Toronto, the beginning of a new dream…

Making hotel rooms acoustically ideal is the last thing architects are considering during the design phase, and construction material selection is even less considerate of audiophile ears, so having said that, the fact that all the exhibitors at the Toronto Audio Fest managed to present pleasantly sounding rooms is no small achievement and kudos should be extended to all participants.

Kennedy HiFi – Room 353

For the Toronto Audio Fest 2021, Kennedy HiFi featured 2 rooms, the first one featuring PSB speakers and NAD BluOS streaming DAC amplifier brought to life with AudioQuest cabling.

With 200 Watts of Class-D power per channel, the NAD, the PSB Synchrony T600 speakers were brought to life with surprisingly low and powerful bass response. By far not the most expensive room at the show (see American Sound report to follow), it was nonetheless impressive yet, attainable. All audio was streamed to the NAD wirelessly from a laptop and a Gigabit WiFi router. No dropouts, no audible buffering or delays from track selection were heard – even with all the potential interference from the WiFi enabled devices in the room (read: cellphones and tablets) – not to mention those that were passing through the halls.

The NAD BluOS Streaming DAC amplifier is a Class-D device – often erroneously called DIGITAL amplification – not so. Class -D amplifiers operate in a unique fashion. Circuitry creates very high-frequency (in the hundreds of Kilohertz rages) pulses of DC current. The width of each pulse is then modified by the input signal — the wider the pulse, the louder the signal. This is called PWM or Pulse Width Modulation. These pulses are run through the amplifying transistors creating the high-power output. Because they are getting DC pulses, not analog signals, the transistors are either on full power or off with no power. This is the most efficient way of running these transistors — as much as 90 % efficient in some cases.

Although making a signal by rapidly switching transistors on and off resembles Digital processing, Class-D amplifiers are not digital devices. Some might have digital control circuits, but the amplifier circuits will be strictly analog.

The DAC section is comprised of a 32-bit ESS Sabre DAC operating at up to 384 kHz with a color TFT touch screen display. To ensure the best possible sound, the NAD BluOS offers DIRAC Live Room Correction. It offers a multitude of analogue and digital inputs (including a Moving Magnet Phono input), preamp outputs and four pairs of speaker terminals.

The Synchrony T600 Tower Speaker features a 5-way transitional array capable of delivering refined music and film reproduction, with unmatched tonal, spatial, and dynamic accuracy. With of three 6.5″ woofers, a 5.25″ midrange driver, (all using cast aluminium baskets, woven carbon fibre cones and rubber surrounds), and a 1″ titanium dome tweeter, the new driver platform results in a dramatic reduction of distortion, allowing for higher sound pressure levels increased THD and IM distortion. The advanced driver assembly features 4 that all work in harmony to reduce driver distortion.

The T600s feature unbelievably robust, acoustically inert MDF cabinets with individually tuned chambers and rear-firing ports for each woofer to break up in-speaker standing waves. T600 offers the most advanced crossover that PSB Speakers has ever utilized, featuring high-voltage polyfilm capacitors and oxygen-free interconnect wire for complete driver control. Two speaker terminal jumper bars (included) to allow for tri-and bi-wiring, as well as tri-and bi-amping. The insulated 5-way binding posts offer versatility in speaker terminal connectors.

The simple setup was elegant and displayed in such a way that it was not difficult to picture this system in your home. It presented good esthetics, excellent sound quality along with a minimalistic design – source + stand + speakers – with only 1 power cable and 1 pair of speaker cables to worry about; intimidation factor ZERO – anyone can put it together correctly on the first try.

The second room (# 354), slightly more complex in component involvement featured Klipsch Heritage Series Speakers (Forte speakers were being used when I visited the room), Fezz Audio components from Poland (Tube integrated amplifier along with Phono Pre-amplifier), Pro-Ject 1 turntable resting on a ZaZen isolation platform.

The Fezz Audio Mira Ceti Tube amplifier – presented in white – offers 8 Watts per channel of amplification (not a typo – it ACTUALLY is 8 Watts of Class A power) with 3 inputs with RCA connections. It features 2 buttons – volume on the left, input selector on the right. That’s it. No tone or balance control offered or needed – it’s THAT good. Plenty of power, especially when paired with high-efficiency speakers like the Klipsch Forte. The Gratia phono stage, also from Fezz Audio in matching white glossy finish, works equally well with Moving Magnet or Moving Coil phono cartridges and has selectable Mono or Stereo output switch with 2 inputs and 1 output. Unsurprisingly, this piece also offers an understated look – but DEFINITELY NOT understated performance.

The Klipsch FORTE speakers showed their versatility in this room by performing equally well with Jazz, classical and rock music. Their 99 dB at 1 Watt efficiency made the Fezz Audio amplifier’s low power rating irrelevant as it was more than powerful enough to make these speakers sing. Composed of horn tweeter and midrange with a 12-inch front-firing woofer coupled with a 15-inch rear mounted passive radiator for an impressive 38 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response.

The Pro-Ject turntable appears to be the 6 PerspeX SB (I am willing to be wrong on this, as I was totally fascinated by the amplifier and neglected to get into details about it from Kennedy HiFi) with an acrylic plinth, inverted main bearing with ceramic ball/plate construction, belt drive and a pre-mounted tonearm.

Wiring for this room was provided by Cardas.

Toronto, the beginning of a new dream (Part 2)
Toronto, the beginning of a new dream (Part3)