The Toronto audiofest kicked off on Friday, October 18 at the Westin Toronto Airport hotel. After arriving at 10 a.m. on Saturday the 19th, there was already a long line-up to pick-up badges. But once I got mine, I was off to check out the latest and greatest in hifi through several booths, demo rooms/suites, and hallway exhibits.
I was ushered to the personal audio section where I looked at a slew of Fiio portable music players, as well as gear from Bluesound, Sonos, Sennheiser, Auris, and (strangely enough) Sony's 4,000-nits capable ZD9 8K TV playing 8K clips from its own custom movie server. At the end of the personal audio tour, Anne Bisson was there promoting her latest album, which I purchased (and had her sign, too). Also within the same area, I enjoyed taking in the sights of a display of McIntosh equipment, showcased by Audio Excellence.
Music artist Anne Bisson was on hand promoting her latest album.
A display of McIntosh equipment,set up by Audio Excellense, was a sight to behold.
I also visited the JVC booth, where the company was showcasing its latest 4K DLP laser projector with built-in automatic tone mapping. For $5,000, it's truly a steal and by default, it is the best single-chip laser DLP projector on the market.
Nordost showcased its Q-point Resonance Synchronizer which claims to improve sonic quality by eliminating internal electrical noise of audio/video equipment. I was offered the opportunity to review a unit in the future, which makes me immediately think that this unit is not a voodoo tweak after all.
The Nordost Q-point Resonance Synchronizer claims to improve sonic quality by eliminating internal electrical noise of audio/video equipment.
Walking around further, I found a sample trio of Mike Tang Audio turntable cartridges, hand made by Mike Tang himself, with coils located directly behind the needle. This approach physically makes the noise level being picked up by from the tip of the stylus to the moving coil as close to near zero as physically possible. As always, every Mike Tang Audio turntable product is made to order and can be customized to the hilt.
These Mike Tang Audio turntable cartridges, hand made by Mike Tang himself, have coils located directly behind the needle.
I then spent some time listening to Paradigm, Martin Logan, Bryston, and MBL systems while also looking at Kimber Kable and PS Audio products, all of which were located on the second floor of the show.
Totem Acoustic was showcasing a number of speaker products in its gorgeous booth, including the Fire V2 bookshelf speakers.
Moving around from floor to floor, checking out all of the showrooms, I met Lucy Lentini of Totem, which was showcasing its new Fire V2 bookshelf speakers. I also spoke with Kevin Main in great detail about Torus Power's latest addition AVR Elite power isolator, which is designed for the custom AV demographic.
Kevro demoed its newest Michi power amplifier with built in OLED display so you can choose the power amp to display spectrum analyzer or VU meter (amongst others) depending on which information you would like to see.
I also saw NAD, Kanto, and Klipsch, amongst many other brands. Particularly eye-catching was a turntable made of bamboo from Tri-Art with some kind of a design oxymoron for a ‘table.' Usually a ‘table is designed with rigid, heavy and non-vibrational materials. With bamboo, the turntable is light. Unfortunately, it was not connected to anything. I put my name down for the raffle to win one. I hope to win it, and have the chance to review this uniquely designed product, which will be available in Canada through a distribution partnership with Gemsen.
One of the most eye-catching products at the show was this beautiful turntable made of bamboo from Tri-Art.
This year, audiofest took further steps to help introduce hifi audio to a younger generation through AudioTeens, who hosted a special demo room set up specifically for Gen-Zs aged 13-19. The room, located on the 15th floor, featured music playing on a music server, and a CD and turntable through Kanto and Totem active speakers (and headphones). It's too bad there wasn't a big enough spotlight on this room, but it has great potential to become something bigger.
Kanto speakers were featured in the AudioTeens room on the 15th floor, a demo area designed by and for Gen-Z customers, aged 13-19, who are just learning to appreciate better sound.
Finally, to close off my day, I stumbled upon the Charisma Audio room to have a quick listen to reel-to-reel tape on their system. Every time I listen to an R2R system, it makes me wish I still had my R2R system, which I let go of 15 years ago.
Listening to Charisma Audio's reel-to-reel tape system brought back great memories for the author.
Overall, the execution of Toronto audiofest 2019, now in its second year, was much more organized than in 2018, and everything was laid out better in every sense of the word.
We'll chat with Michel Plante, producer of the show, once the dust settles to find out more about what was featured, who was in attendance, and what we can look forward to at the Montreal audiofest in March and next year's third annual Toronto audiofest. Stay tuned.