Vancouver Audio Show June 24th – 26th

Rooms 504 and 506 Hilton Vancouver Metrotown 6083 McKay Avenue, Burnaby Canada BC V5H 2W7 See the Utopia and Elear Headphones by Focal for the first time. Utopia are THE reference high-fidelity headphones manufactured in France by Focal. They are the result of 35 years of innovation, development and manufacturing of high-end speaker drivers and loudspeakers. Equipped with exclusive technology, they offer striking realism, neutrality, dynamics and clarity, for sound with unrivalled purity. Utopia are unique they are the world’s first audiophile headphones to be equipped with totally open-backed full-range speaker drivers with pure Beryllium ’M’-shaped domes. They meet all the requirements expected of high-end headphones due to their sophisticated and elegant design and to purposeful materiality, such as the carbon fibre yoke and the Pittards® Leather ear cushions. Elear are audiophile open-backed headphones manufactured in France by Focal. Inspired by the best technology and acoustic research that went into designing Utopia, our flagship headphones, they offer truly exceptional performance. The mechanical design provides remarkably smooth and seamless style due to the solid aluminium yoke. They also feature memory foam ear cushions for maximum comfort, an essential quality for long listening sessions. Finally, the exclusive speaker drivers with their aluminium/magnesium ‘M’-shaped domes enable Elear to provide strikingly realistic sound. Be inspired by the sound of a high-fidelity system with a pair of Elear headphones, for hours of listening pleasure.


Bang & Olufsen Lab 90 Event

Join us Tuesday March 8th to Thursday March 10th to experience the new flag ship speaker from Bang and Olufsen. Click here for the Lab 90 Specifications.


T+A PA 2500 R and G 2000 R Review

  T+A PA 2500 R and G 2000 R Thursday, December 3, 2015 amplifier and turntable René van Es T+A stands for Theory + Application, this German company has done just that with its transmission line loudspeakers, electronics and mechanics since its foundation in 1978. The amplifier and record player in front of me, the first I’ve tried from the company, prove as much. The dual mono PA 2500 R amplifier is part of T+A’s R-series, a line with a history going back to 1992. But it’s only the name that’s old, the amplifier itself is all new. It incorporates an ARM processor to manage its functions, this integrates the amplifier in a multi-room situation and makes communication possible between R-devices over a dedicated link. The power supply is a high efficiency design that works at a much higher voltage than is normal with the solid state devices using something that the company calls HV technic. The idea is to enable a large voltage swing, as is found in tube amps but in this case using transistors to keep the reliability and life span much higher and longer. Tube amp enthusiasts know that the ‘ease’ of playing music with them has a lot to do with the high voltages used in those designs. Normally transistors and chips have a working voltage between 5 and 15 Volts and that can be a limitation. HV technic is one thing, but you need a good amplifier design to get results, but T+A know a thing or two about that. You may also notice the high build quality, the user friendly lay-out of the controls and the many in- and outputs. Perfection inside is revealed by the flawless operation and of course the sound quality, which we will come to later. Double bubble The PA 2500 R is specified to deliver 140 Watts per channel into eight Ohms and doubles its output into a halving of load to 280 Watts in four Ohms and a massive 2x560 Watt into two Ohms. Figures that indicate the power supply is extremely capable and put this amp among the most powerful integrated designs on the market. The PA 2500 R has many adjustable parameters that can be set with either the remote control or from the front panel. For instance source names, display brightness and information, energy saving mode, bi-wire option, pre-out on/off or pass through. The tone control is also adjustable for each channel to counter acoustic problems in the room. On the back panel three balanced and four unbalanced inputs are present and the pre-out is on both RCA and XLR sockets. A network port can be used for software upgrades and smart home applications. The double loudspeaker connections handle spades or banana plugs. On the top is a large acrylic plate with an enormous T+A logo on that gives you a glimpse of what goes on inside the amplifier. I also got the G 2000 R turntable that is available with a Rega arm and Ortofon cartridge, but I got the version with a Clearaudio carbon arm and a Clearaudio MC-2 moving coil cartridge. Inside is a PH-G-10 R MC phono stage that’s fully adjustable with dipswitches for MC cartridges, it can be set for sensitivities between 15 and 650 Ohm and outputs from 100µV to over 2000µV. The phono stage is already factory set for the MC-2 and the cartridge is correctly mounted in the arm. All you have to do is screw the counterweight on the arm and balance it for the correct downforce. Next fill the bearing with supplied oil, lower the spindle into the bearing (which takes half an hour to drop all the way), put on the rubber belt and finally put on the platter. This record player is a dream to set up and use and use, push buttons on the front set RPM and power on. The straight arm is easy to position and lowers slowly straight down with the use of a hydraulic lift. No fiddling, no further adjustments, just play your music. A dust cover is supplied to protect the arm and the cartridge and T+A has cleverly put a small hole in the cover and a peg on the player so that the dust cover cannot move if you turn on the player by accident. It’s a nice detail that shows that this company knows what it’s doing. Inside the aluminium casing an MDF plinth carries the bearing, electronics and motor. The ‘vibration-free’ motor is DSP regulated, T+A claims that “Wow and flutter does not exist and even irregularities in the belt have no influence”. A record weight and sweep arm brush are optional extras. The T+A devices were used in different settings. The smallest system uses a Bluesound Node as a source, and streams files into a NAD M51 DAC, that is connected over balanced cables to the PA 2500 R amplifier. Simply Audio loudspeaker cables run to a pair of Harbeth P3ESR speakers onTonTräger stands. The other setup uses a Metrum Acoustics Pavane DAC and PMC fact.12 loudspeakers, connected with Crystal Cable Speak Reference. Both setups make use of Van den Hul balanced cables between converter and amplifier. In the beginning I used my small system around the T+A gear to feed the Harbeths with more than enough power, sometimes the VU meters showed a peak output of 100 Watt for each channel such is the low sensitivity of the speakers. On the T+A record player a 45RPM pressing of ‘Willow Weep For Me’ by Jacintha reveals that this record is a reference product for recording technique, it takes your breath away when a tenor saxophone starts on the left side, full of dynamics and with lifelike sound. In the middle between the loudspeakers, which virtually leave the room, remains the beautiful voice of Jacintha sounding warm and sexy. The deepest bass notes are restricted by the size of the loudspeakers, but when they are strong enough the T+A amps helps the Harbeth to produce lovely tight bass. It has real power and grip on the woofers. The record player with the Clearaudio arm and cartridge makes the music detailed largely because of the built-in phono stage, this is probably the quietest example I have ever used. More bass notes appear on the next track and when a vibraphone is added things start to sound really good. Looking up from my notes makes me realise how small the loudspeakers actually are and my brain needs a few moments to understand were the beautiful bass is coming from. No I have no subwoofer, who needs one when the music is so pure. The strongest point of the Harbeth is of course the midrange and the Clearaudio duo underlines this. Jacintha is one with the instruments, her voice is very natural sounding and every word she sings can be understood. The G 2000 R may not look like an exotic high end turntable with its straightforward appearance, but it sure is underneath. Many vinyl adepts think a turntable and arm needs a lot of tweakability to be able to deliver the magic of vinyl, this one shows that user friendly players can do the job just as well. Later on I used the turntable in combination with my Exposure amplifiers to great effect. T+A in combination with T+A makes a good marriage, but each component performs really well on its own with other brands. Before swapping to the Exposures I push the equipment to the limit with an old direct-to-disc recording made by Thelma Houston & Pressure Cooker for Sheffield Lab. The bone dry recording technique smashes into the room, rocks like hell and explodes with dynamics. Sheffield Lab was famous for its ability to capture dynamics and the T+A combo brings them out with gusto. It’s more proof that a decent source and a powerful high quality amplifier can push small loudspeakers to do remarkable things In my larger system I played French singer Angelina Wismes, who sings about the glory days of French poet and singer Barbara. This music needs the right atmosphere to sound right and communicate with the listener. With only a few Watts my PMC fact.12s come alive, music flows all over the place, the voice carried by instruments that are all within their own distinct place. It’s almost like the way you experience music in a small room during a private concert. Of course is this not only down to the T+A amplifier, all the other components help to build the complete scene, but the PA 2500 R is never a limiting factor. FLAC files from Kerstin Blodig also lead me down deep into her world. This Stockfish recording contains a bass lift (as usual with the label), which is very obvious on large transmission line speakers, luckily the T+A amplifier has a tight grip on the woofers. The bird whistles on almost every track are irritating, but ignore them and you can enjoy a lovely female voice and some easy listening style music. By contrast Valentina Toth playing Béla Bartók on solo piano is hard to reproduce, the dynamics of the instrument are reflected in the VU meters, although little more than 10 Watts are enough to fill the room with sound. Play Misty for me It does the same trick with the Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio on the Three Blind Mice label playing ‘Misty’. This very close miked recording has been the killer of many good but low powered amps. It’s strange to see that the drums and the bass only need about a Watt on average but the piano takes 50 or more on peaks. I really wonder how anyone can be happy with a small single ended triode amplifier on speakers this inefficient (does anyone use valves with PMC? - Ed). I need the power under the bonnet, preferably power like that produced by the PA 2500 R, a very capable amplifier for my needs. With a streamer you can jump from style to style ever so easily. Picking the duets of Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett swinging into the room with the great big band musicians behind them. You can imagine the brass instruments, the bass and the drums, meanwhile old man Bennett crawls against the extravagance Lady Gaga. There’s no reason to stick to one or two types of music, no matter what I throw at this amplifier the sound is subtle, loud, clean and always easy on the ear. Given the price this should indeed be the case, but remember, price and quality level do not always match. It shows that this company is still bringing theory and application together for the purpose great music reproduction and doing so with considerable skill. In the PA 2500 R integrated amplifier and the G 2000 R record player T+A has created two components that combine solid build, flawless operation and exceptional sound quality. They made sure the amplifier is as flexible as possible, with the option to correct small, room acoustic related problems. The numerous inputs and the available output power make the amplifier a real all-rounder, one that proved capable with both large (costly) and small (more affordable) loudspeakers. The record player is very easy to install, there are no silly adjustments, put down the LP, lower the arm and enjoy the music. T+A seems to know how to push my ‘like’ button with products that are so well thought out. All of which makes it inevitable that T+A is never going to be the cheapest. These are examples of craftsmanship and German Grundlichkeit (thoroughness) that promise years of reliability, and for that there will always be a reward and a price. SPECIFICATIONS: PA 2500 R Type: Solid-state, 2-channel integrated amplifier, headphone amplifier, optional phonostage Analogue inputs: 4 single ended RCA, 3 balanced XLR, configurable for AV pass through on both connectors Analogue outputs: Preamp out on RCA & XLR Power Output: 140W/8 Ohms, 280W/4 Ohms, 560W/2 Ohms Distortion: THD <0.02% Dimensions (HxWxD): 165 x 460 x 405mm Weight: 14.5kg G 2000 R Type: Heavy chassis with resonance isolation RPM: 33 1/3, 45 electronic switching Tonearm/cartridge options: Rega/Ortofon 2M Bronze or Clearaudio Carbon/Clearaudio MC-2 Drive Mechanism: Belt Speed Control: Crystal-controlled synchronous motor, DSP-controlled optimisation of the motor coil voltage curve. Platter Type: Pressure-cast aluminium with silicone rubber mat Platter Weight: 3.8kg Bearing Type: Hardened, polished steel shaft, close-tolerance plain brass bush Plinth type: unsuspended Dimensions (HxWxD): 160 x 460 x 380mm overall Weight: 14kg Link to the article


B&O BeoPlay S3 Bluetooth Speaker Draw Winner

We would like to congratulate Casper Dolleris for winning the Bang and Olufsen S3 from our 90th anniversary draw. BeoPlay S3 Flexible wireless home speaker that fills your room with great sound. EMBRACING GEOMETRY BeoPlay S3 draws heavily on geometry as a design reference. But also, it is reminiscent from the lines of two shapes embracing each other. The balance of the two gives you a harmonic shape, designed to let out great sound. The inspiration and shape originates from both the dodecahedron, a so-called Platonic solid, which is a geometric form named after the ancient Greek philosopher Plato and a tennis ball with two identical parts joining each other in an embrace.   UNDER THE HOOD. PACKING TRUE POWER 2 x 35 Class D amplifiers give you a combined 240 watts of amazing peak power Two speaker drivers: a 3⁄4 inch tweeter and a 4 inch woofer. The Stereo Setting: Connect two speakers wirelessly or using cables, to use the stereo setting One speaker serves as the left channel – and the other one serves as the right channel. With the stereo setup you get a real reproduction of three-dimensional sound; sound that pans from side to side, goes up and down, and moves back and forth. The Ambient Setting: A dedicated DSP algorithm, taking its foundation from the stereo experience, creates an ambient sound from one single speaker – and that sound has the spacious characteristics of a stereo setup. You can use the ambient setting whether you have 1, 3 or even 4 speakers in your setup.


Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS draw winner

We would like to congratulate Brian Tsoung on winning the Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS.   The DacMagic XS USB Digital to analogue converter (DAC)/headphone amp is an instant upgrade to any computer’s sound output. It connects quickly and easily to any USB port and allows you to hear your favourite music and movies with every drop of detail, exactly as the artist intended.


Bang and Olufsen 90th Anniversary Party Nov 17th

It was great evening celebrating Bang and Olufsen's 90th anniversry and over 30 years for us as a B&O retailer.  We were joined by the Danish ambassador and Members of the Danish Consulate.  Scroll through the photos below and have a look.  


How Long Does It Take To Mount A TV? Where should it go?

How Long Does It Take To Mount A TV? Where should it go? by Hal Clark · Director: Design & Engineering at Commercial Electronic’s RSI As many are now viewing TV from their own mobile tablets, there is still a demand for a few larger video displays in the home. Placing a new flat panel TV onto a wall is a logical location, with the appeal of freeing up floor space and providing a more clutter-free aesthetic.   There are myriads of options when it comes to flat panel wall mounting and a number of important issues you should keep in mind before and after your purchase.   You’re thoughts have led you to determine the location for the installation… I’m going to stop you right there. The #1 place homeowners select for their flat panel is above the fireplace.   Let me interrupt your imagination for a moment. Mounting a TV above a fireplace is generally going to require you to look up at the TV to view programming. You know how everyone dislikes sitting in the front row of a cinema. Think of that, every time you watch television, as it leads to stiff and sore necks when the screen site line is above your head! Even tilting the display downwards may impair the video image quality with reflections from interior or exterior light. Plus the real TV killer: “Heat.” If you plan on ever using your fireplace, you will be cooking your TV, a death-knell for electronics!   Another potential killer is unqualified installation onto a wall. What design elements have been considered before mounting your display? What kind of wall studs are under the drywall? Has backing been placed behind the TV attached to the studs? Has electrical code been adhered to, running AC power up the wall to the back of the TV? More importantly, how do you know the TV will not fall off the wall with killer weight onto your pet, worse yet…human companion? How is cabling from the source equipment getting to the TV? Is there a proper sound support from external speakers, surround system and receiver to do justice to audio when most flat screen TVs only have tiny speakers seldom good for even voice?   More importantly, how do you know the TV will not fall off the wall with killer weight onto your pet, worse yet…human companion?   Providing a basic design and following up with CEDIA “best practices” for the installation by trained, experienced and qualified technicians is the right way to provide a lasting solution for your new video display to be a part of your home’s structure, not a haphazard add-on.  


ONE BUTTON – DESIGN & MAGIC TECH

ONE BUTTON – DESIGN & MAGIC TECH My colleague and I paid a visit to a well-known Vancouver design firm to present an hour’s educational forum the other day when one of the residential designers made the comment: “but we thought you were coming over to show us your products.” What surprised them was that we were not there to talk about gismos and gadgets but about the design process with which electronics was a “helper” to solve lifestyle issues in the overall design of a residence. After our talk, when I explained that our business was not only about retailing products first, but about discovering and solving issues, which required electronic solutions through processes of qualifying the stakeholders, she was surprised. “You mean you do design/build?” she asked. Yes, I admonished, we are a “design” company where we must research and develop for our clients to find the right solutions to their applications. So often architects and interior designers mistakenly believe that technology providers are only complex webs of product clutter from which someone has to navigate in order to please their client’s need for, say, audio and video entertainment. Today, this is far from the facts. Technology has gone far beyond A/V, with automated systems helping our client’s busy lives rely less on the need for human memory as their schedules are pressed by more information-intensive busy-ness. “But why can’t you just simplify the technology and give them one button.” another chimed in. Because we help design the civilizing of a home, giving it a soul, through controlled illumination, giving it an expression, through instantaneous music and image access, and also providing comfort and safety, through integrated climate and security systems. And one button may converge all of these elements for creating a single environmental ambiance. Civility requires thought and preparation. Someone has to bother to care about all of these things happening behind the scenes. Maybe a single button is the gateway, but it all depends on what our customer expects the press of that one button to actually do at the right time. If someone does not bother to care enough, things don’t work out, that button never does the right thing at the right time. Electronic architecture is the organizational phase of setting up the content to properly function. More of our lives are becoming dependent on small processes with the programming of electronics to match how we humans inhabit and use our cars, offices and those ‘gizmos and gadgets’. When we apply this intelligence to a more integrated lifestyle within a home, our clients are no longer focused on an object-purchase’ but rather a designed purpose in which design process and execution are paramount. When you request your builder for “green” L.E.E.D. - certification and try to calm down the amount of energy being wasted, even more radical behind-the-scenes processes are needed to augment or supplant human memory and tasks built in layers onto that single button. Technology design is rapidly learning from interior design the art of form following function, while drawing from the discipline of architecture, the patience of bothering to do the set-up properly at the inception of the project. Perhaps 21st-Century humankind is growing weary of trying. Everyone is seemingly expecting a simpler, less cluttered, more economical lifestyle. Few are willing to put forth the effort needed to understand how to make a more balanced work-life environment. Technology can help if designed technology connects the form of style with the functions of living and individual human goals. One size does not fit all in this new world of buttons, touch screens, remote wands and iPhones. Variety is essential. Why does Apple iPhone have thousands of applications for its multiplicity of uses as a communications tool? To fit needs tailored to individuals. It has been said that humanity is relinquishing its ability to strive for meaning in its greatest creations by throwing off tradition for mere ‘trend’. Great masterworks of our civilization are disappearing from our perceptions as we are bombarded by a chaotic information blitz. Consider that an architect and interior designer, working with the new ‘technology designer’, will offer solutions which compliment one another in reaching the goals of restoring balance and the use of human memory in more beneficial ways. Utility will blend into the magic created behind the push of a button. Environments will be shaped and sustained through planned, small processes, intelligently applied. Hal Clark Director: Design & Engineering – Commercial Electronics


Back from CEDIA EXPO 2015

Back from CEDIA EXPO 2015 As a Founding Member of CEDIA (The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association), Commercial Electronics sends staff members to the world’s most comprehensive “smart home” conference every year for training updates, certification courses and to see what new products are coming. This 26th year of the CEDIA EXPO hosted over 22,000 systems designers, technicians, IT and consultants from over 37 countries in Dallas. (CEDIA also has EXPO in the UK and Asia). This year we learned that the “smart home” industry plans to triple its projects in North America, now accounting for a $47 billion dollar residential industry! We also learned that new homeowners as requesting some sort of “smart” technology as a priority, such as energy-saving HVAC, lighting and shade control. Another important element is “simplicity” of operations. Everyone was in agreement that a large number of “apps” on an iPad tablet is similar to a bevy of remote controls on a coffee table – not so simple, and that a well-design control system with single-point menu control is the most sought after for any customized home system design. We also viewed the newest high resolution movie and music sources that improve colour dramatically, called HDR (high dynamic range), this enables more colours to be seen than convention TV and also pairs well with the new 4k expanded picture resolution. Another example of great performance in movie viewing was the new Dolby “Atmos” surround sound. Now the international standard for movie and TV audio reproduction, its digital sound tracks are expanded to include not only the speakers to the side and behind the viewer, but also above the viewer with pinpoint realism. Finally, some of the best news for homeowners are the many new control options that enable HVAC, shades, lighting and music access from single wall-mount user touch pads with aesthetic choices that match every style of domestic interior. Gone are the days of multiple, ugly wall-mounted appendages that interfere with good interior design and complicate what you want to do when you enter a room. Our staff came away with new knowledge and an improved pallet of “solutions” added to our design portfolio, which we can share with our residential customers designing tech for their dream home.


Sony Walkman is 36 years old today!

36 years ago today the original Sony Walkman was born and forever changed the way people listen to music. Prior to the Walkman, music on the go was limited to AM/FM radio.  Then everything changed.  Whether it was jogging, biking, taking the bus, train or a flight across the country, taking your music with you anywhere became the norm.  The cassette tape playing Walkman was an immediate sensation despite it's moderately expensive price tag.  Everybody wanted one. Despite it's size (about the size of 6 iPhones) the Walkman delivered above average quality sound.  The Sony Walkman was manufactured for 20 years, which by today's technology trends is nothing short of remarkable, and would you believe that they are making a comeback? After last summers blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy's (whose main character's prized possession was his Walkman and Awesome Mixtape #1), ebay saw a surge of Walkmans selling like hotcakes. The new millennium featured a revolution for portable music in the form of digital files.  Naptster, iTunes and now services like Spotify and Pandora have changed forever the way we listen to music on go.  Any digital device is now a music player and with the myriad of portable, wireless speakers available today, you can now share your music while on the go too.  


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