A Tale of Two Trade Shows: CAF Day 1
Audio trade shows almost always start on Friday and extend through Sunday. My wife drove me down to Millbrae to the Westin Hotel by the San Francisco airport yesterday morning. I unloaded two large suitcases, my banners, and my computer case and roller bag at the curb and rolled in to set up. I was in the same spot as the previous year…just outside the marketplace. I unpacked and set everything ups, spread out my catalog of discs, and thought I would have time to grab a quick bit. No way. At 9:30 on a Friday morning, the line at the registration desk was already stacked up around the corner. I took advantage of the captive audience and handed each person a postcard promoting my newish HRA Planet web community (please check it out, if you haven’t already done so). It seemed pretty obvious that this particular Friday was going to be very well attended.
I mention this because most Fridays are ramp up days. For most people, Friday is a workday and attending a trade show is something that happens after a day at the office. Some shows actually extend the hours past 6 pm and continue until 8 or even 9 pm, which makes for a very long day. But in Northern California at least, audiophiles flocked to the CAS event. I had people come up to me that had traveled from Las Vegas, Monterey and all over the bay area…and they were ready to buy high-resolution digital audio products. Unlike the Capitol Audio Fest of a few weeks ago, which was awash in used vinyl, ultrasonic disc cleaners, and powered by expensive turntables, this west coast event was decidedly more digital friendly.
And I wasn’t the only one to notice. Bob, of Bob’s Devices (the guy that makes tweaky step up transformers for the vinyl crowd), was set up in the marketplace ballroom right behind me. He noticed the tilt towards digital as well. It seems Silicon Valley holds some sway in the attitudes of the audiophile community in NorCal. I was busy from the opening bell and did more business Friday than I did during three day in Washington DC. It was a very good day. I ran out of some of my most popular titles: Nitty Gritty Surround, John Gorka BD, and a couple of others. Even discs that I don’t usually move were selling well…the pile of 3 Wallace Roney Blu-rays was gone before noon.
The Capitol Audio Fest and California Audio Show are about the same size…but the left coast crowd doesn’t just kick the tires and take a test drive…they loaded up on AIX Records recordings.
Constantine Soo, the organizer of the show, and I arranged for me to present a couple of seminars. The first happened at 1 pm yesterday. In spite of the fact that I wasn’t included on the web page or listed on the standees around the show floor, the room was half full when I walked into the Cypress room on the second floor. There was no projection system to show off my PowerPoint presentation on High Resolution Audio so I just leaned against and gave an hour-long presentation on the current state of affairs. I talked about High-Resolution audio, analog tape, fidelity, Pono, Sprint and even brought up the 16-bit vs. 24-bit issue that we’ve pondered here. I probably hammered a little too hard on the prospects for great audio coming through the ever expanding group of high-resolution digital music download sites…but as I see it, we’re in for a series of disappointments. We’ll see.
Got to walk Charlie and get ready to ride BART back down the peninsula. If you’re coming to the show today, my presentation is at 4 pm in Cypress Ballroom. It would be great to meet…please stop by and say hello.
3 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Trade Shows: CAF Day 1”
Great that people are buying from you – well deserved! I hope you don’t lose sales because of inventory…Can you print jewel case graphics and burn on demand using Lightscribe discs so that you can best manage supply and demand uncertainties? I realize that on-demand printing may not be the same graphic quality as other options, but if people are buying from you it would seem they are more focused on the audible aspects than nonaudible graphics.
While I can’t say whether the Cali show was or wasn’t more “digital friendly” than CAF (I wasn’t there), I’m a bit puzzled by the characterization of CAF as vinyl-centric. Vinyl was well represented to be sure, but most rooms I went to had digital sources, and digital-only rooms seemed to outnumber vinyl-only rooms by a good ratio. CAF seemed to be “off its stride” this year, with fewer rooms, and the attendance seemed lower to me.
Gotta hand it to the vinylites though, they keep trying, looking for that “magic bullet” (usually TT/cart/tonearm) that will “leapfrog” the format. I can enjoy vinyl playback but am no longer willing to put up with the maintenance and the rituals required to play records.
Dave…you’re probably right in your assessment. I didn’t get very far from the area where sales of media very taking place. It was mostly vinyl with some CDs.