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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

Frank Fazzalari of Coherent Audio introduced me to his Model 10BE speakers ($4995) with Beryllium tweeters coaxially mounted in the 10" driver. The frequency response is 35 Hz to 2 2kHz and efficiency is 96dB/W/m making them an easy load for the Tsakiridis Devices monoblocks ($5995/pr.) delivering 20 watts each in Class A from an 845 tube driven by a 6L6G. You may also use 211 power tubes within these amps. The Alexander model preamp with a 90dB S/N ratio is $3395 and includes a remote controlled volume and input selection. Their Aeolos integrated amp with four 6550 tubes puts out 45 Wpc in push/pull for $3995. El34 tubes can also be used. While I can't call them visually beautiful, the music sure was. Their Zeus phono stage ($3295) was contributing pure music from a Well Tempered Lab Versalex turntable equipped with a Charisma Audio MC2 moving coil cartridge ($1645 CDN). I've raved about a larger Coherent speaker last year, and this year the result is no different. Could this be the third Best Room in a row? You bet—this hallway was hot!

 

Next door the Focal Scala Utopia speaker was driven by a stack of NAD's top shelf components, everything connected with AudioQuest Redwood cables. NAD is swimming upstream with these components, thus separating them from the high-value entry level image they nurtured for so long. While they have not abandoned those roots, this rig showed that they can play in the big leagues... and it wasn't just the Focal speakers carrying the weight.

 

It was déjà vu all over again in the next room where Bill Laleff of Euphoria Speaker Design fielded the same rig he had last year, but in a more symmetrical orientation in the room. I also noticed the marble slab between the mid/tweeter unit and the bass unit had been replaced with square footers from Sound Damped Steel. Maybe that was why it sounded better than before? The speaker features a diamond dome Accuton tweeter, an Accuton ceramic midrange driver and a 15" side-firing woofer. It is also offered with a more conventional tweeter at a lower price. The front end was a TJN Jean Nantais Lenco Reference Mark II turntable with a ZYX Universe II cartridge, a gorgeous turntable as I've said before. This is the second one I've seen in as many shows and Bill says he is doing quite well. The preamp and monoblocks were from Atmosphere and the power conditioner was from Balanced Power Technology. The stand was from Krolo Design, a Canadian company that sells direct and was seen in many rooms at the show. I loved the sound here last year, and it was even better this time around, but be warned, this is a pricey speaker.

 

MBL had a tough act to follow after their presentation at the Brooklyn show that blew me away after hours with a live recording of a Led Zeppelin concert. The components there were from their Reference Series, but at TAVES they presented their relatively more affordable Corona Series with their proprietary modified Class D topology. The room was very tastefully arranged with lots of greenery shown in subdued lighting. Shown were the C31 CD player ($11,000), C11 Preamplifier ($10,000) and C21 Stereo power amplifier ($11,000) driving a stand mounted monitor that looked like their Radialstrahler 126, but not quite. While their Reference Series has few peers, the Corona electronics have far more in this lower price range, though many people are comforted by the exalted moniker of this renowned brand. This was a very fine sounding room that should appeal to those who prefer the tight sound of solid state electronics. Specs for the speakers were not given and MBL amps are very powerful, yet the tube lover in me has to wonder what the Radialstrahler might sound like with different amplification. For MBL, a company that frequently sells entire systems to clients, I'm sure this is seen as pure fantasy—but hey, I grew up in the Age of Disney.

 

In a room featuring a pair of Well Tempered Labs turntables with a Charisma Audio MC1 moving coil cartridge ($1095 CDN) on one table and their new Reference One MC cartridge ($2175 CDN) on the other, I encountered Bernard Li of Charisma Audio.  One of the tables was the Amadeus MkII turntable (about $3200 CDN) and the other, I believe, was the GTA version at $5583CDN. I found a pair of stand mounted System Audio Pandion 2 monitors ($5999) from Denmark, a rear-ported two-way design aptly driven by a wide variety of electronics. Among them were a ModWright Instruments LS 36.5 tube preamp, ModWright KWA 150 Signature monoblocks, Aesthetix Romulus CD player, a Torus power conditioner and an Audio Exklusiv preamp. The Stage 3000 racks from Codia Acoustic Design from South Korea were very handsome with chrome pillars and rosewood trim on the shelves. Also new at Charisma was their new adjustable speaker stands with solid aluminum posts for $1200 CDN. Minimum height is the standard 24", but additional pieces screw into the pillars to make it 26" or 28" high. The front wall behind the speakers and equipment was a selection of Vicoustic audio diffusors which Charisma distributes in Canada. As always with Bernard, there was a lot to look at—so much that I forgot to listen to the music. It sounded pretty good in the background on my camcorder notes, though.

 

The R2R room had a very minimal rig with a Denon CD Broadcast player feeding the active single driver speaker that was more of a floor-sitting rather than floorstanding design. It was not really an open baffle, as there was a powerful amplifier mounted behind the baffle. The sound was articulate, tall and spacious when sitting in the sweet spot, but descended lower to the floor as I moved off to the side of the room. While this is a fine sounding speaker, I believe the asking price was $48,000, which seemed far too high for the fit, finish and acoustic limitations of this design.

 

On a table in the next room there was a casually set up with a laptop and a pair of lifestyle Iota speakers ($1200) from Neat Acoustics, a two-way design with mid/woofer and ribbon tweeter that comes in a variety of primary colors. The Sprout is a cool design, minimal looking, but complex enough to address the various needs of Nuvo-Audiophiles with inputs for vinyl, analog, digital and Blue Tooth. Outputs are speaker binding posts and a headphone jack. It sounded quite decent standing in front of the desk, and probably would have sounded much better had I been seated in a desk chair, or had the speakers been more carefully positioned on stands. But hey, lifestyle puts life first, which is exactly where young people are today. On the opposite wall was a display of cutaways of exotic Kimber Kables which illustrated why high end cables can cost so much. On the ground floor Kimber also had a display with a machine that actually demonstrated a more simple weaving technique.

 

Neat Acoustics also presented their floorstanding SX1 speaker ($3400) in which the top two drivers were in a sealed enclosure while the lower driver, acting as a subwoofer, was in a ported segment of the cabinet. Driven by modest Naim electronics, the whole system went for about $10,000 and sounded quite good.

While I'm not quite finished with my first day at the show, I must sign off for now. Still much more to come!

 

---> Rick Becker's TAVES 2014 show report part 4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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