Kennedy HiFi brought out the big-gun loudspeakers from Paradigm, the Persona 9H at $18'999 Cdn each. These are a passive/active hybrid that go for internal amplification for the bass portion and sport a Beryllium tweeter and midrange. These were powered by an Anthem STR integrated at $4'999 Cdn using a Bluesound Vault 2 Music Server/Streamer and a PS Audio DAC. Kennedy HiFi came equipped to compete with the big boys and made a strong showing.

The Krell/Oracle/Reference 3A room was massive and Reference 3A designer Tash Goka made use of the space to proudly display his wide array of products in their new light-absorbing Nextel finish (but also available in shiny piano black). A resh star in the spotlight was his new Reflector monitor, a fair-sized stand mount reference weighing in at a hefty 75lbs each and priced at $12'000. Construction is heavily braced and utilizes a glass/absorbent laminate for the outer cabinet. Backed with a full complement of Krell electronics and the sexy new Origine turntable from Oracle, it could fill the venue with a huge amount of sound in best family tradition. The room dictated a push to be spectacular but I would love to hear the Reflector in more intimate surroundings.

Luna Cables were demonstrating the virtue of their cables in the Luna Cables/Phonographe room through a Falcon-branded variant of the beloved LS35A at $3'995 fed by $'2600 Line Magnetic 2161A electronics. Source consisted of an EMT TSD75 cartridge at $2'600 on a Kuzma Stabi/Stogi combination at a combined $4'898 (all Cdn pricing). The little system sang in proper British voice of old and listeners walked out much impressed by the efforts of exhibitors Danny Labrecque and Erik Fortier.  

Mark Levinson/JBL/Revel came prepared to deliver in spectacular fashion and the two different setups on either end of the room could belt out with heart, voice, punch and control. The $120'000/pr JBL Everest DD67000 3-ways are a rarity to be seen and heard and didn't disappoint doing signature JBL crisp clean and quick with pile-driver force and remarkable presence. On the other side was Kevin Voecks' magnificent Revel Ultima 2 series Salon 2 at $38'000/pr, a four-way using character-matched titanium and beryllium drivers in a very well-engineered cabinet of vanishingly low coloration. Electronics in both cases were Mark Levinson in heavyweight splendour. The Salon 2 system managed to be intensely engaging and self effacing at the same time. Yes, the pricing takes the setup into dreams territory but dreaming large is a prerequisite for entering into 'best of show' contention.  

Mike Tang of Mike Tang Audio and purveyor of the marvelous wideband MTA F-60 loudspeaker was on the floor rather than manning a room this year. Alongside his lovely little Carrot amplifier, this year he was offering vintage Western Electric cable and a product called the MTA Dragon Dot Phono Maximizer, intended to be head-shell mounted to reduce micro vibration. For the skeptics it comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.

The Monitor Audio/Cyrus/Kevro guys decided to bring their highly acclaimed flagship PL500 MKII. Priced around $29'000 US, they were paired with a Moon CD/DAC combo into $22'000/pr Pass monoblocks. Rounding out the ensemble was the Cyrus Music Player. Kevro rep Sheldon Ginn wound up fielding endless questions from the crowds but also had the good fortune of hearing a lot of well-deserved praise for the superb quality of sound the team achieved in the room. For the less financially well endowed, he also could show them a more modest combination of Cyrus and monitor in the corridor that could deliver a healthy dose of sonic family resemblance on a smaller budget.  

Muraudio demonstrated their $79'000 omni ESL hybrid in a system totaling $196'500 (all US pricing). When I had a listen to them a few years back at the Montreal exhibition, they showed strong potential but gave up intimacy to succumb to the requirements of a huge floor space. In the TAVES 2016 venue, they were considerably more comfortable, playing with greater dynamic verve and showing a stable massive soundstage. The performance was like the pricing - big league and convincing.  

Nation Imports/Lyngdorf assembled a well-balanced system consisting of all Lyngdorf electronics totaling around $10,500 Cdn and a Dali loudspeaker at just under $10'000. Sound quality was refined and engaging with a footprint and visual demeanour that constituted an easy acceptance factor.

Nordost definitely had a strong offering in their main sound room. The Tannoy Prestige Gold Reference at $25'000/pr may look like vintage fare but in terms of sound, one quick listen will generally create a convert. The CH Precision and Viola electronic pairing was flawless and the signature dual-concentric virtues of the Tannoy worked wonders on the audience. The Nordost cable did a fine job of removing itself from the sonic equation and the system allowed the listeners to relax, forget about the electronics and get back into the music.