On a less serious and more fun note, one of the reminders of how far nostalgia has come was provided by a visit to the retro styled Rock 'n Rolla portable turntable display from Audio Fidelity. It has USB, SD, iOS and Android and on some models, go ahead, pop the platter like a hood and zounds, there's a CD player hidden underneath! The update of yesteryear may not be your audiophile turntable of choice but certainly is cute.

From cheerful pleasantry to an assault on the heights of the sublime, there was a new face in town hailing from the wilds of Moncton New Brunswick, Canada. Ruel is an ambitious line source featuring modular stacked small driver forward arrays with passive bass drivers on the rear. It features Baltic birch construction, between 112 to 168 drivers per pair depending on ceiling height, gold-plated connectors and carbon fiber in the construction, with prices from $36'000 to $52'000 a pair (16 to 24 modules). Under show circumstances the sound behaved as advertised, with a huge soundstage and effortless dynamic finesse. Here's a company to put on your radar for ingenuity and versatility in room requirements.

Repeat returns to the Sonic Artistry/Massif ‘room' were always a delight. The sound coming from the $26'000 XT-7 Gold Note speakers was a guaranteed positive experience. The Solution electronics were impeccable and priced accordingly. There was a lovely assortment of tables from Acoustic Solid and Muse with electrical support from Synergistic Research and mechanical support from Massif. Charisma were introducing their new Codia Ebony record weight. One item here had real wow factor, the Muse Reed 5T tonearm. This is a tangentially tracking pivoted design that self-adjusts when presented with an error. It was absolutely fascinating to watch in action. Was that $18'000 I heard?)If you accidentally passed it by, you really missed out. Hosting the proceedings with knowledge and gracious humour was Jonathan Badov who demonstrated that serious audio can be fun.

Frank Fabian from The Speaker Shop was giving the audience a taste of his speaker line. Amalgamating a wealth of experience in the business by working with and repairing other brands, his own products looked and sounded the part of the better stuff. Priced at the $2'600 and $3'200 marks for his big well-finished towers, there was a lot to like.

Toronto Home of the Audiophile changed their game a bit this year going with a first Toronto showing of the new Goldenear Reference speaker priced at just under $11'000/pr. The line has fared consistently well in popular and critical circles and this flagship aims to compete against price-no-object fare. Fronted by a superb amalgamation of Pass Labs/PS/ Berkley/Clearaudio gear, they showed themselves as serious contenders with intense finesse and power. Mr. Mike Lang from Goldenear was there to enjoy the proceedings and endure the required demonstrations of the speaker's low-end limits. Store reps took the opportunity to conduct listening comparisons with and without the effective little GutWire grounding cables. Under noisy show conditions that was a gutsy move but the cables proved up to the challenge.

Totem divided their space into two listening areas. In the back area were a pair of Tribe towers ($5'500 and up depending on finish) making crisp, powerful sounds with a disproportionately huge soundstage. Upfront were the impressively reviewed Sky and Sky Towers showing small could be beautiful and quite affordable. Owner Vince Bruzzese was demonstrating how amazingly immune his products were from room placement variables. You had to go severely out of your way to get anything but excellent stable results which marked a positive rarity in a field where minor placement changes can routinely make or break performance. He also showed his $3'300 Signature 1 Anniversary Edition monitor in all its splendour. Has it really been 30 years already? How time flies when you're building serious enjoyment.

Dirk Rake of JR Transrotor assembled a full circle of gleaming turntables on static display. Where competitors had brought morsels of shiny analog toys, he brought a feast of intensely polished perfection.

Tri-cell Enterprises were out in force with some luscious component combinations. In HiFi room J, they had their Gold Note digital and analog front ends feeding a superb Unico DM amp all into an impressive Audiovector tower, the SR3 Arrete Raw Surface limited edition at around $15'000 I believe. The quality of the parts was a sure recipe for goodness and the sum of the parts didn't disappoint. In an industry where state-of-the-art prices can reach the sky, this combination was in the middle but with a sonic prowess that turned heads and earned rave reviews.

Triangle Art/ACA/TEO Audio came with some excellent equipment. At $35'000 the ACA Seraphim Prime Extreme was doing great with support by a daunting array of Triangle Art reference-grade analogue and electronics all bound together with TEO liquid cables. These were big bold statement pieces and reps Tim Evans and Hugh Nguyen were on hand to supervise some amazing sound.

Ed Stone of Executive Sound took a lot of praise for his excellent sound. From the Tri-Cell stable he chose the aesthetically gorgeous Vivid Giya G2 loudspeakers in glossy red finish, at $66'000 matched with Accustic Arts/EAR/Acoustic Solid equipment. There was no shortage of quality in sight or sonics here, with a healthy backup of smaller Vivids on the side and some fine Unison and Opera equipment on static display.

Venture Audio's Njoo Hoo Kong brought his Quantum Signature loudspeakers along with his powerhouse electronics and Triangle Arts Master Reference table atop the highly regarded Krolo Design stands. He took great care tweaking his setup and it paid ff with an effortless sense of scale that was a joy to hear. This is what statement pieces should do, and as in past years, he delivered the goods.

Victor Kung of VK Music was getting a lot of traffic in the front corridor taking a peek at his enticing line of kits. Anyone with a little courage and skill has the potential to achieve some very upscale sound. To the side were some very musical Voxativ-based towers which were generally lost in the din of the crowd noise. In the quieter moments however, they demonstrated some serious sonic ability that rivaled the big guns in the dedicated rooms.

It's been a while since I'd seen Von Gaylord Audio and their return was an extremely welcome addition. Their $9'995 Legend speaker showed impressive performance accompanied by their own matched electronics. Owner/designer Ray Leung was on hand to field questions.

Wynn Audio has a very deep catalog to choose from. This year they fronted two systems, one in a large suite and the other located in one of the constructed rooms. In the larger space they scaled down the size of their Tidal speakers to a ‘mere' $65'000 but if the dimensions were smaller, the sound was anything but. Here again they mounted a dream system that was awesome in power and delicacy, filling the room with a vast densely populated soundstage. Jean Marie Clauzel of Metronome Technologie and Wynn Wong were proudly showing the big Metronome Transport and DAC to tremendous effect. In the second smaller setting their $33'000 Penaudio tower supported by the electronic royalty of Goldmund and Karajan delighted audiences. Setup adjustments in the early stages of the event yielded great results, dialing in an immersive and ethereal experience in the sweet spot. Two different styles in two different locations but in the sonic picture, both of Wynn's combinations delivered big time.

And that brings us to the end of the available alphabet. By Sunday's end with doors closing and the last of the crowds heading out, it was time for the exhibitors to dismantle and repack. For those weary folks, rest was almost at hand. Was it a success? As the intended multimedia and electronics exhibition it has evolved into, yes. It attracted a wider range of age and interest groups than a dedicated audio show would have. TAVES 2017 was an amazing event for the inquisitive ear and overall, also quite the feast for the inquisitive mind. The Toronto Congress Centre location was a bold gamble for the organizers and the new venue presented a major learning curve for the exhibitors which they wore like a badge of courage. While acoustics in the new space were actually superior to the majority of prior hotel room experiences, the aesthetics needed imagination to overcome. Big wall posters paved the way to successful rudimentary decoration but the Neat solution was the most innovative and imaginative of the bunch. Next time around everyone will come prepared. Was the show successful for the core audiophile group? More exhibitors would always have been welcome but on the flip side, new blood is needed too. Hopefully cross exposure will generate wonder and curiosity in fresh faces and inspire the next generation to take up the torch. Perhaps the magic of TAVES can help light that flame. As the sun goes down on the 2017 audio show, we can only look forward to another year. What will 2018 bring? The future.