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Toronto Audiofest 2023 Show Report

Toronto Audiofest 2023 Show Report
Part 5... Lobby Level And Lower Level
Show Report By Rick Becker

 

 

Westin Hotel Lobby
Sound Gallery  Grado
Next to the badge pick-up table in the hotel lobby was the headphone bar sponsored by Grado and the Sound Gallery, a new business featuring headphones, amplifiers, turntables, and more.

 

 

 

Kiosk  Wynn Audio
A few feet away, Wynn Audio had set up a few of their kiosks. Seen here was a Kalista CD transport in one of them.

 

 

 

Lounge  PMA Magazine And SPL
Walking around to the large conference rooms on the north side of the building I passed through the lounge area where the Industry Dinner was held the night before. There was seating available, but the KEF Blade speakers in matt blue and the SPL electronics caught my attention. Power of Music and Audio magazine sponsored the space and provided an ice cream station serving small cones of soft vanilla ice cream for free to those needing a sugar hit. (Later that afternoon, I needed three hits. Thank you, Michel.)

 

 

 

Sutton A  Acora Acoustics
The Acora room at Axpona was one of two rooms that impressed me more than any other. (The other was Synergistic Research with the Vibratron which will be reviewed in the December issue.) The new VRC 3-way speaker ($218k USD) which was introduced at the Florida show was a dramatic step forward toward sounding like live music and sent goosebumps up and down my arms. I've included this photo to illustrate the size of the room in Toronto, which was roughly equivalent to their Chicago show room.

 

 

Against their now familiar background, the VRC was less sparkly without spotlights on it, though the photo gives a hint of the "metalflake" embedded in the black African granite. The ultra-rigid stone enclosure yields transparency like no other speaker material or design. While the limerence from my first encounter with the VRC has worn off, the music still produced goosebumps and captured my attention — both cognitively and emotionally. It plays as loud and as scales up as well as much larger speakers which means it will not over-power your room or your décor.

 

 

Val Cora has a way of pulling together top-notch components for shows and Toronto was no exception. The Dan D'Agostino M400 monoblocks seen above, which put out 400 / 800 / 1600 Watts into 8 / 4 / 2 Ohm loads (respectively), and the balanced HD Preamplifier and Phonostage seen below are exemplary both in performance and design, though I have to say I am strongly drawn to the copper & silver over the copper & black.

 

 

The black rack seen under the preamps here and the amps above are also from Acora.

 

 

The SAT turntable has also been acknowledged as one of the very best in the world. I didn't notice that Val was fiddling with an optional vacuum hold-down, so I assume it did not have it. That would put the price around $240k USD for the table and arm. A Lyra Atlas Lambda cartridge was used at the show.

So this was a very expensive system and it performed to expectation. If I see it again at Capital this coming week, I am not so hopeful it will sound as good. I have not found the very largest rooms at that venue to sound very good, despite the fine systems presented in them. I hope I am pleasantly surprised.

 

 

 

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