George de Sa



Headphones and earphones are all the rage these days when it comes to music listening. They are compact, portable, relatively cheap and with many models – truly a fashion statement. Alpha Design Labs (ADL) by Furutech has been joining the many other manufacturers in the portable audio space with a few recent products – their H118 headphone, as well as their X1 DAC / portable headphone amplifier (both recently reviewed by yours truly; you can find the reviews on ADL’s latest product in the mobile audio category is their first in-ear-monitor / earphone namely, the ADL EH008.

A prototype of the ADL EH008 was seen lurking at a couple audio/video shows in 2013, including the Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show (TAVES) but the ADL EH008 has only recently been officially released. I received the review set of the EH008 in late May and have been using it virtually daily since.

The ADL EH008 came packaged in a windowed cardboard box and inside I found a luxurious, handsomely styled leatherette semi-hard case. The zippered case was black and had a triangular form with all edges rounded. Within this case were the earphones nestled in a removable rubber insert that allowed for easy stowing of the cable. Both the case and the rubber insert were tastefully emblazoned with the ADL logo. The executive-like travel case only helped to showcase the lovely styling of the EH008 earphones within. The EH008 utilizes a carbon fiber outer shell that is very eye-catching under good light. On the back end of the earphone body was an aluminum end plate, adorned with the ADL insignia. This silver end plate starkly contrasted with the dark carbon fiber enclosure, providing a very sophisticated overall appearance. A unique rubber outer seal ring surrounded the body at its mid-way point and the cord was sheathed in black rubber. Overall, I found the ADL EH008 chic and fashionable, which I’m sure will have wide-appeal.

Three sets of rubber tips were provided, which was sufficient to find a good fit. The EH008 went in easy and stayed put and comfort was very good – enough to forget I was wearing them. Though the outer seal ring was designed for comfort and improved isolation, I found their silicon slip covers a bit of a pain, as they tended to roll off with every use. I felt myself tempted to reach for some crazy glue but for the record, no glue was used during the course of this review. The cord was of optimal length and its angled plug worked well. The cord’s springy rubberized nature prevented any tangles whatsoever; however, their springy nature seemed to add additional cable noise microphonics, when in motion. I tried wrapping the cables around and over my ears in a sports position to reduce the noise but the springy cables quickly rejected my attempts. Holding the cables to my chest as I walked was the only solution I came up with – so those intending to use these when exercising should take note.

These earphones utilize two drivers within each enclosure, what ADL refers to as Dual Dynamic Drivers. These drivers are α (Alpha – Cryo treated) with an 8mm driver for mid-to-low frequencies and a 5.8mm driver for high frequencies. The 5.8mm driver uses a Titanium Trembler Film for greater resolution. The body of the EH008 is made of two housings – an inner ABS resin and an outer carbon fiber shell that ensures optimal damping characteristics. The end plates on the earphones are of diamond cut aluminum and the cord is 1.3 metres in length with a 24k gold-plated stereo 3.5mm angled plug. This composition serves to deliver the following specifications: a sensitivity of 100 ± 3 dB SPL (130mW input at 1 KHz ); a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz; power handling of 2mW to 5mW; impedance of 19 ohms @ 1kHz and a weight of 15g.

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My evaluation was done using my iPod touch as well as my iPad, playing lossless files and with the aid of an ADL X1 24/192 DAC / headphone amplifier. I found that even though the EH008 earphones have a respectable sensitivity of 100 dB, they did demand some power to sound their best and the X1 was the perfect companion.

Listening to Ray Montford’s album “Shed Your Skin”, I was impressed by the way the EH008 rendered the opening acoustic guitar lick of the tune Ice House. There came a sense of natural textures and definition, with plucks delivered clearly but in a fulsome manner. Distinct was the EH008’s ability to convey richness in tone and accompany that with a healthy measure of detail retrieval. I might say that this track sounded rather delicious through the EH008. Woody tones from the guitar were accompanied by substantial bass weight and instrument separation, as well as an appreciable sense of imagery. I found myself listening to this track over and over again to get the full sense of all the EH008 had to offer.

Moving over to the title track of Sade’s “Soldier of Love” album the opening wind noise was immersive, if not as open and transparent as I’ve heard it through my substantially more expensive Shure SE535 earphones ($569). The bass notes and drum beats were full and weighty, intense without being overpowering – there was no bombastic character here. Sade’s voice and the overall sonic signature on this track did lean a touch to the darker side of neutral, giving a slightly warmer expression to the music that was satisfying in its own right. I perceived some surrendering of ultimate openness and precision; however, the listening experience itself remained very engaging and pleasurable. I was definitely given the impression that the EH008 were cut of a similar cloth as the ADL H118 headphones that are currently one of my own reference sets of cans. Given the varying quality of recordings these days, especially those of the pop genre, having a little extra warmth is often welcome – providing some forgiveness and avoiding such recordings coming across as thin or manufactured.

Over to a mega-classic album from Miles Davis, ‘Kind of Blue’ and the last track Flamenco Sketches (Alternate Take). If you didn’t know, this is the all-time best selling jazz album and if you haven’t heard it – there is no better time than now to get yourself a hi-resolution copy. I put the ADL EH008 head-to-head against my B&W C5 and Shure SE535 reference earphones. Listening to the upright bass, the EH008 delivered the instrument in a very full, deep and resonant manner; by comparison, the C5 was tighter, lighter and more dynamic with the plucks, though less revealing of the string texture and body resonance. Going over to the SE535 there was noticeably less bass weight than both the EH008 and C5, though everything was more resolved, and more open with greater sustain. Listening to the piano, the EH008 was tuneful, natural and textured and preserved the glow of the woody body of the instrument. With the B&W C5, the piano was somewhat simplistic, sounding lighter and having less reverb, while through the Shure SE535 the clarity of the piano notes rose to a higher level, taking on its own space and bringing with it a bounty of detail. Moving to the percussion, the EH008 provided a more detailed and revealing rendition of brushwork than the C5 with cymbals that were subdued but feathery, the C5 sounding rather simplistic in comparison, while the SE535 provided the greatest insight into the strokes, motions and textures. Miles’ trumpet with the ADL EH008, though short of the SE535 in ultimate transparency, openness, dynamics and detail, did a wonderful job of embodying this instrument with its brassy warmth and inherent bite. And, unlike the C5, the EH008 provided the brassy texture of the instrument and its throat tones. This went also for the saxophone, where the EH008 conveyed the instrument with authoritative beauty, sounding full, rich and lush – a captivating experience. In all of this the EH008 was able to bring across the emotion of the song, the relaxed melancholy that has given me such a love for the piece.

To sum it up, I’d call the ADL EH008 a success. Overall, I felt it brought more life to the music and more involvement to the listening then the B&W C5, and even in comparison to the Shure SE535, it was not embarrassed. In fact, those seeking a fuller, more forgiving and richer take on recordings may prefer the ADL EH008 to the much pricier Shure SE535. Given their price, and factoring in their level of performance, style and construction, the ADL EH008 is a very competitive product. If you seek an emotional connection with your music and like it delivered with a little heartiness, wrapped up in a stylish package, the ADL EH008 should not be overlooked.

Alpha Design Labs (by Furutech)

Distributed in Canada by AuDIYo Inc. |

Alpha Design Labs (ADL) EH008 Dual Dynamic Driver Earphones
Price: $245 CAD


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JVC / Kenwood

JVC / Kenwood occupied one of the larger rooms at TAVES this fall and demonstrated its professional series of projectors on a Canadian 108” Elunevision Aurora 4K screen.  I spent some time speaking with Gregory Cameron, VP JVC Professional Products Canada Inc about the demonstrations they were running.  When I commented on the amazing imaging quality and resolution, Greg responded by taking me right up to the screen and showed me that even at such a close distance, with the huge image, the pixels were essentially unperceivable – 4K offers that much pixel density.

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JVC projectors come in both professional and consumer versions.  The model being demonstrated in the room was the professional DLA-RS500U ($8,500), which is a 4K 3D projector with a 120,000:1 native contrast and 1800 lumen ANSI brightness.  Other models in the series include the DLA-RS600U ($12,500) with a 140,000:1 native contrast and 1900 lumen brightness as well as the DLA-RS400U ($6,500) with 40,000:1 native contrast and 1700 lumen brightness.  All JVC projectors offer dual HDMI 2.0a inputs (HDCP 2.2, 18Gbps standard) and up to 4K, 60p, 4:4:4 processing.  Another point worth noting is that with these latest models, JVC has reduced noise of operation down to just 21dB, eliminating the need to conceal the projector within a hushbox, when used in small rooms.

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Nexus International – Audio Alchemy / XLO

Nexus International was debuting products for the first time in Canada from Audio Alchemy. The room was dimly lit with some accent LED rope lights that presented the equipment in a very dramatic fashion. The main system consisted of all Audio Alchemy components that included the DDP-1 Digital DAC/preamp/headphone amp ($2,899) with a Power Station power supply ($899); the DMP-1 media player (price not released yet); and two DPA-1M hybrid Class A/Class D monoblock power amplifiers ($2,899). All of this gear was connected to a gorgeous set of fire-engine red KEF Blade 2 speakers, and wired up with XLO cables. The sonic reproduction was rich, smooth and natural with fulsome yet articulate bass.

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Nexus International – FiiO

In addition to its room in the audio portion of the show, Nexus was also demonstrating numerous portable audio products from FiiO in a couple of booths on the main show floor, which served to give them tons of traffic. I sat down with Sarah Tremblay (distributor of Grado headphones) who was helping out at the FiiO display, since Grado headphones were being paired up with the FiiO products. Sarah showed me the all-new, smallest-to-date FiiO M3 player (first Canadian showing) which will become available for purchase in Dec/Jan ($55 U.S.) – see picture below.

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Another new product form FiiO was the X7 Android based portable music player ($650 U.S.) which will use the new ESS DAC ES9018S chip; expected to also be available this Dec/Jan. I did get some time to listen to the FiiO X3 (2nd gen), which is a hi-rez, lossless 128GB portable music player equipped with a Cirrus Logic top-flight DAC ($340). The headphones were the Grado SR80e model and the sound was great, I was actually tempted to put my wallet down and buy one on the spot. When Sarah inserted the FiiO Kunlun E18 portable headphone amp ($230) into the mix, the sound became tighter, more dynamic and more resolved. I was very impressed with the build, fit, finish and feature set of the products on display.

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AuDIYo Inc.

AuDIYo, the distributor for Furutech and Alpha Design Labs (ADL), as well as Mundorf and 1877Phono, was showing a system in their room fronted by the all-new Mundorf MA30 Anniversary bookshelf speaker kit ($3,500/pair unassembled).  The speakers use a Mundorf AMT tweeter and Accuton ceramic woofer, combined with a Mundorf crossover that’s made-in-Germany.  The cabinet comes in a choice of black or white high-gloss piano lacquer finish, and the kit comes with absolutely everything needed for assembly.  Having a 91dB sensitivity, the MA30 speaker is said to be “kind” to tube amps.

Along with the MA30 speakers, a brand new Zavfino 1877Phono ZV5 turntable ($3,200 U.S. standard or $4,200 U.S. custom paint; including the tonearm) was introduced for the first time at TAVES.  The custom paint on this table made it just stunning – take a look at the pics below and I’m sure you’ll agree.  For the curious – the cartridge (sold separately) was a Dynavector Karat 1703.  Electronics were all ANKits (ANK) and included: a prototype phono preamp; L5 Preamplifier “The Mentor” ($5,600 unassembled); DAC 5.1 ($5,500 unassembled); EL34 35-watt Monoblock amplifiers ($2,300 unassembled).  The CD transport was unnamed and all cabling was Audio Sensibility.

I heard a couple tracks spun on the turntable, while in the room.  The first was Bruce Cockburn’s “Wondering Where the Lions Are” from his Dancing In the Dragon’s Jaws LP.  The bass was taught with a delicate a light treble; when Ray Montford’s Fragile CD was played, the sound was fleshy with an engaging bloom, giving me the impression that the system was a chameleon due to its transparency.

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Here are a few shots of the other versions of the Zafino 1877 Phono ZV5 turntable that I found in the room:

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On the Main Show Floor, AuDIYo also had a booth where they had many cables and accessories available for purchase.  There was also the all-new ADL Stratos DAC/ADC headphone amplifier / preamplifier (est. $1,899) being demonstrated with a pair of ADL H118 headphones ($269).  What I heard was very promising.  I personally have been using an ADL Esprit DAC/ADC in my main reference system for sometime and can vouch for the high-quality of their products, so something new is always of interest to me.

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DVL Audio Inc

Distributor DVL Audio had two rooms at the show, highlighting its product for the first time at TAVES.  The first room employed a pair of Kharma Elegance loudspeakers that were driven by a Viola Audio Labs Sonata preamplifier ($35,000 U.S.) paired with a twin enclosure (amplifier and separate power supply) Viola Audio Labs Bravo II amplifier ($59,000 U.S.).  The amplifier outputs 350 wpc / 8 Ohms and doubles up into 4 Ohms.  The source was a CH Precision D1 SACD player running as a transport into a CH C1 DAC ($33,000 U.S.)  Listening to some Rush at loud volume, the presentation was very clean with stellar bass.  On static display in the room was the Viola Audio Labs Crescendo stereo preamplifier ($22,500 U.S.).  All of these components appeared to be extremely well constructed.

In the second room hosted by DVL Audio, a full CH Precision system was being demonstrated, playing through a set of Wilson Audio Sophia loudspeakers.   The system was comprised of a CH Precision D1 SACD transport/player ($38,000 U.S.) with a C1 DAC ($33,000 U.S.), feeding the signal into a L1 Dual Monoral Preamplifier ($33,000 U.S.) running a pair if M1 Monoblock Reference power amplifiers ($95,000 U.S./pair).  CH Precision cabling was used all throughout the system.  Listening to Dave Brubeck’s Time Out, I heard incredible definition and transient speed with outstanding impact.  Moving to The Drums of Jiangzhou Shanxi CD, I was amazed at the soundstage depth, the incredibly fast transients and dynamic impact.  The system was also able to reveal intricate detail and ambiance.  CH Precision was a brand I had never encountered before but I’ve taken note as this system, in my humble view, had the most incredibly dynamic and impactful bass at TAVES.

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Riva S
RIVA Audio, the lifestyle brand of Audio Design Experts, Inc. (ADX), has just announced the availability of its newest Bluetooth Wireless mobile speaker the RIVA S. The new RIVA S incorporates new functions like TrueWireless technology allowing a true stereo speaker arrangement, high performance from the proprietary Trillium technology employing ADX audio drivers, and numerous other features like high-quality speakerphone and Charge Out functions, the Riva S is designed to amaze.

The new RIVA S Bluetooth mobile speaker delivers high go-anywhere performance with its high-quality battery and impressive playtime per charge (13+ hours at 73db or 5+ hours at 94dB+. Since the RIVA S has a IPX4 rating, it is certified as fully water resistant for use by the pool or outdoors.

TrueWireless allows two RIVA S speakers to be synched together for true 2-channel stereo imaging that provides a HiFi music listening experience. RIVA Audio continues to utilize ADX’s proprietary Trillium audio technology to deliver immersive, high quality sound. The unique Trillium audio processing enlarges the audio image while reproducing the power of the audio signal without excessive compression. Trillium Surround will further enhance the audio-visual experience of music, movies, videos games, TV and more.

The RIVA S delivers as a result of its 3 full-range, custom, 40mm ADX drivers and 4 custom dual-piston bass radiators all powered with a best-in-class 30-Watts amplifier. Bluetooth wireless sound quality is improved further through the addition of AptX technology. The speaker is also packed with unique and convenient features like a dual-microphone speakerphone with noise and echo cancellation processing technology for crystal clear conference calls, and a USB Charge Out allows you to recharge your mobile devices when you’re away from a wired outlet. While RIVA Audio includes unique Capacitive Touch controls to make it easy to operate the speaker in the dark, the RIVA Audio mobile app allows the user to manage the entire listening experience from a phone or tablet. Available for iOS or Android, the RIVA Audio app is available for free from the App Store or Google Play.

Key Features:
– Up to 13 hours playback on a single charge
– 30 watts of power
– TRILLIUM Surround technology
– IPX4 water resistant design
– USB charge port for charging devices on-the-go
– TrueWireless stereo for pairing 2 speakers
– Phono Mode for your favorite vinyl
– Party Mode for multi-user control
– Carrying case and international plugs included

The all-new RIVA S is available for purchase this month – Nov. 2015 at a MSRP of: $249.99 each. Look for more information at:

AudioEngine H6
Audioengine today introduced the HD6 Premium Powered Speaker System. More than just a powered speaker, the HD6 is a complete audio system with all the connections you’ll need to listen to your music.

Featuring built-in amplifiers that really pack a punch as well as analog and digital inputs including aptX Bluetooth and optical, the HD6 is super-easy to use and designed for the way people listen to music today.

The new HD6 uses Audioengine’s tried-and-true amplifier design with a new optical input from the D1 DAC, as well as the Audioengine Advanced Bluetooth and 24-bit upsampling circuitry from the B1 Bluetooth Receiver.

With Bluetooth connectivity, it’s easy to stream TIDAL, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, iTunes or any other music service from a media player, smartphone, tablet or computer – wirelessly. The optical input allows easy connection of an AppleTV, Sonos Connect, network music player, or any other device that has optical out. A turntable can be connected via the RCA preamp inputs.

The HD6 is finished in furniture-grade wood veneers with detachable magnetic grills that give it a retro old-school design elegance that blends with any decor.

The HD6 is Audioengine’s latest statement on high-quality and highly-affordable audio. The all-new woofers have aluminum frames allowing the lower-end to really perform. Also new are the tweeters, which have been upgraded for smoother, more extended highs and incredible imaging.

•Built-in class A/B monoblock power amplifiers
•Dual audio inputs and variable output
•High-fidelity advanced Bluetooth® with aptX®
•24-bit digital optical input
•Hand-built cabinets with furniture-grade finishes
•Solid aluminum remote control
Pricing and availability

The Audioengine HD6 Premium Powered Speaker System is now available at a MSRP of: $749 U.S. Look for more information at:

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Bluebird Music

Bluebird Music, the distributor for Spendor, Jadis, Chord, Van den Hul and Lindemann had a very nice space at the show, with some natural plants that served to bring a relaxed feel to the room.  The main system was setup on the long wall of the room and fronted by the Spendor D7 loudspeakers ($7,450) being driven by a Jadis I-50 integrated 50 wpc tube amplifier ($12,000).  The analog source was an Oracle Paris turntable ($3,500) with a Benz ACE MC medium cartridge, through a Jadis DPMC phonostage ($6,700).  For the digital source, a Chord Red Reference CDP ($26,000) and a Chord DSX1000 Streamer ($14,000) were setup.  Cabling was Van den Hul Cloud speaker cables with Hill and Mountain IC.  This system sounded quick, graceful and light on its feet and had a lovely lifelike sparkle to the treble that was particularly engaging.


John Christoff Calmettes, R&D Manager, Technical Director and the chief designer of the Jadis I-50 was present, which gave me the chance to congratulate him on his fine product.

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Also in the room were a number of other products from Chord including their new DAVE DAC ($17,300 / with legs $20,900), 2Qute ($1,995), Hugo TT ($5,795), the NEW Mojo USB DAC Headphone Amp ($799) and the Hugo ($2,895).  And, off to the side and missed in my pics was a Lindemann Musicbook 10 USB DAC ($4,895) and Musicbook 50 stereo power amplifier ($3,395) on static display.

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Wynn Audio

In a large room on the main floor of the show I found the up and rising distributor Wynn Audio exhibiting.  Walking into the room I was instantly taken by the sheer grandeur and opulence of the products.  Most striking were the Tidal Audio Sunray G2 speakers ($180,000/pair), which weigh in at 705 lbs. each and stand 6’ 9” high; the golden hue of the burl walnut high-gloss finish oozing with luxury and demanding the worship of onlookers.  Wynn Wong, President of Wynn Audio told me that these speakers were a substitute for the Tidal Audio Piano G2 ($32,000) that were originally planned for – nice substitute indeed, I thought.  The rest of the system in play was no less grand, incorporating: the Tidal Audio Presencio phono and line stage preamplifier ($92,000), the Tidal Audio Assoluta Monoblock power amplifiers ($200,000/pair), Reimyo CDT-777 CD Transport ($12,500) with Reimyo DAP-999EX Limited DAC ($11,500) and for the analog source, the Thales TTT-Compact turntable ($17,000) with Tales Simplicity II Tonearm ($12,500).

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What did it sound like?  Immense, open and airy with great precision and grace, delivering copious detail into the micro level and delivering dynamics in an effortless manner.

On static display in the room were the Tidal Piano G2 ($32,000) and Contriva G2 loudspeakers:

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In view, under glass were the Thales Slim turntable ($10,000) with a Thales Easy tonearm ($7,000);

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the Boenicke WS loudspeakers ($7,000);

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Telos Quantum Noise Resonator ($1,000), Telos Mini Quantum ($500) and Quantum Diffusor ($800);

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And the Encore ENC-5 bookshelf speakers ($9,000) that Malcolm Gomes from CANADA HiFi reviewed a few months back:

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Goerner Audio

Goerner Audio, a distributor that I’ve come to know for fine products and lovely sound at shows, was launching an Austrian brand “Wiener Lautsprecher Manufktur” (WlM) to the North American market at TAVES.  The main system featured the WlM Rudolf loudspeakers ($27,000 base) finished in a striking cherry wood veneer.  Amplification was by way of a Grandinote Shinai integrated amplifier ($17,000), with the Grandinote Volta music server ($13,500) and the Trigon Trinity Integrated Server ($5,500).  The analog source was made up of an Acoustic Signature WOW XL turntable ($3,490) with AC-1 linear power supply ($450), TA 1000 tonearm ($2,190), London (Decca) Supergold moving-iron cartridge ($1,875), Funk Acromat 5mm platter mat ($150) and a Grandinote Celio phono preamplifier ($8,750).  Cabling was all Nordost Valhalla 2.  Listening to a classical LP being played, I found the sound to be very delicate, naturally detailed and pure in tone, sounding un-restrained with impressive musical flow.  Though I would have liked to hear this system crank out some classic rock or tympani, I had to regretfully move on before such a request could be met.  I’m hoping to hear more from WlM in the coming months.

#301, #303, #305

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Reinhard Goerner was all smiles, while his new babies were in play, the picture speaks for itself.

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On play rotation, though I didn’t get a chance to hear it, was the WlM Wunderkind portable music system that deliver an amazing 250 wpc from a briefcase size box ($6,000).

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Audio by Mark Jones

The room hosted by Mark Jones had a sound that was welcoming.  The featured system surrounded a Kronos Limited Edition turntable ($38,000) with Black Beauty tonearm ($8,500) and ZYX Universe II MC cartridge ($8,495) into a Tenor Phono 1 ($50,000) with a Tenor Line 1 and Power 1 preamplifier ($100,000) and Tenor 175S amplifier ($55,000).  The digital source was an Aurender N10 ($8,000 U.S.) through a PS Audio Direct Stream DAC ($7,500).  The loom was all Kubala Sosna Research and the system was on a Massif Audio Designs wood rack ($3,500).  The loudspeakers in play were the Magico S7 with optional M-Coat finish ($64,000 U.S. in Lamborghini Orange as shown / $58,000 U.S. in M-Cast standard finish).  This system had wonderful musical ease and flow that brought out subtle details in an incredibly natural manner with organic texture and warmth.  Expensive yes, affordable – not for me but still insanely desirable.

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David Johann, Global Sales & Marketing for Tenor Audio, proudly crouched by the 175S amplifier:

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And the proud man himself (though slightly out of focus), Mark Jones, leaning on the exquisite Magico S7:

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This year marked the fifth consecutive year of the TAVES Consumer Electronics Show. Five years ago the show kicked off focusing primarily on audio/video; however, since then, with each year the show has grown both in size and diversity and now has truly become a consumer electronics event, encompassing technology and innovation, gaming, tech toys, robotics and much more. With over 100 exhibitors, TAVES 2015 was the biggest it has ever been, most definitely the largest show of its kind in Canada and also, one of the largest in North America. How has all this happened? No doubt as a result of the hard efforts, foresight and creative genius of the leadership team – Suave Kajko, President and Simon Au, Vice President of Sales, who brought TAVES into existence a half-decade ago and have since then cultivated it into the fine trade show it is today.

I attended all three days of TAVES (Oct. 30th to Nov. 1st) and was amazed at how much there was to see. Attendees this year came from all walks: the young, the old, families, men, women, boys and girls, with more diversity than I’ve ever seen in any previous iteration of TAVES. With a plethora of exhibits, TAVES 2015 undoubtedly possessed broad consumer appeal. Heck, for the first time this year, my whole family attended – the wife, and all three kids; which speaks a world about how TAVES now has something for everyone. No longer just a go-to-show for audiophiles or for that matter, technophiles but today a go-to-show for anyone looking for a fun and enlightening event to attend.

Let me take you through some of what there was to see at TAVES from the audio/video perspective. My colleague Jeremy Phan will cover many of the technology & innovation exhibits in an upcoming feature on

Totem Acoustic Inc.

Totem had a massive room with captivating images. There were three systems in the room, all which were being demonstrated on rotation, with Vince Bruzzese, CEO and Founder, personally presenting. The largest and most noticeable system was a 5.2 channel audio setup using 3 x Tribe 5 speakers ($3,000/each) for the L/C/R and 2 x Tribe 3 ($2,000/each) for the rear channels as well as 2 x Tribe Sub ($2,000/each) for the low frequencies. These speakers were leashed to a Yamaha CX-A5100 processor and MX-A5000 amplifier. The sound filled this gigantic room with a rich, yet delicate soundscape and was capable of impressive, distortion free volume levels.

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On the high-end stereo side of things, a second system consisting of Forest Signature SE speakers ($6,500/pair) mated to a full Naim stack demonstrated the musical clarity and imaging capability of Totem’s loudspeaker products. This pair was quite gorgeous in their Special Edition finish and sure to meet those looking for wonderful sound in a stylish and luxurious package.

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The third system in this room paired a couple of all-new products from Totem – the Kin Flex a compact 2.5 way three-driver compact loudspeaker ($400/each); not yet released at the time of TAVES (will start shipping Nov. 2015) and the Kin Mini 6.5” powered subwoofer ($500). With the Kin Flex speakers driven by a Peachtree 220 amp and a Wadia DAC playing digital files, this system managed to fill the huge space with sound in an amazing fashion. Vince Brucezze explained that the design of the Kin Flex leverages nearby walls to generate a much larger sound than their small size would typically be capable of. Doesn’t Vince look like a proud father of his new offspring?

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In the past few years VIZIO has been making real headway in the video display and television market, aimed at producing the highest performance at the lowest cost. The U.S. based company produces a full line of televisions, all of which are full-array backlit. As you move up in price the number of active LED lit zones increases, improving the overall image performance. A number of the VIZIO models were on display but their 80” 4K M-Series M80 ($5,530) was the star of the show. My wife gave me the go-ahead – you could say she was impressed herself.

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At the show Mike Wood and Bianca Bilauca were helping people appreciate the company’s fine products, along with a number of other staff. Here’s Mike and Bianca with the M80. Also note the speakers on the wall – this is VIZIO’s 5.1 40” soundbar-satellite-sub audio solution – the SB4051 ($500), which incorporates 3 audio channels within the soundbar. Other models on display were the M65-C1 ($2,070) and the E50 ($720).

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On the Friday, the first day of the show, Goldmund, the Swiss high-end audio product company hosted a morning press event to make an announcement – the company’s return to North America, at the hands of the Canadian distribution company Wynn Audio. Mr. Michel Reverchon, President of Goldmund told us that the company was born in the 70’s with turntables and tonearms that were then sold in Canada. In the 80’s their focus went to Asia and with their success their, interest in North America died away. In 2015, Goldmund’s focus has expanded to include a number of much more affordable products that the company hopes will facilitate their successful return to the North American shores, with the distribution support from Wynn Audio.

A demonstration of the capabilities of the Goldmund Logos Tower loudspeaker ($43,999/pair) and Eidos 17 Universal Player ($17,999) was provided. I noticed that the active system was capable of a surprisingly large soundstage, despite the small hotel room. The bass was very tight and impactful – visceral in fact, with smooth midrange and high frequencies. We were told that all Goldmund active speakers use very strong amplifiers that are actively controlled to ensure precise movement of the drivers thus, eliminating any detrimental effect that resonances and room nodes might have.

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On static display in the room were the Nanometis Wireless compact active loudspeakers ($8,999) paired with the Talisman Hub / DAC ($12,999).

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And, also on static display was the Goldmund Metis Tower.

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Kevro International – Monitor Audio / Cyrus Audio / Clarus Cable

As was the case last year, Gayle Ginn was setup just outside Kevro’s room displaying her fine personal music inspired artwork, while Sheldon Ginn, VP Sales for Kevro, the North American distributor, was inside busy with his brother Jeff, showing off the Monitor Audio, Cyrus Audio and Clarus products.

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The featured system in the room was fronted by a drop-dead-gorgeous pair of Monitor Audio’s new Gold 300 loudspeakers in the premium Ebony Piano Gloss finish ($7,200/pair standard finish or $8,500/pair in Ebony). This was the same pair I reviewed in the October/November issue of CANADA HiFi, and I asked Sheldon and Jeff, if they found my initials carved on their base; in jest of course. Driving the Gold 300 was a full stack of Cyrus gear including: PSX-R2 ($1,799); Pre DAC2 ($2,500); Stream XA ($2,499) and a pair of Mono 200 amplifiers ($3,499/each). The loom was full Clarus. The sound here was smooth with natural warmth and sweetness and lovely imaging. I found myself wanting to spend more time here given the musicality of the system and the cozy atmosphere. This was one of the few systems bringing hi-end performance down to real-world affordable levels – a system attainable for many yet providing good share of the performance of much more expensive systems.

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On static display were a number of other Monitor Audio products, including examples of their Radius, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum Series loudspeakers, specifically the Radius 270 ($1,499/pair); Bronze 5 ($999/pair); Silver 6 ($1,999/pair); Gold 200 ($5,695) and; Platinum 200 ($10,995/pair).

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Monitor Audio also has a wide-array of architectural loudspeaker products, perfect for those seeking hi-end sound in the most discrete fashion. On display, along with Jeff Ginn, was their all-new IW460X (Gold Series performance) L/C/R in-wall ($2,249/each) that incorporates 2 x 6” drivers, 2 x 4” drivers and a ribbon tweeter as well as the new IW260X (Silver Series performance) L/C/R in-wall that uses a similar driver complement but substitutes a dome tweeter for the ribbon.

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Another display showed off a number of other Monitor Audio architectural speaker products – including their top-selling CT265 IDC 3-way ($450 each).

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Chord Mojo 2
Bluebird Music, the North American distributor of Chord Electronics products, has just announced the immediate availability of the new Chord Mojo portable headphone amp/DAC. The new Mojo was recently shown / demonstrated at the TAVES CES 2015 show and is now shipping to dealers.

Mojo leverages what Chord has learned with their Hugo portable headphone amp/DAC, using Chord’s proprietary
DAC technology the Mojo brings this performance to consumers in the smallest package yet from Chord. The Mojo offers the same great sound quality of the Hugo but at a much more affordable price. The Mojo is Chord’s latest headphone amp/DAC product and does not use an off-the-shelf DAC chip but rather, Chord’s own proprietary
FPGA DAC that delivers significantly higher resolution and clarity.

The Mojo is a reference-quality mobile DAC and high-level headphone amplifier within an ultra-compact design. It uses the new Xilinx Artix-7 FPGA and is capable of driving any headphone between 4 ohms and 800 ohms and even two headphones simultaneously. Compatible with virtually any music file from 44.1kHz up to 768kHz and DoP DSD files: DSD 64; DSD 128 and DSD 256, as well as PCM; WAV; AAC; AIFF; MP3 and FLAC files.

Mojo is now available at a MSRP of: $599 U.S. or $799 CAD. Look for more information on this and other Chord products at:

Audience has just announced their new ClairAudient 1+1-V2 loudspeaker. This new model incorporates upgraded drivers, providing improved sonics over the original 1+1 version. Along with the standard ClairAudient 1+1-V2, Audience is making an upgrade kit available, the “+ kit” has been developed to take the standard 1+1-V2 to yet another level-up in performance.

The new ClairAudient 1+1-V2 is a bi-pole design, with both front and rear radiated sound that provides a greater level of expansiveness. The 1+1-V2 incorporates a substantially improved Audience full range driver – the A3S2-16. The new driver basket and motor are machined to higher tolerances for greater precision and a more powerful motor aided by the use of higher-quality steel with the neodymium magnet. The new driver utilizes custom OHNO oxygen-free copper (OCC) leads between the motor assembly and the speaker lugs for improved conductivity. In addition, the A3S2-16 now has one 16-ohm voice coil rather than the dual-8-ohm voice coils of the previous driver, eliminating a jumper wire on each driver and the associated connections that were needed to parallel the two previous 8-ohm voice coils to yield 16 ohms for each of the two drivers.

Audience claims that this latest ClairAudient provides significantly better resolution, “speed” and soundstaging with more realistic timbre and a natural natural quality to vocals and instruments.

The available 1+1-V2+, + kit provides yet another degree of sonic refinement. The 1+1-V2+ adds beautiful solder-less Tellurium binding posts and Audience premium Au24 internal wiring. The + kit option adds yet another layer of refinement, particularly evident by the smoothness, improved timbre and tonal richness.

The compact ClairAudient 1+1-V2 utilizes one A3S2-16 driver in the front and one in the rear along with two side-firing passive radiators in a crossoverless point source design, a configuration that yields exceptionally coherent and musically natural performance. The speaker is striking in appearance, with a multi-angled enclosure finished in high-gloss black accented by rosewood sides.

The A3S2-16 driver, although just 3 inches in diameter, delivers an extremely flat frequency response from 50Hz to 22kHz (depending on room placement), eliminating the need for a separate woofer, midrange driver, tweeter, and crossover network. As a result the inherent problems of integrating sonically dissimilar drivers and the accompanying phase distortions, loss of resolution and transient response degradation of a crossover network are completely avoided. The dual side-mounted passive radiators augment the output of the A3S2-16 drivers and enable the 1+1-V2 to deliver outstanding presence and dynamic contrast with an expanded soundstage, extended low-frequency response and increased power handling.

The A3S2-16 driver incorporates numerous engineering refinements such as a large patented neodymium-magnet motor structure and voice coil that moves with a highly linear excursion of 12mm; an exclusive titanium alloy cone material with a curvilinear shape; a concave dust cap specially designed to control high-frequency cone breakup and provide optimum dispersion; a unique “S”-shaped surround that allows the driver to behave more like an ideal pistonic radiator, and many additional enhancements.

Upgrade for the Audience ONE-V2 Available:
In addition, the Audience The ONE-V2 speaker has also been upgraded with the new driver. The ONE-V2 single-driver speaker is ideal for desktop music listening, compact high-end stereo and surround sound home theater systems. Measuring just 7″ x 7″ x 5.5″, The ONE-V2 employs a single A3S2-16 driver and a passive radiator and represents Audience’s effort to produce the finest small speaker possible.

The Audience ClairAudient 1+1-V2 loudspeaker is currently available at a suggested retail price of $1,995 U.S./pair. The 1+1-V2+ is available at $2,345 U.S./pair. The ONE-V2 has a suggested retail price of $1,095 U.S./pair and The ONE-V2+ is $1,445 U.S./pair.

Previous ClairAudient 1+1 owners can have their speakers upgraded to V2 or V2+ status for $500 U.S. and $875 U.S. respectively. The ONE can be upgraded to The ONE-V2 or V2+ for $250 U.S. and $625 U.S.

Look for more details on these products at:

Linnenberg Vivace 2
Linnenberg Audio has announced a successor to their Vivace DAC, none other than the Vivace 2 DAC. The new Vivace 2 DAC replaces the 2 year old original model, which retains the performance and features of the original DAC, while adding several additional features. The new features are as follows:

Hybrid Volume Control:
Digital attenuation is a common method for controlling volume; however, typically such attenuation in the digital domain impacts sonic performance negatively. The new Vivace 2 DAC unites digital processing with the lossless approach of an analog volume control and provides a fully balanced volume control with over 85dB or range in 0,5dB increments.

Remote Control:
Volume in the new Vivace 2 DAC is now remote controllable and a bargraph around the volume knob displays a readout of the actual volume.

External Linear Power Supply:
The Vivace 2 is designed to work exclusively with the Legato or Unisono external power supplies, offered by Linnenberg Audio.

The new Vivace 2 also takes performance to a new level with improved THD and noise, which is now in the territory of state-of-the-art.

The new Linnenberg Audio Vivace 2 DAC is currently available with a European price of €2,690. North American availability and pricing has not yet been announced. Look for more details at:

Monitor Audio Gold 300 Loudspeakers 01If you have been a hi-fi enthusiast for any length of time, you undoubtedly have come across the Monitor Audio brand.  Monitor Audio Ltd. is a British based company, founded in the early-70’s, that specializes in high quality loudspeaker products.  I’ve been following their various evolutionary steps in loudspeakers over the past decade and have always been drawn to their innovative designs, luxurious finishes and of course, their sound.  My last intimate encounter with a Monitor Audio product was when I reviewed their Gold GX100 bookshelf speaker in combination with a Cyrus Audio 8a integrated amplifier – published in our April/May 2014 issue.  Given my fun with the Gold GX100, I was enthusiastic about getting to hear the latest edition of the Gold series that was announced early this year and pounced on the offer to review the new Gold 300 loudspeaker.

Monitor Audio has had a Gold series within their stable for over a decade and this latest 2015 edition marks the fourth iteration of the series, following in the footsteps of the Gold GR, Gold GS and Gold GX series.  Departing from previous convention, the new Gold series drops the letter designation and is now simply referred to as “Gold”.  The new Gold builds on the outgoing GX series with increased performance and refinement, though changes are evolutionary rather than revolutionary.  There are three noted enhancements that come with the new Gold series.  The first two are performance oriented: the adoption of a new C-CAM Rigid Surface Technology (RST) driver cone and; tighter production tolerances for the C-CAM ribbon tweeters; while the third enhancement is primarily stylistic: a new ‘floating cloth’ grille that takes the place of the former metal GX-series grille.

Delving into the performance enhancements – the new C-CAM RST driver now features a dimpled cone surface that is reminiscent of the former GR and GS series.  This dimpled cone surface has been further refined and mated to a new continuous formed cone structure, akin to Monitor Audio’s flagship Platinum PL series.  These changes in the driver cone allow the new driver to incorporate a longer voice coil and larger motor providing improved efficiency, longer excursion and lower distortion for cleaner, more accurate and extended bass.  For the tweeter, the new Gold adopts the same mechanical ribbon design of the previous GX series, a derivation of the Platinum C-CAM ribbon; however, Monitor Audio has improved production tolerances for greater consistency and improved performance.  According to listening tests conducted by Monitor Audio, the result of these changes incorporated into the new Gold’s drivers is an improved sense of detail, enhanced imaging, increased openness and dynamics, as well as a larger soundstage that is higher and wider than ever before.  I should mention that carryover from the Gold GX in the new Gold series are the bolt-through driver fixings; rigid curved bass-reflex radial braced cabinet enclosures and; high quality cross-overs with polypropylene film capacitors, air core, and laminated steel core inductors, as well as Pureflow Silver cable internal wiring.

There are a total of eight loudspeaker models within the new Gold series that allow for both two-channel stereo, as well as, multi-channel/home-theatre applications.  The following models comprise the new Gold series: Gold 50 two-way stand mount ($2,295/pair); Gold 100: two-way stand mount ($2,895 /pair); Gold 200: three-way floor-stander ($5,795 /pair);  Gold 300 three-way floor-stander ($7,195 /pair); Gold C150: compact centre ($1,395 each); Gold C350: centre ($2,195 each); Gold FX: surround ($1,395 each) and finally; the GOLD W15: subwoofer ($3,695 each).  These models are available in three standard finishes (Dark Walnut – real wood veneer; High Gloss White; Piano Black) and one premium finish (Piano Ebony), which is available for just over 20% extra.
The Gold 300 is the largest floorstanding model in the Gold series and also the most expensive.  Specifications for the Gold 300 floorstanding loudspeaker are as follows: 3-way, 4-driver, bass reflex design; 1 x C-CAM ribbon tweeter, 1 x 4” RST mid-range, 2 x 6.5” RST bass drivers; 30Hz to 60kHz frequency response; 90 db/1W/1m sensitivity; 8 Ohms nominal impendence and; 200 watt (RMS) power handling.  The Gold 300 measures 43-1/2” (H) x 12-1/2” (W) x 14-9/16” (D) including terminals, plinth and spikes and weighs in at 59lbs.

The Gold 300 loudspeakers provided for this review were finished in the luxurious premium Piano Ebony.  I sat admiring the glass-like quality of the high-gloss lacquer, which served to accentuate the contrast between the brown and gold hues of the Ebony veneer, while providing a superb level of depth to the fine grain.  Fit and finish was top-notch, flawless in fact – truly a thing of beauty.  The aluminum driver surrounds added to the impression of refinement and served to accent the transition between the driver cones and the exotic wood of the baffle.  Though I did test the magnetically mounted fabric floating grills, which worked splendidly, I was compelled to leave them off for the duration of the review – the gorgeous face of the Gold 300 demanded full exposure.  Not only did the front face demonstrate amazing attention to detail but when I turned my attention to the rear, I found an elegantly tapered cabinet with a fully finished backside.  There, on the lower back, I found a set of high-quality bi-wire binding posts that were set on a die-cast alloy terminal plate finished to a high-standard and emblazoned with the Monitor Audio “M” insignia.  Whether looking from the front, back, side or top the Monitor Audio Gold 300 looked just beautiful in my listening room.

For this evaluation I used the Gold 300 within my reference two-channel music kit that presently includes a Simaudio Neo 350p preamplifer, Bryston 4B-SST2 amplifier, ADL (by Furutech) Esprit DAC, Rega Apollo CD transport, Squeezebox Touch with MS-Vista PC, and VPI Scout 1.1 turntable with a Pro-Ject Phonobox II SE phonostage.  My system is wired with Nordost Heimdall 2 and Tyr 2 cables and power is by way of a Nordost QB8 power distribution block, connected to a dedicated circuit.  Kevro International, the North American distributor for Monitor Audio, provided a pair of Clarus Aqua Speaker cables and Clarus Power Amp cord, which they typically use with their Monitor Audio loudspeaker setups (see sidebar for my impressions).  My Squeezebox Touch provided access to my own digital music library as well as to the TIDAL music service (HiFi option) that I’ve been using, which allows me to access an immense library of CD-quality music.  My own loudspeaker references include the quadral Aurum Montan VIII ($9,690) as well as the KEF LS50 ($1,599).