Tri-Art in Toronto

The Tri-Art room, the first I visited, started me off on a good foot. It consisted of a presentation given by owner Steve Ginsberg and his colleague Jim Leveille, and it was fascinating. Tri-Art, if you recall from previous show reports, is the audio company that makes a series of electronics and open-baffle speakers whose enclosures, plus "jelly bean" acoustic treatments, are made out of solid bamboo. Steve loves bamboo as a material for its tonal qualities and also because bamboo is so rigid and impervious to splintering, you can mill it like you would metal, with a CNC machine. I also think bamboo has a wholesome, organic, warm aesthetic that's mother-earth sculpture-like.

Tri-Art makes whole systems, everything from turntables to cables to tube-buffered power bars. For this show, the company played music from two sources—a USB stick inserted in a P-Series Blu-ray/DVD player ($1198) and an S-Series TA-0.5 turntable with a 9" tonearm ($1300) and P-Series mm Nude Shibata cartridge ($1295). Electronics included a P-Series MM/MC phono stage ($780), a B-Series preamp ($2479), and a B-Series single-ended, class-D, 60Wpc power amp ($3800), each with its own external tube buffered power supply and finished in a color called "distressed black", although I noted no worrying behavior from any of the gear during my audition. Cabling consisted of the company's Tri-Art interconnects ($392/1m RCA and $550/1m XLR) and Tri-Art speaker cable ($855/3m).

The real star of this presentation was the company's bass reflex S-Series Mini Monitor speaker ($799) which we saw transformed before our very eyes and ears from this tiny product with a 3" full-range cone and supertweeter into a conical wood-horn goliath. The three-step transformation began with the crossoverless Mini Monitor itself, to which was added, via a clamping system, an adjustable stand module equipped with a 12" open-baffle woofer ($2100) with an attenuator for the full range driver.

The final, most spectacular step was the addition of two rather massive flaring out conical wood horns on each speaker, that, cross my heart, sounded absolutely natural and, well, un-horn-like—no cupped hands effect or shouty trebles. With every step up, across tracks from Diana Krall, Louis Armstrong, and Thelonious Monk, the speakers' sound evolved to become more refined, vivid, intimate, expressive, tactile, and microdynamically charged. While prices for the conical-coned version is TBD, price is expected to be around $6500 for the pair, which strikes me as a silly good price for what I heard as true high-end sound.

Anton's picture

Great start!

I am already lusting - and not crazy priced!