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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:22 pm 
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Hi,

I'm just back and a bit groggy from the trip in and out, but still able to do a quick summary.

TAVES has become something of a mixed blessing if you are old school and are mainly interested in left/right two channel. There is lots of stuff there now that is of zero interest to audiophiles, but the table and booths that sell headphones and pocket sized gear seemed to be doing a brisk business. The larger listening rooms were fairly well trafficked but not crowded by any means. Mind you, the friday opening seems to have its glitches. Some rooms were locked up until early afternoon while staff were scrambling to set up. Other designated rooms were just not opened at all. But I expect by Saturday dawn they will all be firing up their gear.

One first impression about this show concerns the number of previous exhibitors who are not represented. No Grant Fidelity, a perennial winner. No Planet of Sound = no Harbeth speakers. No Audio Note (UK) and no Audio Note Kits. No Coup de Foudre = no Line Magnetic. In fact many previous exhibitors are just not there.

I only go to shows for one reason; to hear speakers. It is becoming ever more difficult to audition speakers as audio businesses keep closing. Despite the ambient noise and the wall and doorway bleed through, and in spite of room anomalies, an audio show is one of the only places where you can pop in and out of rooms and get an 'impression' and I am big on first impressions.

There are hundreds of hi-fi speakers on the market at any one time but only a tiny handful can communicate the emotional content of music. I tend to categorize speakers as either sounding like 'hi-fi' or as sounding like 'music'. The most elusive quality to replicate and communicate is musical emotion.

Caveat lector. I need to declare my biases. I am a stand mount, two way, mini-monitor lover. Small and cleverly designed boxes with simple cross-overs and two drive units that are carefully selected and matched gives me the image, perspective and tonal balance that I need for any listening room I may use in the 200 to 350 sq ft size. I have learned that speakers are like some other interesting devices (woodstoves come immediately to mind) where 'less is more'.

Therefore, I do not get wildly excited by the rather large and imposing furniture grade speakers that are often the centerpiece of many listening rooms. There were a fine selection of these types at TAVES and I will highlight two in a moment. The reasons I don't generally find them compelling are three-fold. First of all they need very very large rooms, like 800 to 1000 sq. ft. If you audition one in the right set-up and then take it home to a 400 sq. ft room you will regret it; it will just overpower the room. Secondly, they frequently use multiple drivers, sometimes five, six or even eight to a unit. This requires an elaborate cross-over network and to my ears there is always interaction between competing drive units that generates TIM (transient intermodulation distortion) and I am particularly sensitive to this kind of interference. Thirdly, the image is always 'huge' but frankly this is not realistic. Eva Cassidy was a little slip of a thing and not six feet tall like some kind of Sampson's Delilah. Hugh Masakela's horn is not five feet long and his vocals are not emanating from a two foot mouth. Initially, when you hear these larger than life things, they are often thought to be amazing, but they will drive you nuts after a while.

And so, if big is your thing and it still suits your taste, then for sure you need to boogie on over to the Toronto Home of the Audiophile room and check out the Golden Ear Triton speakers driven by Pass amps. I also have an apology to make here and now. Last summer I said some really negative things about Golden Ear speakers on a CAM thread, and the fact of the matter is I got them confused with another speaker entirely, a large floorstander (which will remain unlisted) that I had heard at TAVES three years ago. When I saw the Tritons I immediately knew I had made an unforgivable error and my apologies must go around to all for being so obtuse.

Also in the big league stakes you will definitely want to audition the bright red Focal Sopa 3 pair on display in the Audio by Mark Jones room. The sound stage is huge and thunderous and instead of wanting to run away, you just want to get ever closer to the source. They are about two and a half times the price of the Triton, so choose wisely.

There are many other large systems on display but I found most of them to be 'hi-fi' and I would tire of them quite quickly. However, PMC were well represented and I dropped into their room first, at 10:30 am, but it was evident their biggest system needed a round of tuning. Later in the day I returned and all was well and the room was full of listeners, but I don't have any details on their gear for you.

And now, the coup de grace, recognizing that I must always pursue my desire to feel the emotional impact of recorded music. For me this happened in two smaller rooms at the back end of the show and far away from the big systems up front. One room is the show abode of a new Markham dealer (at least new to me), Entracte Audio. They can be found in Hi-Fi Room E in the rear Main Pavilion. This room also has Blue Circle gear and the Blue Circle genius designer behind the gear who was looking quite dapper I might add. On display are a couple of speaker lines including ATC and Spendor. For me, the Spendor SP3/1R driven by the Blue Circle 002i has all the magic. In a show venue this combo may appear somewhat restrained, but if you close you eyes and listen only to the instruments you can feel the flow of emotion.

Next there was a kind of runner up and it is a real novelty of desgn. Neat Acoustics keeps coming to TAVES, all the way from Durham in the UK, and their rooms (also representing Kimber Kable) have been well liked in past shows. They are in Room O at the very back of the Pavilion. This time they brought samples of their long-standing designs as well as a new speaker, the iota Alpha. This little jewel is nominally called a floorstander but it is hardly two feet tall and it is stunning. It is a two way, sort of, with a downward firing enclosed woofer for extra bass impact. Rather than ramble on about it I suggest you just go have a listen. There is a larger version that is in pre-production, and it is also on the show floor,. It is called the Xplorer and is a similar design but it uses an Isobarik chamber for the bass and an air motion transformer for the tweeter.

That's it for me.

Cheers,
David Neice

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:44 pm 
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What a great post , I really enjoyed reading it. I have some audio preferences similar to yours so it was almost like being there.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 6:49 pm 
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+1 terrific post, David, thanks. :D

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:17 pm 
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Many thanks


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:47 pm 
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Excellent write-up David, thanks.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:54 am 
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Great review and you hit the nail on the head regarding the size of the soundscape portrayed by much of the equipment on display. Many of the combinations would have no problem filling an auditorium with a huge dynamic sonic picture, but put one in your own listening room and you would be overwhelmed. However, you can't expect a dealer to extol the virtues of low level listening in such a competitive airspace, they have no choice but to crank the volume up. I was there on Friday morning and found many systems bass heavy. I think a lot of that was due to poor rooms especially in the centre section where a shanty town of closed booths had been erected. In the bigger rooms, things were better. Take that criticism with a grain of salt. My own bias is towards low wattage single-ended amplification with single full range drivers, so I'm not used to the dominant bass I heard in many exhibits. Others may love it. Three rooms stand out for me. The first was Coherent Audio's where they were playing SRV's Roughest Place in Town on a 2A3 amplifier to an interesting pair of small coaxial speakers. The other room was Totem's where I thought the sound of their standmounts natural and musical The third had a stunning pair of JBL K2S9900 in a red glossy finish. The sound from the JBL's was full, dynamic, and crystal clear, by far the best I heard at the show. It's nice to know that at $60,000 a pair I have good taste. After a while I managed to track down Ken and Taras from TEO audio. I bought their first production model of the Game Changer interconnect last year and wanted to meet the guys behind the cable. They are both articulate and intelligent music lovers with lots to discuss about the industry and their current projects. Great meeting them after many discourses in the forums. Overall it was a fun grazing experience. A chance to see some exotic kit close up and collect business cards perhaps for a future purchase. I hope that many of the smaller dealers there were able to gather enough interest to bring people to their locations to audition under better conditions.

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Last edited by milesian on Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:50 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:14 am 
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Hi David,

George Taylor here from Entracte Audio... I rarely ever post on here any more - as a dealer it seems somewhat of a conflict of interest. However, I did want to take a minute to thank you for your very thoughtful post. When preparing for shows I agonize over which speakers to bring, since there is a limited amount of space available and one is never sure of the acoustic conditions that one will encounter. Gilbert and I thought long and hard about bringing the Spendors... We thought that they would work reasonably well in that space, but you're never quite sure until everything gets set up. It is gratifying to know that we hit the sweet spot for at least one person. Thank you for coming to the show, and sharing your impressions!

George


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:37 am 
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esoxhntr wrote:
Hi David,

George Taylor here from Entracte Audio... I rarely ever post on here any more - as a dealer it seems somewhat of a conflict of interest. However, I did want to take a minute to thank you for your very thoughtful post. When preparing for shows I agonize over which speakers to bring, since there is a limited amount of space available and one is never sure of the acoustic conditions that one will encounter. Gilbert and I thought long and hard about bringing the Spendors... We thought that they would work reasonably well in that space, but you're never quite sure until everything gets set up. It is gratifying to know that we hit the sweet spot for at least one person. Thank you for coming to the show, and sharing your impressions!

George


Cant wait to hear the new 002i! How much?

Did you bring any TSP?


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 3:12 am 
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buybye88 wrote:
Hi,

I'm just back and a bit groggy from the trip in and out, but still able to do a quick summary.

..................

That's it for me.

Cheers,
David Neice

Very nice descriptions! Thank you


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 5:26 am 
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Great write-up. Now I don't need to drive to the other side of the city in the rain and f*ck around trying to get back afterwards :)
B

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 5:42 am 
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buybye88 wrote:
I have learned that speakers are like some other interesting devices (woodstoves come immediately to mind) where 'less is more'.


Actually....less is less.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 6:08 am 
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marc mc wrote:
buybye88 wrote:
I have learned that speakers are like some other interesting devices (woodstoves come immediately to mind) where 'less is more'.


Actually....less is less.

Actually, as I sit here listening to the stand mounts that replaced a pair of 80 pound floorstanders I'll go with "buybye88" on this one. Sometimes less IS more. :D

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 6:18 am 
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KJT1 wrote:
marc mc wrote:
buybye88 wrote:
I have learned that speakers are like some other interesting devices (woodstoves come immediately to mind) where 'less is more'.


Actually....less is less.

Actually, as I sit here listening to the stand mounts that replaced a pair of 80 pound floorstanders I'll go with "buybye88" on this one. Sometimes less IS more. :D


Just one who is trying to insert a biased opinion in the attempt to dethrone a thread.

buybye – excellent review, was a good read. Thank you.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:22 am 
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Yes, I think Audio One made a good decision bringing smaller B&Ws. They sounded great with a full stack of Bryston and the Audioquest Niagra 5000 set up. They were displaying some world class dynamics and clarity.

Also, the room I was most impressed with was the hardest to hear. Bryston's active set up was unbelievable if you turn it up yourself and sit down for a listen :lol: . Those Model Ts in active are not their passive siblings! I've only heard such ease and power from electrostatic speakers. But of course their set up offered far more dynamics and impact. Very natural and wonderful sounding. Looks aside, this was the most sonically impressive system for me personally.

I also quite liked the new Focal Kantas which were out in the worst area to hear them. I managed again, to turn them up for a couple of songs and stand back for an impression. They are very promising speakers. Mark Jones made great use of the Sopras as well, with the Kanta 2 on static display.

Really enjoyed PMC, Monitor Audio, Hegel and Audiovector as well. Also got some headphone listening in as well. HifiMan Edition X V2s get my vote for "value" if comparing them to $8k headphones (that I tried). But I didn't hear a single thing I wouldn't love to take home with me on the headphone side.

On the value side of things, I think Monitor Audio killed it with their Silver 500 and Roksan Kandy K3. And the Pylon/Hegel H190 and H90 setup for similar dollars set up on table tops were great sounding and very minimalist. I really have high hopes for those two Hegel amps. The PMCs with Hegel were great sounding as well. Not at all budget though, mind you.

All the photos I took I uploaded to Simcoe Sounds face book page https://www.facebook.com/pg/Simcoe-Sound-1805361856352722/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2046043138951258


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:44 am 
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Thanks for the correction David. It takes a big person to step up and admit an error.

buybye88 wrote:
I also have an apology to make here and now. Last summer I said some really negative things about Golden Ear speakers on a CAM thread, and the fact of the matter is I got them confused with another speaker entirely, a large floorstander (which will remain unlisted) that I had heard at TAVES three years ago. When I saw the Tritons I immediately knew I had made an unforgivable error and my apologies must go around to all for being so obtuse.

Cheers,
David Neice


I trust you have added a note to the topic thread in question.


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