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Toronto Audiofest 2019 Show Report

Toronto Audiofest 2019 Show Report
Part 2 By Rick Becker



Saturday, October 19th
Man does not live by music alone. I glanced with envy at the red Kawasaki Ninja 650R in the parking lot on my way into the hotel. The weather was much better on Saturday.


Resuming on the 3rd Floor
Coming off the elevator I turned right and entered 321, the ARC Audio/Esse Quadro room. New to me, the ESSE Quadro is the Italian manufacturer of the L'una 146 stand mounted monitor with a bright red baffle. A black crescent shape grille can cover the drivers. And there is a floor-standing big brother (L'una 177) with greater efficiency and broader frequency response.



Both speakers have an adjustable tweeter. Other colors are available as well and the sides are wrapped in real leather. ($9500 CDN, stands $600). The fancy DMSV footers, Model 60, are about $900 for two sets of four. The turntable was an Acoustic Signature Horizon from Germany and it was armed with an Ortofon Cadenza Bronze cartridge. The tube amp was from Pure Fidelity. Analog source, tube amp and an Italian speaker... what's not to like?




Bernard Li from Charisma Audio had a very fine sounding rig with new Kinki Studio electronics from China. Reasonably priced (monoblocks were $4740 CDN) and unique machining on the fronts. The TW Acoustic Raven GT2 turntable ($13,555 CDN, on left) was fitted with a Charisma Musiko tonearm ($3300 CDN) and Charisma Signature One mc cartridge ($5130 CDN). The turntable on the right was the Well-Tempered Lab Simplex MkII ($2920) with the new EMT HSD 006 mc cartridge ($2160 CDN). What struck me as a very good value was the new Codia Acoustic Design Stage 700 rack ($2550 USD) with chrome posts and many-layered Birch plywood shelves, each with a resonator beneath it.




This is trickle-down technology of the Korean Codia rack I reviewed and purchased for my main rig at more than twice the price. The posts can be ordered in various heights. With the beautiful Capriccio Continuo speakers and stands (need I say Italy?) this was a very fine sounding room also, with lots of gems, no doubt due to the use of TEO Audio cables with liquid metal conductors. (Room 363).



On my way out the door of the Charisma room I spotted this handsome Kinki Studio THR-1 headphone amp ($1490 CDN) that offered inputs for balanced, and high and low impedance headphones.




The Gramophone Audio Distribution Company (room 360) was home to the very fine Fyne Audio speakers that I loved so much at Rocky Mountain. This company, formed by people from Tannoy who were laid off when Tannoy switched to importing production from China, offers a range of speakers from affordable monitors to very substantial and high efficiency floor-standing models. The F1 model, seen here by the window was apparently damaged in shipping, but the ones I heard here and at Rocky Mountain are well worth investigating. The music from their coincident drivers and downward firing ports is musical and inviting. The fit and high gloss finishes of their cabinets is superlative. And they can sing with modestly powered tube amps.



You will be hearing a lot more from about this company in the future, I assure you. These people really want to work. Note the "energy" and "presence" controls on the F1 model, effectively moving the tone control from the amplification to the loudspeaker, for those who appreciate such convenience and flexibility. The amplification here was by Audia Flight — a rare opportunity for audiophiles.




Crown Mountain Imports in 358 presented the ProAc Response D2R monitors dressed in one of the finest looking veneers at the show for those who want something special. Base price for the speaker is $6500 CDN, but $7330 as shown. Electronics were by Norma Audio from Italy with the Revo IPA 140 integrated ($9200 CDN) powering the speakers. Track Audio provided the speaker stands and the isolation floor cups ($170 CDN for the floor cups alone).



I've never met a ProAc speaker I didn't like, and that run goes back 25 years or more. Their smaller Tablette 10 and the signature version are less than half the price if your room is small or you listen nearfield. Cables were by Portento Audio, a company I'm not familiar with. They were on the more expensive side, but it was hard to argue with the music heard here.




ELAC and Trends Electronics teamed up in rooms 357 and 356. The first showing the dark active Navis ARF51 floorstanding speakers with a streamer and preamp on the table. Cables were by AudioQuest in both rooms.




The other room featuring the Navis ARB51 active monitors in a very contemporary white baffle on a light washed veneer driven by more modest ELAC electronics including the DS-S101-G Discovery Series music server on the left. Keep in mind that both these Navis speakers are three-way designs with the midrange and treble being coincident, aiding the fine performance and high value — especially given the fact that you can roll the cost of an amplifier and speaker cables into these Navis speakers.



Andrew Jones, designer of the ELAC speakers here was in control of the music with an iPad and was seen here during an unusual lull in the flow of visitors.



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