Toronto Audiofest 2018 Starts Today

Once upon a time—October, 2011, to be exact—there was a show called TAVES (Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show). Reading my report on the show, and looking at the photo accompanying the first installment of the report fills me with a certain sadness. The photo shows Suave Kajko, Simon Au, Sarah Tremblay (left above), and Michel Plante (right above), whom I described as "a winning team," and, indeed, that show could not be described as anything but a complete success. For several years, the annual TAVES events were on an upward trajectory.

And then something happened. It's hard to precisely identify the exact factors contributing to the decline of TAVES, but a failure to find a suitable venue was a major part of it. The original venue, the King Edward Hotel, in downtown Toronto, became unavailable, and subsequent venues failed to fulfill their promise. Also, Suave and Simon—Sarah and Michel were no longer involved in the show—tried to broaden the appeal of the show to a kind of Mini-CES-North, which was perceived by many audiophiles as a loss of focus on audio.

Meanwhile, the highly successful Montreal Salon Son et Image developed problems of its own. The show, run by Sarah and Michel, was sold in 2013 to the UK-based Chester Group, and although the initial story was that the new owners would build on the success of Salon Son et Image, that did not turn out to be the case, and the show failed to thrive. The planned 2016 show did not attract enough exhibitors, and was subsequently cancelled. But then, at very short notice, Sarah and Michel came to the show's rescue, offering very attractive rates to exhibitors, and free admission to attendees. Although scaled down in size, the new show was successful, a success that continued with the 2017 and 2018 shows, now entitled Montreal Audio Fest.

Back in Toronto, the exhibition-size venue of the 2017 TAVES (shared with an RV show) was not well-received, with lots of complaints about the acoustics. Suave and Simon listened to the complaints, but the announced change of venue for the 2018 TAVES of another exhibition-size place did little to silence the complaints.

And then came what was for TAVES devastating news: Sarah Tremblay and Michel Plante were going to present their own Toronto show, entitled Toronto audiofest, following the Montreal model, including clear focus on audio and free admission. Suave and Simon tried to fight back by announcing that TAVES, too, would offer free admission, but the writing was on the wall: the Toronto market could not support two audio shows. Very few exhibitors could afford to exhibit at both shows, and, when push came to shove, the majority chose to go with the Toronto audiofest.

On August 31, 2018, in an email to the industry and the press, entitled "All good things must come to an end," Suave and Simon announced that they had "decided to move on to other projects," and TAVES was no more. Whatever mistakes they may have made, I think Suave Kajko and Simon Au have earned the gratitude of the industry and audiophiles for their hard work in presenting these shows. I wish them well in their future endeavors.

And now it's the morning of October 19, and I'm writing this intro before setting off to attend the Toronto audiofest. The list of exhibitors is impressive. The show venue is still near the airport, but it's in a hotel, the The Westin Toronto Airport Hotel, not in an exhibition center. The show runs today through Sunday. It should be fun!

DarthMatzoBrei's picture

One would think that a city with more than 4 million people (including the burbs), a housing market that is North America's most expensive (it's a thing in the 416 and 905 to spend like crazy on the home you can barely afford), a strong music scene, a lot of audio stores, that TAVES would have done better. There is no shortage of people in the GTA who can afford audio, but it all comes down to marketing and location. Hope this one does well.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

The Toronto stock exchange, which is the 12 th largest stock exchange in the world, is also located in Toronto .......... So, some very rich people are living there :-) ...........

Metalhead's picture

Well one of the best music enhancement accessorizes (at least the boomer music) is legal now

Put some at the door with a glass of wine and sell more gear.

Hope you have a successful show!

James.Seeds's picture

Was at TAF this morning, much better than last years TAVES Show. Crowd was sparse which helped with the enjoyment of the music without having people constantly talking in the background.
Enjoyed very much the American Sound of Canada room where they were presenting the giant Avantgarde speakers that just filled the room with music and created the biggest sound-stage I've heard to date.
Bryston was showing off a massive 6 channel amp, an update I suppose to their 9B series, they stacked 2 Model A1's tweeter to tweeter creating FrankenSpeaker, did a double take thought I was seeing the Wilson Audio speakers. Elac's powered Navis Series speakers surprised me the most with deep tight bass from the smallish drivers. At 6k (CAN)a bit pricey and that's before you factor in Mr. Trudeau & Mr. Ford, that's 13% GST sales tax to the non-Canadians. Was happy to see Parasound back in Canada, was tired of going into Buffalo to audition their gear.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Sound & Vision has a pre-view of the Elac Navis speakers ..............

Bogolu Haranath's picture

There is also, a Toronto symphony orchestra ..........

Stardust Emblem's picture

I follow the audioworld a lot of years. When internet arives, it is for me easier to follow.

In my country the audioshows were for years away. The change came when audio enthousiasts
and audio importers starting to organise audioshows again.
Now two good audioshows are presented and a lot of visitors came.

There are much new devellopments to demonstrate, like D klass amps, streaming music, room correction,
DAC improvements.
The vynil revival have a big impact, and enjoy new listeners to the source.