Last year's TAVES involved a partnership of Suave Kajko and Simon Au, both from the Toronto area, as well as Michel Plante and Sarah Tremblay, organizers of the well-established Montreal Salon Son & Image (SSI). Michel and Sarah also brought with them most of their staff from SSI. Suave and Simon were new to "show" business, so when it was announced that Michel and Sarah were not going to be involved in this year's show, there was some concern. Would these Torontonians have the élan, the savoir faire, the je ne sais quoi needed to run a show like TAVES.
No, you're not accidentally visiting www.motorcyclistonline.com. With some out-of-the-box thinking, Suave Kajko, President of the Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show (TAVES), and Simon Au, Vice-President Sales of TAVES, approached Harley Davidson Canada about exhibiting at TAVES 2013 this past weekend, and the HD people agreed to participate.
What does this have to do with audio or video? Well, the top-of-the-line Ultra Limited Harley ($30,000) includes an "infotainment system," with all kinds of audio/video goodies, including surround sound. Here it is, with Suave looking suitably...suave (Sorry!).
Turntables were much in evidence at TAVES, perhaps the most impressive being the TechDAS Air Force One, which had two versions of the famed Graham Phantom Elite arm mounted. Bob Graham himself was on hand, and can be seen in the photo. Bob demonstrated the vacuum hold-down of the turntable, the audible resonance of the LP when tapped being silenced when the vacuum was turned on. Impressive. The worldwide standard price of the Air Force One is $100,000, and the Phantom Elite arm is $15,000, but Bob said that since he's also the distributor of the AirForce One, he can offer a "deal" on the package price.
The design and manufacturing of loudspeakers can be described as falling on a continuum. At one end, we have speakers that use off-the-shelf drivers purchased from driver manufacturers, combined with crossovers based on information in standard loudspeaker design cookbooks and/or loudspeaker design software (perhaps with "voicing" that conforms to the designer's preference). In the hands of a skilled designer, this approach can produce good resultsbut they can't claim any originality.
At the other end of the continuum are speakers that are designed and built from the ground up,, using design principles that, while perhaps not entirely original, represent substantially new application of these principles. This approach is much more rareand much more costly to implement.
The Muraudio Domain Omni ESL ($48,000/pair), which made its debut at TAVES, is squarely in the latter category...
The Sheraton Center Hotel, venue of the 2014 Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show (TAVES), represents a marked change from the genteel elegance of the King Edward Hotel, the TAVES venue for the past two years. Built in 1972 in a modern style, the Sheraton offers a lot more spaceit also sports one of the most confusing show layouts that I've encountered. There are long corridors leading who-knows-where, and stairs going up and down that may or may not lead to exhibit areas.
I'm drawn to the idea of having a single transducer reproduce all the frequencies, but I appreciate the difficulties of this approach. Generally, the larger the driver, the better it is at reproducing low frequencies, and the worse at reproducing the highs. Thus, I was intrigued when I walked into the demo room of R2R Audio, a new Canadian manufacturer, which featured a single-driver system, with the driver having a 15" diameter, used in a dipole configuration. Can a driver like that reproduce anything other than the bass?
The Estelon X ($70,000/pair) was on the cover of the TAVES 2014 Show Guide, with the printed admonition "Don't miss Estelon in the Yorkville East Suite, 4th floor." Since they were kind enough to provide direction to the demo room, I just had to comply . . .
The first room I visited at the 2015 TAVES, held this past weekend in Toronto, was Update Stereo & TV's big room that had MartinLogan's flagship Neolith speakersand they sounded completely different from the pair that I heard at the 2015 CES. Transparency, tonal neutrality, precise imaging, presence: it was all there. These are great speakers!
Cellist Vincent Bélanger (above) is getting to be a fixture at audio shows, the sound of the instrument and Bélanger's impeccable musicianship always serving as a welcome reminder of what our hobby is all about. He played at the party TAVES put on for the industry and media in a large ballroom, and first apologized that the sounds he was about to make were not nearly as loud as people were used to in the demo rooms. I think there's a lesson in thereand it's not that Bélanger was playing too softly!
TAVES 2015 presented the World Premiere of the ACA Seraphim Skogrand Edition speakers ($58,500/pair), with Skogrand cable CEO/Designer Knut Skogrand (above) on hand for the event. "Manufactured in a small workshop in the mountain hills of Norway," Skogrand cables are designed to "let any system perform at its full potential." This search for perfection does not come cheap: a 3m pair of SC Beethoven speaker cables costs $32,500!