
CDs, LPs, cleaning fluids tweaks and accessories from Liberty
Trading. Again this year the Atacama
polished aluminum speaker stands caught my eye. In the far corner Herb Wong of
Gutwire had a table where they
were premiering their new USBe-1 cable with a beryllium-copper shell of their
own manufacture. The pins are gold plated 4n copper and the cable itself is
solid copper conductors. The cable and connectors are crimped, not soldered,
which he claimed was a "world first" for a USB cable. A 1.2 meter cable
sells for $299, which is way more than generic versions and a lot less than
the top-of-line models from his competition.
Tucked back in the Knightsbridge room were a handful of
large TV screens with lots of people asking serious questions at what was the
scene for the TAVES seminar on "The Home
Theater of the Future". I didn't catch any seminars at this
year's show, but there were certainly some interesting ones. And there was a
significant increase and popularity of video oriented rooms and presentations
at this year's show. Another that I missed was Mark Waltrep's AIX
Records presentation with recordings that include soundtracks in
5.1 (with both stage and audience orientations) and 2.0 stereo mixes. I've
seen Mark's presentation before and it is very insightful. His recordings
are pretty special, as well.
Next door in the Park Lane room Rene Evans of Mystic
Audio in Cambridge, Ontario had a Blue
Circle rig with some very interesting gear. The source was common
enough with an Apple laptop with iTunes and Amarra software. The Blue Circle
gear then began with the BC505 DAC ($4750) leading into the very unique BC307
preamp with L3 power supple. The preamp had parallel transistor and tube (6922
and 6SN7) circuitry with dials on the front allowing you to tune each circuit
to achieve your desired tonality by blending the solid state and tube
circuits. I haven't seen that before. Price was $12,000. And down on the
floor was the Blue Circle NSP Class A/B stereo power amp putting out 90 watts
into 8 Ohms with over 5,000,000 micro-Farads of power supply filtering for
$10,000. The new BC60X1hybrid power filer /conditioner ($4495) was also in
use. I especially liked the use of wood on the Blue Circle faceplates.
Probably the most valuable product at the show was their $22 Yaloobaloo which
plugs into any outlet on your audio line and will shut it down in case of a
surge, saving your entire rig. Hopefully your dog will not see it as a toy.
Robert Neil of World Wide Wholesales
was also on hand in the room with his Casta speakers and HiDiamond
cables from Italy that had conductors extruded from copper rods
into 0.1mm thick strands that are cut at 200 degrees and cooked four times.
The strands are then combined together; graphite is added along with XLPE
instead of Teflon and the cable is built, resulting in very low resistance.
Even more intriguing were the Oriton
Black Bullets which were RCA to RCA cable damping devices for about $170/pr.
Bob had them on each end of the digital cable. He loaned me a pair which
proved to add considerable resolution to my $2000 Calyx DAC, making them well
worth the price vs. upgrading to a more expensive DAC. Presumably it was
adding value to the Blue Circle DAC in use at the show. The Casta
D8 speakers in piano gloss black from Italy were sealed speakers with a horn
tweeter, 8" midrange and an 8" woofer down near the floor that goes down
to 30Hz — a smaller and better sounding model than what I heard last year,
and less expensive at $7000. Casta builds all their own drivers and uses a
first order crossover with only four parts. Coordinating surround and center
speakers are available for home theater/surround sound applications.
a distributor of a wide variety of brands from JBL to Mark Levinson had a home
theater running in the Westminster Room with an Arcam
FMJ AVR750 AV receiver and FJM BDP300 Blu-ray player in concert with Revel
loudspeakers. A number of small Arcam DACs were on display at the
back of the room.
It has been a while since I've seen any Mark
Levinson gear but there was a rack full of it, along with
floorstanding monoblocks next door in another room hosted by Erikson Consumer.
The speakers looked to be the Revel Ultima
2 towers. There was a rather large subwoofer at the back of the room, probably
the Revel Rhythm 2 with an 18" driver. I inserted my foot in the photo to
give you an idea of its size. My shoe measures 12" long. Other, more
affordable speakers for center channel and surround were on display at the
back of the room.
celebrating their 30th anniversary in the Hyde Park room sponsored
by Monitor Audio (speakers) and Kevro
International who distributes Cyrus, Monitor and Tributaries
and Clarus cables in Canada.
Cyrus is owned and made solely in Britain. They have four different streamers
to choose from and were using the Stream Xa in the stack seen here along with
their dedicated CDT transport, pre-Qx DAC, PSX-R power supply, used here with
the preamp, and the bottom two units were mono-X 200 Signature monoblocks. The
electronic totaled about $10,000 and the speakers were $9200. The handsome and
unique stand for the electronics was separate. Cyrus has models above and
below those presented at the show.
I've mentioned the fine sound from a stand mounted
three-way Bryston speaker in The Inner Ear room that put together a very fine
sounding system for $10,000. Now I had to make good on my vow not to short
change them this year by visiting the large display in the Kensington room.
Stevie Ray Vaughn playing Tin Pan Alley was being revisited and sounded very fine
coming through the vinyl clad Model T floorstanders ($6495) driven by 28BSST2
monoblocks ($9600 ea.). At the bottom of the rack was the BIT20 ($3000) that
provides AC filtration and surge suppression to 10 medical grade duplex
outlets. Above that was the fully balanced BP26 Reference preamp (2995) with
RCA and XLR inputs. There is an optional DAC, MM or MC phonostage version
available that work with a separate MPS-2 PSU power supply and optional
remote, so you can have it your
way. I noted a headphone jack, mono/stereo switch and a polarity inversion
switch on the preamp, making it a very complete unit. And on top was their
Digital Player along with their MDA-2 DAC. (In black, atop that, was their
BDP-1 Digital Player presumably for comparison.) In speaking with James Tanner
of Bryston, he explained that the Model T speaker is available in a passive
unit where the crossover is internal to the box and the Model T Signature with
an external crossover. Ultimately they will have an outboard electronic
crossover that will allow tri-amp'ing. The speakers all began when he
collaborated with a speaker building colleague to build an active reference
speaker for himself. But it was a very complex speaker when it was realized,
so they simplified it into a passive design. In showing it around, it won
great acceptance, but dealers demanded a center, surrounds and a sub to go
with it. Consequently, Bryston is now in the speaker business and sounding
very good at reasonable prices, I might add. They are in the enviable position
of working with another speaker company so they do not have to re-invent the
wheel, as in building a new facility as James said. This allows them to keep
the cost down and offer better value. Down the road the T series will become
wood veneer with vinyl by special order and a new A Series will be vinyl with
wood by special order. It's going to be fun to watch them grow in this
direction in the coming years.
Recalling that I had somehow missed seeing Jeff Joseph in
his room I sought out 869B. Sure enough, I had turned right when I should have
turned left. A Brinkman Bardo with a Sumiko
Glider cartridge played into the new Thoress
Phono-Entzerrer ($9000) from Germany with selectable RIAA curves
that can be changed as you listen. It also had separate bass, mid-bass and
treble tone controls to adjust for individual recordings. An Aesthetix
Romulus CD player accommodated digitally recorded music. An Acoustic
Arts Power 1 integrated amplifier also from Germany was in the
center of the rack. The speakers were the flagship of the Joseph
Audio line, the Pearl 3, selling for $31,500 in Canada. It was a
rare treat that Tri-Cell Enterprises
brought the Pearl's to the show and they sounded smooth, relaxed and
inviting driven by this German gear with the analog front end. Joseph Audio is
always among the best rooms at the show.
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