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Toronto Audiofest 2022 Show Report Fine sounds on the fourth floor.

Toronto Audiofest 2022 Show Report Part 1
Fine sounds on the fourth floor.
Show Report By Rick Becker

 

 

  Room 443 was the home of Apple Tree HiFi and featured BSC Research speakers. This was one of the new speakers that I raved about at the Montreal show earlier this year. While they had the $24k Dundee 8 speaker in the room in a metalflake green finish with its crossover in a separate matching enclosure, they were premiering their new Dundee 6 model, expected to price out around $14k, which was more appropriately sized for a hotel room.

Big brother had been easily filling a rather large room in Montreal, and the Dundee 6 could easily play in a much larger room than it was here in Toronto. It features a six-inch woofer with a poly cone and rubber surround. The 1" horn-loaded compression driver is coaxially mounted. The large opening that fills one side of the speaker is the horn opening. With 94dB/W/m sensitivity, it doesn't take a massive amp to drive it and the frequency range is said to measure from 30Hz to 30kHz, depending on room and placement.

It certainly felt (and I mean felt) like a full-range speaker in this room. The music had real body and beautiful tone being driven by a PrimaLuna Evo 300 Hybrid integrated amp. Most of my exposure to Prima Luna gear has been a disappointment, largely due to the speakers with which it has been paired, or the room setup. Part of the improvement here is undoubtedly due to the new, higher-grade Evolution series. (I noticed "Floyd Design silk-screened on the faceplate.) But the curated components and room setup were likely major contributions.

 

 

I also noted small wood footers with bronze inserts under much of the gear. It came from IK Audio which uses a variety of materials to produce two levels of footers priced at $1600 and $2100 per set of three. I'm a big fan of such tweaks and while these seem to be on the expensive side, judging by the sound quality I heard in this room, they seem worth investigating.

 

 

Also of interest here (but not until I returned home and examined my photos) was the Norstone Como stands, which I suspect were the leather-covered stands I noticed at Axpona earlier this year. A Trans Rotor Fat Bob turntable with a True Glider suspended tonearm ($6500) was not set up, leaving music to be sourced from a Lumin U1 Mini streamer ($2999). I enjoyed this room a lot, both on my first time through and on my sweep at the end of the show.

 

 

Moving on to room 445 I encountered substantial-looking Cerwin Vega floorstanders ($3500) sounding a lot better than I remember that brand from days of yore. With a compression horn tweeter, maybe a 6" midrange, and a pair of 12" woofers, these speakers had no trouble filling the room. Music was sourced from a Technics turntable with an unusual tonearm, both mounted in a custom plinth that I was not familiar with. There was also a Musical Fidelity CD player in the modest rig and a Musical Fidelity dual-mono integrated amp. A little York phono stage for both MM and MC, about $550 sat on a pedestal to the right of the equipment rack. Another phono stage, the Belmont (~$1100), had both balanced and single-ended outputs.

 

 

 

Michael Tang, an analog guru whom I've known for years was present to show me his new cartridges based on a design from Neumann, better known as the microphone company in Germany, many years ago, which employs the coils on both sides of the cantilever. Michael also does a lot of cartridge repair work. He showed me excellent photos before and after that were very impressive. Unfortunately, can't find how to get in touch with Mike. I hope he hears about my comments and gets in touch with me at Enjoy the Music.com.

 

 

Right at the corner in the hallway, in room 446, was a demonstration of the effectiveness of IsoAcoustics footers sponsored by Kennedy HiFi. As you see in the photo above, it featured identical Focal speakers with one pair mounted on the IsoAcoustics footers and the other pair directly on the floor. I had experienced the demonstration at the Montreal show and found that it was much easier to distinguish between the two set-ups when I was controlling the switching device myself. With due respect, I passed on the opportunity to repeat the experience. Hopefully, a lot of others sat down and had a serious listen. Before I left I noted the zaZen isolation platforms for turntables and components from IsoAcoustics, priced at $260 and $299 for the thicker zaZen II.

 

 

Moving on, I encountered a most unusual speaker in room 448 shared by Hearken Audio and L'Atelier Audio. The Ilumnia Magister speakers ($32,990) from Belgium were comprised of elements I'd seen before, but this was certainly a very unusual combination and with excellent results. The key ingredient is their patented floating cone driver with a galvanically isolated electro-magnetic suspension that requires no basket or spider. The speaker itself is a passive design but requires a separate power supply for the electromagnetic suspension. A directional soft-dome silk tweeter is positioned in the air directly above the 8" mid-woofer.

 

 

The 99% linearity of the midbass driver is the key to the speaker's success, though the laminated teardrop-shaped cabinet certainly contributes to the music escaping the box. It appears to be triple-ported.

 

 

 

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