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.