TAVES Day 1
Location, location, location. Although there are more factors that go into a successful audio/video show, unless the location and the venue are right, it's really an uphill battle. The organizers of the Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show recognized that unless the show is in location that's convenient and has a venue that's attractive, only the most devoted audio/videophiles will attend.
They got it right by selecting the King Edward Hotel, a luxury hotel in downtown Toronto, with many restaurants nearby, and also close to theaters. All right, so parking is expensive, but the King Edward is steps from the subway, so it's easily accessible by public transit.
And if you think that the King Edward just looks classy from the outside, have a look at the inside.
I got to the show shortly after the 11 o'clock opening, and already there was a considerable lineup of members of the media. I had pre-registered, so getting a badge did not take long.
If you had a problem finding the location of an exhibitor or where a seminar was being held, Gigi Dalka, Maggie Waymark, and Sarah Ferguson (left to right) at the TAVES Information Desk were ready to help you.
One of the rooms I was most eager to visit was Bryston's. At the last Montreal show (SSI 2012), Bryston introduced their first entry into the loudspeaker market: the Model T, designed by James Tanner, Bryston's VP Sales and Marketing, with help from driver manufacturer Axiom Audio. The speaker was on passive display, Tanner saying that he was still tweaking the design of the drivers. The advance publicity for TAVES 2012 was that the Model T would be demonstrated at the show.
Whenever I hear about a manufacturer of one kind of audio product, eg, electronics, introducing a very different kind of audio product, eg, a loudspeaker, I tend to have my doubts about the viability of the enterpriseit makes me think of the saying about the cobbler sticking to his last. But I know Bryston to be a conservative manufacturernot in the political sense, but in the sense of not rushing into something in an impulsive wayand I know that Tanner has been in this game for a long time, and that he's a good listener.
The Model T that I heard at TAVES 2012 was very impressive indeed, with startling high-level dynamics (claimed maximum SPL is 118dB SPL at 1 meter, and I believe it), and powerful bass. The Model T is actually available in three versions: one with internal passive crossover ($6495/pair, which was being demonstrated), the Model T signature with external passive crossover ($7495/pair), and a version with active crossover ($9495/pair).
Bryston's Model T is the flagship of an entire line of speakers. There's a very serious-looking center channel (pictured), a smaller stand-mounted speaker called the Model T Mini ($2,550) and some wall-mounted speakers.
TAVES 2012 is billed as being "presented by" Porsche. What does this luxury sports car have to do with audio? Well, apart from being the kind of product that most audiophiles would love to own if they could afford itand, of course, some can afford it, and do own itthe Porsche 911S on display at the show had a $6k Burmester sound system, the total price of the package being $141k. I had earlier suggested to show organizer Suave Kajko that it would be a nice bit of PR on Porsche's part to offer a free week-long loan of the 911S to all audio/video journalists covering the show. He said he's get back to me on this, but he never did. One of the few lapses in what was an otherwise well-organized show. :-)
I was amused by the sonic choices offered by the Porsche's Burmester sound system: Smooth CD, Surround CD, Live CD, and Sound Conditioner, which gives you "music playback with strong physical presence." The CD track being played when I sat in the car was "My Own Happiness," by X-Dream, which I positively hated, but the sound as such was very good.
Nordost offered discounted prices on their cables and other accessories, one of which was a product I haven't seen before: the Qv2 "AC Line Harmonizer," part of the QRT line. You plug it in to a spare AC socket, (two or more are recommended), and the result is said to be improved sound and picture quality. The list price is $350, with a "show special" price of $300.
You want pick up some used classical records, cheap? One of the booths at TAVES had them at $5 ("other genres" was $15). And if you can't quite read the writing on the sign in the picture, the upcoming Toronto Downtown Record Show is on Sunday, November 11, 2012, 11am to 4pm, 958 Broadview Avenue.
The Ontario Vintage Radio Association, represented at TAVES by Roger Jones (left) and Simon Claughton (right), is a club for collectors and enthusiasts of antique radio and wireless equipment." In an age where "wireless" refers to networks, speakers, subwoofers, and headphones, I get a particular kind of satisfaction from considering the fact that "wireless" was around a long time before any of these modern devices, and I have a great deal of admiration for the folks that help us maintain a sense of the history of electronic equipment that we take for granted.