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.
Canada Hi-Fi, a print and internet magazine, is one of the sponsors of TAVES (editor Suave Kajko is President of TAVES), and had a booth at the show. Canada Hi-Fi is distributed free to audio and video stores in Canada, but if they decided to charge for their issues, with such charming representatives as Sarah Ferguson and Margaret Waymark, they would be signing up subscribers in no time.
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.
iPod speaker docks are getting to be a major product category, and although audiophile-oriented manufacturers have initially dismissed them as belonging strictly to the realm of mid-fi (or worse), serious audio manufacturers like B&W and Arcam have introduced products in this category, so perhaps it can't be ignored any longer. Monitor Audio has now joined the fray, with the i-dock 200 ($600) and i-dock 100 ($500). They look like serious efforts, too, with high-resolution DACs, multiple drivers driven by a 50Wpc and a 25Wpc amplifier, respectively, and room correction using built-in test tones. Both sounded good, but I was particularly taken with the larger i-dock 200. If I were in the market for this kind of product, the Monitor Audio i-dock 200 and i-dock 100 would be at the top of my list to check out.
If you're wondering what you're getting when you buy a speaker like the Focal Stella Utopia EM, the back of the speaker gives you some indication. Note that it's signed by designer Jacques Mahul, and the quality control of this speaker was the responsibility of one S. Robert.
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.
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.