TAVES 2015, the Deutsch Report Part 3

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!

In their 14-layer, lacquered Piano Rosewood finish, the ACA Seraphim Skogrand speakers certainly looked beautiful, and—in a system featuring VAC Electronics, Esoteric SACD, Triangle ART turntable, Osiris tonearm, Sutherland Phono Blocks and Massif Audio Design component rack—they sounded fine, as far as one could tell in the small demo room.

The emphasis in the presentation was on the cable, the speaker described as "the first found worthy of using Skogrand SCIW Beethoven internal wiring." The photo above shows the internal wiring used in the ACA Seraphim Skogrand Edition.

Crown Mountain Import's Alex Tiefenboeck (above) is the distributor for a variety of products, including the Kudos Audio Super 20 speakers ($9495/pair) shown in the photo. His latest imported product line is from Poland: Albedo pure silver cables. These cables appear to be very well made, with high quality materials, at prices that represent a bargain in the elite cable world: $1800 per 1m pair of Monolith interconnects, and $7200 for a 2.5m pair of Monolith Reference speaker cables.

Custom hardwood component racks made by the Toronto-based Massif Audio Design were featured in the Audio by Mark Jones (Magico/Tenor) and the Skogrand/ACA Seraphim rooms. They also had their own booth, where some Massif racks and platforms were available at "show special" prices. The Massif products are designed by Travor Doyle (left), with Angela Bradfield (right) looking after the business part of the enterprise. (She also designed the logo.)

Audio by Mark Jones is the company bringing Magico speakers to Canada; TAVES 2015 was the occasion for the debut of the S7 speakers (US$58,000/pair). With electronics by Tenor and a Kronos turntable, the sound—given the less-than-perfect-acoustics—was fine, but at the industry party later in the evening one of the Mark Jones exhibitors came up to me and said me that the sound was much better later in the day. A familiar story. . .

Totem Acoustic had one of the much-sought-after large rooms in the Sheraton, in which they had several systems set up. The speakers were all familiar, except for one: the new Kin Miniflex, held by Totem's Vince Bruzzese in the photo. The Kin Miniflex is suitable for hanging on the wall or placed on a stand, vertical or horizontal orientation. A pair of Kin Miniflexes ($800/pair), with a Kin mini sub ($500) produced a big sound, out of all proportion to their size.

Focus Audio of Markham, Ontario, manufactures a wide range of speakers, the new top-of-the-line Master Two BE (US$45,000/pair), seen in the photo above. Big speakers like the Focus Master Two BE are always a problematic proposition a shows with small rooms, like at TAVES 2015; taking this limitation into account, the Master To BE gave a good account of itself.

Jadis is one of the most renowned brands in the world of tube electronics, so a new model from Jadis is always event, especially when it uses a new tube. That was the case at TAVES 2015, which introduced—to me and to Canada—the Jadis I-50 integrated amp ($11,995) Shown here with designer J.C. Calmettes, the I-50 puts out 50Wpc using K150 tubes, which required a new transformer design. Smooth sound from Spendor D7s ($7495/pair), with Oracle Paris turntable/arm/Benz ACE cartridge ($3500), and Jadis DPMC phono stage ($6900).

Suave Kajko, President of TAVES, and Simon Au, Vice-President Sales, were taking a chance in moving TAVES to a suburban location, one that's hard to reach by public transit. Would people still come? And can an audio/video expand successfully into a kind of Mini-CES, with video gaming and virtual reality, robotics, 3-D printing, electric cars, etc.

The answer to these questions are "Yes" and "Yes." I don't know what the official attendance figures were, but all the exhibitors I talked to said that attendance was higher than last year. On Friday, the first day of the show, there were definitely more people milling around than is normally the case—at TAVES or the Montreal Salon Son & Image. The buzz—starting with the party and speech by technology journalist/media personality Marc Saltzman on the first day of the show, seen in the photo above—was definitely upbeat, in both the audio/video and "other technology" areas of the show. (Mind you, I have my doubts about whether many of the people who came for gaming and virtual reality succumbed to the siren lure of high-end audio.)

Although in general terms TAVES 2015 was a success, not all campers were happy. A significant problem was the fact that while the show was announced and promoted as being at the Sheraton, many of the exhibits were in the adjoining Best Western, which has smaller rooms, thin walls, low ceilings, and is generally less conducive to audio demonstrations. (One exhibitor I talked to referred to his room, on the first floor of the Best Western, as "the dungeon," and said he would not be back if he was assigned the same or similar room.) Some exhibitors I talked to said that they didn't realize that their room as not in the Sheraton until they got there.

But all this was taking place behind the scenes. Audiophiles are a hardy lot, and walking (indoors) to the Best Western did not seem to faze them—and regular audio show attendees know that people always complain about the rooms. And Suave Kajko and his crew were nothing if not welcoming, the sign pictured below signifying this attitude, inviting guests of the hotel to attend the show for free.

I understand that the Sheraton/Best Western venue has been booked by TAVES for the next two years. My guess is that even the exhibitors that were not happy will grit their teeth and sign up for exhibiting at TAVES 2016. The bottom line for shows like this is attendance, and attendees' interest being sufficiently piqued by the products they see to actually buy something—if not at the show, then afterwards from dealers. Indications are that TAVES has fulfilled its function.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

As the person who wrote the TAVES show preview for Stereophile, I want to let exhibitors and visitors who did not expect to find themselves at the Best Western that they were not alone in their surprise. I spoke with Suave for a half hour, and the Best Western was never mentioned. It's not even mentioned on the website, at least not on the front page.

schalliol's picture

Didn't go, but I'm guessing folks buying $30k+ cables don't frequently hotels less than 4 stars often…

GuillaumeLN's picture

The Richmond Hill location wasn't the best idea for anyone looking to enjoy Toronto over the time of their trip to TAVES. Yet, the location seemed to cater nicely to local buyers.