George de Sa


Epson 525UBEpson has just announced their PowerLite Home Cinema 5025UB 3LCD 2D/3D Full HD 1080p home theater projector.  The new projector provides bright, vibrant colors with 2,200 lumens of color brightness and 2,200 lumens of white brightness(2), up to 600,000:1 contrast ratio and advanced image processing.

The Home Cinema 5025UB projector has been designed to provide home theater enthusiasts with the ability to create the cinema experience at home – both 2D and 3D, with high performance, easy installation and an affordable price.  Features like Super-resolution with Detail Enhancement technology, handy lens shift, THX display certification and a built-in cinema filter provide for a wide range of applications.

Super-resolution technology with Detail Enhancement provides edge definition and greater surface details for rich image quality that makes standard and high-definition content come alive.  Users eager to watch their favorite content have the power to set the projector in almost any room with extensive vertical and horizontal lens shift range (96% vertical, 47% horizontal) and 2.1x zoom.

-Up to 3x brighter colors(3) and reliable performance with 3LCD, 3-chip technology
-Five color modes in 2D and three color modes in 3D to easily adapt to different viewing environments
-Black-and-White Cinema color mode ideal for black and white movies
-Easy, flexible installation with manual lens shift of up to 96% vertical and up to 47% horizontal
-Epson’s exclusive 230W E-TORL lamp offering high brightness and up to 5,000 hours of lamp life(4)
-Two HDMI ports easily accommodate receivers, Blu-ray players, game consoles, Apple iPad(5), Apple TV and more.

The PowerLite Home Cinema 5025UB is available now for $1,999 U.S.  and comes with a two-year limited warranty and 90-day bulb warranty. For more information, please visit:

Teac desktop radio

TEAC has just announced the release of their new SL-D800BT CD/Bluetooth Speaker System that has been designed to blend fun into a retro-style and functional audio entertainment system.

Key Features

  • Bluetooth connectivity with Smartphones, Tablets, and Laptops plus instant pairing
  • Available in five colours
  • 2-channel Speaker System with Independent Bass-reflex ported enclosures
  • Top-loading CD Player compatible with MP3/WMA formats
  • AM/FM Tuner with 20AM/20FM Preset Stations (RDS for UK/EUR models)
  • Convenient On/Off Timer with Snooze, Digital Clock with 2-step dimmer, and Sleep Timer
  • Side-located USB port with charging function

A number of colours will be produced; however, availability will be country specific.  Colours include: Red, Black Silver, White and Pink.

Pressing down on the upper lid opens up a top-loading CD player that also plays WMA/MP3 discs.  Your smartphone can connect via the built-in Bluetooth wireless connection.  Connection is made simple via an Instant Pairing - just touch the top of the SL-D800BT with a compatible smartphone for immediate connection.

The SL-D800BT also serves as a AM/FM radio tuner (with a total of 40 presets) with linked to a digital clock  that has Wake-up/Sleep timer.

Behind the chrome grilles are powerful, full-range 3in drive units located within independent speaker enclosures that have been reflex-ported, for enhanced bass output.

A Liquid Crystal display (with motion graphics) adds fun to the listening, separate bass and treble controls, a remote control plus a 5v USB port mounted on the side (designed to work while the unit is in Standby mode) so that you can charge your smartphone while you’re getting some sleep.

The new TEAC SL-D800BT CD is currently available at a price of $149.99.  Look for more information at:


Yamaha R-N301

Yamaha recently introduced the a full-featured affordable network stereo receiver – the R-N301.  The R-N301 provides consumers with AirPlay for quick streaming of music from iOS devices and iTunes, as well as playback of seemingly limitless online content from music services like Pandora, Spotify and Internet radio.  Wireless connectivity and a remote app as well as full DLNA ensures a broad range of connectivity.

The new R-N301 provides 100 watts into 2-channels and has an integrated DAC with 192 kHz / 24-bit capability for playing the latest high-resolution music content.  Equipped with digital audio inputs it can easily be connected to an HDTV or Blu-ray Disc player.

For simplified playback of network music content, The R-N301 works with Yamaha’s free Network Player Controller app, which offers control and Music Play functionality that works with both iOS and Android smartphone and tablet owners for control of the receiver.

A textured black hairline finish with sturdy control knobs and buttons, reflect the same luxurious construction Yamaha employs for its top-end Hi-Fi components.

The Yamaha R-N301 network stereo receiver will be available exclusively at authorized Yamaha dealers in November at a MSRP of: $349.95 U.S.  Look for more about the R-N301 network Hi-Fi receiver at:


 Essence DPA-440 amplifier

Essence Electrostatic has just released their new DPA-440 Class D stereo amplifier that produces up to 220 Wpc @ 4 Ohms.  The new Essence DPA-440 has a low signal-to-noise level of -100dB and high dampening factor of <1000, with up to 40 Amps of driving power.

Leveraging the latest Class D topology, the DPA-440 is a highly efficient amplifier with very low distortion combined with very high stability to proficiently drive almost any speaker load.  The all-discrete driver and output stage have lower open-loop THD as well as lower idling losses.  The amplifier is claimed to be able of providing up to 400 Watts of dynamic power per channel @ 2 Ohms.

The performance of the entire signal path is critically dependent on the power supply; in this case a well regulated switch mode design with 90% efficiency. Secondary supplies are individually regulated and decoupled at each OpAmp for lowest possible noise and maximum dynamic range.

Key Features & Specifications:
220 watts x 2 @ 4 ohms
003% THD+N
Made in the USA
Class D operation-90% Efficient
Available in Black or Silver
>3 dB Dynamic Headroom
Selectable Balanced XLR or RCA inputs
Adjustable Gain Controls
Insulated WBT Gold-plated 5-way binding posts
Power Consumption: 120v@60 Hz / 230v@50 Hz
12″ W x 3.5″ H x 12.5″
21 lbs

The new Essence DPA-440 Class D stereo amplifier is currently available at a MSRP of: $1299 U.S.  Look for more details at:

 Meridian Explorer 2

The new Meridian Explorer2 was designed, and is built, in the UK, with the same attention to quality and detail as all Meridian products.  Meridian’s Explorer2 is a portable, compact and rugged USB DAC that has been designed to provide best-in-class sound.  The new Explorer2 features significantly more powerful DSP capability than its predecessor, which allows for the full range of Meridian enhancement technologies to be incorporated. 

The Explorer2 uses premium audiophile-grade components throughout, a 6-layer circuit board, an elegant all-metal enclosure and provides an exceptional Meridian audio experience from virtually any computer.

Along with the sophisticated 6-layer circuit board, and audiophile-grade components that include: resistors, sockets and music grade electrolytics; and polypropylene filter capacitors, the Explorer2 has direct-coupled outputs to maximize audio quality.

Explorer2 includes significantly more DSP power than its predecessor, allowing Meridian to incorporate upsampling of input signals to 176.4/192kHz (4x standard sample rates) and includes Meridian’s proprietary Apodising filter that minimizes pre-ringing for a clearer, more transparent sound, while at the same time removing digital filter artefacts from earlier digital recordings for sound that is in this case better than the original digital master.  The Explorer2 also features Meridian’s approach to noise-shaping, which moves noise out of the audio band, increasing the audible signal to noise ratio.

Explorer2 features full audio performance at sample rates up to 192kHz, 24-bit resolution. Explorer2 is completely asynchronous, using precision on-board low-jitter crystal oscillators for the base sample rates, developed from those used in Meridian’s premium home entertainment systems.  These oscillators provide the master clocking for the entire playback system, and eliminate all USB interface jitter. ‘Isochronous’ transfer ensures maximum bandwidth and low latency, the latter being significant when playing videos on the computer, for which audio and video must be in sync.  The DAC design also offers extremely low modulation noise and distortion for the ultimate in audio performance. The interface is USB Audio Class Compliant 2.0 HS, supporting data rates up to 480Mb/s.

Two outputs are provided. A 3.5mm headphone socket delivers up to 130mW of high-quality audio – capable of driving plenty of level for even low-efficiency headphones.  The volume is controlled from the host computer, and is an advanced design with an extended range of 0 to –100dB. This level of variability suits all kinds of headphones including the most sensitive types.  A second 3.5mm socket provides a fixed-level analogue (2v RMS) output for connection to an external audio system, connected directly to the DAC for bit-precise performance. This output delivers a fixed, full-level signal with no volume control – essential for an audio system, where you need to ensure maximum signal to noise ratio and maximum use of digital resolution right through to the audio system’s own volume control, which controls the level for all sources in the system.  Explorer2 automatically senses which output is in use and deactivates the heaphone amplifier when the line output is connected, reducing noise.

Explorer2 is a USB Class 2 device that works with the newer (2009) USB2 specification. This supports a transmission speed of 480Mb/s – 40 times faster than Class 1 – allowing Explorer2 to play 192kHz audio streams, and be tolerant of where it is connected, removing the need for direct or solitary connection to the PC.
Whether playing back an mp3 or a high-resolution lossless file, Explorer2 will make any content sound its best, delivering a level of audio quality essentially limited only by the source material.  Three indicators show the status of the Explorer2. The LED furthest from the headphone socket illuminates white to indicate that the unit is operating (and playing PCM at 1x standard sample rates – 44.1/48kHz). The middle LED (2x standard rate) indicates 88.2/96kHz operation and the third LED 176.4/192kHz operation (4x).

Explorer2 connects to the computer via USB mini B connector and a cable – it does not plug directly into the PC like many other products. The use of a cable (included) instead of plugging direct into the PC minimizes the risk of damaging the PC motherboard if the product is accidentally knocked or the headphone cord is pulled.
Explorer2 connects to virtually any computer with a USB port. Drivers are provided for Windows; Macintosh and Linux operating systems allow simple plug-in and play operation. On the Macintosh, the Audio MIDI Setup utility is used to set the output sample rate; on Windows, the Sound control panel is used. Explorer2 requires Macintosh OS X 10.6.4 (Snow Leopard) or later, Linux kernel 2.6.37 or later, or Windows XP SP3, Windows 7 SP1, or Windows 8 or later.  Despite its powerful output and performance capability, Explorer2 is entirely USB bus powered. It is supplied in elegant presentation packaging and includes a short USB cable (longer cables may also be used) and a soft carrying pouch that stores both Explorer2 and cable.

The new Meridian Explorer2 is now available at a MSRP of: $299 U.S.  Look for more information to be provided at:

Fostex TH500RP

Fostex recently announced the release of their new TH500RP headphones.  The TH500RP is based on the Fostex T-series, the first premium planar type headphones designed for hi fi audio listening.  Fostex has employed their RP (Regular Phase) diaphragm technology within the TH500RP, which combines RP technology with the design philosophy and flair of the TH900.  The result is a premium headphone that delivers high resolution sound. 

The RP (Regular Phase) diaphragm consists of etched copper foil on the surface with high heat resistant polyimide film as the base material.  This planar diaphragm has been evolved by newly tuning the entire driver unit.  With its proprietary gravity resin baffle plates a reduction of unwanted resonance has been achieved, while preserving the rich and complete sound that Fostex is known for. 

Soft leather ear pads ensure optimum distance between the diaphragm and the ear for a comfortable listening experience even in prolonged use. The connecting cable is made of HiFC for the ultimate sonic purity and superior conductivity. A leather texture, carrying pouch is included.

the new TH500RP is currently available at a MSRP of $699.00 US.  For more information please visit:




Ray Montford

For over 25 years, Ray Montford has worked in the music industry with credits on numerous recordings as a guitarist / producer / engineer / mixer and mastering engineer, including his own work.  Just recently Ray has put his efforts to building a new studio – Anchor Sound Studio.  Anchor Sound Studio is a unique recording facility located close to a lake, in the gorgeous Haliburton Highlands, which is just two hours north of Toronto.

Anchor Sound Studio will provide one of the most relaxing and comfortable environments for musicians to work in – away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  Musicians will find a place that fosters creativity and inspiration.  Along with a place to create, Anchor Sound Studio is situated amongs breathtaking views and with easy access to some of the best kayaking, canoeing, walking, biking, cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing to be found in Ontario.

Ray Montford 2

Anchor Sound Studio also offers a wonderful acoustic space and hi-end equipment to ensure recordings are captured with soul and spirit.  Look for more details at:

HiFiMAN earphones

HiFiMAN has now announced three new compact in-ear phones that focus on value, convenience and great sound.  All three new models full with the HiFiMAN RE300 line, and include the: RE-300a for Android-based phones; RE300i for iPhone and; RE300h with an OFC cable and sans inline controls for improved sonic performance.    

All three RE300 models include 8.5mm drivers, 32 Ohm impedance and 108dB sensitivity with advanced ergonomics for comfort and extended listening. The bodies and cables are gloss black, with a 3.5mm gold-plated plug that is compatitlbe with nearly all portable audio devices.  

HiFiMAN is best known for their full-size planar magnetic headphones but have had in-ear phones for many years.  HiFiMAN in-ear headphones have typlically targeted mid to upper end price points so the new RE300E is a new affodable price point for HiFiMAN.

Key Features of the HiFiMAN RE300:

  • Light weight and compact size for comfort and ease of carrying around
  • Advanced ergonomic design allows comfortable use for hours on end
  • 8.5mm driver with 32 Ohm impedance and 108dB sensitivity
  • Available in three versions: Android, iPhone and HiFi

The new HifiMan RE300 models are each $49 U.S. and are currently available.  For more information, visit:

HiFiMan EF100

HiFiMAN, a leading designer/manufacturer of high performance headphones, amplifiers and portable audio products, announced their newest headphone amplifier, the EF100.  The new compact headphone amplifier is a hybrid design, which combines tube and solid state within a moderately priced amplifier.  The EF100 is designed to drive a broad array of high performance headphones.  

The EF100 is both a powerful hybrid headphone amplifier and integrated amplifier.  A compact chasis contains three independent amplifier sections: a vacuum tube input stage works as a shared preamp, a Class AB headphone amplifier, and a Class T speaker power amplifier.  The result is a warm, smooth, detailed and musical performance.

As a hybrid headphone amplifier, EF100 produces up to 2w output into 32 ohms.  The EF100 can also serve as a hybrid power amplifier to drive speakers which are of high to moderate efficiency.   

Key Features:

  • Hybrid amplifier design utilizing both tube and solid state performance
  • Dual purpose- can be used to drive headphones or speakers
  • Stable under a variety of loads
  • Will accept multiple sources

The new HifiMan EF100 has a MSRP of $499 U.S. and is currently available.  For more information, visit:


Yamaha 1 (Custom)

This year, the 2014 TAVES Consumer Electronics Show took place between Oct. 31 and Nov.2, 2014, marking the 4th edition of the event.  This fall, TAVES grew substantially in just about every regard, having more product categories, exhibitors, attendees and media than ever.  In addition, the show moved to a brand new venue; out with the King Eddy and in with the Sheraton Centre Hotel Toronto, which offered more space for a growing show.  Last, but definitely not least was the dramatic increase in diversity of exhibitors/products at TAVES 2014 to a level that now qualifies TAVES as a “consumer electronics show”.  In fact, Pat Foran of CTV and Canadian technology expert, Marc Saltzman referred to TAVES in their coverage as “CES North”, a complement indeed!

Walking the show, it was obvious that there were more show patrons than ever before but along with that there was also more diversity in the crowds – definitely more youth and definitely more women.  With today’s challenged audio/video industry a key to survival is building consumer attention and both youth and women provide the greatest potential sources for expansion.  TAVES clearly has acknowledged this in its diversification of content – including art and photography, technological innovations / inventions and also computer technologies and gaming systems, a strategy that I’m sure will serve to keep this show alive for years to come.

The Sheraton Centre Hotel Toronto provided a greater number of larger rooms than the show has seen before, it also sits in a more convenient location, now easily accessible through the downtown Toronto PATH, the largest underground retail complex in North America.  Being situated just across from Nathan Philips Square, Toronto City Hall and a hop skip and a jump from the Eaton Centre also added to attraction of this new show venue.  Though overall I would say the move to the Sheraton Centre Hotel Toronto venue was a great decision – I personally did miss some of the charm of the old King Eddy Hotel.  The King Eddy is visually a prettier hotel, less commercial and more traditional.  No more to be found was the charming décor, such as the royal blue front awning and the traditional heavy wooden bannisters and adornments that I’ve come to know and love in the King Eddy.  No doubt, the Sheraton offers its own charm, with a massive lobby, grand escalators and glass enclosed waterfall but call me sentimental, I did miss the familiar King Eddy.  The Sheraton, being new to me, did pose some navigation challenges – it is a bit of a labyrinth; however, by design, there were smiling and helpful TAVES staff at every turn to point me and other patrons to all the exhibitor spaces.

A few weeks prior to the show, I asked Sony to loan me its α77 MkII DSLR camera ($1,199) together with the SAL1650 16-50mm F2.8 lens ($799).  This would give me enough time to learn to use the camera and then take TAVES coverage pictures with it – therefore all the pictures you’ll find in this article have been shot with this camera / lens combo.  Now, let me share with you some of what there was to be found at TAVES 2014.

Main Lobby: Tesla Motors & Magic Finnga Wong Benz

Entering the ground floor Main Lobby of the hotel, I was greeted by three vehicles on display; placed there as part of the TAVES exhibits.  Two of the vehicles were Tesla Motors models, electric powered wonders that demonstrate engineering, innovation and the way of the future – tying into the overall consumer electronics theme of TAVES.  One of the Tesla Motors models – a Model S, was being actively shown off by its owner.  The Model S is a $79,000 electric car that has 380hp on tap, does 0-100 km/hr in 5.6 seconds, has a top speed of 205 km/hr and a range of 460km – a real draw to any automobile, luxury or technology enthusiast.

Tesla 2 (Custom)

Tesla 1 (Custom)

In addition to the Tesla vehicles was a very outspoken graffiti art Mercedes Benz, hand painted by Magic Finnga Wong, an artist to be found at TAVES demonstrating his live body art painting prowess in one of the rooms at the show – more on that later.

MFW 1 (Custom)

Turning my head, I was greeted by the TAVES arches – inviting me to ascend to the show – how could I resist.

TAVES Arches (Custom)

At the top of the escalators, I found a surprisingly long cue.  This was first thing in the morning on Friday, Oct. 31st.  A line-up on the opening morning of the show, a weekday and all, is nothing but a good sign. Obviously there was much excitement about the show.

Line-Up (Custom)

Yamaha Canada:

My first stop on the main show floor was Yamaha Canada.  Within the room was a bonanza of affordable products that I’d call hi-fi crossover, in that their pricing and performance serves to bridge the gap between the cheap commonplace lo-fi mass audio products and the hi-fi/hi-end products that typically abound at audio shows.  Such hi-fi crossover products are perfect for those just coming to know better sound and are hesitant to spend a lot.

On a rack to one side was a colourful array composed of Yamaha’s MCR-B142, a mini-component system with clock that comes in ten different colours, with Bluetooth streaming and App control features.  The conical and cylindrical shaped objects are actually dimmable rechargeable Bluetooth and App controlled portable audio systems – the cylinder being the LSX-70 ($499) and the conical being the LSX-170 ($599).

Yamaha 1 (Custom)

Here is a close-up which shows how décor friendly the LSX-170 $599 actually is.

Yamaha 2 (Custom)

Yamaha also had a very interesting Bluetooth / wireless loudspeaker product – their LSX-700 ($799/each) on display.  Along with being a three-driver (2 x 7cm + 1 x 6cm) loudspeaker, it is also provides dimmable lighting via 6 rear facing LED lights, along with top lighting.  The speaker is slim, tall and appointed with simulated leather on its sides.

Yamaha 3 (Custom)

In addition, Yamaha with the assistance of Bay Bloor Radio assembled a couple different two-channel stereo systems, which combined Yamaha with other branded products.  System 1 consisted of a Yamaha AS801 integrated amplifier with hi-res USB DAC ($999), Yamaha CDS 300 CD player ($299), Pro-Ject Expression turntable ($1,099) and GoldenEar Triton 1 loudspeakers ($5,000/pair).  System 2 included a  Yamaha RN500 network receiver with DAC ($499), Yamaha CDC 600 6-disc CD player with iPod/USB connectivity ($399), WharfedaleWD10.2/BK loudspeakers ($499/pair), and a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Turntable ($479).

Yamaha 4 (Custom)

Yamaha 5 (Custom)

CFC (Canadian Film Centre) Media Lab:

The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) is an organization that mentors content creators and entrepreneurs in entertainment and digital media.  CFC helps promote the development of new ideas for film, television, digital media, music and acting using a number of programs, including ideaBOOST, which served to provide a production lab to develop the Shard app for use with Google Glass.  Essentially, Shard is a real-time “Instagram-like” app that allows the user to capture their live experiences real-time but also colour those experiences with a number of integrated and funky filters.  I tried the Google Glass with the Shard app and could just imagine how addictive this could be.

CFC 1 (Custom)

CFC 3 (Custom)CFC 2 (Custom)

In addition, CFC was showing off an amazing new camera product, simply named “bubl”.  The bubl is a true 360O camera and received funding via a Kickstarter campaign.  I saw some video shot with the camera and it was absolutely spectacular.  With the software, as a video is playing it is possible to touch the screen and move your point of focus anywhere within a 360O pan, seeing virtually everything around even a moving space.  The bubl is set to begin pre-orders this November at a price of $579 and will have a MSRP of $699 when it begins shipping.  For more details, visit:

CFC 4 (Custom)

I wasn’t the only one interested in the technologies that CFC was showing, I caught CTV Toronto News reporter Pat Foran visiting the CFC table as well.

CFC 5 (Custom)

Sony (Digital Photography & New Technology):

I made a stop at the display that Sony had in the Digital Photography & New Technology section, where a backdrop of multiple HDTV screens were playing footage of images shot with Sony cameras.  I was amazed at the photography and image quality.  On static display were a number of Sony cameras including their latest full-frame mirrorless cameras: the brand new α7s 12.2 mega-pixel (MP) with state-off-the-art video ($2,499); the α7 24.3 MP ($1,699) and the α7R 36.4 MP ($2,299).  As well, a couple APS-C mirrorless cameras were also on display – the α6000 24.3MP ($799) and the α5100 24.3MP ($729).  Finally, there was also the 1.0″ sensor RX10 ($1,099) camera and the RX100 ($899), along with the FDRAx100 4K Handycam.  All these cameras and the magnificent images on the screens just served to inspire me to continue shooting with the wonderful α77 MkII DSLR body ($1,199) and SAL1650 16-50mm F2.8 lens ($799) that Sony had loaned to me to shoot TAVES.

Sony Ph1 (Custom)

Sony Ph2 (Custom)

Sony Ph3 (Custom)

Sony Ph4 (Custom)

 Evolution Home Entertainment Corp:

I found Evolution displaying a number of products they distribute, within the Digital Photo / Technology section of TAVES.  Evolution distributes a number of brands including: Definitive Technology, SIM2, Savant and Stealth Acoustics among others.  On static display were the SIM2 M.150 LED fluid cooled .95 DLP projector ($32,000) and the Canadian first showing of the SIM2 Nero3 ($16,995) 2,000 lumens projector, which I was told is now the world’s brightest projector.  Also on display was the Savant Smart Audio distributed technology and control app for iOS that provides a single app home interface.  From Definitive Technology, Evolution was showing the D1 Series In-Wall/In-Ceiling loudspeakers, including the: SUB 1010 ($899), UiWRLs3 ($799) and UIWRCS2 in-ceiling LCR ($899); the XTR Series On-Wall/On-Shelf XTR60 ($899) and the SuperCube Series powered subwoofers.

Evolution 2 (Custom)

Evolution 1 (Custom)

However, the product I found the most innovative, at the Evolution booth, was the Stingray 8 from Stealth Acoustics.  The Stingray 8 is an environmental outdoor speaker, which is hermetically sealed, making it so impervious to the elements that it can supposedly operate underwater.  Within the StingRay 8 is an internal 8” cone woofer and a 30mm neodymium tweeter that radiate via the speaker’s unique Fidelity Glass flat-front radiating panel.  With a frequency response of 45Hz to 18kHz, I found it to sound surprisingly good and much beyond my expectations, given its non-traditional form.  Talk about a mount anywhere type of speaker.  The Stingray 8 has a MSRP of $1,000/pair.

Evolution 3 (Custom)

Meridian Audio

The next room that I came by was that of Merdian Audio.  The setup within was fronted by Meridian’s DSP7200SE active loudspeakers ($46,000 U.S./pair) that each utilize four independently powered (150 watts each) drivers (2 woofers, 1 mid-range, 1 tweeter), while integrating a preamp, DAC and also DSP.  The 7200SE loudspeakers were being fed digital audio through a Sooloos Control 15 ($7,500 U.S.).  Playing the Phil Collins track “In The Air Tonight” the system sounded rather effortless, smooth and musical – the best demonstration of Meridian products that I’ve heard to date.  On static display was Meridian’s Reference Audio Core 818 controller ($16,000 U.S.) that incorporates Extended Bass Alignment (EBA) as well as DSP and filters.

Meridian 2 (Custom)

Meridian 1 (Custom)

Body Art by Magic Finnga Wong

Just down the hallway from Meridian Audio I found the room of Magic Finnga Wong, the artist who painted the graffiti art on the Mercedes Benz in the hotel lobby.  Here I found Magic putting his hand or rather his air brush to a much different type of canvas. I managed to catch him in the midst of creation with one model and with a completed work on another.  Magic Finnga Wong also had a couple of his mural painting works on display.

Magic 1 (Custom)

Magic 5 (Custom)

Magic 4 (Custom)

Monitor Audio & Cyrus Audio (Kevro International Inc.)

Kevro, the distributor for Monitor Audio and Cyrus had put together a system combining products from these two U.K. based companies.  This isn’t the first time Kevro has put together these two brands but it is the first time that I’d hear the Monitor Audio PL300 loudspeakers ($11,500/pair) in play and boy was I happy to listen to a few tracks on this system.  The Cyrus Stream XP2QX ($3,699) with separate Cyrus PSXR Power Supply ($1,099) and Cyrus Stereo 200 amplifier ($3,499) – a Class D hybrid with analog linear power supply and 200 wpc, had amazing synergy with the Monitor Audio speakers.  The sound was balanced with natural warmth and detail, with an impressive soundstage.  Cables were all by Clarus Cable, which Kevro also distributes, including Crimson bi-wire 8ft speaker cables ($5,000/pr), 6ft high-current power cables ($1,650 each) and 1m interconnects ($1,100/set).  With a full Cyrus Audio stack, the Cyrus Hark Stand is the perfect complement ($1,100).

Kevro 1 (Custom)

Along with the featured system, there were a number of other Monitor Audio loudspeakers on static display, along with a line-up of Cyrus Audio components.  Kevro also distributes Velodyne subwoofers and had three models: the Mini Vee ($1,349), the Micro Vee ($1,699) and the Optimum 10 ($2,249) on static display.

Kevro 3 (Custom)

Kevro 4 (Custom)

Kevro 5 (Custom)

If the sound emanating from the Kevro room was not enough to get show-goers inside, the music inspired art just outside Kevro’s room certainly was.  It seems Sheldon Ginn, Kevro’s Director of Sales & Marketing has a very talented wife – Gayle Ginn who sat in the hallway introducing her own watercolour paintings.  Her creations – well, a picture says a thousand words.

Kevro 6 (Custom)

Angie’s World of Audio

Angie Lisi, owner of the distributor Audiopathways and dealer/retailers Amercian Sound of Canada and Angie’s Audio Corner put together a room on the main floor that included a bonanza of products.  The main featured system was comprised of Raidho D2 loudspeakers ($49,000/pair), Jeff Rowland Continuum S2 Integrated ($9,500) as a preamp into a Jeff Rowland 625 Stereo Amplifier ($16,000) with an Audia Flight CD1 ($8,500), Transparent Audio line conditioner ($4,000), a full Crystal Cable loom ($12,000) and not to forget a full HRS frame & base rack ($22,000).  This system sounded absolutely spectacular, with incredible dynamics, lovely imaging with a visceral and lifelike character.  Though I didn’t get to hear the analog source, it was comprised of a Sutherland Phonoblock ($12,000) with Dr. Feikert Analogue Firebird turntable with System Audio Cartridge ($22,000).

Angie World 1 (Custom)

A second featured system in this room was one fronted by Questyle Audio components, including the T2 Wireless Transmitter ($999) and R200 Mono Wireless Amplifiers ($999/each) with 200 wpc on tap.  Cabling was by Siltech, speakers were Focal Diablo Utopia and the source was a laptop.  I got a short demo and was very pleased with the sound especially so, given the compact form and relative simplicity of the system.

Angie World 2 (Custom)

Around the room were a number of other audio treasures on static display – too many to call out.

Angie World 3 (Custom)

Angie World 4 (Custom)

Angie World 6 (Custom)

Angie World 7 (Custom)

There was also a magnificent looking turntable on the stand with the VAC components  – the TriAngle Art Signature SE ($19,000).

Angie World 5 (Custom)

Audeze LLC:

Within the Headphone / Personal Audio Zone, I found Audeze.

Audeze 1 (Custom)

There were a variety of Audeze headphone models for auditioning and I took the opportunity to endulge.  Included here was the Audeze LCD-3 ($1,945 US) a planar magnetic headphone with zebra wood enclosures and premium leather coverings.  The model on display for audition was hooked up with a prototype set of headphone cables, which is targeted for production in 2015.

Audeze 2 (Custom)

Along with the standard LCD-3 was a prototype model, which incorporated aluminum enclosures for a more urban/industrial image.  I personally favour the traditional wood but I’m sure there will be many that would go for the full-metal-jacket.  I’ve gotta say, they did look cool.

Audeze 3 (Custom)

Audeze also had a set of their higher-efficiency open-back LCD-X ($1,699 US) available for listening.  This model can be powered by portable devices without the help of a headphone amplifier; however, you can’t really get to hear their full potential without using quality amplification.

Audeze 4 (Custom)

Virtually the same as the LCD-X open-back is the LCD-XC closed-back ($1,799), which is better suited to noisy environment use.  The closed back design is very opulent looking.

Audeze 5 (Custom)

Sony (booth):

Sony was showing a number of their portable audio products within the Headphone / Personal Audio room.  Included among these were the new Sony MDRZ7 headphones ($699) that use massive 70mm drivers and have replaceable, screw-in headphone cables.  In addition, Sony had their new Walkman models available for demo – the NWZA17B 64 GB Hi-Res Walkman ($299) and the NWZ-ZX1 128 GB Hi-Res DSD Walkman ($749).  Both Sony’s portable headphone amplifiers, the PHA2 ($599) and PHA3 Hi-Res 32-bit/384kHz DSD DAC ($999) were also showcased.

Sony PA2 (Custom)

Sony PA3 (Custom)

Sony PA1 (Custom)

More desktop than portable audio was Sony’s UDA1B USB DAC Player / Amplifier ($699) with DSD capability, a headphone amplifier and the ability to power passive speakers with 2 x 20 watts.

Sony PA4 (Custom)

A step up in the desktop / mini-system category was Sony’s HAP-S1 high-resolution network music player and integrated amplifier ($999) that has 2 x 40 watts output with 500GB hard-disk storage and a DSD Hi-Res DAC.

Sony PA5 (Custom)

Amercian Sound of Canada (booth):

American Sound of Canada was featuring a product/brand in their booth that I had not seen before.  The manufacturer was Questyle Audio Engineering and on display / demo were a couple of their systems.  This was the Canadian debut of the Questyle brand and based simply on the build and styling, I think they are on the road to breaking in.  Included in their systems was the CMA800R Current Mode Headphone Amplifier ($2,000 U.S.) which is a mono full balanced design with two required for a stereo setup, the CAS192D Hi-Res Digital Player and DSD DAC ($2,000 U.S.), the CMA800i DSD DAC with headphone amplifier ($2,500 U.S.) and the Q192 DAC with headphone amplifier ($800 U.S.).  I did give them a listen and was immediately impressed with the detail and airiness of the sound – a brand worth investigating.

Questyle 1 (Custom)

Questyle 2 (Custom)

Questyle 3 (Custom)

Questyle 4 (Custom)

Click here to read Part 2 of this article