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TAVES Consumer Electronics Show 2014 (Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show) Report
TAVES Consumer Electronics Show 2014 Show Report (Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show)
Part 3: Report By Rick Becker

Continuing On The Ground Floor, Briefly...


Entering room 5, I found Kevro exhibiting Monitor Platinum 300 flagship speakers ($11,500) featuring magnesium/aluminum skins on a Nomex honeycomb cone as well as a ribbon tweeter. They were driven by the short stack of Cyrus electronics held aloft on their contemporary stand that we've seen so often before. The stand and components are so unified it is hard to think of a Plan B. The few cuts I heard indicated the speakers were very dynamic and the electronics were playing far above what their size suggests. With 90dB/W/m sensitivity and 4 Ohm impedance, the recommended amp power is 100 to 300 wpc. Fit and finish of the speakers was excellent with black leather on the baffles and real wood veneer everywhere else; it exudes class. I left the room wondering why these flagship speakers don't have a wider reputation.  Off to the side my eyes caught a nice looking pair of Monitor Silver 6 floorstanders for only $1699 which obviously target a broader demographic. This 2.5-way speaker features mid/woofers of magnesium/aluminum alloy with a dimpled surface and ceramic coating, striving for a similar sound at a much lower cost.


Wandering around a bit I encountered one of the Brockton Collective painters, Javid, actively working on a painting. As shown here, Javid likes to cut heads open, he says, and see what's inside. On a ledge along a wall was the Vagina Lamp by artist Tau Lewis, also of the Brockton Group, completed in 2014 of plaster, epoxy resin and chalk pastel for $500. For those of us who listen in the dark, this work provides subtle light to the room to allow for basic navigation without bumping into our speakers. We are in the early stage of a lighting revolution brought on by the LED technology with major efforts directed toward development of bulbs for legacy light fixtures on one hand, and contemporary fixtures with the LEDs built right into the form of the lamp itself on the other. When the bulbs burn out in the latter group in 10 to 20 years, you simply replace the entire fixture and call it "re-decorating". The Vagina Lamp here weds classic human form with new technology and a sexual theme. I also encountered the body painting exhibit covered by Editor and Creative Director Steven R. Rochlin earlier, so I'll simply refer you to his fine photos and comments. What an interesting listening session it would be to have this artist and model in attendance at a party. Shades of Andy Warhol?


Up To The Third Floor...
After taking a quick spin to gauge the landscape of the Ground Floor I ascended to the Third Floor to maximize what time remained on Saturday.

The first room in the hall was the Grant Fidelity room I had been eager to visit for multiple reasons. The PureAudioProject Trio 15TB open baffle speakers ($3500 in kit form) were playing with tube amplification from Psvane (the tube company). The two-piece preamp with 300B tubes in the power supply is seen here on the right, and a SET monoblock with 845 tube is seen here on the left (about $13,000 for the preamp and monoblock package). I grabbed the front-center seat and soaked in the liquid, transparent and dynamic sound. I've been a fan of open-baffle designs, but also a cautious one. It didn't take long listening to James Taylor sing to hear why both the amplifiers and speakers had "Sold—to a very nice person" notes taped to them. Rachel Zhang, who has always walked me through their products in the past, kept peering over my shoulder trying to catch my name tag. Finally, after being convinced that this was one of the Best Rooms at the show, I stood up and gave her a big hug of condolence as many others had done over the weekend. I had been following her blog over the past year as her husband, Ian Grant, bravely battled cancer. Ian, who passed away last summer, was usually in the background at shows. It was the effervescent Rachel, the friendly Dragon Lady of high-end audio, who promoted the fine (and usually affordable) products they culled from the Chinese market. Most notable, though not inexpensive, are the Psvane tubes Rachel imports. Carefully inspected, they are stamped "Select by GF" to assure you of their high quality. Seen here, clockwise from the upper right, are a quartet of KT-88 Z, a matched quartet of 6CA7-Z, a couple of pairs of small signal tubes (12AU7 among them), SE300B tubes and the weird, vintage looking WE101D (top center) that was developed by Western Electric at the same time they developed the 300B tube, but never licensed to other tube manufacturers. My Coincident Turbo integrated amp runs Psvane 300B and 845 tubes, and my Coincident Statement preamp runs their 101D, so I can vouch for their excellence. Ze'ev Schlik, from Israel, proudly displayed their speaker which ships KD (knocked down) in a variety of finishes and is easily assembled. PureAudioProject is a consortium of shops producing different parts of the speaker in Germany, the USA and Israel. With a bevy of low powered SET amps in house, I'm looking forward to a review sample of this interesting and relatively affordable speaker in the near future. From the look of the excitement in this room and the support Rachel has drawn around her, coupled with her own strength, determination and expertise, the successful continuation of Grant Fidelity looks very promising. As they say in the motorcycle world, "You go, girl!".


Hanging out in the room of Toronto Home of Audiophile I found Ofra and Eli Gershman with their Grand Avant Garde speaker ($12,500) being driven with Pass XP 30 three-box preamp with completely separate power supplies for each channel and X600.8 monoblocks. The analog source was a Clearaudio Ovation turntable with what looked like a wood-body cartridge, but I heard a CD source during my visit. At the bottom of each rack was an Entreq (Energy Transforming Equipment, from Sweden) Tellus grounding device in a wood chassis to which each component was grounded, I believe. At one point in my visit the Entreq was disengaged from only one piece and then re-engaged to demonstrate the subtle, but significant contribution it makes to the rig. The cumulative effect of grounding everything would be larger. The black extension on the base of the speaker is actually a bass trap for the back wave as I've noted in a previous show report, but what caught my eye this time was the clipped flange of the midrange driver and the open holes to its dedicated chamber that are used to tune the sound. Though this may be less elegant than drilling holes through an un-clipped flange, there was no arguing with the quality of the music in this room, which ranked among the Best Rooms at the show. That the Pass gear in this room was solid state did not bother this tube lover one bit.


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