Suave Kajko

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After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science in 2002, Suave turned his attention to his passion for audio, video and technology in general. Through hands on experience with an extensive number of audio video products, Suave provides a real world, expert perspective on the latest products and the technology surrounding them. As an enthusiast, he shows a true passion in his writing that is easy to understand by all consumers. Aside from contributing to NOVO, Suave has also written about audio for special sections of The Toronto Star, Son et Image Magazine (FSI Guide) and appeared several times on television. More recently Suave was interviewed and quoted in articles for the Globe and Mail and MSNBC.com. In 2010, Suave launched the Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show (TAVES), an annual consumer trade show that has witnessed tremendous growth year after year.  In 2014, the show was expanded to include a new technology & innovation pavilion and rebranded as the TAVES Consumer Electronics Show.  As of 2016, the show attracts over 7,600 attendees and exhibitors from around the globe.  TAVES showcases cutting-edge technology and innovation in the most exciting categories: virtual reality, drones, wearables, health & fitness, gaming, audio, home theater, robotics, 3D printing, personal transportation, smart devices and electric vehicles.  For more info, please visit www.taveshow.com.

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FutureWorld 720

Design thinking for robots and AI – FutureWorld will feature presentations and demos on the future of robotics and AI from creators, researchers, industrialists, and visionaries, with a focus on human-robot interaction, real-world impacts, challenges, and opportunities. Discover next generation AI interfaces, humanoid robots, autonomous vehicles, exoskeletons and more.

Collaboration between designers and engineers will shape the robot revolution. FutureWorld will help forge those connections, bringing roboticists our of their workshops to give attendees a glimpse of our future. Designers, engineers, inventors, technologists, researchers, entrepreneurs, and fans of the future should attend to get an inside view on what’s currently possible, what’s on the horizon, and how to help shape our future.

FutureWorld runs June 9th, 2018, 12pm-6pm at OCAD University, 100 McCaul St., Toronto, Ontario. Save 10% off any ticket with discount code NOVO. Tickets range from $49-149.

http://www.futureworld.today

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bob marley

Today is April 20th, also known as 420.  It is a day of celebration of the cannabis culture and with marijuana about to be legalized in Canada, we thought today would be a great day to assemble a playlist of songs perfectly suited for the occasion.  Since the beginning of time, artists and music have been influenced by the pot smoking culture.  So whether you spark one up today or go about your day sipping on a cup o’ joe, here are some of our favorite songs to enjoy on 420:

Ben Harper – “Burn One Down”

Sublime – “Two Joints”

Steve Miller Band – “The Joker”

Tom Petty – “You Don’t Know How It Feels”

Weezer – We Are All On Drugs

Tom Petty – “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”

Jimi Hendrix – “Purple Haze”

Pink Floyd – “Comfortably Numb”

The Beatles – “With a Little Help From My Friends”

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Wilson-Benesch-Cardinal-wit_logo

Red Leaf Audio (www.redleafaudiomarketing.ca) has just been selected as the exclusive Canadian distributor for U.K. made Wilson Benesch loudspeakers, turntables and audio racks.  Founded in 1989 and based in Sheffield, England, Wilson Benesch is a leading manufacturer of high performance, bespoke, high-tech audio products.

Wilson Benesch pioneered the use of carbon fibre composites in audio design and manufacturing. Today, across the company’s product lines, expert design can be seen to exploit geometric forms and advanced materials technology to extract maximum audio performance, delivering real advantages to music listeners. The best example of this is the use of carbon fibre composites available in the company’s reference products.  By exploiting the high stiffness and energy damping characteristics of carbon fibre composites Wilson Benesch is able to claim industry leading signal-to-noise performance.

Wilson Benesch leverage their internal engineering and manufacturing expertise and combine this with collaborative partnerships that deliver the next generation, technologically advanced products. The company has consistently delivered new products and technology to the market through such collaborative R&D projects, including the ‘Torus Infrasonic Generator’ and the ‘Tactic Drive Unit’ to name but a few. In late 2017, Wilson Benesch announced its latest collaborative R&D project as part of a €7.4-million European research initiative with 17 partners from Universities, SMEs and Industrial sectors. The R&D program aims to create new technologies based around bio-based polymers and natural fibre reinforcements.

This approach to R&D exists alongside a unique company structure, with design in one-hand with manufacturing in the other. 95% of Wilson Benesch’s product inventory is designed, manufactured and assembled in house, delivering next generation audio technology today.

Red Leaf Audio invites consumers and dealers to register for one of its “Music Evenings” events to experience Wilson Benesch’s incomparable performance for yourself. In the fall of 2018, Red Leaf Audio will exhibit the Wilson Benesch line for the first time in Canada at the TAVES Consumer Electronics Show.

For more info, check out www.redleafaudiomarketing.ca

Wilson Benesch Circle 25 turntable

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AXPONA 2018 01

Today, one of the biggest audio shows in North America opens its doors to audiophiles, music lovers, musicians and seasoned audio experts.  The main highlights of the show include live evening concerts, industry expert talks and seminars, a market place of audio products, a record fair, over 150 listening rooms and many new product debuts.

AXPONA runs this Friday and Saturday 10 am – 6 pm; Sunday 10 am – 4 pm – at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center and Hotel, located at 1551 N. Thoreau Drive, Schaumburg, IL 60173.

We invite all NOVO readers from the Chicago area to check out this amazing show!

To purchase tickets please visit www.axpona.com

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Monitor Audio Installation Amplifiers IA200-2C IA800-2C IA150-8C

The just-announced Monitor Audio Installation Amplifiers are designed for use in a wide range of residential and commercial environments.  Featuring cutting-edge Hypex amplifiers for the best sound performance, this new series consists of five models, priced from $899 to $3,499.  Audio channels can be grouped or bridged to enable flexible installations and can be configured to run in 1,2,3,6,8 or 12 channel modes. These new amplifiers are housed in slim 1U and 2U high cases that universally fit into most racks, whilst delivering 93% energy efficiency. The amplifier names all begin with ‘lA’ for Installation Amplifier, followed by their power in watts per channel at 4 ohms, the number of channels and a ‘C’ if it’s IP connected. All amplifiers include a 5 year warranty.

There are two types of amplifiers within this new range:

Distribution Amplifiers – Full connectivity with simple wired voltage trigger or signal sense.
IA60-12: $1,599 (60 watts x 12 channels @ 4 ohms)
IA150-2: $899 (150 watts x 2 channels @ 4 ohms)

Connected ‘Connect’ Amplifiers – More complex DSP and IP control included, offering wider flexibility and integration.
IA150-8C: $3,499 (150 watts x 8 channels @ 4 ohms)
IA800-2C: $1,999 (800 watts x 2 channels @ 4 ohms)
IA200-2C: $1,149 (200 watts x 2 channels @ 4 ohms)

For more info, please visit www.kevro.com

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Gold Note PSU-10 power supply 01

Gold Note’s PH-10 Phono Preamplifier is one of the most innovative and best-reviewed phono stages available for turntables today, from any brand.  You can read more about it in THIS POST (we’ve also got one an order for review).  And now, the PH-10 is about to receive a major performance boost thanks to an outboard power supply designed to work specifically with it.

The Gold Note PSU-10 is a super inductive & chokes hybrid power supply. It features an inductive filter on the analogue stages and dual choke design powered by a double inductor driving the negative and positive high current stages.  The PSU-10 features 4 transformers: 3 of which work as a pure power supply and 1 separate transformer exclusively dedicated to the inductive filter and the two chokes.

The Gold Note proprietary Dual Chokes design perfectly filters the signal voltages eliminating all the possible interferences of the AC power system.  The PSU-10, together with its massive power supply, enables the PH-10 phono stage to be electro-magnetic shielded and insulated from the AC power system.  The large, ultra clean power enhances super low noise, greater dynamics, better resolution and details – guaranteeing a more realistic high-end audio performance.

Main Specifications
Four rail audio grade power supply
Four ultra low noise voltage regulator
+12V, +5V for logic
+/- 14V for analog with inductive noise remover
Line regulation for all output 0,05 %/V
Load regulation for all output 0,05 %Vu
Line noise rejection >80dB
Common mode noise rejection >80dB
Full power response time <2,5uSec Power Main supply 100/120 & 220/240V automatic selection; 50 or 60 Hz Nominal power: 25W Dynamic power: >50W
Stand by power: <1W

For more info, please visit www.tricellenterprises.com

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Motet Distribution - VTL Audio and Triangle Speakers

After a successful showing at the Montreal Audio Fest, Motet Distribution (importer of numerous fine hifi brands), is taking their audio equipment on the road to selected retailers across Canada.  This will be your chance to listen to music on some of the best products Motet Distribution offers from brands like VTL, PMC, iFi, Triangle and Lumin. To make things even more interesting, the event will also give you the chance to meet and chat with two industry guests – Hugo Decelle (Director and Owner of Triangle) and Luke Manley (President of VTL Amplifiers).  And if all of this wasn’t enough, the evening will also feature live performances from Lisa Liu (along with her paintings inspired by music) and Vincent Bélanger and Anne Bisson who will perform songs from their “Conversations” album.

The first stop on this music tour will be at the House of HiFi in Burlington, Ontario on April 17, from 5-9pm.  House of HiFi is located at 2443 Unit 4 Glenwood School Drive, Burlington, Ontario L7R 3R9.  Tel: 905-333-HiFi (4434).

For more info, please click HERE.

Hugo Decelle, Director and Owner of Triangle (Custom)

Hugo Decelle (Director and Owner of Triangle)

Luke Manley, President of VTL Amplifiers (Custom)

Luke Manley (President of VTL Amplifiers)

Lisa Liu with her paintings inspired by music

Lisa Liu (along with her paintings inspired by music)

Vincent Bélanger and Anne Bisson

Vincent Bélanger and Anne Bisson

Plurison - Anne Bisson

Welcome to part 3 of the Montreal Audio Fest 2018 show coverage by Suave Kajko.  If you’ve missed them, please read Part 1 and Part 2 of this article.

Plurison

Plurison is one of the largest importers of hifi products into Canada.  Their impressive portfolio spans some of greatest brands collected from around the world, such as Focal, Naim, Devialet, Musical Fidelity, Cambridge Audio, Rega, Micromega, Clearaudio, Wharfedale and Cocktail Audio – just to mention a few.  At the 2018 Montreal show, they highlighted many of these brands in the largest ballroom at the show.  While this made for a great product showcase, I could not properly audition any of the products, so instead I focused on products that were shown for the first time to show visitors. Canadian jazz songstress / pianist Anne Bisson also performed inside this room a couple of times per day, accompanied by a stand up bassist and a drummer.  I managed to catch one of the sets and enjoyed Anne Bisson’s charismatic performance very much.

Plurison - IsoAcoustics 01

There was one excellent product demo that I managed to catch in this room from Dave Morrison, the President of IsoAcoustics (pictured on the left; unfortunately I didn’t capture his colleague’s name on the right).  This Canadian company has been making waves in the home and pro audio markets since 2012 with its range of speaker isolation products because of how well they work. IsoAcoustics had an A/B demo set up at the show with the same pair of speakers sitting on the floor and another pair sitting right beside them on IsoAcoustics Gaia isolators. Dave was able to switch on-the-fly between the two speakers as he played a couple of tracks for me.  The improvement in sound with the Gaia isolators in place was dramatic, this was not just another subtle audiophile tweak.  Even with lots of surrounding noise in the room, I immediately heard a cleaner, more detailed sound and an airy, wider, deeper soundstage.  Wow!  I have no choice but to try these isolators in my own system now :-)

Plurison - IsoAcoustics 02

IsoAcoustics also launched a new product called the IsoAcoustics Orea at the show.  The Orea is series of isolation feet designed to be placed under components and speakers (priced from $79 to $99), as opposed to existing Gaia feet which screw directly into speakers.

Other new products highlighted inside the Plurison room included:

Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista Vinyl

The Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista Vinyl phono stage.

Musical Fidelity M8 Encore 500

The Musical Fidelity M8 Encore 500 Streaming Music System equipped with a streamer, CD ripper and 2TB storage ($10,000).

Plurison - Musical Fidelity Rega Focal

Alongside the new Musical Fidelity products, Plurison also showcased three Rega turntables.  The Rega P6 model was shown for the first time.  In the same display, the Focal Sopra 3 speakers were displayed in a new chameleon finish (the color of this finish changes depending on what angle you look at the speakers at).

Plurison - Music Hall

There was also a brand new Music Hall mmf-1.5 turntable.

Plurison - Cocktail Audio

And a new Cocktail Audio X45 server/streamer/CD ripper.  This unit is Roon ready and can be used as a digital preamp.

Plurison - Focal 01

Also on display were three new lines of Focal in-ceiling and in-wall speakers: the 100 series, the 300 series (which use the same Flax woofers as the Aria speaker series) and the Electra series (which use Berillium tweeters).  In the bottom right of this picture, you can also see the new on-wall Focal Sib Evo Dolby Atmos speakers, which join the existing Sib Evo speakers.  What qualifies these speakers as Dolby Atmos speakers is the upward firing driver on the top of each speaker.

Plurison - XLO

Plurison featured a creative display of the new XLO Pro series of cables in a cool rose gold finish.  Despite the name, this new series is actually an entry-level series…

Plurison - Focal Katana No2

Also shown for the first time in Montreal were the Focal Kanta No. 2 speakers ($12,000) available in a range beautiful finishes. This new 3-way floor standing speaker utilizes Beryllium tweeters together with Flax mid-range/bass drivers.

Plurison - Vicoustic 01

Plurison recently picked up distribution of Vicoustic acoustic panels and proudly highlighted them at the show.  Vicoustic makes a large range of products available in all sorts of shapes, sizes, materials and colors – designed for home and commercial applications.  All Vicoustic products are made in Portugal.  Above are its home acoustic panels.

Plurison - Vicoustic 02

These are some of Vicoustic’s commercial products.

Plurison - Focal headphones 01

Plurison also gave show visitors a chance to listen to three new headphones from Focal: the Focal Clear, Focal Clear Pro and Focal Listen Pro models.  The Clear model fits between the existing Iilium and Utopia models, and is priced at $1,899.

Plurison - Focal headphones 02

The Focal Clear Pro headphones ($1799, show special $1,399) have the same design as the Clear model, but come in a different finish.  They also come with a different set of accessories.

Plurison - Focal headphones 03

The most affordable of the new headphones is the Focal Listen Pro ($299 show special).

Plurison - EarSonics

Finally, Plurison recently added another French brand to its portfolio, called EarSonics.  EarSonic’s roots come from the pro market but today the company offers both audiophile and musician-geared in-ear monitors.  Their products range from $499 to $1,799.

Hope you enjoyed some of this year’s show highlights from yours truly, Suave Kajko.

You’ll find Part 4 of this article (by George de Sa) at THIS LINK.

If you missed the earlier parts of this article, you can find them here: Part 1 and Part 2.

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Ken and Shaun Update TV (Custom)

Ken Angeles (General Manager) and Shaun Schwartz (Sales & Marketing Specialist)

In the retail environment it’s easy to run a business that’s just like every other retail front.  What’s not easy is to dare to be different.  When I first met Trevor Wong and Stacey Sniderman several years ago, I immediately realized there was something special about them.  This dynamic husband-wife duo beams with an invigorating energy and a true passion for what they do.  Together they own and operate three locations of Update TV & Stereo just north of Toronto, Ontario.  Trevor is a textbook definition of an early adopter: he gets his hands on the latest technology innovations as soon as they hit the market, from hoverboards to Segways to drones, he’s owned them all.  He even bought the Sony AIBO robot dog when it first came out years ago.  Stacey on the other hand is one of the most passionate and knowledgeable females I’ve ever met in the consumer electronics industry.  She’s just as happy as I am to talk about Hi-Fi gear or TVs and projectors.  Earlier this year, I decided to learn a little more about what makes Update TV & Stereo tick.  I sat down for a coffee with Ken Angeles (General Manager) and Shaun Schwartz (Sales & Marketing Specialist) and learned some great insights about the company and surprising fun facts and stories.

Update TV Stacey and Trevor

Partners in life and business (which comes first?): Stacey Sniderman and Trevor Wong celebrate the one year anniversary of their Update TV Elevated location in 2015.

update-tv-and-stereo-outside

The Update TV Elevated retail location is housed inside a historic church

SK (Suave Kajko): Can you share a brief history about Update TV & Stereo with me? What products and services do you guys offer?

KA/SS (Ken Angeles / Shaun Schwartz): Update TV & Stereo was founded in 1992 in Toronto. The company was taken over about a decade ago by current owners, Trevor Wong and Stacey Sniderman-Wong, who have scaled the business up to three retail locations spread across the GTA. Update TV Uptown (Richmond Hill) acts as the central hub of the company, and is where the majority of the custom integration/automation business runs out of. Update TV Midtown (The Village at Vaughan Mills) offers a gorgeous boutique style showroom, showcasing everything from the latest in TVs, home theater, HiFi, and automation. Finally, Update TV Elevated (Historic Main St. Unionville) was introduced as the ultimate HiFi destination store, situated on the quaint yet buzzing Main St. Unionville, inside a historic church built over a century ago. For those looking for the highest standard of HiFi, or just looking to experience a one-of-a-kind retail experience, Elevated is an incredible destination.

Update-TV-and-Stereo

Inside the Update TV Elevated retail location

SK: A good portion of Update TV & Stereo TV’s business is custom installation.  Can you give me a sense of what range of installations you guys perform?

KA/SS: Update TV’s installation services run the gamut. We handle everything from system design, low voltage pre-wiring for distributed home audio, video, home theater, security cameras, networking, and automation, to hardware installation for all of the above.  We also offer installation of custom motorized shading/window fixtures, integration of automation systems (including custom programming), lighting control, network configuration, and pro-level calibration. We can support residential projects from small to large, as well as commercial applications (offices, gyms, restaurants, etc.). Not only do we ensure everything is installed correctly, but we have the knowledge and understanding to ensure all components within a system compliment each other (which is part of our system design), and through automation, we can bring the future in to our customers’ homes. Through our certified Control4 programmers, the options for improving one’s lifestyle through smart home automations are virtually limitless.

SK: Why should I shop at Update TV & Stereo versus another independent retailer or a big box store? Why shouldn’t I just buy everything online?

KA/SS: In this shopping age, service and expertise on the retail sales floor is becoming harder and harder to come by. The stores where you do come across a high level of service, you are often expecting a heavy price tag to match. The reason why people enjoy shopping with Update TV & Stereo is because we employ highly skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable sales associates to operate our stores, and although we do offer an elevated level of service to our clients, we do not expect them to have to pay more than the competition. We understand there is price competition out there, in both the brick and mortar and eCommerce space, so we add an exceptional level of value by providing an energetic and enthusiastic retail environment where we spend quality one-on-one time with our clients while also offering very competitive pricing. With the rise of online shopping in recent years, especially in the consumer electronics industry, the following saying has never rang more true – “A deal isn’t a deal unless it’s the right product for you”. That’s something that the staff at Update TV & Stereo really take to heart, and spend lots of time working with our clients to make sure that when they’re putting together a system (whether it be a HiFi system, home theater, or full blown home automation), that all of the components in the system work well together. A big reason why many stores see so many returns is not that the product doesn’t work, it’s that the product doesn’t meet the expectations of that particular customer’s system. Online shopping is great, we all benefit from it, but when it comes to building a high performance system that works to a high level of expectations, it’s important to carefully match components. The best way to do that is by consulting with a company like Update TV & Stereo who can supply all of the right components and design a system customized to your needs.

SK: I recently learned that Update TV & Stereo will be refreshing its business model this year by introducing some exciting new product categories.  Can you share some insights with me about this?

KA/SS: Over the past few years, Update TV’s smart home automation business has grown substantially. One of the growing trends in automation and IOT is the introduction of voice control (Amazon Alexa, Google Home, etc.), as was evident by almost everything under the sun shown at CES 2018 having some form of voice control built right in. Voice control on its own in different devices is pretty fun, but can become a novelty rather quickly when you’re just talking to specific devices around the house. When it becomes truly mind blowing is when you integrate it into a whole-home automation system. The power of automation is not the control of devices independently, but how you make each of those independent devices work together, and work in a way that benefits your lifestyle. Voice control integration will become a substantial new addition to the list of our services moving forward.

To really demonstrate this in a more visceral way, Update TV & Stereo will be evolving our showrooms to showcase the possibilities of automation in a more tangible way. It’s one thing to talk about the possibilities and read articles about it, but to put automation in to your own hands really solidifies the understanding of what this can mean for you and your family.

New products that Update TV & Stereo has introduced into our repertoire in 2018 are automated shades, blinds and shutters, offering our customers a one-stop-shop for everything “automated”. Often times when customers are in the process of a new build or a large scale reno, they are coordinating with different vendors (designers, contractors, shades suppliers, AV, automation). Dealing with so many parties can get overwhelming, so having one contact point who is an expert in multiple aspects of your projects alleviates much of that stress and allows for things to move far more smoothly.

update-tv-and-stereo-inside

SK: Everyone on your team appears to be very enthusiastic and passionate about what they do.  There is a sense of energy about your team that is hard to ignore.  How do you guys achieve this? Tell us something unique or quirky about your team.

KA/SS: Everybody that works at Update TV & Stereo has a substantial amount of experience in the consumer electronics industry, whether it be professional experience, or as a hobbyist, or both. Everybody on the team has a great passion for what we do and for the product categories and brands that we represent. Everyone on the team also gets along very well with one another on both a personal and professional level, and the company has developed a very family-like culture. One of the biggest strengths of the Update team as a whole is communication, which is possibly the most important quality in regards to the success of a team. Our communication doesn’t end once we lock up the stores for the night. The entire Update TV & Stereo team are part of multiple WhatsApp messaging groups together, where discussions often pop off or continue in to the wee hours of the night. Discussions range from planning for upcoming jobs, asking and answering any questions that may pop into our heads, offering general knowledge or advice, from inside jokes, sharing funny memes, or posting informative articles we may have come across that will benefit everybody. Discussions at Update TV & Stereo aren’t limited to just work and industry topics. We are always sharing with each other what is happening in our personal lives, offering advice or feedback, or just getting each other’s perspectives on life in general. We use our time together to not only learn and grow our knowledge and expertise in the consumer electronics industry, but in our personal lives as well.

The Update TV & Stereo team also spend lots of time together outside of the stores and the chat. For example, for the company’s 25th Anniversary in April 2017, the owners of Update TV & Stereo, Trevor and Stacey, took the entire Update team, including spouses, for an extended weekend vacation in the Bahamas. All 3 stores were shut down for an extra couple of days to give the team time to have fun and laugh together and grow the already strong bond that everybody has with one another. Only a few months later, Trevor and Stacey shut the stores down again for a couple of days in the beginning of September 2017, so the team could attend the wedding of Ken (Update’s General Manager) in Quebec.

What keeps the team so enthusiastic and passionate is not just the love and passion they have for the industry, but the passion that they have working for a company like Update TV & Stereo, who often go above and beyond to make sure everybody feels like they’re part of something very special and unique.

SK: How does your team stay on top of all the latest technologies?

KA/SS: Everybody at Update TV & Stereo is a hobbyist to one degree or another, so we are often sharing information that we come across amongst each other to keep ourselves sharp and in-tune with the latest technologies. The Update team is also very proactive when it comes to formal product and industry training. We hold company meetings every Friday morning prior to the store opening with all staff members during which we spend a great deal of time training. We also attend as many manufacturer training events and dealer shows as we can, to make sure we stay on top of everything that is entering the market. “Team Update” also often attends large industry events, including CES and CEDIA, ever year. Members of our team also attend courses to become certified in certain areas of our business (Control4 Certification, PCNA Certification) to maintain a high level of skill and expertise not often found in today’s retail landscape.

The company consistently invests in paid-for training and courses, local and abroad, for the staff, which is increasingly more rare in today’s CE retail landscape. On occasion, all three stores will be shutdown, so the entire staff is able to attend industry training shows and events.

To keep everyone sharp, part of our weekly Friday morning meetings will often be PK (Product Knowledge) tests. Everyone will be provided a list of questions regarding a certain product or product category, and all are expected (in the week leading to the next meeting) to answer all of the questions. This helps to keep knowledge fresh and introduce concepts that some members may have never explored. Questions which may have answers that allow for some subjectivity and opinion will also help everyone to see certain things from a different perspective to deepen their knowledge and improve their salesmanship.

SK: What are the latest trends in building hifi and home theater systems? What product choices and brands are they popular with your customers?

KA/SS: We have been noticing a “forwards and backwards” mentality towards HiFi content. It appears many listeners are going forward with high-res streaming, while also going backwards with the continued resurgence of turntables and vinyl. With streaming technology where it is now, we are now able to mix these two worlds by integrating analog audio technology, such as turntables, and streaming it through multi-room audio systems, allowing users to take better advantage of their systems.

In regards to home theater trends, there are a couple we have noticed through the jobs we do. The first trend is in customers looking for a dedicated theater system with aesthetics at the top of the list of requirements. This leads to systems that are incorporating perforated screens, invisible or architectural (in-wall/in-ceiling) speakers, and in-wall/in-ceiling subwoofers. There has often been the idea in the past that when it comes to home theater that you will compromise aesthetics for performance, and vice versa, but we have found that with proper system design (a core part of the Update process), this is no longer always true. When the right components are combined, with proper installation and calibration, a system that may be “minimalist” in appearance can still be heart pounding in performance.

Another trend in home theater we have noticed is that now people are not necessarily looking to build dedicated theater rooms, but still want a nice, high performance theater system which can be used in a multi-purpose space outside of the basement or “man cave”. This can include integrating theater systems into family rooms, condos, lofts, and even in the backyard. In the past this has been a huge no-no for home theater enthusiasts, but now with so many discrete speaker options available, as well as large home theater screens using ALR (Ambient Light Rejecting) material, the options for home theater placement are almost limitless.

SK: I expect that with the spring just around the corner some of your customers will be looking to take their entertainment outdoors.  What types of outdoor products resonate with your customers in the spring?

KA/SS: As the temperatures start to warm up and the weather becomes nicer, our clients love to spend a lot of time entertaining in their backyards, and nothing brings more energy to a party than music. In the spring and summer we sell and install tons of landscape audio systems, including speakers around the garden and subwoofers buried in the ground. With the growth of different wireless audio distribution systems (i.e. Sonos, MusicCast, HEOS, PlayFi), the ability to enjoy your favourite tunes, with sound quality far superior to just sticking a smartphone in a cup, has never been greater. Video also gets incorporated with outdoor TVs built to withstand the elements, as well as wireless, mobile, motorized projector screens. Something that has also become very popular are Outdoor access points, which extend a home wireless network beyond the walls of the house, and prevent network dropouts when customers are trying to stream by the pool. So the idea discussed previously about theater being integrated almost anywhere rings very true to the great outdoors. Who wouldn’t want to watch “The Avengers” in full surround sound on a 120” screen while grilling up some steaks for the family?

To learn more about Update TV & Stereo please check out www.updatetvandstereo.com

Nordost 01

This article is a continuation of Part 1, which you can read HERE.

Nordost

Let’s be honest with each other: when you attend an audio show to listen to high-end systems you’re not very likely to make a decision on the spot to purchase a $25,000 pair of speakers.  Although some people do but it’s not very common. Most of us enthusiasts however are prepared to make an “impulse purchase” in the form of some records or accessories.  At the Nordost exhibit, I had the pleasure of chatting with Meredith Gabor (Marketing/Public Relations), Michael Taylor (VP of North American Sales), and Nordost President Joe Reynolds (left to right in above pic).  Nordost had both a show booth where you could pick up a whole range of products at special show prices, as well as a listening room across the hallway, where Nordost ran demonstrations of its products in mini seminars.

Nordost 02

Inside the listening room, Bruno de Lorimier (President of Unison Sales Resources), was showcasing the performance gains as you step up the range of Nordost cables and the improvements various Nordost accessories can bring to your system, including the QKore, Sort Kone, Sort Lift, QRT power products and more.  He was also happy to take requests from the audience for product demos. Hearing is believing!

Yamaha 01

Yamaha / Luna Cables

Although the main demonstration in the Yamaha room didn’t introduce any new components, it managed to capture my attention thanks to its engaging performance and a top-notch music selection. The main system here consisted of the NS-5000 speakers, A-S3000 integrated amp, CD-S3000 CD player and a little surprise on the top of the rack – a vintage Yamaha GT-750 direct drive turntable.  Unlike most rooms at the show that were playing “audiophile” recordings, that on a couple of occasions made me doze off during the listening sessions, the guys in the Yamaha room were having much more fun with the music.  Paul Bawcutt (Key Account Manager at Yamaha), Nico Boucher (Sales Consultant at Yamaha) and Danny Labrecque (Luna Cables) played some great tracks for me, ranging from bands that I’m well acquainted with like Guns N’ Roses to lesser known, but very entertaining artists like Anderson .Paak (yes there is a period in front of Paak), which I ended up picking up on Amazon when I returned home from the show.  Guns N’ Roses “Patience”, from a digital file, sounded absolutely spectacular on this system.  The presentation was lively, offering highly detailed vocals and highs, with guitars that sounded like the real deal.  A funky track from Anderson .Paak on vinyl offered up a rich, full bodied sound with fantastic energy.  Overall, the system sounded very musical, had a realistic presence and was just a pleasure to listen to.  To my ears, these guys were playing the funnest, most energetic music at the show.  Well done!

Yamaha 03

At the side of the room, on static display, there was one relatively new product – the Yamaha R-N803 network receiver ($999).  This attractively priced 2-channel hifi receiver offers a high-precision sound, 2 x 145 watts of power, network connectivity (wired/wireless) for streaming and a phono input, just to mention a few of its features.

Yamaha 02

Other products on static display included the Yamaha A-S1110 and A-S2100 integrated amps.  The A-2100 is an absolute killer-sounding amp which we reviewed last year: http://novo.press/yamaha-a-s2100-integrated-amplifier-review/

Luna Cables 01

The main Yamaha system was wired by Canadian manufacturer Luna Cables.  I had the pleasure of chatting with Erik Fortier, Founder/Sales & Marketing, who shared some insights with me about the company and its products. All Luna Cables are handmade in Montreal and employ tinned copper conductors, as well as cotton and cloth made out of natural fibers (unlike most cable manufacturer that use synthetic materials like plastic).  Erik told me that production is a little more difficult with these materials but the sonic benefits are well worth it.  Luna Cables offers power cables, interconnects, speaker cables and digital cables across five ranges of products: Grey, Orange, Mauve, Red and Black.  At the show, they showed their new power cables in the Grey, Orange and Mauve series, as well as new network cables in the Orange and Mauve series.

Motet Distribution 01

Motet Distribution: PMC / VTL / iFi / Triangle / HIFIMAN / Lumin

Motet Distribution, led by Lily Luo, is a Canadian importer of fine high-end audio brands including PMC loudspeakers, VTL, iFi, Triangle, HIFIMAN and Lumin.  The company made a big splash at this year’s show by demonstrating many of its products across four rooms. In a large meeting room, Motet played the state-of-the-art PMC MB2 se speakers ($40,800) in rotation with the more reasonably priced-and-sized PMC twenty.23 speakers ($6,750).  The electronics stack consisted of the Hegel H30 amp ($17,000), Hegel P30 preamp ($8,999), Hegel Mohican CD player ($5,999) and the Lumin U1 transport ($7,950).  Cabling was all courtesy of XLO Signature 3 cables.  I listened to a couple of tracks on the twenty.23 speakers and was impressed with the system’s natural midrange, crystal clear and extended highs as well as their ability to produce a great big soundstage.  Not surprisingly when listening to the TRON: Legacy soundtrack through their much larger siblings, the PMC MB2 se speakers, the system sculpted a massively large stage with instruments and sound effects emanating from far beyond the boundaries of the room.  The dynamic range of this album is immense and the system presented it effortlessly. The music was turned up very loud at some points during this demo, yet the sound remained remarkably clean and composed.

Motet Distribution 03

In the second room, Motet Distribution demonstrated a VTL / Triangle music system. Here, the system consisted of the Triangle Magellan Quatour speakers ($26,500) powered by two VTL MB-450 Series III monoblocks.  The music was sent from a laptop, via an iFi nano iONE DAC, at the back of the room.  This system offered a highly musical, engaging presentation that was a pleasure to listen to.  String instruments played with a natural tonality and timber, while vocals sounded palpable.

Motet Distribution 02

The third Motet Distribution room highlighted another VTL / Triangle system.  This system played music through a pair of Triangle Esprit EZ Australe speakers ($5,500), a VTL S-200 Signature stereo amp ($17,500) and a VTL TL2.5i preamp ($4,900).  The music was fed from a laptop through an iFi nano iONE DAC.  These Triangle speakers are outfitted with a rear-firing tweeter which requires them to be placed at least 3 feet away from the back wall.  If your room allows this kind of placement, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful midrange and rich, tonally accurate vocals.  The sound here offered an excellent level of detail and sparkly, crisp highs.  I have a feeling these speakers would benefit from playing in a larger room, where they would have even more room to breathe.

Motet Distribution 04

In the final Motet Distribution room, I found yet another VTL / Triangle audio system, albeit, a system that was much kinder to the wallet than the Motet systems in the other rooms.  This room offered a pairing of Triangle Comete bookshelf speakers ($1,600 to $1,900), a VTL IT-85 integrated amp ($7,350) and a Hegel Mohican CD player ($5,999).  The sound here was very well balanced, offering a rich, warm midrange.  This made both instruments and vocals sound very natural. The soundstaging of the system was also excellent, with lots of air around instruments and vocals, resulting in a sonic landscape that had great width and depth.

Audio Sensibility NOVO magazine 01

Audio Sensibility

This Canadian hifi cable manufacturer employs a factory-direct sales model and produces great performance/high value cables aimed at both novice and seasoned audiophiles.  At the show, owner/designer Steven Huang, is always ready to discuss his designs and materials and provide advice on how to improve the sound of your system.  Audio Sensibility products include power cables, interconnects, speaker cables, digital cables, phono cables and headphone cables.  They will even construct you a custom cable for unique applications.  In addition to these products, they also offer power distribution boxes, as well as a grounding devices and cables – all available for purchase at the show.

Paradigm / Anthem

Paradigm 03

It was a great pleasure to see two beloved Canadian  brands, Paradigm and Anthem, return to the show this year.  Their sister company MartinLogan was also present at the show in another room (which will be covered by George de Sa in an upcoming report).  At the heart of the demonstration system in this room, were a pair of beautiful Paradigm Persona 3F 3-way tower speakers ($12,000/pair), powered by the Anthem STR integrated amp ($5,499).  This was my first chance to lay my eyes on the revamped line of Anthem electronics based on an entirely new technology platform.  This amp puts out 200 watts per channel (8 ohms), and comes with an Anthem Room Correction system to optimize sound in your listening space, a USB input that supports DSD audio and a built-in phono stage.  As you can see in the picture above, half of the front panel is now devoted to a large, beautiful graphic display.  On static display to the left of the SRT integrated amp, was an Anthem MRX 720 AV receiver.  I personally own the MRX 510 AV receiver and have been loving its sound for the last few years.  Although the room was filled with attendee conversations, the sound of the system did manage to captivate me for a few minutes thanks to its rich midrange, great tonal accuracy and an overall musical presentation.

Paradigm 02

The Anthem STR series actually consists of three models: in addition to the STR integrated amp, there is also the STR preamp ($4,999; top) and the STR power amp ($7,499; bottom).  Cool graphics on the amp!

Paradigm 04

In their exhibit space, Paradigm also showed a sample speaker from three other series: the Paradigm Prestige (85F model, $2,349 each; left), the new made-in-Canada Paradigm Premier (800F model, $1,249 each; middle), and the new made-in-China Paradigm Monitor SE (6000F model, $549 each; right).

This wraps up my Part 2 of the Montreal Audio Fest coverage.  Please check out Part 3 at THIS LINK.

If you missed Part 1, you can read it here: http://novo.press/montreal-audio-fest-2018-highlights-report-part-1/