'twas the night before TAVES 2015. The curtains are still closed. The exhibitors are tweaking their wares and rehearsing their lines. The final banners are yet to be hoisted in the morning's light. For 2015, the venue moves out of the downtown core into the suburbs of Richmond Hill, at the Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel & Suites at 600 Highway 7 East, in the thriving 'tech sector' of the city. The organizers have continued and expanded their proven multimedia event approach, hoping to attract crowds by diverse offerings of art and technology. Is it CES North, as some reviewers described it last year? Yes indeed. It is now officially billed as Canada's Ultimate Consumer Electronics Show. To quote the website: "A staggering number of products will be showcased, spanning a broad range of categories, including technology for kids, gaming, virtual reality, wearables, robotics, 3D printing, home audio & video products, digital imaging, automotive technology, medical & sports devices and more."

The hardcore HighEnd audio manufacturing community will be well represented by big brands and ambitious up and comers to ooh and awe the audiophile stalwarts and newcomers alike. Headphones have come roaring back into the audio world in recent years and the astonishing quality of sound and proliferation of well-engineered gear has created a separate room in the mansion of HighEnd to delight those who like their top-quality listening private and (gasp!), even portable. Here to, there will be tantalizing offerings to feast on. The Home Theatre enthusiast will be treated to tempting glimpses of the future. Will it be 4K? Is it coming and how fast? And how about multi channel surround? What are those new Atmos formats and should I take the plunge? So many questions to be answered, so many products represented for your consideration.

But the audience of today is no longer the enthusiast of yesterday. They're just as likely to put their audio/video priorities towards the pursuit of gaming and virtual reality as much as the reproduction of vinyl classics. Those new realms will be here, keeping the younger crowd up on the latest greatest and encouraging the dedicated audiophiles to leap from their solitary listening seats and join some interactive fun. This year, kids will find a welcome treat on Saturday, with a Robotics Workshop at a nominal charge, a nice touch to get the young participating in these worlds of wonders. Also on Saturday only, in a courtyard parking area, there will be an outdoor electronics playground showing off items as diverse as e-bikes, remote control vehicles, drones and bigger toys like the BMW e-car and the Tesla S, for the bigger boys and girls. Technology seminars spanning the full range of topics from audio/video through gaming, 3D printing and even cars will be ongoing Friday through Sunday. Another successful gamble in previous years has been the incorporation of art into the A/V showings. For 2015, Jolt! Art Gallery will be doing live painting during the show. Beauty is meant to be experienced, not just from afar but one on one. The organizers hope they have provided something for everyone. They have built it. Will the audience come? The night is almost over. The stage is set and performers are on their marks. Hands are on those curtain ropes as TAVES doth now draw nigh. Best laid plans, of schemes ands and dreams are cast with hopes held high.

And the people came. Friday saw a steady influx of a mixed crowd, hard-core audiophiles as well as those interested in the broader aspects of technology in about equal numbers. Those numbers were actually quite high considering that this was still a regular working day for most. On Saturday, the attendance blossomed to full-house proportions as it did again on Sunday. The mixed discipline CES approach had been a calculated gamble and that gamble paid off in spades. Rumors ran rampant that TAVES 2015 had been a record setter.

The technology draw proved enticing for anyone willing to make the leap across traditional bounds. Roots and memorabilia of yesterday's entertainment systems were on display courtesy of the Ontario Vintage Radio Association but if the past was there to be remembered, the future was there to be explored. Scattered throughout the show were all manner of modern age wonders, personnel electric vehicles, 3D printing and an amazing array of interactive devices and media. Who would have thought that books and puzzles could find a newfound lease on life  through simple apps? And then there was a row of virtual reality hardware, once an expensive play thing, now cut down to a low bottom line of $5 through the clever rethinking of cell phone technology. Outside, drones and electric offerings from BMW and Tesla ruled the courtyard. If there were toys for oldsters, the youngsters had their own adventures thanks to robotics workshops. Were these the future Skynet programmers of the robotic frontier? I shudder to think how quickly they mastered the workshop material. The seminar rosters, some geared to hard industrial talk, were jam packed. The show catered to all so whether you were a standard audiophile or a modern technology hound, anyone with curiosity was treated to a journey of imagination.

On the audio and video front, there were somewhat fewer exhibitors than in previous years. That may have been a sign of the economic times or simply a result of alternate commitments but those distributors and retailers who chose to come and represent their wares, brought their best game. There was phenomenal depth of quality on display and exhibitors fielded each question with a smile. I attended from Thursday evening and watched the painstaking evolution from hotel room boom to near pristine audio suite conditions, testament to the dedication which these people threw at the challenge. As a result, there was a uniformity of high standards that required little apology. But enough whetting of appetite, lets talk some audio and video. I’ve thrown in pricing information when I ca, but be aware that dollar sums quoted here should always be confirmed by your local dealer. First on the video front, it was all 4K. Update Audio Video had a wall of Samsung set up to demonstrate the whys and wherefores of price and ability. Upscaling was handled extremely well for those without a library of 4K content, but the emerging streaming content and even cell phones with 4K capability (with internal image stabilization) are going to quickly change that landscape. JVC demonstrated their front screen projectors starting at about $5'000 and offering an unheard-of  sophistication of picture quality and user flexibility. The $8'000 unit was being demoed. Whilst technically a 1080 bridge projector attempting 4k 'like' resolution, black levels, sharpness and colour accuracy were reference quality, certainly the best I’ve experienced in my multi decades as a videophile. For those looking to leap and find the full 4k experience still too pricey, this is a product well worth checking out.

Software was relatively plentiful this year, with locations situated directly along the main corridor easily found. No room off to the side this yea, but rather a gauntlet of delicious wares on either side of the entrance corridor to feast on, CDs and albums from a variety of attentive and knowledgeable vendors and even the Goldberg Variations on reel to reel, thanks to Mr. Garfinkle of MA Recordings The booth of CDs and accessories of "Life of Rhythm" was manned by the Akhrass family and there was jovial camaraderie among the exhibitors and even some photo mugging with the stylish Gilbert Yeung from Blue Circle from across the aisle.

Some distributors and vendors chose to play the tables this year rather than occupy space (or shared space) in the rooms. As a result, the majority of the headphone offerings were along the main corridors with the exception of Woo Audio. They manned a smaller room with a scaled-down roster although the coveted Abyss Headphones (and the designer's two sons) were on display. Along those corridor, however was a good assortment of headphone material, cans, amps and players from HiFiMan, Audeze, Fiio, ADL and Oppo, to name a few.

Also relegated to the booths were Mr. Rene Evans and his stalwart and colourful crew of Mystic Audio, purveyors of intelligent product and quick wit. Their booth did fine traffic and offered extensive demonstrations but I would loved to have heard their fine Blue Circle electronic gear in full flight again this year. It was a treat to drop by and chat with them. Cabling was largely scattered in the booth areas, with Audio Sensibility’s Steven Huang to be found with family and friends dispensing good advice and' sensibly priced' product underneath his glowing banner. Audioquest was on also on the aisle and Nordost had a separate table outside a big demo room. Many were featured as well in the suites, supporting rigs of various sizes and price ranges.

In keeping with the gauntlet of booths, tweaks and some electronics were likewise relegated although a handful additionally made it across multiple locations. Mirko Krolo of Krolo Designs was taking advantage of the traffic in the Venture room to show his isolation feet.

And speaking of vibration control devices, it was good to see a good smattering of IsoAcoustics products scattered throughout the show. Their isolation products have earned a good reputation in the studio and pro market and their foray into the HighEnd consumer market, deserves attention, especially considering their non-boutique price tags. In the same field are the Cocktail Audio products which seemed to infiltrate a lot of set ups throughout the show. Incorporating Music Server, CD ripper and streaming ability in a well-built relatively low-priced line of products, they could be a first choice for the budget-conscious audiophile.

Massif Audio Design had their own room, showcasing their racks and support systems but also had their product peppered throughout show, gaining good exposure.

An unusual room geared more for display rather than auditioning was the one hosted by 1877 Zavfino. There was a host of expensive-looking cable and accessories on the table but the price tags were far less than the glittering appearances would suggest. I didn’t write down a list but it should definitely prove worthwhile to make some inquiries. Why didn’t I take notes? There was a major jaw-dropping distraction caused by the turntables on display. These have all the bells and whistles of quality construction, thick MDF base, heavy-duty outboard motor, speed regulation tach, a diamond-cut aluminium platter, ceramic bearings, quality knife-edged tonearm included, all for $3'200 in the basic finish. But forget the basics if you can cough up $4'200 for the custom paint. These are simply stunning works of art that have to be seen to be believed. Now that we’ve checked out the preliminaries, onto the listening rooms.