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TAVES 2012 (Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show) Report Coverage
TAVES 2012 (Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show) Report
Part 5 Report By Rick Becker

Second Floor

Feeling really pressed for time, I parachuted down to the 2nd floor again and tried to catch a word with Steven Huang of Audio Sensibility at his corner booth. As had been the case each time I passed by, he was deeply engaged with a customer about the virtues and value of his audio cables and connectors. A power cord, digital cable and a balanced interconnect from Audio Sensibility are key players in my reference rig so I know he speaks the truth. What caught my eye this time was a DIY power cord kit for $60 that includes a 5' length of high purity oxygen free copper cable (three 12 Ga., twisted, multi-stranded and cryogenically treated) plus a choice of Wattgate and Schuko connectors (some at a modest upcharge). And if you haven't earned your soldering merit badge yet, they will even build it for you at a small surcharge. This looks like a really good deal at the entry level or for components that you use less often. Or for that price you could even scrap the IEC connector and use the kit to replace captive power cords on vintage gear in your second or third systems. Always lots of interesting things on Steven's table.


Moving over to the Bryston exhibit across in the hall in the large Kensington room I found a lot going on at once. At one end were people plugged into the new Bryston headphone amplifier and at the other end was music playing over Bryston's new Model T three-way passive speaker ($6495) available in black ash, Boston cherry or natural cherry finishes. While I wasn't familiar with the husky voice in the music, the rig had a very solid and inviting sound, even in the less than optimal listening conditions. Substantial solid state monoblocks easily controlled the speakers, but with 91dB?w/m efficiency, and in spite of their 4 Ohm impedance, I couldn't help but wonder how these speakers with dual tweeters, dual midrange drivers and dual woofers might sound with a high quality tube amplifier. Music was sourced from a BDP-2 stereo digital player ($2995) that also accepts inputs from NAS or USB drives and offers S/PDIF and AES/EBU outputs and handles AIFF, FLAC, WAV, MP3, M4A and OGG. Man, the formats are getting way ahead of me here, but they were fed to the BDA-2 DAC ($2395) with dual 32-bit/192kHz AKM DACs and an optional remote control. I also discovered the separate Bryston MPS-2 ($1695), a high current power supply that can run up to four Bryston components (BP20 preamp, BP25, BP26 preamp ($2995) being used here and BP1.5 phono stage). On a table in the front corner I noticed the PowerPAC 300SST ($2650, seen on the right in the photo), a 300 watt monoblock designed to mount directly on a loudspeaker or on a wall. A less powerful version is on the left. These are an evolution of one of their amps I had long since forgotten. Very nice to see them on display. Lots of great gear here, but I had to press on.


I stopped briefly to meet Todd Garfinkle of MA Recordings who specializes in two-microphone stereo recordings in concert halls and churches of jazz, world and new age music. I've probably heard some of his work on Hearts of Space.


Circling around the second floor I came upon a Quad system with a Quad's premium Platinum Series DMP CD player/DAC/preamp (all in one box) feeding (presumably) Platinum monoblocks taking on current through Gutwire power cords. The larger Quad ESL 2905 electrostatic speakers were playing at the time, though their smaller brothers were undoubtedly used during the weekend, also. The solo acoustic guitar music was sounding very fine, indeed, though the music hardly challenged the system. At this late hour the room was being overtaken by numerous conversations so critical listening was pretty much out of the question.

I peeked into Pacific Cabling Solutions in the Knightsbridge room at the corner of the building to find that they were already tearing down their home theater rig, so I moved on.



Jerome Fragman of Plurison up in Quebec introduced me to the Martin Logan Ethos ($7000) on silent display, seen here with one of their subwoofers. Looking even more svelte was Martin Logan's Vision sound bar ($1649 or $1999 with the wireless subwoofer seen in the other photo) that comes with a bracket for wall mounting and has 5 X 40 watt amplifiers built in. Also on silent display was the new Cambridge Audio azur 851A Class XD integrated amplifier ($1999) and their azur 851C CD player/DAC/digital preamp ($1999), whose DAC is said to be a little better than their DACMagic+ (both are 24bit/384 kHz). Next up was Cambridge Audio's Stream Magic 6 Network Player with a built-in DAC as well.


Further down the hallway in the Hyde Park room I found Monitor Audio Platinum PL300 floorstanders ($11,300) that have been around for three years being driven by Simaudio Moon electronics. The sound was transparent and crisp as you would expect from the metal drivers in the Monitors. Clarus Cables, a high end line from Tributaries was making all the connections here. On silent display was the Monitor i-deck with futuristic styling  which gives you high quality playback from your iPod, except that given there are already two versions of it in production, I guess the future is now.


With the show rapidly coming to a close I dove into the Paradigm/Anthem room to learn what might be new from this major manufacturer. It was a home theater set-up but a gentleman engaged me in conversation about the bubble surround technology that is now used on many of the Paradigm woofers and subwoofers. The bubbles in the surround, it seems, keeps the speaker cone from flexing as the driver goes through its pistonic motion, creating less distortion and an impression of greater speed in the bass. Almost as if on cue, the disc jockey demonstrating their powered lifestyle speaker jumps into the room and cranks up some music in the main surround rig to something like 102dB, making our conversation difficult at best, but proving the point about the speed and clarity of the bass. Fortunately, somebody put a leash on the DJ and returned him to his kennel.


Nordost, whose cables were seen in many rooms, and who helped sponsor Roy Gregory's seminar, also had a booth on the second floor where they could talk with visitors and sell their cables and Sort Kones without interrupting any listening sessions. Kudos, gentlemen.


As I passed through the second floor I took a look at the patrons fervently searching for their next LP or CD, and thanked Suave Kajko and Simon Au for their hospitality and for putting on such a fun show. At that moment the idea of videotaping the Roy Gregory seminar and posting it on the TAVES website came to mind, but it was an idea whose opportunity had passed. It was tear-down time now and as I watch the ritual in the Bryston room the echo of Jackson Browne's "The Load Out" which I had heard several times at this show, echoed in my mind...

Now roll them cases out and lift them amps 
Haul them trusses down and get 'em up them ramps 
'Cause when it comes to moving me 
You know you guys are the champs


Down in the lobby of the King Edward I met up with Linda who had been out shopping for chocolate. Taking a last longing look at the Porsche in appreciation of their sponsorship of the show, I picked up an unwanted brochure for their winter driving school, January 31 through February 14, 2013. Now wouldn't that make a lovely Valentine's present — especially if her next assignment is in Minneapolis!


It wasn't until we were well on our way out of Toronto that I remembered seeing Jason Jiang of TubeMagic Audio Systems across the room at the cocktail party on Saturday night. How did I miss his room? When I got home I pulled out the program and discovered to my horror that after the Roy Gregory seminar I had forgotten to return to the hallway of hotel rooms on the second floor. Not only had I missed TubeMagic, but also L'Atelier-Audio, the McIntosh room, Audio Excellence with McIntosh and Wilson Audio, and Atoll Electronique. I'm sure I missed some interesting experiences in those rooms. Please forgive me, gentlemen. I'll do my best to catch up with you next time.


---> Back to main TAVES 2012 report.












































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