TAVES 2015, the Deutsch Report Part 2

Cellist Vincent Bélanger (above) is getting to be a fixture at audio shows, the sound of the instrument and Bélanger's impeccable musicianship always serving as a welcome reminder of what our hobby is all about. He played at the party TAVES put on for the industry and media in a large ballroom, and first apologized that the sounds he was about to make were not nearly as loud as people were used to in the demo rooms. I think there's a lesson in there—and it's not that Bélanger was playing too softly!

Vincent Bélanger expressed his gratitude to Michel Plante (on the left in the photo above) of Plurison (Canadian distributor for Focal, Naim, Devialet, etc.) for introducing him to the audiophile world and for help in promoting his recordings. Plante is also involved in the production of Bélanger's new recording.

Loudspeakers from Wiener Lautsprecher Manufaktur—not to be confused with Vienna Acoustics—are now being imported to Canada by Reinhard Goerner's Goerner Audio. This is another audio manufacturer that's well-known in Europe but not in North America. Driven by a Grandinote Shinai integrated amp, with an Acoustic Signature WOW XL turntable/TA-1000 tonearm/London (Decca) Supergold cartridge source, the Wiener Lautsprecher Manufaktur Rudolf speakers ($27,000/pair) had a notably lively, open sound.

Devine Audio is a Canadian speaker manufacturer located in Brampton, Ontario, offering handcrafted speakers on a direct-sale basis. The top-of-the-line Sound Stage III ($5995/pair) being demoed at TAVES 2015 (with a mishmash of electronics, some of it no longer current, the most significant being a pair of 300B monobocks) had a sound that, in a brief audition, was quite promising. Claimed sensitivity is 98dB, so it can be driven by single-ended triode amps. The speaker weighs 90 lbs, and does not look "home made." The Sound Stage III is pictured above with designer Rohan Amarasinghe.

Goldmund is an audio company whose products fall into the ultra-high-end, price-no-object category, and Goldmund CEO Michel Reverchon, in a press conference at this year's TAVES (above), was unapologetic for the extravagance represented by their products. His position is that if you want the best, you have to invest money in research, and you must make sure that every single component is the best of its kind, which keeps the cost high. The fact that very few people can afford your products is a byproduct of this search for perfection.

But, according to Reverchon, this is about to change. Not the devotion to producing the best, but since the investment in research has now paid back the investment, new products can be made available for much lower prices, still maintaining the highest standards of quality. Goldmund has been absent from the North American market for a number of years, but this, too, is about to change. In Canada, they're being represented by Wynn Audio, importers of the German Tidal Audio loudspeakers, whose Sunray model is $180,000/pair, so they're not exactly strangers to the High End.

The system being demoed at TAVES was built around the Logos floorstanders, which are described by Goldmund as "standalone" speakers, with built-in amplifiers and DSP correction of any driver and enclosure resonances. All current Goldmund speakers are also wireless, which in their application is said to have no disadvantages. The price of the Logos has not been determined yet, but they're aiming at around US$30,000 per pair. Given that the consumer doesn't have to spend money on a preamp, power amp, and cables (whose cost is not negligible), this price might actually represent good value.

And the sound of the Logos-based system—with Eidos 17 universal player ($5000) and Mimesis wireless hub ($5000)—was truly excellent, with a kind of purity and freedom from distortion, having little sound of its own.

Since I mentioned Wynn Audio's Tidal loudspeakers, I'd better include a photo. This one is the Sunray ($180,000/pair). I'm not sure what associated equipment they were using, but the Tidal price list includes the Presencio preamp at $92,000, and the Assolute Monoblock at $200,000. The list doesn't specify whether that's for each or a pair, but, in any case, if you have to ask. . . The complexity of the speaker connections is shown in the picture below.

Owned by Bernard Li (above), Charisma Audio is an importer of mostly phono-related products, but also some reasonably priced electronics, like the Audio Exclusive E 12 integrated amplifier ($3930), Audio Exclusive E 1 power amplifier ($3535), Audio Exclusive E 7 preamplifier ($2650). Li's devotion to vinyl is shown by the fact that he carries the Well Tempered Lab Royale turntable (the one with that 16" tonearm that I wrote about yesterday), two cartridges bearing the Charisma Audio name (Reference Two MC, $3500), 103 MC, $975), Charisma Audio Musiko phono stage ($1950, price to be confirmed), Charisma Audio tonearm cable (price to be determined), and the Hanni Mera ELB 24V record cleaning machine (USD5610).

Divergent Technologies' Tash Goka (above right) always manages to set up his Reference 3A speakers to produce good sound at shows, even when, as was the case at TAVES 2015, the room was too small for optimal performance. Here he is, explaining to enjoythemusic.com's Steven R. Rochlin (left), the wonders of the Reference 3A Taksim (US$6990).

My usual rule in show reports is to give preference to new products. In the room of the dealer, Toronto Home of Audiophiles, there was an excellent-sounding demo, featuring electronics that would make any audiophile drool (Esoteric CD player, Berkeley Audio Design DAC, PS Audio PerfectWave transport and DirectStream DAC, Pass Labs integrated amplifier, preamp, and stereo amp, Siltech cables). The speakers were the equally drool-worthy Gershman Acoustics Grande Avant Garde ($13,000/pair). I saw these at last year's TAVES, and I took their picture. Since they could not be considered new this year, I was going to pass on taking a picture this time.

However, Ofra Gershman told me that a lot of people seeing these speakers for the first time, having seen them in pictures before, were surprised by their size: much smaller than expected. She wondered if I could take a picture again, but this time with her standing next to the speaker to provide a sense of scale. I thought that was reasonable, but Ofra herself is somewhat on the diminutive side, so I included her husband, Eli (the speaker's designer) as well. But maybe people expect this speaker to be bigger because it's called Grande.

COMMENTS
Noam Bronstein's picture

A small correction - Devine Audio is in Brantford, Ontario - childhood home of the Great One, Wayne Gretzky.

Dr.Kamiya's picture

The speakers in Charisma Audio's booth look like Opera Secondas. They are beautifully made and have a lovely sound. =)

dalethorn's picture

The great news with Mr. Bélanger is not only that there's an album of his on HDTracks in a high-res edition, but you can buy individual tracks!!

Allen Fant's picture

Very nice! JVS.
Another fan of Mr. Belanger here. As above, does Mr. Steven R. Rochlin reflect an audio pimp or not? Great photo!