Toronto Airport Westin Hotel
The good news is that this year, Toronto got an audio show similar to what Montreal has been enjoying for years. It was well-organized, well-attended, with a fine array of exhibitors (also some notable absences), and maybe most importantly, the layout and location were excellent. The focus was on two-channel audio, and many of the rooms were able to achieve great sound. Admission was free. And the mood was decidedly upbeat this year, especially since for the last couple of years, the now-defunct TAVES show really struggled to attend to the needs of audiophiles.
The bad news for me was that my back problems limited my ability to cover all the rooms, and nearly kept me from attending at all. So, to those exhibitors who didn’t receive a mention in this report, I sincerely apologize. It was a big show, and in spending 3 hrs on Saturday + 2.5 hrs on Sunday, I was able to have an enjoyable time, but I had to sit a lot, and in the end I just couldn’t make it to see everything.
The rooms were spread over the first four floors of the hotel. I started on the 4th floor and slowly worked my way down. WoS’er Sean Leighland was there, and we stuck together for my Saturday leg. As usual I had to be selective, spending more time in rooms that interested me (and our readers), and less or no time in other rooms. This is not a comprehensive report, just a sampling of what the show had to offer.
Note: I used the Gallery mode, and it seems that you have to click on an image in order to see the caption text for it.
Tri-Cell Enterprises is one of Canada’s most established (and prolific) distributors, and Vince’s crew as always put on a great show – across a bank of five rooms, no less. Here’s a taste of their room setups and equipment.
High-end retailer Sonic Artistry has been making its mark in Toronto audio circles, it was great to see old pal Jonathan Badov. Their two adjacent rooms were so full of cool and unusual gear, I could have spent the whole afternoon there. SA’s main room was playing Ry Cooper’s Paris, Texas soundtrack on the TechDAS Air Force V when I walked in, while in the adjacent room Tracy Chapman’s first LP was spinning on the lovely Pear Audio ‘table – I’m starting to get a good feeling about this show. The racks in Sonic Artistry’s rooms were by Toronto’s own Massif Audio Design. (apart from the Ikea Lack tables, obviously)
Next up, ArtistCloner. Ahh, finally.. my chance to find out what the fuss is all about. Sean introduced me to Sylvio Comtois and his wife Isabelle, both very charming people, and then someone asked me if I wanted to hear Pink Floyd “done right”. After that, details are sketchy. Possibly I was abducted by aliens? I don’t know. But I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard digital music (via Merging NADAC) sounding so….analog. Sylvio had made a major effort in getting this room to sound good. I heard new details on tracks from The Wall, and a three dimensional soundfield like I had not heard before. Outstanding.
Montreal’s L’Atelier Audio is certainly a retailer and distributor “extraordinaire”. The French and Japanese have some very hardcore audio cultures, and L’Atelier represents them with iconic products from Yamamoto Sound Craft, Miyajima, Jean-Marie Reynaud, Ocellia, PHY, and Mulidine – in addition to prestigious European marques like Sugden, Aqua Acoustics, Metrum, Puresound, and Thomas Schick. Yet, in the middle of one of Samuel Furon’s two rooms, one is confronted with an unfinished birch ply pair of open baffle Altec 604E’s, a vintage Micro-Seiki RX2000, and – actually in both rooms – all the components sit on an IKEA Bror rack. I love it. Altogether, for me, a very welcoming atmosphere, wonderful sound (and great music) in both rooms. L’Atelier are also located in the neighbourhood where my father grew up – on the same street where he lived part of his childhood.
It’s late, and my back is hurting. I’ll post this up for now, and I’ll try to post Part 2, in its entirety, tomorrow. Adieu, mes amis.