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.
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.
Bryston is one of the most successful Canadian audio companies, and I think a major part of their success is due to the fact that they have a good sense of their market: not interested in fads, but moving with technology to the future, and meeting new trends in listening. Headphones have been around for a long time, but they've been usually peripheral to the interests of audiophiles. This has been changing, and Bryston has a new product to meet this challenge. The BPHA-1 ($1295) is a headphone amplifier that is said to work well with the new headphones that are difficult to drive. Bryston's James Tanner is holding up a prototype of the BPHA-1.
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.
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.
Anthem, Paradigm's sister company, has a very interesting new class-D amplifier, the M1 monoblock ($3799 each), a slim unit that is capable of putting out 1 kilowatt into 8 ohms and 2kW into 4 ohms. The M1 has an integrated fan-less cooling system that allows multiple amps to be stacked without feet.
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.
It was a really good show. That was the opinion of the people I spoke to at the 2011 SSI, including veteran as well as first-time exhibitors, and members of the public. Even the Trade Day, which in the past was not very popular, was busy enough that it felt like it almost could have been one of the public days. The Lifetime Achievement Awards ceremony was extremely well-attended, as the above photo illustrates. There was a kind of back-to-the-basics feel to the show, with a strong emphasis on music presented in two-channel stereo, and almost nothing in the way of surround sound. (Sorry, Kal!)
On Sunday at 2pm, John Atkinson gave an illustrated talk entitled "How to measure loudspeakers and what the measurements mean." The scheduling was not ideal, just three hours before the show's closing, and the door to the meeting room where the talk was held was locked, and could be opened only from the inside or with a special card, which was not provided. As a result, attendance at the talk was not as great as it might have been, but the people who were there listened with rapt attention. One person told me afterwards that he has a book on loudspeaker measurement that he's had difficulty understanding, but, having heard JA's presentation, it made much more sense to him. Other than the specifics of how loudspeakers are measured, I thought the most interesting part of JA's presentation was . . .
On the evening of the first day of the show, John Atkinson, Art Dudley, and I attended a party at Coup de Foudre, one of Montreal's premier high-end audio retailers. There was much to admire there, not the least of which was listening to some of Peter McGrath’s hi-rez recordings on a system featuring VTL MB185 tube monoblocks driving Wilson Sashas and an Alpha DAC being fed USB data from Peter’s MacBook Pro via a Wavelength format converter.