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.
Paradigm has some new active speakers, including the A2 ($300$350/pair, depending on finish) demoed here by Erin Phillips and Mark Aling using a Numark DJ mixing deck. Paradigm has also entered the earbuds market, with models ranging in price from $59 to $149. Like Paradigm's speakers, these were developed utilizing anechoic testing.
Focal distributor Audio Plus can always be counted on to give impressive demos of the big Focal speakers; this time, they had the Stella Utopia EMs, driven by the Devialet DAC/preamp/amp, with a laptop as a source. At $90,000/pair, the Stella Utopia EM, is for those folks who can't quite afford the $180,000/pair Grande Utopia EM. Great sound, as always with speakers in the Focal Utopia line.
Made in Germany, the Ceratec Xeno ($7000/pair) is a "lifestyle" speaker that also functions as room lighting, the back of the speaker having top-to-bottom LED lights whose hue and brightness can be varied with remote control. Combined with the Vita II subwoofer ($6000; less expensive options are available), the Xenos had a nice, open sound.
A major part of the success of an audio/video showand, yes, based on my impressions of the first day of TAVES, it's shaping up to be a successis having a helpful, experienced staff. Michel Plante and Sarah Tremblay brought with them most, if not all, of the staff of the Montreal Salon Son & Image. I was delighted to see Caroline St-Louis, the talented singer and flute player whose performances with her band are always a highlight of the Montreal show. Although this time she's not performingshe's expecting a babyshe's here helping out at the registration desk.
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.
The new TAVES event taking place this weekend in Toronto is the result of two years of planning and market research and the efforts of Suave Kajko, Publisher/Editor in Chief of Canada Hi-Fi magazine, Simon Lau, owner of AuDiY, an audio component and accessory distribution company, and Michel Plante, President of the Montreal Salon Son & Image. The experience of Michel, and of Sarah Tremblay, Director of the Montreal show, who is also involved in the organization of TAVES, has, I'm sure, been invaluable. The list of sponsors includes Stereophile and sister magazine Home Theater. The venue is the upscale Le Meridien King Edward Hotel, a four-diamond property built in 1903 and subject to extensive renovations through the years.