An Expanded TAVES Opens Friday in Toronto

TAVES, which bills itself as "Canada's Ultimate Consumer Electronics Show," returns to Toronto's contiguous Sheraton Parkway Toronto North & Best Western Hotels October 28–30. With over 120 exhibitors in toto, three quarters of which are either home system audio (approx. 60–65) or personal/headphone audio, and close to 300 brands, the show has become one of the largest consumer audio shows in North America.

It is also the second most well-attended. 6500 people visited last year, with the number expected to increase up to 10,000 if the professional marketing agency that has been engaged achieves success. Even more astounding than the large attendance number, 24% of 2015's attendees were women, and over 40% were under 34.

"The numbers are pretty impressive, even to us," show co-organizer Suave Kajko said via Skype. "Last year, we were pretty nervous about our move out of downtown Toronto. But to our surprise, it worked out extremely well. Our attendance jumped 55%, and exhibitors jumped 42%. In addition, almost of all our exhibitors from last year are coming back, and we have quite a few new ones."

Acknowledging that the new location, which stands at the intersection of several major highways and literally one street over from Toronto proper, involves additional driving, Kajko pointed out that parking is free, and there are none of the same congestion issues as in downtown Toronto. The move has been a win-win for all parties.

A lot of the show's success and exceptionally diverse demographic has to do with its consumer electronics/technological innovation component, which is housed in a huge ballroom away from audio exhibits. While TAVES's main focus remains home audio—show co-organizer, Suave Kajko, is also editor of the Canada-based hi-fi and consumer electronics magazine that is about to announce a name change from Canada HiFi to Novo—it intentionally includes exhibits that draw many more people than a traditional hi-fi–only event.

"One of the most satisfying thing I've ever heard from our exhibitors is that they have people discovering a brand for the first time, and being genuinely interested and excited to learn more," said Kajko. "We've created a show where your initial draw may be robotics, but you can also explore all the other exhibits. We've introduced people to audio for the first time."

Kajko and his partner, Simon Au, identify themselves as hi-fi enthusiasts at heart, and insist that the show remains very much a proper hi-fi show. But the technology component promises everything from virtual-reality exhibits and gaming to robotics, wearables, 3D printing, lots of tech toys, tech seminars, and even electric cars that combine audio and video and connectivity with a lot of autonomous features. For the first time at TAVES, show attendees will be able to give self-driving electric vehicles test drives around city streets.

"Personally, I'm big into tech toys,' says Kajko. "It could be a Google cardboard box that turns your phone into a virtual reality headset, or a toothbrush that connects with your iPhone. I've been seeing a lot of hoverboards, a self-balancing personal transportation device that appeared in the movie, Back to the Future. You can do some really fun tricks with these things."

Nonetheless, it is for audio that most of us will attend TAVES, and it is audio that will attract the bulk of our attention when we are not behind the wheel. On that score, you will be happy to learn that Kajko discourages static exhibits. "The whole idea of a hi-fi show is to hear with your own ears," he proclaimed. "If you're going to see a static display, you could just as well look at the company's website."

TAVES anticipates the most new-product launches in its history. Totem Acoustics will introduce the Sky Monitor loudspeaker, which replaces the Model One. Yamaha will launch the NS-5000 loudspeaker, and Paradigm its new Persona speaker line. Muraudio will bring its Domain Omni PX2 omnidirectional loudspeaker. ExaSound promises its new Reference DACs, and Nordost its new Tyr 2 USB cable. KEF promises the first Canadian showing of the mammoth Muon Mk.2, of which only 100 pairs will be made, Wynn Audio is assembling a Tidal/Goldmund system whose retail price is over $1,250,000. Harry and Mat Weisfeld of VPI promise the first Canadian showing of the less-expensive but nonetheless extremely impressive Titan turntable.

"Three years ago, we showed the TechDAS AirForce1 [turntable], and it was sold on the floor on Saturday afternoon," said Kajko. "The buyer stole it off the show floor, and the exhibitor left the show to set it right up."

Harry and Mat had better bring two Titans. This could be one case when attending a show on slow, slow Sunday, when equipment is usually sounding its best, might not be the best idea.

While TAVES promises six seminars, each of which repeats at least once, it is ditching live performances in favor of focusing on platters, discs, files, and streams. For further diversion, it will offer live painting in the Jolt! Art Gallery. Whether we will discover a self-driving audio system remains to be seen. For $1.25 million, you'd think it would even polish your luxury vehicle of choice.

Robert Deutsch will be reporting from TAVES—stay tuned to this station.