Acora, Audio Research, Transrotor, Dynavector

(All prices are in Canadian funds unless otherwise indicated.)

Who knew I’d meet Paul Simon—the Paul Simon, pop star, the shorter half of Simon and Garfunkel—at the Toronto Audiofest? I wasn't expecting to, but there he was, singing to me. I also met Satch, a/k/a Louis Armstrong. Both were in the room belonging to Acora Acoustics, builders of speakers made with natural granite enclosures.

Okay, those musicians weren’t really there, but you could have fooled me! Such was the system’s ability to convey the tone of instruments and the tiny inflections and breathing patterns that give voices an intimate, nuanced, fleshy, moist presence. The room was manned, or personed, by one of the nicest guys in the biz, Acora Acoustics founder Valerio Cora; Cora was demoing the company’s SRC-2 speakers ($47,000/pair), a pair of 750Wpc Audio Research 750SE monoblocks ($91,000 for both), and that same company's Ref 10 phono stage ($42,900), all fed by a Transrotor Massimo turntable ($14,875) equipped with a Transrotor SME tonearm ($5450) and a Dynavector mc DRT XV-1t cartridge ($9,800).

The sound was smooth, dynamic, with drive. Also on display (but inactive when I was there) were an Esoteric Grandioso K1 CD/DAC player ($40,000), an Aurender N30SA network player, and other Acora speaker models including the floorstanding SRC-1 ($36,000) and the standmount revised SRB ($19,000), which you can use with the company’s SRS-G speaker stand ($6000), which are also made of granite. Audio Research 750SE monoblocks