Audio show season is upon us

The 2018 audio show season is about to kick off starting in March. There’s Montreal Audio Fest, AXPONA, Munich High End show, LAAS, RMAF, Capital Audiofest, New York Audio Show and Warsaw Audio Show among others and that doesn’t even include the CanJams, which are strictly about headphones. Yours truly can only make one show because of everyday work schedule, lack of money and I am all there is to this little enterprise, endeavour or whatever you want to call “Its About The Music” blog.

I was considering not attending or covering another show after last year. However, after thinking about it over the last couple of months and the encouragement of a couple special friends and a few requests from readers, I have decided to attend LAAS 2018. Yes, so for you guys, I will be covering the show.

I’ll give you a little preview of The Los Angeles Audio Show (LAAS) 2018. It is happening again this June 2018 and this time it is almost a whole new show. Like a renovation to a home, so to is the LAAS for 2018.
First of note is the new dates, which are June 8,9 & 10. Second, you know what they say in real estate, “Location, Location, Location”! Well, the biggest and most effective change is the fact that the show has come back to Orange County, California! Not only has it come back to the county, but it is back at the very facility where it started, The Irvine Hilton (and Atrium) hotels, directly across from the Orange County John Wayne Airport. For those who were in attendance at last year’s show in Los Angeles, this news should be music to your ears, if you pardon the pun.

So, what makes this show location better than last year? At the LA location of the show last year, the parking was a nightmare and expensive, food choices were almost non-existent and expensive, the space was too spread out and too many hidden areas and long treks making folks wander around confused as to where things were even with signage clearly posted and incompetent hotel staff only added to problems.
While the LA location (Sheraton), was across from LAX airport, it was more the backside of the airport. The new (original location in Orange County) now is literally across from the airport and one could walk to the venue in well less than 30 minutes from the airport. Other improvements include the venue layout itself, it is a little more compact making for less hidden areas or long treks to get to anything. It is also less expensive: Parking will be less than half of what it was in Los Angeles ($6 vs $13 per day in LA). Not only is food a little less expensive as well, but eating choices are in abundance both on site and off site, close by too (LA had precious little dining options, about 2 and a half places and the least expensive was a sandwich shop about 15 minutes walk from the hotel and it was $12! Even room rates are less expensive, they will be around $160 per night, (in Los Angeles it was around $190 per night).
LAAS 2018 in Orange County will also offer many of the same treats as the show usually does, but there are some new additions and changes as well. For example, the 2018 show is offering two of the world-renowned Michael Fremer Turntable seminars, they will be the same, so don’t worry about having to attend both for the full program. (They will be held in the “Million dollar system room”, but do not let that discourage you. Michael’s turntable seminars are the ultimate in learning how to set up your turntable and ok, I happen to know Michael. He is an entertaining and a nice guy. He is not afraid of more “budget” leaning audio gear either, just trust me on this. There is also going to be a limited class from McIntosh where you can learn more about audio.

Another bit of good news to those of us here in cowardly valley is that an entire floor, yes, you read correctly, an entire floor will be devoted to “non-stratospherically expensive equipment”! This is according to LAAS promoter Bill Kanner who also says, “that people have family members who are not all committed to audio, and we need to have something for them. This should not be an exercise in acoustic technology; it should be a smorgasbord of fun.” Can I have an “amen”?! Usually, there are maybe 3 or 4 exhibits in that dedication scattered around, but this time for what may be the first for this show, we get an entire floor of such exhibits!
That is just a few of the changes and additions, more info to follow as it becomes available.

LAAS 2017- The full report

Here we go, finally getting to write my show report. My time for coverage was limited this year, but I got through it, although quicker than I cared to. I also wound up missing at least one room with affordable high-end I did not know about. It happens.
Still, many of the exhibits I was to cover turned out to be outside the scope of this blog, it allowed for a little more time on other exhibits, but still not quite as much as I would have liked. I wish I could have given more time to a few of them, but that’s audio show coverage for you.

I was not present for the opening ceremonies as I was working elsewhere, but here is a video of the ceremonies kindly provided by Michael Fremer.

I would like you to note the young woman on the right is Marine Presson. She is the show Director/Producer, in other words, if it were not for her, LAAS would not exist. Yes, she put the whole thing together folks!

Also look for Michael Fremer doing a joke from the headline news right after the announcement of John Atkinson and an impersonation of Bob Levi towards the end of the video. (Leave it to Michael to bring the humor and it is always appreciated).

When I go to cover an audio show I do so with an open mind and no great expectations. While it is up to the exhibitor to properly set up the room, we are talking hotel rooms and sometimes you just can’t get past certain things. Many of the rooms at the Sheraton had noticeable frequency bumps no matter what treatment was attempted. That’s ok though, it just is what it is and while some have problems with accepting that, I approach it recognizing that both hotel rooms and many living rooms and what have you are odd and sonically challenging, I tend to try to learn about and listen to the gear in and of itself, looking to see if it performs as claimed in spite of the sonic changes the room presents. As I wrote about earlier, just because a said pair of speakers or what have you sounds sketchy or worse in a hotel room, in no way denotes how it will sound in your own living space. I tend to listen to music with more than just my ears anyway. I usually listen with my whole body in a sense, so if something I hear, be it speakers, etc. affects me in a visceral way (I’m not talking about feeling thumps in my chest from bass, but actual feeling the music on the whole), then that makes it go to my short list to find out more.

This is why all this “Best sounding room”, “Best of show” etc. serves no purpose in my mind except for someone who wants to just seem like the smartest person in the room using such smoke and mirrors. Obviously, I focused on “affordable” High-end gear. (As we know “affordable” is a relative term, but for us here at It’s About The Music, I developed a human-based algorithm taking an average and sprinkled in some of my own definition of “affordable high-end” to come up with the price range for different types of gear for this blog which can be found on the About page. Of course, your mileage may vary). In my opinion, audio shows like this are about more than just the gear. The gear is just the vehicle to deliver music. Audio shows are more about meeting friends, making new friends, education, discovery, etc. and most of all, having a fun positive experience.

By the way, I am delighted that I ran into a few friends I have in the industry several times. I also did manage to meet some nice exhibitors who granted me their time for filming, usually reserved for the more well-known people and bigger publications and for that, I am profoundly grateful, thank you very kindly guys, it means a lot to me! That said though there is a sad note: I had an unknown equipment failure. While the video portion turned out very well, the sound is not there. Unknown to me, the fresh new battery in my microphone drained in less than 60 seconds! There was no indication that anything was wrong as  my mic does not have indication lights or what have you, but it was definitely off before use. I thought this only happened in paranormal investigations. What caused the drain will remain unknown because checking the camera upon arriving home and discovering the issue, I put in another new battery and everything was fine. Almost needless to say, this will be a different report than the one I had planned. This will be a one article, no frills report, but at least the info will be there.
(I will be visiting a couple of facilities soon enough and will be taking video then, so you can look forward to that at least).

Ok, so on with the show as they say: (Continued on page 2)

LAAS (Los Angeles Audio Show)-The Premier!

“Step inside! Hello! We’ve a most amazing show
You’ll enjoy it all we know
Step inside! Step Inside!” – (borrowed from Karn Evil 9 by Emerson, Lake and Palmer)

Roll up, roll up, roll up! Premier Audio Show on the West Coast in Los Angeles, (a music capital). Are you thinking “why would I want to attend?” or “I thought these shows were only for audiophiles.”
Let me tell you why it is a great idea to attend the premier LA Audio Show (LAAS) no matter your music listening experience.
These days, more and more high-end audio makes are slowly coming out with lines of more “affordable” products that are a great start in the world of fine audio reproduction, but you will never hear about them or see them in big box stores or even major audio magazines for the most part. So how does one find out about these things? Audio shows, that’s how!

At LAAS, what you will see and experience is unlike anything you can have at any other event of its kind. There is so much to take in, that one may not be able to do it in a single day. That’s why this audio show is a 3-day event! One can attend one day, two days or all three.
We all know that music makes life better, even livable. Music gets us through. LAAS is a showcase for exploring the different ways music can be enjoyed. Whether you are into personal audio with ear buds, headphones and the like or full on stereo systems and components incorporating amps, speakers, turntables, digital devices and all manner of sources, there is a plethora of all things audio for everyone.
I know, you might be thinking, “These shows, is it a bunch of salespeople trying to sell me $3000 cables and expensive snake oil all day”? Believe it or not, the answer is no, it isn’t like that. (If it were, I would not go within a thousand miles of one of these shows as I have an ultra sensitive “BS and snake oil” detector with a hair-trigger).
The gear is created to serve the music – serve it to you! That’s why at LAAS you can look forward to gear that fits every budget in all things.
Music is for everyone, not just audiophiles, the well-heeled or privileged. Being an audiophile or becoming one is not a requirement. This show is for those who may be completely new to music reproduction at a level beyond what is available on the shelves of the big box stores you may be used to seeing. LAAS is aimed to renew the engagement between the listener and music. There is something for everyone and every taste from the college student or those just starting out to those who are looking to upgrade something to those who have gone deep into the rabbit hole of audiophilia.

The old audio shows for only the wealthy and eccentric are becoming relics of the past. LAAS will show you that there is high-end, high fidelity audio available to every walk of life from “entry-level” with exhibits showcasing affordable audio gear and complete systems in some rooms to extreme “extravagance” in some other rooms. You will get to see and touch and hear makes like Scansonic, Revel, Focal, Cambridge Audio, Spatial Audio, Prima Luna, MoFi, Magnapan, Lounge Audio, Hegel, ELAC, Astell & Kern, Audio Research, Dan D Agostino, Magico, Zesto, Dartzeel and much more.
There is something for everyone. LAAS is an opportunity to hear what your music really sounds like beyond MP3 and streaming and how good it can get. LAAS is about more than just gear though, gear is just the portal through which we hear our music. It is also an opportunity for discovery, education and entertainment. One does not have to be in the market for gear or anything. In fact, LAAS is also for those who are just curious. You will get to learn about and experience reproduction of music in many forms. You will get to learn what is available beyond your local megamart. You will even get to learn about things such as how to improve your sound quality with room treatment, all about vinyl, Computer audio, even how to set up a turntable yourself!
The most important thing though is the music and music brings folks together. So the biggest experience at LAAS will be one of hospitality and meeting folks and even possibly making new friends in an atmosphere of music.

So is all this starting to sound good to you, something you might want to check out for yourself?
At LAAS you will experience the following:
-Demonstrations of high-end audio gear for all budgets in over 113 rooms
-A special Dolby Atmos home theater large demo room
-A large marketplace for shopping things like records, CDs and accessories. (You will also be able to purchase from most of the exhibitors who will delightfully take your order, should you want to do that).
-A 7,000 square foot personal audio area sectioned off from other noise filled to the rafters, showcasing all manner of personal audio from ear buds and headphones to players, etc.
-Education you can’t get anywhere else in the form of special and practical seminars plus other special events
-There will also be cars and car audio, live music entertainment, food and even craft beers.
-Last but not least, you will experience great hospitality, meeting folks, hearing music in ways you may not have heard it before and perhaps even music you have not heard before, who knows?

So if you can, do yourself a favor and spend a day at the LA Audio Show, you’ll be glad you did.