AXPONA 2011 Atlanta reports/thoughts?

This was my first show......I really enjoyed checking out all the gear. I was really impressed with the sound in the Scaena room as well as the MBL room.
I know this has been probably been discussed before, but someone really needs to tell all these sponsors, distributors, and people to LIGHTEN UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There were times that I didn't even feel welcome in certain rooms. In this economy, if I want to listen to one of my tunes on a $60,000 pair of loudspeakers, you should damn well roll out the red carpet. I understand "screening" tracks so no one plays gangster rap or 2 Live Crew or something that's offensive, but don't give me the third degree about whether or not my song will make your speakers sound good. Thoughts?


Customer is always right.
I had a great time. I really like the Carnegie speakers although they weren't very attractive.
Audioguy has experienced the reason more hi end vendors are not more successful, pure and simple they do not 'listen' and are often dripping with arrogance in inter acting with the customer. Sad.
I have been to RMAF now since it began 6 or 7 yrs. ago. I can't say that I have ever been met with that attitude. Maybe it is the altitude that effects the attitude! However we have a dealer in the Denver/Boulder/Colo.Springs area that employees a few sales people that give you that "snobbish" approach to sales. I guess some audio retail people have too much money. The best sounding gear in those stores is the front door closing when I leave.
And where does a rep. get off telling a potential customer not to listen to his music? Is it implied that if I buy your speakers I have to listen to your music? I want to hear what I am familiar with, otherwise what's the point?
I have been to stores like Audioguy describes but didn't notice such an attitude at AXPONA except for a little in the MBL room. The MBL system was very impressive but lacked depth I thought. The room wasn't great but hardly any were. What can you expect for $260,000?
I talked to the MBL guys for awhile and they were really nice and hospitable. I think the coolest thing for me this weekend was getting him to play a Widespread Panic song on the aforementioned $260,000 system. Don't hear that every day. Played "Clinic Cynic" off their new album, a fantastic melodic "jangly" southern rock tune with great guitar play. Sounded really cool. Also played the same song in the Lansche Audio room on their $42,000 speakers with the plasma tweeter. Yikes, hope it was the room/setup but sounded rather awful.

While overall the exhibitors were nice enough, I just think that someone needs to do a training seminar weekend to teach these people how to talk to their potential clients. For example, if I was running a room with a couple of systems, and I saw a guy and his wife walk in with some music who may be interested, say hey, strike up a conversation......where you from, what do you do, what do you listen to now, how'd you get into audio, etc etc. (normal conversation). I'd almost demand them to bring something in he/she would like to hear so they could check it out. Ask them what they like/dislike and compare to what other products they've heard. All those kinds of things would make a show like this much more fun. In several rooms it just felt like you were walking into a solemn church service. This is supposed to be a fun hobby!!!! I absolutely guarantee that anyone who took that approach would instantly get great press and word of mouth......"hey, make sure you go check out X room, those guys were super nice, wanted to play you stuff, talked to us for awhile." I think that would be a real positive for any exhibitor to take that approach.
Another thumbs up for the Carnegie room. The rep. was very kind and I thought the 6k floor standers were a huge bargain. Supervox also stood out as a great value at 2K. I thought the MBL guys were very open to musical suggestions. I heard them offer Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Soundgarden and more to a "rocker" who laughed and asked for some hippie rock instead. The low spark of high heeled boys way very very expansive even from the far right position in the front row. I thought the Sound smith room was sounding very nice on all 3 occasions I went in. On $1500 monitors no less. Loved the 833-T amps and thought they had great sound from the Vandersteen 3A sigs. Voxativ were pretty much my favorite speakers but 30k for full ranges in nice cabinets seems a tad expensive especially when compared to what Supravox was getting out of 2K. I was only ignored in 2 rooms and both times a certain "Mikey" was there and it seems he demands silence and 100% attention at all times when listening.
Any body else find the latest Mark Levinson mash up to be errrrrrrrr... FORWARD and OVERLY STRESSFUL OF LEADING EDGES?
Overall I liked the show. Good location if a bit spread out. Decent numbers in attendance it seemed. Good seminars, music etc. Even some nice show deals on cheap and high dollar stuff.
Audioguy, I very much agree with your comments - could not have been stated better. BTW, my wife and I did enjoy the show.

I have to say that I didn't find too much snobbishness in any of the rooms. I thought the folks in the MBL room were very friendly. They were playing live Peter Gabriel when I was in there. It was pretty incredible. They even asked what I wanted to hear next. All in all, I thought it was a pretty nice show. Agree with Meadowman, the ML stuff was a bit over the top. Anybody like the Adams loudspeakers?
We were in the MBL room as well during the Gabriel song! I thought the heavy metal track they played a couple of songs later was a little overpowering, but hey, you couldn't argue with the dynamics, that's for sure. My wife and I both listened to the big Adams with our own music. I'm sure the room was probably too small for them to open up, but I didn't particularly like them, I thought they sounded a little harsh to my ears, especially when I found out they retailed for $31000.

Meadowman: Am I right in seeing that the ML speakers are $100G a pair? If so, I'll keep my Avalons thank you very much.
Anyone hear the little Napa Acoustics system (CDP, integrated, small bookshelf speakers)? I meant to check it out but ran out of time.
I guess that I missed the Carnegie room. What model were they showing? Agree about the Soundsmith stuff - pretty sweet sounding.
I'm with Audioguy on the attitude thing. Lots of good kit out there, and easy to avoid jerks. Last year at RMAF, someone high up -- very high up -- in Van Alstine abruptly and rudely took my music off in the middle of a song, after one of the people there had agreed to let me play a couple of tracks. (My selections were well recorded, and got complements all day.) Needless to say, I'd not buy anything from AVA, even for pennies on the dollar. Unfortunately, the behavior there also meant I could not properly audition Jim Salk's speakers, in which I was very interested.

In contrast, owner-designers at places like Zu, Fritzspeakers, Selah, Daedalus, and Spectron were courteous and nice, and I'll continue to consider and recommend them.

+2 for Soundsmith. Biggest sounding small speakers I've ever heard, real sweet sound too.

The Napa room was very good. I liked the approach which was " Turn any 100 sq foot space into an acoustic oasis ". The aesthetics were a bit on the over modern ( the lines and curves, not the tubes) for my taste but the sound was very open and coherent. A tough act for a 4 way speaker IMHO. I went back to inquire about a show deal on some of the sound treatment panels but they had already sold the whole rig. the 5K rig made real bass in the small end of the room and the overall presentation was very easy on the ears.

Audioguy3107- Not sure of the price tag but I must say the DH rig ala M. Levinson was very forward and seemed to add extra snap to leading edge transients. The rep. was very pleased with the "detail" and "speed" and kept mentioning that he was using a "$400 laptop" as the source. Into a 50K DAC perhaps? Dunno, just not my cup o' music.
I had worked two shows in my time, one for a dealer and another for a manufacturer/importer. It was always my pleasure to accept recordings from visitors of my room, not just as good customer service, but as a bond to the individual and the music he/she listens to. I am going back 15 or so years so maybe things are different now. But turning these potential customers away is not good business sense, and takes the "enjoyment" factor out of the equation, which is why we do what we do anyway. I have not been to a show in quite some time, but it is a shame that this is going on.
There were a lot of nice exhibitors as well last weekend at AXPONA. I'd say the Wharfdale guys, the Napa audio room (extremely friendly), the Adams folks, and the guy in the Lansche Audio room were some of the best. Even the YG Acoustics guy was really friendly and played a couple of things for me as well. It really is about the "atmosphere" of some of the kind of felt that you were bothering them if you were checking out their gear.

I guess its just goes back to some of the problems with the high end industry as a whole and why many brick and mortar retailers haven't survived the last 5 years or so.
The YG guy was very friendly.
Was treated great in every room i went into over all three days.
Three rooms stood out above the rest for me.
The Voxativ Ampeggio speakers driven by Fi electronics and lector CDP was my favorite. Cant remember hearing a speaker i like more......anywhere, anytime.
Right up there with it was the YG Acoustic room with DCS stack and krell amp. WOW!
My wife liked this room so much she bought the Carmels.
Also liked the Horning room a bunch.
Your wife bought the Carmels right there on the spot? That's unbelievably awesome. Looks like you got a keeper!!!
We packed them up sunday and member meadowman came to the rescue and got them to the house in his car for us. Thanks mike!
Yes, Meadowman, the Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys did sound quite expansive on the MBLs. But why did the guy always turn it up to 11 ???

No problem. Sorry I had to re-schedule the day of listening. Look forward to hearing the Carmels sing.
I was in the room with Ron when Low Spark was playing. It was impressive but a little loud and lacking in depth. The room was bad though.
The small system in the NAPA room sounded remarkable...considering the miniscule size. Certainly not of reference quality, but very musical, indeed. I went back several times with different friends, and was duly impressed each time. In fact, on Sunday I decided to plop down the $$$ for that little system. I don't know where I'm going to put it, yet...every room in the house has an audio system...decisions, decisions :)!
The Wharfedale / Musical Fidelity room was a revelation to me. I can't believe those were $1200 speakers and a $1500 integrated.
I liked the YG speakers too.
I noticed a lot of the music was awful, at least to my taste. Not a big opera fan. Or broadway.
The Wharfedale distributor played some great Neil Young and Jeff Beck for us.
I was real disappointed with the Naim and Quad gear. It seemed lifeless and not real rhythmic.
But I enjoyed the Wilson Benesch / Rega room next door.
All the distributors seemed friendly to me.
I wish I had been able to see (hear) more.
Some pics from Stereophile.
No Polk LSIM??
I don't think I saw any Polk Audio products. Closest thing to mass market I saw was some Marantz components, but that's about it.
"I know this has been probably been discussed before, but someone really needs to tell all these sponsors, distributors, and people to LIGHTEN UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There were times that I didn't even feel welcome in certain rooms. In this economy, if I want to listen to one of my tunes on a $60,000 pair of loudspeakers, you should damn well roll out the red carpet."

I hear you Audioguy and contrary to what some of the above posters have stated I find that this is more common in this industry than most others. I've also encountered this attitude in stores as well. To counter that I have also met some of the most interesting and truly interested people that go out of their way to educate and accomodate. I've often wondered if some of the "strange" ones have psychological disorders or they are so jaded that they just don't care or maybe they can't interact normally with potential customers, but I have spent plenty of time wondering because I have seen SO MUCH of what you saw at your first show, too bad. It is one of the things I truly detest about these shows because I ALWAYS find more than one with the attitude you describe. What up with this?
I was there Friday afternoon but missed ..I'd really like to hear any impressions of the new Abbington Music Reference DAC!
Was this a consumer show or targeted at the trade? I think that makes a difference in terms of how accommodating the exhibitors need to be to our requests.

AXPONA is coming to the NY area on June 24 & 25 and I'm thinking about going. My reservations in not attending is due to some of the posts above and that I'm not in any position to buy any high dollar value audio equipment. I'd just like to see and listen to some of the expensive audio equipment I read about in person. If exhibitors know your not serious about buying but conduct yourself in a professional manner would any of them still give you the time of day? I'm not looking for VIP treatment but may be some interaction.

Hi Jedinite.......I would still go, it was a lot of fun if you like the gear, and many of the exhibitors were great. This is only my opinion, but this is a trade show, not a retail store. If I go to the Atlanta Journal Auto show and look at a Porsche, they don't expect me to buy, it's a show for cryin' out loud. I'd go and have fun...of course I doubt anyone will let you sit there for 30 minutes to listen to what you brought since they have to appeal to a lot of different show goers. I thought it was pretty well done here in Atlanta.
'If exhibitors know your not serious about buying but conduct yourself in a professional manner would any of them still give you the time of day? I'm not looking for VIP treatment but may be some interaction.'

The fact that this is a consideration, speaks volumes about this so-called 'hobby'. I thought about the ongoing forum 'why aren't more people into high end audio?' As some one once said, 'we teach people / retailers how to treat us.'
Like Tom, the Voxativ Ampeggio just sounded amazing. The transparency and sense of separation b/w individual instruments were surreal! It is my dream speaker. I enjoyed the MBL room as well, but thought that the music was way way too loud. The Esoteric room was also quite nice. What did you think of that 180K TNT tube monoblock amps?

I did like their slogan "Our Tube is bigger than yours". They were getting some very nice staging and presence from the venerable Vandy 3A sigs. Some people commented they thought the display should have used "better" speakers but I agreed with the designer who I spoke with while in the roon. He said since the Vandy speakers were a known performer and well on the reasonable side of price and value, the amps were showcased in the rig. I agree. 180K is a tough price point but man those tubes were sexy.
Soundsmith's Mr. Ledermann impressed the heck out of me and deserves kudos. I stopped in his room out of curiosity even though I do not have a TT and will likely not be getting one in the near future (unless I hit the lotto, 'cause none of my relatives will be leaving me any dough). Luka Bloom was playing on his Firefly speakers and sounded wonderful. (These speakers play bigger than than look.) He asked what I'd like to hear. I requested electric blues on his larger speakers, the Monarchs. He took the time to switch them over, pulled out SRV on vinyl, and cued up Tin Pan Alley. This is a 10 minute cut! And he let it play all the way through. I was quite impressed with both the speakers (IMO in top two of all monitors I heard at the show, and would be glad to own) and Mr. Ledermann for spinning such a long, electric blues cut at a show where most folks that I met were mainly into classical or jazz music. Thank you Mr. Ledermann! Actually, most all vendors I spoke with were quite friendly and usually accomodating. This was my first audio show. I expected more stuffed shirt type snippy vendors (like the ones at most now defunct B&M stores I had experienced over the years - sizing up my financial potential as I walked through the door) but was pleasantly surprised at how most were very nice people. (Hmmm ... where are those stuffed shirt, snippy barracudas these days? ... hmmm ...)