The Trenches: Applause Audio

Anthony Kershaw continues his tour of Toronto high-end audio shops with a visit to newcomer Applause Audio

Applause Audio
758 Queen St. East
Toronto, ON
(416) 465-7649

Applause Audio - StorefrontThe newest audio kid on the Southern Ontario block is Applause Audio. Located in a low-rent but burgeoning area of Toronto, Applause is the brainchild of stalwart audio salesperson and performance artist, Rob Doughty. The store is a brash, yet fresh new look at the fine art of audio sales. The long and narrow space is emblazoned with contemporary art and sixties decor, both of which help to highlight a select group of audio gems. With creative conviction, Rob has created chic style without an ounce of trendiness.

Rob Doughty with Audio Valve amplifier Rob is a very knowledgeable and affable audio enthusiast with a penchant for vinyl and tubes. Not to worry though, digital fans can get their fair share of the fun as well. Rob has very experienced ears and can setup a system with the best of them. I heard a few during a very pleasant afternoon spent discussing all things audio. Although in the business for several years, Rob still has a fascination for audio and presents himself to customers in a very relaxed and pleasant style. No hard sell here. From my seat, musical satisfaction is what Applause seems to be offering. From the customers I chatted to, Rob is succeeding in his mandate.

Components by Copland, Audio Valve, and PrimareAcoustically, Applause Audio is a live space, with lovely tile floors and appropriately placed carpets. As such, it invites extended listening, especially in the dedicated room located at the rear of the store. I had an opportunity to hear two particular systems. First was a J.A. Michell Orbe/SME IV/van den Hul Frog analog front end, attached to Audio Valve monoblocks and heard through small floorstanding NEAT speakers. This was followed by a digital session with a complete Primare system. Both systems were outstanding, and highlighted the benefits of each media. The NEAT speakers, however, did pique my interest. The sound coaxed from these little inexpensive gems was smooth and detailed, without an ounce of grain. Even Country music sounded good! Also recognized was the outstanding workmanship and musicality of the Primare products.

Applause Audio's stylish digs Other products seen, but not heard, were Copland (truly beautiful), Alchemist, Acoustic Energy, Reference 3A, Rega, Scientific Technology and Celeste. Also on hand were second-hand records, magazines and the usual array of accessories. Presently, Applause is in negotiation to represent Cambridge, Tannoy and Martin-Logan.

For a different look and a very informative approach, try to hear the excellent products Applause Audio has on hand. Rob Doughty will be happy to look after you.

Copyright©Anthony Kershaw, 1998