Toronto Audiofest 2022

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Robert Schryer  |  Oct 26, 2022  |  24 comments
The Toronto Audiofest 2022 may not have been the busiest audio show I've attended, but it was still a success. It had plenty of new product launches, great-sounding rooms, and a good amount of traffic, especially on Saturday, when seats became a hot commodity in many exhibit rooms.
Robert Schryer  |  Oct 26, 2022  |  0 comments
Like at the last Toronto Audiofest, I listened to two of EQ Audio's main systems that were setup at both ends mirror-image-like along the length of the back wall of their huge, subdivided exhibit space. One system included another North American premiere!—the Monitor Audio 3-way PL200 3G speakers ($17,500/pair)—the second system consisted of a pair of Focal Sopra No.3 speakers ($33,798/pair) and electronics by Musical Fidelity.
Robert Schryer  |  Oct 26, 2022  |  4 comments
And now for something completely different, Part 3.

Ever heard of a monophonic integrated amplifier? An amp that includes a single amplification channel along with its single channel preamplification stage? I hadn't until I visited manufacturer Eon Art's room, which was demoing a pair of such a rare, in fact, one-of-a-kind, beast, called the Boson ($72,537/each).

Robert Schryer  |  Oct 26, 2022  |  1 comments
A room I can always count on to deliver soul-stirring, heart-warming, duct-tearing, yearning-to-possess sound is the one hosted by Hearken Audio/Atelier Audio, an oasis of some of the least mechanical, most musical sound I've heard this side of real-life music.
Robert Schryer  |  Oct 25, 2022  |  0 comments
And now for something completely different, Part 2

On the gentle urging of one of the nicest guys in the biz, Ed O'Herlihy, owner of Ontario retailer EQ audio video, I visited, among the many exhibits Ed was hosting in his nearly stadium-sized space, was the Focal 1000 series Utopia 7.0.4 Dolby Atmos demonstration, the exact same setup that Focal presented in Dallas at this year's CEDIA Expo.

Robert Schryer  |  Oct 25, 2022  |  0 comments
You want more "big" sound? The kind whose tentacles can reach into every nook and cranny of a large room with warm reverberant energy, rich tones, colorful harmonics, and bass tremors that'll seep through your seat? Then step right up, into the DALI room, which was showing its new flagship KORE loudspeakers ($150,000), monuments to state-of-the-art speaker design conceived in the land of the Vikings—Denmark—along with a pair of 200Wpc, class-D NAD M23 monoblocks ($5000 each), a streaming M33 integrated amp ($7800), an AudioQuest Niagara 5000 line conditioner (7000), and a bevy of AudioQuest Thunderbird Zero cabling.
Robert Schryer  |  Oct 25, 2022  |  1 comments
And now for something completely different, Part 1. Shortly before the show, I received this invitation from George Taylor of Canadian distributor Entracte Audio:

"Hi Robert, I am writing to extend an invitation to Room 353 of the Westin Toronto Airport Hotel at Toronto Audiofest. The room will be jointly operated by Angela Yeung–Gilbert Yeung, (retailer) Absolute Sound, and Entracte Audio. . ."

Robert Schryer  |  Oct 25, 2022  |  0 comments
In the killer-sound megabuck category, I present to you Wynn Audio's system, which, in your typical hotel exhibit room, wouldn't fit or, if it did, would be so squished together as to make the room look like a storage space, not a listening area. Here, in the spacious hall-like Carlyle room, Wynn Audio's system fit like a glove, a musical glove, I might add. Compared to its system at the last Toronto show in 2019, Wynn Audio went slightly lower key this time, not in the size or price of the equipment, but in the color of the demoed speakers. Those in 2019 were finished in an alluringly striking lime green. Forget lower key—this year was lower key lime.
Robert Schryer  |  Oct 24, 2022  |  0 comments
You want organic, vinyl-like sound without the vinyl, without spending an arm and a leg for it? Then I have the system for you, found in the Innuos/ASONA room. It starts with an Innuos complement of a PULSEmini network player ($1600) and a PhoenixNET network switch ($4900)—those switches, they've upped the digital game—plugged into the preamp section of a Cen.Grand 9i-90SA fully balanced headphone amp ($2900). Amplification was assumed by the gorgeous (and gorgeous-sounding) KT-88-tubed, 80Wpc Synthesis Roma 510 AC amp ($6500) from Italy, which powered a pair of bass-reflex AperturA Sensa speakers (starting at $4300/pair). Analysis Plus cabled everything together.
Robert Schryer  |  Oct 24, 2022  |  1 comments
Exasound products have always been the source—literally, they make front end equipment—of good sound when I've heard them at audio shows, and this time was no different.

Exasound was sharing a room with Muraudio and Constellation—a constellation of three companies, if you will. The trio's setup included the Muraudio SP1 speaker (US$19,500/pair), an electrostatic/dynamic hybrid that radiates sound 120° horizontally and 16° vertically, a pattern said to prevent soundwave interactions with the floor and ceiling to achieve better imaging and bass.

Robert Schryer  |  Oct 24, 2022  |  0 comments
If an audio company is in a position financially and infrastructurally to build components to make a complete system, it probably makes sense to do so, especially when it comes to mid-priced gear that isn't necessarily audiophile oriented. A lot of people who like music and want quality sound, without feeling the need to go overboard in that department, want to be able to buy a turn-key system from a reputable company so they won't have to worry about finding components from separate companies that'll work well together. This same-brand system philosophy also makes sense for us, the audio diehards, because it serves our industry to have people want to join the good-sound crusade and support hi-fi companies in general, rather than completely avoid getting into quality audio because it's just too complicated and fiddly to do so.

It's why Moon by Simaudio launched its Voice 22 standmount speakers ($3800/pair, optional stands $500 extra).

Robert Schryer  |  Oct 24, 2022  |  0 comments
There is something ancestrally earthy about the sound of Acora speakers that is hard to pinpoint. Sure, the fact their enclosures are made of stone might have something to do with the Stonehenge vibe I'm getting from them, but once you hear Acora speakers, I think you'll get a glimpse of what I'm talking about. They sound timeless and wise, like musical sages from another time. They convey the earth-bound existence of artists before they died like few other speakers do. They conjure the essence of music, back to when cavemen tapped sticks on stones.
Robert Schryer  |  Oct 23, 2022  |  1 comments
I heard welcoming sound in the room shared by retailer Corby's Audio and manufacturer Saturn Audio when I walked in on Steely Dan playing on a system fronted by a pair of 3-way Alta Audio Adam speakers ($19,000/pair) that looked spiffy in their premium Rosewood finish ($1000 extra).
Robert Schryer  |  Oct 23, 2022  |  0 comments
I heard some very nice sound in retailer Toronto Home of Audiophile's room, whose system included the Gershman Grande Avantgarde speakers ($16,995/pair), a perennial favorite of mine at shows because they always sound good, hooked up to a Pass Labs XP22 preamp ($14,400), the Pass Labs X150.8 amplifier ($10,500), a source combination of a PS Audio DirectStream Memory player ($9500) and a Roon Ready Weiss DAC 501 ($12,495), another product featuring room EQ. Cabling was all GutWire: interconnects, digital cable, speaker cables, and power cables, with a GutWire power conditioner.
Robert Schryer  |  Oct 23, 2022  |  2 comments
It's the first music I heard in the morning and the last I heard come evening, after doing my last round of the day of room-to-room visits: Pink Floyd, courtesy my neighbor, two doors down from me in the Crown Mountain Imports/Audio by Mark Jones room. I like Pink Floyd, so it was all good. And it's not like my neighbor only played Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd just seemed to bookend the listening days there, probably to provide both a boost of encouragement and a respite for the host. I was also intrigued by the sound in that room, because even though I'd only heard the music it played through my wall or from the hallway as I scurried by but slowed down just enough to steal a peak inside my neighbor's room, it always somehow sounded better than I thought it should.