Toronto Audiofest Show Report PART 1 by Douglas Brown

2019-11-19T08:52:22+00:00November 1st, 2019|Audio Video Show Coverage, Features, Home|0 Comments

Photo credit: Renato Rossi of www.renatorossi.ca

The 2019 edition of the Toronto Audiofest ran from Oct. 18 to Oct. 20 and a team of three of us from NOVO visited the show – looking to discover the latest and greatest audio gear. Below are highlights from Douglas Brown. Enjoy!

Audio Sensibility (picture at the top)
Local in central Toronto, audiophile cable manufacturer Audio Sensibility was selling a wide range of cables, tweaks, and audiophile-grade vinyl records. CEO and head cable maker Steven Huang prides himself on his company’s ability to quickly fabricate specialty cables, custom connectors, and unique power supply tweaks for all of his customers.

Following upon strong sales of their Signature OCC silver (Ag) speaker cables, Signature 75 Ohm single-ended plus 110 Ohm AES/EBU digital OCC silver cables, and Signature power cords, Audio Sensibility will soon (projected for March/April 2020) be releasing v2 versions of their OCC silver headphone cables and v2 versions of their Signature line of cabling.

Sales at TAF 2019 of SBooster™ linear power supplies– which offer huge sonic upgrades over stock wall-wart power supplies—were brisk. If you own a CD player, a DAC, a TT with a DC motor, an upsampler, or an outboard re-clocking device that uses a cheap wall-wart power supply, an SBooster will deliver noticeably better sound at a reasonable (even sensible… if you will) price.

Photo credit: Renato Rossi of www.renatorossi.ca

Bryston
Displaying a vast array of 2-channel audiophile goods including solid state amplifiers, pre-amps, turntables, phono stages, and loudspeakers, Bryston’s newest product is their BDA-3.14 DAC (MSRP $4,195 CAD). Featuring their new Pi streamer board—the Raspberry Pi—this streaming DAC is Bryston’s brand new one-box solution for all of your digital converting and streaming needs. It’s so new, in fact, that it hasn’t even made it to dealer stores… yet. It’s also heavily back-ordered. So… if you want one, you’d better call your dealer and let him or her know ASAP.

Photo credit: Renato Rossi of www.renatorossi.ca

ELAC
TAF 2019 witnessed the Canadian debut of ELAC’s Debut Reference stand-mount monitors ($700 CAD). Although these bookshelf speakers are not bi-wireable, I thought the sound quality was superb. In fact, I figured that the speakers (probably) had a retail price of around $4,000 CAD dollars. I was utterly flabbergasted to learn that the MSRP for these speakers is $700 CAD(!). No… that’s not a misprint. I asked three times and each time I was told that these speakers do, indeed, have an MSRP of $700 CAD.

As I mentioned out in the hallway to a co-worker, to achieve such a high sound quality at such a low price from any loudspeaker in 2019 is damn near a miracle. These are the speakers that teenagers, University students, and anyone with a slender budget who’s been bitten by the audiophile bug needs to hear. ELAC’s Debut Reference bookshelf monitors are affordable higher-end speakers that are financially within the reach of almost everyone. I was so impressed by their sound quality, that I’m awarding the Debut Reference loudspeaker my coveted “Bang-for-the-Buck” gold medal for the entire 2019 TAF extravaganza.

Photo credit: Renato Rossi of www.renatorossi.ca

GoldenEar
For TAF 2019, GoldenEar Technology brought their new Triton One Reference floorstanding loudspeakers ($8,000 USD per pair). Wired up with an entire loom of Gutwire Cabling and also incorporating Mutec re-clocking devices within a 2-channel system, the sound of their room had a top-to-bottom coherency that was impressive.

Photo credit: Renato Rossi of www.renatorossi.ca

QNAP
Proudly showcasing NAS and multi-media servers, QNAP happily detailed their new Silent NAS HS-251 media storage unit. Featuring HDMI output for direct connection to HDTVs and A/V receivers, the NAS HS-251 provides effortless compatibility with a wide range of network streaming protocols. 4K-ready with 7.1 surround capability, QNAP’s NAS can stream via Airplay, Plex, and DLNA protocols. Using QNAP’s mobile Apps, end-users can also remotely access, view, and download digital files stored on their home NAS system.

Photo credit: Renato Rossi of www.renatorossi.ca

Paradigm / Anthem
Based just west of Toronto in Mississauga, Paradigm’s venerable Canadian sales manager Frank Pugliano chatted with me at length about their stunning range of loudspeakers, AVRs, amplifiers, and custom integration speaker solutions.

For TAF 2019, the demonstration room highlighted the Paradigm Persona 5F floorstanding speakers ($20,000 CAD) together with an Anthem STR integrated amp ($5,500 CAD). The made-in-Canada Persona series loudspeakers feature Paradigm’s patented Active Ridge Technology (ART) and Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) proprietary technologies. The Anthem SRT integrated amp on the other hand, is equipped with the company’s revered Anthem Room Correction (ARC) system helping users fine tune their sound system precisely to their listening room. The integrated amp is also made in Canada.

Also spotlighted inside this room was the Premier 200B bookshelf loudspeaker, again connected to the Anthem STR integrated amp. The 200B retails for $1,250 CAD/pair and features the same ART and PPA technologies as the Persona 5F speakers above. This is of course a much smaller speaker and comes at a more attractive price point.

Photo credit: Renato Rossi of www.renatorossi.ca

Wynn Audio
Headquartered in Richmond Hill Ontario, Wynn Audio brought a ‘State of the Art’ 2-channel reference system to the 2019 TAF that showcased Metronome digital sources, Tidal pre/power components, German Tidal speakers, Crystal Cable wiring, and Critical Mass Systems racks.

Source components in Wynn’s reference system were a top-of-the-line Metronome AQWQ SA/CD player ($22,000 CDN), a Thales Compact-I turntable ($20,000 CDN), a Thales Gold Statement tonearm ($31,900 CDN), and an EMT phono pre-amplifier ($95,000 CAD).

Wynn’s pre/power combo featured a TIDAL Prescenio pre-amp ($95,000 CDN) and a pair of Tidal Assoluta monoblock amplifiers ($195,000 CDN). These amazing sounding components drove a pair of Tidal (German) Contriva G2 floorstanding loudspeakers (wood veneer finis- $86,000 CDN).

Combined with Critical Mass Systems’ awe-inspiring Olympus v12 racks ($13,000 CDN per rack), an Entreq Olympus Infinity grounding box ($5,800 CDN), and a full loom of Crystal Cable wiring, this 2-channel system represented an all-out assault at achieving ‘State of the Art’ sound quality.

Wynn’s 2-channel system had a relaxed, organic, and natural sound that was a joy to listen to. THIS is the sound quality that all serious audiophiles with stereo rigs dream of hearing. Wynn Audio’s careful component matching, speaker selection, and expertise at room tuning is what made their room sound so special. Wynn achieved the best sound that I heard at TAF 2019.

Please tune into www.novo.press next week to read part 2 of our show report 🙂


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