It’s snowing once again in Montreal as I wake up this morning. Here it is the second to last day of March and there are several inches of the light fluffy stuff on the ground…unbelievable! I grew up in Detroit and remember what the weather is supposed to be like at this time of the year. It’s supposed to be cool, sunny and brown…not white. The visitors to the Salon Son & Image Show are surprised at the persistence of winter and ready for a change. It’s weather like this that makes me glad I moved from Michigan to the left coast 40 years ago.
I was able to get my AIX Records tables moved from the nether regions of the lower level of the Hilton to an area where the traffic is quite good. The result was immediate. I demonstrated my albums using a custom 41-track sampler via a Benchmark DAC2 and the Smyth Realizer from an Oppo BDP-83. I take the older Oppo on the road because it’s lighter…I don’t need the 3D capabilities of the newer 95 or 105. I show the videos and explain my recording philosophy and finish by trying to get potential customers to purchase the sampler to try in their own systems. I fully expect that some of the attendees that took the disc home on Friday or Saturday will be back today to get the full product of things they like. We’ll see.
I gave a presentation called “2014: The Year of High-Resolution Audio” to a reasonable crowd yesterday afternoon. I talked about what is and what isn’t high-resolution and went on with examples of how a lot of music that is called HiRes actually isn’t. The group was engaged and most followed me back to the table to get a sampler. I was pleased that there were at least 6 younger people there…we need more people under 30 to show up to audio trade shows.
Flanking the AIX table on both side were a couple of cable companies. These weren’t the well know brands that sell power cords, speaker wire and interconnects for ridiculous amounts of money. They were instead “mom and pop” operations that have made arrangements with Chinese-based manufacturers to “clone” the look and feel of the expensive stuff. Both companies also had bins full of used vinyl LPs that were being picked through by vinylphiles. For $10 each, you could get vinyl LPs that some collector relinquished in a garage sale for $.25 a piece. I get a little tweaked when I see someone walk off with $300 worth of used vinyl but they won’t invest $20 in our high-resolution sampler.
But I have the hardest time when I visit the table, review the price charts and the SSI “Show Specials” and listen to the sales pitch on the range of power cords and duplex wall outlets. Let’s not talk about power cords, that’s a pretty well know subject summarized by “Just Say No!”.
The show special on electrical outlets was the item that caught my eye. You could get the “top of the line” outlet for only $185…marked down from $249! We’re talking about outlets that you can buy from Home Depot or your local hardware store for $1.25 (splurge and get the heavy duty hospital “isolated power” version for less than $5). But here they were going for almost $200…on sale! And the guy running the table had dozens of them in stock behind his stand. From what I could see he was doing a good business selling power cords and outlets in addition to power conditioners and multiple outlet power strips.
The sales pitch was as expected. This type of cable with the rubber bushings and triple spun wire will “tighten up the sound of the extreme low end” or “using the gold-plated brass outlet has a dramatic effect of the inner musical details of your system”. It’s amazing that customers stood there fully engaged and ready to plunk down big bucks for even the least expensive cables ($100).
I recognize that some places have unregulated or irregular power. A simple power regular ($500 maybe) will smooth out the current and put things right at 120 volts and 60 Hz. In my studio, I use the power that comes from the DWP in Los Angeles along with hospital grade isolated power outlets. There are no $1000 power cords or expensive “gold plated” outlets because they’re unnecessary. I don’t believe they contribute any improvement to the sound of an electrical component. More snake oil. I have to temper my opinion in this regards because I haven’t purchased an expensive outlet or power cord and done an A|B test. I’d be glad to set up an evaluation but I haven’t been able to get any cords or outlets to try. And I’m certainly not going to spend my cash for this stuff.
Maybe I went in to the wrong end of this business. I’m sure I could walk away with more plastic cash (the Canadian money is very cool with the holograms and slick feel!) if I started sell AIX cables.