There are probably no speakers that have a more old-fashioned look than those made by Tannoy, nor audio equipment more futuristically high-tech than the Devialet D-premier DAC/preamp/power amp. Audio Eden, a high-end audio dealer located in Newmarket (about 35 miles from Toronto), combined a pair of Tannoy Turnberry SEs ($7300/pair) with the Devialet D-premier ($16,500). Demoed by Mike Hamelin, this unusual combination worked well, producing an easy-on-the-ears, relaxed type of sound.
Turntables were much in evidence at TAVES. Oracle was here, of course, and another "Made in Canada" line of turntables that I was not familiar with: TTWeights Audio. Located in Newmarket, Ontario, TTWeights have an honest-to-goodness aerospace CNC facility: their website notes that they have just signed a Long Term Agreement to supply the Curtiss-Wright Corporation critical cabin-pressure controls for the Boeing 737 passenger aircraft. This high-tech expertise has been applied to the design and manufacture of turntables. These include the Momentus, Momentus Supreme, and the GEM, which utilize a Duo Drive design: Direct Rim Drive or Tri-Belt. Prices are in the $6000$15,000 range. This is serious stuff, beautifully made.
"Have you heard the Woo headphone amps?" Todd Garfinkle of MA Recordings pulled me over. I told him that I hadn'tbut then I have not kept up with the market in headphone amps. "Have a listen." So I did, over Sennheiser HD800 headphones. The MA Recordings Seeing Unknown Colors (MO 15A) sounded great through the Woo Audio WA6 ($650), without the touch of extra brightness that these 'phones are prone to.
I know that Zu is a manufacturer of loudspeakers, but what does "Omen Def" mean. I have no idea, but a pair of these speakers was producing a lively sound at TAVES. At $3400/pair ($2900/pair show special), the price seemed eminently reasonable. They were playing vinyl, courtesy of a KLM 15 turntable and Denon 103 Grade 2 (yes, it's still being made) cartridge.
It's called Toronto Audio and Video Entertainment Show, but--just between usTAVES is basically an audio show. This is not for want of trying on the part of show organizers. They've arranged seminars on the TV calibration, the differences between LCD, LED and plasma displays, and set up an elaborate blind comparison involving 20 flat panel displays that included LCD, LED, and plasma designs, all professionally calibrated, and with the brandnames obscured. I thought it was quite an interesting and useful comparison, but on the three occasions that I visited the room, there were hardly any people therecontrast this with the booths where LPs and CDs were being sold (below).
Totem's Vince Bruzzese is very proud of his new Element series of speakers, which have the bass drivers running full-range, with no crossover. The Element series include Fire (compact), Earth (column, passive radiator), Metal (column, twin woofers), Wood (center channel), and Water (subwoofer). In a demo of the Metals (Arcam BDP100 Blu-ray player, Arcam 888 pre-processor, and Bryston 7B amplifiers), I was particularly impressed by the bass, which didn't seem like it had any need for a subwoofer.
Prior to having attended TAVES, if you had asked me what the connection was between "loudspeakers" and "waterfall," I would have referred to the "waterfall plot" of frequency response that is part of John Atkinson's speaker test regimen. But it turns out there's another connection: there's a line of speakers called "Waterfall." Made in France, these speakers' claim to fame is that their cabinets are made of glass.