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TAVES Consumer Electronics Show 2014 (Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show) Report
TAVES Consumer Electronics Show 2014 Show Report (Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show)
Part 1: Report By Rick Becker

  Two weekends after attending the NYAS in Brooklyn was the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (which I've never had the fun of attending) and the weekend after that I was headed to North Carolina for the semi-annual furniture show, followed by an exciting bicycle ride up Mt. Mitchell, NC. I mean, for all the dozens of times I've done this ride, how many times have I seen a bear run out of the woods and get hit by a 1964 vintage Corvette? Not to forget the multi-million dollar Ferraris and other exotic cars on the Vintage Car Rally along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but this was a first. Had I pedaled 10 seconds faster, it might have been me hitting the bear! It was not a "first", however, that there was sub-freezing weather at the top, and a wind-chill temperature of about zero on the descent. I'm a glutton for fun.

 

Consequently, two weeks later I'm up before sunrise and on my way to Toronto for the TAVES 2014 show, gratefully chauffeured by my audio buddy, Tom Lathrop, who frequently attends RMAF 2014, and occasionally the Montreal show. Tom had stayed at the Sheraton before and knew right where to park in the underground. We grabbed some coffee and ascended to the lobby where we were greeted by a trio of high-end cars, one of which looked like it had been left in the wrong alley and been given a camouflage paint job by a graffiti artist. Checking out the license plate revealed that it was from Dubai, raising more suspicion.

We sat down and surveyed the floor plans in the program for the show and immediately I missed the familiarity I had built up with the King Eddie, the hotel for the first three editions of TAVES. The hallways of hotel rooms on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors were pretty straight forward. The large round green stickers with arrows pointing the way on the carpet were also helpful in navigating the course. But the open area on the so-called "ground floor" (which was accessed through the 2nd floor via stairs) with open areas and larger conference rooms was a maize. I headed for the row of hotel rooms on the second floor to gain some traction and get in the groove.

 

Having reviewed an open baffle speaker years ago, I was immediately drawn to the Hologram M2 Turbo ($2500 in satin black, $2800 in gloss colors) from Spatial Audio, a company new to me. The upper of two 12" mid/woofers has a coaxial compression driver to handle the highs. The open baffle is a five-layer sandwich of aluminum and MDF, available in a small selection of colors. With 95dB/W/m sensitivity specified in the midrange and 4 Ohm impedance, you would think a good tube amplifier would be optimal, particularly since there is no crossover, but the rig here was loaded with Wyred 4 Sound electronics. My exposure to Wyred 4 Sound gear has been minimal here on the east coast, but the presentation was the best I've heard with them and it was a very fine sounding real world system with an openness and transparency that so often accompanies open baffle speakers. I spoke with Fray from Audio Excellence who told me the price of the speakers (in Canada) was $3000. A big brother with 15" drivers is available for $4500.  I was intrigued by a small canister about the size of an individual size V8 juice can on the floor behind the speakers, connected to the binding posts... hmmm. The speakers were driven by Wyred 4 Sound M-Amps (250 watts per side, $2400/pr), preamp ($1400), DAC 2 DSD ($1800), though no DSD files were being played.

 

In the ANKits room was a new monoblock putting out 11 wpc from a pair of EL84 tubes with a tube rectifier ($2400) delivering more than enough power for the 03 speaker kit with 98dB/W/m efficiency ($3500 for driver kit and cabinets). Equally impressive was the prototype of the new 4.1X DAC on silent display (about $4000) with three tubes, lots of individual power supplies and a couple of C-Core transformers and slated for early 2015 availability. For the DIY crowd, this is some very high quality gear evolved from traditional Audio Note designs. Prices are for the product in kit form.

 

Speaking with Rohand, the designer and manufacturer at Devine Audio in Brantford, Ontario, I got the scoop on his 98dB/W/m efficient speaker. The midrange is a dipole planar driver with a rear chamber crossed over to a ribbon tweeter. A special 10" woofer mates to these fast drivers on top. First order crossovers are at 800 Hz and 8 kHz. The Mastersound Compact 845 integrated amp with tubes had no trouble driving this efficient speaker. He is marketing the speaker direct for $6000, but expect to pay a lot more if a dealer network is established. I noted the subtle separation/isolation of the mid/tweeter unit from the bass unit as well as the very nice woodworking here. The sound was equally delicious.

 

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