As a former Michigander, I can appreciate that the weather really sucks for three months in the midwest. But I wasn’t really prepared for the onslaught of high winds, hail, and even snow at this year’s AXPONA 2018 event in Chicago this past weekend. Winter has not given up its hold on the windy city and all points north. My wife traveled to Madison and shoveled snow. Amazing! But there we were hauling a couple of heavy suitcases into the marketplace ballroom on Thursday afternoon and extracting the boxes that were waiting for us at booth 424. Welcome to AXPONA 2018!
On Thursday evening, the current show owners bestowed a well deserved “platinum record” award on Steve and Carmen Davis. These two incredible people (with the able assistance of a the late Andrew Spaulding, the third partner in the original AXPONA) imagined and executed what has become the biggest audio trade show in North America. Now owned and produced by JD Events, the show is bigger than ever. If success is measured by how many vendors purchase tables in the marketplace, manufacturers convert hotel rooms into demo rooms, or how many ballrooms are transformed into high-end audio listening spaces, AXPONA was an over whelming success. I’m confident attendees topped 10,000 steps navigating the route between all of the exhibits but I’m not convinced that they got what is most critical at any audiophile show — an event curated by people that care about high-end audio. The focus of the show used to be on the vendors and attendees. For the past few years, the emphasis has been on the financial upside for the organizer. Sure, they deserve to make a profit and increase the value of the show property. But I found it curious that Steve and Carmen weren’t needed after Friday’s opening day. Mona and I shared a wonderful Mexican meal with them on Friday evening before they departed for home on Saturday morning.
The AIX Records booth was located in the marketplace ballroom at the extreme end of the hotel and conference center – just past an adjacent ballroom that was hosting some sort of dance competition that drew dozens of young girls and their moms. The place was overwhelmed by tweens and teens practicing their routines between the entrance doors and the marketplace entrance. I shipped about 100 copies of my book “Music and Audio: A User Guide to Better Sound” to Chicago and managed to sell almost all of them to interested — and knowledge hungry — audiophiles. The AXPONA show discount remains active until the end of the month for those that couldn’t make it to the show — just enter “axpona 2018” during checkout and get 25% off. For those reading this blog, I’ll include a free copy of the AIX Records 2017 sampler with your order. Simply write to me and let me know that you read about the AXPONA Deal on the blog.
On Friday afternoon, I gave a 45-minute presentation to an assembled group of about 35-40 people. Using a narrow cast, wireless headphone system provided by my friend Robert Schulein, a corner of the marketplace ballroom doubled as a mini seminar facility. I shared a few thoughts on the veracity of high-resolution audio, talked about mastering and its impact on fidelity as discussed in the book and demoed on the Blu-ray disc, and chatted briefly about MQA and the new MQA-CD format that one of their team members told me about. I’ll write a full account on MQA-CD in a future post. Following my presentation, virtually the entire group headed to booth 424 to listen to some real high-resolution audio, sit in front of the YARRA 3DX 3D audio sound bar, and check out the new book.
The show was a success. I’m glad that I went as it’s always fun to spend time chatting with colleagues, friends, and customers. I didn’t manage to visit very many demo rooms but I had more than a few people come to the table and audition the YARRA 3DX sound bar and tell me that it was the most innovative technology at the show. BTW – The Indiegogo campaign in support of the YARRA 3DX sound bar is coming to a close at the end of the month. If you are interested in purchasing one, you can get one for 50% off the retail price by visiting this secret perk (YARRA 3DX discount). Quantities are limited.