A Gala Full of Audiophile Delights

I’m a lifetime member of the LA and OC Audio Society. The group, the largest audiophile group in the world with over 1500 members, is headed Bob Levi, a very enthusiastic, dedicated and capable man. The group meets every month at a different place in Southern California to check out new audio gear, hear from manufacturer’s reps and other audio experts (they’ve been to my studio a couple of times over the past few years).

But once a year they hold their Holiday Gala at the Holiday Inn in Buena Park, California. This year’s event was held yesterday and I was in attendance. There was a reasonable buffet lunch along with the usual speeches, conferring of awards (to Ray Kimber of Kimber Cables and Robert Harley, editor of the Absolute Sound and author a number of books on high-end audio) and mingling with old friends. But the main event and the reason that the room with full of audiophiles (many with their wives) was the famous LS&OC Audio Society Raffle!

In the corner of the room were a few tables. And on those tables were various donated items that lucky raffle ticket holders hoped to win. There were 2 pairs of Grado Headphones, an Astell & Kern AK 120 high-resolution audio player, lots of cables of one type or another, miscellaneous “accessories” of questionable value, portrait package, lots of vinyl LPs and, of course, a stack of AIX Records Blu-ray discs.

Everyone purchased at least a few raffle tickets from the lovely UCLA sorority girls located the entrance. There were red tickets and blue tickets…and lots of them! As I walked from table to table handing out promotional postcards for RealHD-Audio.com AND a bunch of the High Resolution Audio Experience samplers, I noticed more than a few attendees with long bands of raffle tickets…I mean hundreds of tickets! These guys really wanted to win something. And some did.

In fact, there were a few overly lucky people in the room that made the trip to the corner with the tables several times. One guy a few tables over, won the top of the line Grado headphones AND 5 other items! The number of multiple winners was amazing. Either they bought 1000 tickets or their luck was perfectly aligned for December 8th. I didn’t win anything this time. Although, at last summer’s Capitol AudioFest my ticket was pulled from the hat…and I won my own sampler! Argh!

The total retail value of the cache of donated audio prizes at this year’s event was over $75K! That’s very impressive until you factor in that this is an audiophile raffle. I mean, do you really think that a 2-meter power cable can justify a retail price of $6000? Yep, that was one of the items in yesterday’s raffle. It came in a beautiful, handcrafted wooden box lined with faux velvet and latched with a bronze hasp. I’m pretty sure you’ll see that item on eBay one of these days…selling for something less than the retail value.

Other items with exaggerated price tags and capabilities were the disc enhancement devices ($195), adhesive “sonic improvement” dots ($99) and inline speaker “bullets” made from unobtainium. When some of these items were announced, Bob winced and asked some of the writers from the Absolute Sound magazine what they thought…they judiciously passed on saying anything positive or negative. Although, some of them have written glowingly about similar “accessories” in the pages of TAS.


Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

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