The LA and Orange County Audio Society Gala 2015
The Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society is said to be that largest group of audiophiles in the country. The very able and affable Bob Levi runs the society. It’s Bob’s baby. He’s been the president for a very long time and keeps the organization running with monthly meetings and the annual Gala. The big event was held on Sunday at the Buena Park Holiday Inn.
I have developed a real affection for the group and although I don’t get to many of their monthly meeting, I know a lot of the members though the Newport Audio Show (I gave the keynote address at last year’s event) and when the group had a monthly meeting at my studio. Bob is a master of hustling manufacturers to donate equipment, accessories, software, vinyl LPs, free download coupons, and even premium hand tinted photographs (I won this prize a few years ago…never claimed it!) to the raffles held at each meeting and the gala. In fact, I think that most of the gentlemen and ladies that attended the Sunday Gala were there for a chance to win some free stuff. The UCLA sorority ladies at the entrance were doing banner sales of red and blue raffle tickets. I noticed more than one person with many dozens of tickets. I laid down $20 for 5 tickets…and went away empty handed.
Bob contacted me about contributing to the raffle and I assured him that I would bring down some of my best Blu-ray titles and some samplers…about $400 worth of high-resolution recordings complete with multiple mixes and HD-Video. I was happy to bring them to Anaheim and add them to the collection of interesting donations. There some really great pieces of gear on the table including a Benchmark DAC, a PS Audio Sprout, pairs of Grado and Audeze headphones, in-ear monitors, a VPI turntable, and a pair of high-end speakers (I forgot the manufacturer but remember the guy coming up and talking about the drivers and veneer choices).
There were also lots of cables among the raffle items. The usual expensive power cords, interconnects, replacement headphone cables, and speaker cables were among the items raffled away. Bob was particularly proud of the “most expensive donation the society has ever received”, which was a pair of 6-foot RCA to RCA interconnects with a retail price of $8000. These amazing cables featured gold connectors and wires made of a special blend of materials developed by the inventor for the 25th anniversary of the company. Some lucky audiophile won these cables and I’m sure will hear a vast improvement in the fidelity of his system. But only after he completes the recommended 300 hours of break-in that Bob let us know about.
The lucky audiophile that won 10 of my best Blu-ray discs didn’t seem to have a clue as to what they were, what company produced them, or that the producer/engineer was in the audience…and I can’t blame him. Unlike virtually all of the other things that were offered through the raffle, AIX Records was overlooked for recognition (for the second year in a row!). Most of the time the company or the individual making the donation is asked to stand and perhaps even come to the front and say something about the item like Lyn Stanley, a vocalist who donated a few copies of her vinyl LP/SACD project. When my Blu-rays came up, the presenter Mary Cardas didn’t seem to know what they were. She didn’t mention AIX Records and told the audience Mark Waldorf produced them! I would like to meet Mr. Waldorf.
A major part of why I attend the gala and continue to donate my products to the society when asked is because of the promotional value. If raving about Jack Bybee’s snake oil “quantum” electron purifiers deserves a few moments of the President’s time, then I would like to imagine that recordings that actually do sound better than what the group is used to would warrant equal time…or at least accurate information.
I left pretty bugged because this is the second year in a row that I wasn’t acknowledged and the presenter couldn’t be bothered to get accurate information about the items I donated. I have no idea what happened to the additional 10 Blu-ray samplers that I left on the table…they seemed to have just disappeared.
Some days you win and some days you don’t. We’ll see what happens at next year’s gala.
I’m still looking to raise the $3700 needed to fund a booth at the 2015 International CES. I’ve received some very generous contributions but still need to raise additional funds. Please consider contributing any amount. I write these posts everyday in the hopes that readers will benefit from my network, knowledge and experience. I hope you consider them worth a few dollars. You can get additional information at my post of December 2, 2014. Thanks.
27 thoughts on “The LA and Orange County Audio Society Gala 2015”
Come to one of our Philadelphia Area Audio Group meetings mark and I will give you a great introduction!
I will get there…I need to do a road trip.
Seems like you have to find out the presenter ahead of time and feed them some talking points. But you should not have to! They really should respect all the donations equally.
Can you write about this proposed product sometime? https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/367380538/miyo-the-most-amazing-audio-experience-outside-the (MIYO is a world-class digital-to-analog converter—your music’s new best friend. It makes all of your audio better—at home or on the go.)
Thanks for all your posts. They are all fun to read!
Mark: I really feel for you; especially about the person who won your Blu-rays. If you know his name, I would like to contact him to see if I could buy them from him. I have disagreements with you; particularly about the audios and videos on your Blu-rays not being location consistent. Nonetheless, there is no question that the audio on your Blu-rays are the finest quality ever produced.
Thanks Phil…I have no idea who got them. Maybe you should watch for them on Audiogon or eBay.
BTW Mark, I played your Ernest Ranglin Blu-ray for a friend you know and he was floored. He will be reviewing a GoldenEar Atmos system in a couple months and I will bring a few of yours to check out with the Atmos upsampler.
I’ve been talking to Dolby about doing some work in Atmos with my recordings. Should be interesting.
That is very interesting, I would really like to have the opportunity to hear Atmos mixes of your recordings.
Maybe – for music – talking to the guys from Auro3D would be a better idea?
I know my friend Morten at 2L is way into the Auro3D technology.
Auro 3D and Dolby Atmos both look interesting for music. I find the Atmos object-based approach especially interesting since it can support much more flexibility in speaker count and placement. In his Jan 2015 Stereophile column, Kalman Rubinson also discusses “advanced room-correction” as another possible benefit of the object-oriented approach.
Wow. I wouldn’t be donating anymore swag to that bunch. Two years in a row without acknowledgement? Sounds like they think they’re too good for you anyway.
It’s frustrating but a very good group of people.
the best course of action would be to contact Bob Levi directly. i am pretty sure he will make things right. he is usually quite responsive.
Thanks Tommy…I will.
Your being used, all they want is your money “donations”! But they don’t dare to give you a platform to speak, you don’t belong to the snake oil peddlers club.
I’ve watched you try to ride the fence, defending those you have business-personal relationship with but it’s not going to work in the long run.
If you want to retain your integrity and have your business be successful I don’t. know what to say but best of luck with whatever path you chose.
I tell the truth regardless of the personal relationships…that’s not going to change. The audiophile group is large and a lot to organize. They offer me speaking opportunities at the New Show and have come by the studio a time or two.
It is quite unfortunate that what appears to be a serious audiophile group did not realize the quality audio you were gifting them.
From the “audiophile quality” gifts you listed it is obvious “Regrettably yours, Richard” (ref. August 20, 2014 blog) was not using some of those products in his system…!
Keep writing and sending your no-nonsense audio blog, it is not only informative but also a refreshing oasis in the, sometimes fraught with reptilian lubricant salesmen, audiophile world.
The LA & OC Audio Society is pretty traditional in their thinking. They have Michael Fremer as VP of Analog but no VP of Digital. Chad Kassem of Acoustic Sounds was the honoree this year based on his high quality LP pressings and reissue catalog.
Mark….sorry, Dr. Waldorf….
“Bob was particularly proud of the “most expensive donation the society has ever received”, which was a pair of 6-foot RCA to RCA interconnects with a retail price of $8000.”
You will never, ever compete with magic. You can be reasonable, logical and cut to the cold, hard facts all you want, but when that veil of mysticism drops – usually accompanied by many zeros – as it invariably does at these gatherings, forget it.
It is magic…and audiophiles are still buying in. I don’t the charlatans will ever be wanting for business.
Just looked up the Bybee stuff. I have never heard of them before. What is the next step, a quantum stereo? Unreal and I consider myself an audiophile.
Jack Bybee was given an opportunity to speak at last year’s gala…and spent 10-20 minutes saying absolutely nothing. He’s made a career of selling snake oil.
I understand your frustration and I share your disappointment at how your blu-ray recordings were presented at the gala. You have faithfully supported the society for years and you deserve better. I was part of the team that put the event together and I know it was never Bob Levi’s or Mary Cardas’ intent to slight you and your products during the presentation. However, in execution, we messed up. For that I apologize on behalf of the LA/OC Audio Society. Bringing issues like this to our attention, as you did with me after the gala, will help us get better.
Overall, I’d like to think the gala was a successful event. With nearly 300 audiophiles gathered in one spot, there was ample opportunity to share food, drink and conversation with friends old and new. Doug MacLeod’s performance was truly special. He opened his soul through story and music and deeply touched those who had ears to hear.
So please don’t give up on the LA/OC Audio Society. If it wasn’t for the society, you and I would not have met nearly ten years ago. I wouldn’t have experienced that mind-blowing Smythe Realizer demo in your studio a few years back. We wouldn’t have shared the numerous engaging conversations we’ve had over the years. I can understand how some might get discouraged about the promotions and politics. Us human folk seem to bring that stuff into any social group. At its core, the LA/OC Audio Society is about people who care about music, the audio arts, and each other. Thanks for allowing me to share.
Vice President Audio/Video Systems
Los Angeles & Orange County Audio Society
Thanks Russ…I have appreciated being part of the society and remain committed to it. I have many acquaintances that are members including yourself and regard Bob, Chuck, Tommy, Chip, Mark and others as friends in audioland. I understand what happened at the event and have spoken to Bob about it. My frustration was real, the slip up was also real, and I understand the realities of the situation. Bob apologized and I accept that. We’ll all move on.
My husband brought me this year to the gala, my first. We have been transferred from NY, Washington, and Boston and now live in LA. He always joins these audio clubs and they are not much fun. He has been kind of shocked by the LA club and how nice the meetings are. I did not really believe him until I went on Sunday. This was way bigger and more fun than I could have imagined. I cannot believe it was about audio. It was actually entertaining. The speakers were understandable and not haughty. I thought the raffle was eye popping. My husband won 2 prizes and was having so much fun. I hope he does not go out and buy more stuff. He kept looking at the raffle table way too much.
The LA & Orange County Audio Society is a unique “club”. The management is first class, the people wonderful, and the opportunities to win stuff are great. I’m glad you enjoyed it…getting my wife to the event is not going to happen.