In spite of some confusion on the run up to T.H.E. Show held this past weekend and the relatively small number of vendors, I can report that it was very successful from my perspective. The AIX Records booth was located at the entrance to the marketplace. It was hard to miss the layout of my DVDs and Blu-rays discs AND the Music and Audio: A User Guide To Better Sound book on the tables. I had my trusty Oppo Universal Player (a custom modified BCT-101 with multiple S/P DIF digital outputs) connected to a Benchmark DAC-2 HGC and a couple pairs of Oppo PM-1 headphones. I didn’t bring the YARRA 3DX sound bar this time because my consulting agreement with them ended about a month ago (I’m still in regular contact with them. I’m just not responding to the community as I had been doing over the active period of the campaigns.) The YARRA 3DX Setup DVD and AIX Records tracks are still in production. The plan is to have the disc included in the box.
The show was well attended by all reports. One organizer told me that they sold about 3500 tickets but I’m not sure whether that’s individual people or people across days. I had lengthy discussions with a retired orthopedic surgeon, a healer/engineer, a drug company CFO, a writer of 11 comedy books, a guitarist that had recently gigged with Albert Lee, and finally had the chance to meet Glen Hall, a long time reader/commenter of this blog. Thanks to all of the familiar faces that stopped by the booth (including multiple visits by Dennis Ashendorf) and welcome to the AIX family for those that are experiencing real high-resolution music for the first time. It’s always a pleasure to share the fruits of my 18 years of making new high-resolution recordings. I wish I could assemble a big ballroom with a terrific surround system like I used to do at AXPONA, but those days are behind me. In fact, as I explained to a few attendees, I’ve probably produced my last recording. I’m not going to close the door completely, but it’s expensive and requires an insane amount of effort to produce products like the DVDs and Blu-rays that I offer. If were to simply limit the productions to high-resolution audio (ignore the video components), it would simplify things but I think watching the players is a big plus.
I received a call this afternoon from an aging audiophile. Bill felt obligated to call and tell me how much he enjoyed the couple of recordings that he purchased over the weekend. He said, “I’ve been listening to records for over 50 years and have assembled a very revealing system. I thought I had experienced some great recordings but nothing prepared me for the fidelity that came from your discs. The Chopin recordings was the hands down the best example of recorded music I’ve ever heard — and I have dozens of piano recordings”. He went on to say that he can’t understand how or why audiophiles still cling to vinyl LPs. Honestly, I can’t either. I sold a couple of big band DVDs to a gentleman that told me he’d drifted back to vinyl LPs because “they just sound better”. I’m anxious to see if real world dynamics and extended frequency response will prompt him to write to me.
I’m not really qualified to report on the rest of the show. I didn’t make it to the second and third floor demo rooms on show days. I heard from others about the accessories being demoed in the Synergistic Research room (these are the people behind the $20,000 power cable and a bunch of other snake oil accessories like adhesive dots), the comparisons offered by the MQA people (most reported that they heard no difference — not big surprise there), and a guy that purchased $400 worth of plug fillers for his power strip (after I explained that they don’t — and can’t — affect the fidelity of this system. He said he would take them back). I visited the MBL room adjacent to the marketplace and the YG Acoustics room around the corner. They — and plenty of others — played their systems very loud. They YG speakers were surprisingly not “toed-in” as recommended and the omni-directional drivers on the MBL speakers diminished the sound stage in my opinion. But the overall sound was as most audiophiles would expect. I lament that most room source from CDs, turntables, or analog tapes. I didn’t see or hear about anyone playing real high-resolution audio and there certainly weren’t any 5.1 surround rooms.
The show lacked a seminar series, which was unfortunate. I spoke to the organizers and offered to help organize next years’ presentations. I think it’s a critical component of any audio trade show. I’m not convinced that another turntable setup seminar is needed but there are plenty of topics that attendees could learn about — why digital audio isn’t about stair steps or how to tell a real HD file from a fake one. Attendees deserve a balanced source of information about our passion and hobby. There’s way too much “fake news” in the audiophile world. Contrary to some writers who say that technical specifications should be ignored in favor of purely subjective listening, there is room for real information.