TAVES Day 3
The most expensive audio system at TAVES 2012 was in the main ballroom. With components from Burmester's Reference line, the total cost of the system was $500,000. That's according to the advance write-up in Canada HiFi magazine. At the show, I heard $600,000 mentioned as the price. But I guess that when you're at that level, what's an extra $100,000? The system was playing during the show and served as PA system for the concert by Cindy Gomez. How did it sound? On its own, not at the concert, it sounded very good indeed, especially considering the size of the room (huge) and the lack of acoustical treatment. At the concert, it sounded like it could have been any PA system.
Do Italians know how to make harsh-sounding speakers? If they do, I haven't heard them. The new Opera Quinta floorstanders ($5500), with Unico electronics, demoed here by Vince Scalzitti of Tri-Cell, the importer, sounded very smooth indeed.
Elac of Germany was one of the first to take up the development of the Heil Air Motion Transformer, and their FS 507 VX-JET ($18,000/pair) looks very advanced indeed. A unique feature of this model is that the mid/tweeter assembly can be moved forward and back, thereby varying the dispersion to match the listening distance. Oliver John of Elac looks pleased, as well he should be.
There were lots of turntables at TAVES 2012; the one pictured here is the TTW Momentus V2 Rim Drive with MegaRing and TTSuperWeight ($20999). Made in Canada, the Momentus V2 is one beautiful piece of machinery, don't you agree? It had two Graham Phantom Supreme II/SRA Pod arms mounted, one 10" and one 12".
For those who already have a turntable, TTW had a wide assortment of turntable weights, clamps, etc. available, all at special show prices.
For me, one of the best sounds of the 2011 TAVES was the system from Blueberry Hill Audio ("The Home of Musical Thrills"), featuring their Rhapsody 3D speakers. This year, they had a new speaker called Nocturne 3D, priced the same as last year's Rhapsody 3D. (Click here for a description of that speaker.) The Nocturne 3D bears considerable resemblance to the Rhapsody 3D, and still uses a bipolar arrangement Fostex drivers in the midrange, but these drivers are 6" rather than 8", and it has a completely new subwoofer section, using two drivers rather than a single driver. The price is $14,900/pair, factory-direct, and, just looking at the components used and the constructionnever mind the soundif the speaker sold through normal retail channels the price would be easily double that. (There is now a Rhapsody 4D, at $24,900/pair.)
And what about the sound? Clean, wide-ranging (claimed to go down to 12Hz), ultra-quick, with startling dynamics. Most definitely one of the best sounds of the show. The Nocturne 3D is shown here with its designer, Marlen Mogilever.
I've heardand been impressed byAtohm's small speakers, but I haven't heard any of the larger speakers from this French company. This time, the Atohm speaker on demo was the GT 3.0 ($10,900/pair), a 3.5-way bass reflex model with 92dB sensitivity. Larger speakers in a line often fail to retain the clarity of the smaller ones, but, in my brief listening, this does not appear to be the case with the GT 3.0.
Based in Oshawa, Ontario, RJH Audio uses a single Audio Nirvana 12" driver in its top-of-the-line Reference One loudspeaker ($7995). Claimed frequency response extends from 22Hz to 20kHz, which is a lot to ask of a single driver, but the Audio Nirvana drivers have a good reputation in the single-driver DIY area.
I really enjoyed the sound of the small ASW Cantius 404 speakers at the 2012 SSI in Montreal; the Magadis ($28800), demoed at TAVES 2012 takes that sound to a completely different level. The speakers have a beutiful finish, too.
Gershman Acoustics has a new speaker: a slim floorstander (10"x10" footprint) called the Idol ($3000/pair). (Being a Canadian speaker, that would be Canadian Idol, not American Idol.) It uses a 6" woofer, but still claims to go down to 34Hz. It's shown here with Eli and Ofra Gershman.
A product that I really looked forward to checking out at the last Montreal show was the DSPeaker Anti-Mode 2.0 Dual Core audio processor, which promises automatic digital correction of the performance of any full-range stereo audio system for only $1000. Alas, the person who was to demo this device did not make it to the show. Drat! I later read about the DSPeaker in John Atkinson's posting from the Newport Show. The DSPeaker was at TAVES 2012, demonstrated by Tim Ryan (pictured), from www.simplifiaudio.com, DSPeaker's US distributor. A brief demo convinced me that the DSPeaker has definite potential for improving the sound. I look forward to reading Kal Rubinson's upcoming review in the November issue of Stereophile.
The second photo is of the DSPeaker's display, showing the effect of the device on the frequency response of a speaker before (red) and after (black) correction.
A photo of people buying records is traditional in show reports, and I wouldn't want to break that tradition. This time, I thought I'd take a picture from the vendor's point of view.
I saw this signboard outside one of the stores on Yonge Street when I was walking from the parking lot to the King Edward Hotel, site of TAVES. Socks, souvenir hats and HDMI cables?? I thought that was pretty funny . . .