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TAVES Consumer Electronics Show 2016 (Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show) Report
TAVES Consumer Electronics Show 2016 Show Report 
Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show Part 4
TAVES 2016 Show Report By Rick Becker

 

 

 

 

Moving on to Wynn Audio in the Thornhill West room I entered in the middle of a formal presentation by mistake. Wynn took me aside to view the gorgeous and likely very expensive Silenzio cables in a display case and the more affordable Tidal G2 Piano floorstanding speakers ($28,000) in piano black from Germany, available with the same Accuton 30mm diamond tweeter as the current version of the Sunray model (not the version that was playing). I left to cover other rooms and returned to photograph the big rig. The Tidal Sunray speaker ($180,000) was about 5 years old and the line now tops out at about 500,000 Euros. I spoke with Johann from Tidal who explained that with the eight side-firing woofers on the two speakers there is no point source for the low frequencies and hence a wider wall of sound is created with no hot-spots in the bass.

 

 

 

 

 

The electronics were from Tidal, in black with their "we build emotions" slogan engraved on many pieces, and from Goldmund in white (or very light silver). The turntable was a Thales Slim ($12,000) with its dedicated Thales Easy tonearm ($8000). This Swiss turntable is battery powered and capable of 20 hours of play before recharge. I didn't catch the cartridge this time, but recall that it was something very special last year. And as with previous shows, this was one of the Best Rooms. Out in the hall I spoke with Rodolphe Boulanger, the Sales Manager from Goldmund who was delighted to talk about Goldmund's wireless speaker technology, an affordable example of which I heard at the Montreal show in the Wynn room earlier this year. Basically, the entire system of big boxes on display in the Wynn room is enclosed within the speaker. A dongle is attached to your source (computer or streamer) and the signal is broadcast and picked up by a small antenna on the rear of the speaker. Rudolphe asked me not to mention the obvious possibility that they are making some cable manufacturers very angry. Shortly after the show, Wynn Audio moved to a new showroom in Unit 31-20 Wertheim Court, in Richmond Hill, so check out their new digs, or visit their website for directions to the new address.

 

 

 

Ducking around the corner into the Unionville room I encountered Kennedy Hi-Fi who had an active display of the new Paradigm Persona series that included the 9H flagship ($38,000/pr CDN) and ranged down to the Persona B stand mounted monitors ($8200/pr CDN). While the one I heard sounded very decent, it was clear they needed superior source and amplification to justify their steep prices. There was a lot of noise from people talking over the music here. Nonetheless, I loved the look of their metal grilles and I liked what I heard. These speakers with 1" Beryllium tweeters, a 7" Beryllium midrange and aluminum woofers could be a real sleeper. They are all reasonably efficient and rated at an 8 Ohm load, so they could presumably work well with tube amplification, too.

 

Sheraton, Dropping Down To The Lower Level
Plurison, one of the major retailers in Montreal occupied the Oakridges room, but were not really set up for listening to music. They had a lot of very interesting things on silent display with sufficient sales folks around to explain the gear. One of my favorite folks was Emmanuel LeQuerre of Naim who explained the new Uniti Atom, a 40 Wpc lifestyle Swiss Audio Knife, made in Great Britain. It does AirPlay, UPnP, Tidal, Google cast with Pandora and YouTube and more, Wi-Fi (with no visible antenna it's wrapped around the inside of the chassis) which can be used on a 5-gig network, hence stream hi-rez files, plus it has a larger buffer, an analog input that can be transferred to the digital domain for streaming and sharing with other units in your home. It has two optical and one coax digital inputs, and an optional HDMI input with an audio return channel only (no video) and a lot more features.

If you want to reduce your media footprint, this little box takes up about one square foot. Unfortunately, I was so overwhelmed with its capabilities, I neglected to take a photo, but you can certainly find it online. This is a very serious and quality lifestyle product at $3800 CDN. Next to it was the new Unity Core network server which is a completely new server from Naim with a new PC board and a quad-four processor capable of ripping CDs. It is supplied with no internal memory but there is a bay on the back where you can insert your own hard drive or SST drive up to 8 Terabytes, also at $3800 CDN. This is New School gear that may well attract tech-savvy geeks to the High End, or drag traditional Old School audiophiles like me into the future.

 

 

 

 

I continued in the Plurison room with my friend Michel Plante who told me the SPL Phono Preamplifier from Germany is very good. I was intrigued by the ads for this stack with their dark red anodized faceplates and surprised that it is only three-quarter size chassis not unheard of, but not very common, either. The top unit is the Phonitor E headphone amplifier ($2299), below that is the Phonos phono preamplifier ($2999), and further down, the Director, a DAC and preamp for $4999 and on the bottom, the Performer, S800 stereo power amp for $4999 that puts out 285 Wpc into 4 Ohms or 450 watts into 4 or 8 Ohms in bridged mono operation. Since SPL has deep roots in the Pro Audio field, all of the pieces have balanced inputs and outputs and some have single ended connections. Check their website. Probably all are Canadian prices. They are also available in silver and black.

 

 

 

Michel was also very big on the diminutive Music Hall pa2.2 usb phono stage ($529 CDN) for both mm and mc cartridges for people who wish to archive their LPs in digital format. It can be used as a preamp or simply connected to your line stage and it has headphone monitoring as well.

 

 

 

Continuing at Plurison with Arthur Cuth, the Clearaudio Innovation Basic turntable is maybe a year old, but it was equipped with the new TT5 tangential tonearm with a Clearaudio Virtuoso V2 mm cartridge at a package price of just under $10,000 CDN. The TT5 tonearm is the least expensive tangential arm from Clearaudio at $4000 CDN, using fewer parts and a non-pivoting design. You simply feed the LP under it with care, an operation that didn't seem too difficult when it was demonstrated for me. This feature allows for extreme rigidity. It is an air-less, mechanical linear motion design utilizing two wheel bearings derived from the dental industry that ride along a glass rail. The headshell is mounted on a carbon fiber wand that can be adjusted for zero overhang. The tonearm cable is captive and goes directly to your phono stage without interruption. A bubble level is embedded in the arm to allow perfect horizontal adjustment.

In mentally comparing it to the linear tonearm on a Walker turntable, the quote attributed to Albert Einstein came to mind, that everything should be made as simple as possible, but not too simple. This looked too simple to be true, but some lucky reviewer will get a chance to check it out. Coming from Clearaudio in Germany, I expect it works quite well, and it certainly is a lot less intimidating than a Walker table. The record clamp, as it turned out, was a bit more complex than it looked. Flipping it over revealed not only does it have constrained layer damping between the aluminum and the Delrin, but there is also a nylon insert to isolate the bearing shaft. Furthermore, the entire weight contacts the LP only through three small spikes that are imbedded in the Delrin. Obviously, this is not too simple. I should also point out that the Innovation Basic plays 78 rpm records as well as 45 and 33.

 

 

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