I went to THE show and didn't make any friends ...

Hi Everyone!

I know absolutely noone is waiting on my show report, but to help others hear where I am coming from, I thought I would post my notes and drama anyway. I was only able to spend half a day and here are my thoughts:

The last show I went to was in Oakland and it was sponsored by Pass and ASC. For my ears, a bad combination. I’m just not a Pass fan, and the ASC traps made every room sound like they played exactly the same bass note and one treble note all the time. This show was much smaller, and no such sponsorhip, so the sound in each room had a lot more variety.

Best value of the show goes to Fritz and Wyred4Sound. They also took the most care with the room acoustics. For the total system cost, around $15k, I thought it was really good, but the treble balance was hot for me, as were most of the displays I heard.

Best sound: Audio Concepts room playing Vandersteen Quattro’s’ with Vandersteen amps and a tube pre I forgot the name of. Of course, this was a $45k system. $15k speakers, $15k amps and goodness only knows the turntable and amp.

Unlike previous shows, the ESL’s acquitted themselves well. The Martin Logan and Sander’s ESL’s had some of the best balanced responses to my ears, with the Sander’s having among the best imaging (in exactly 1 chair). I like Roger and his speakers, but man, his taste in electronics is basically the same as Julian Hersch’s. Technically OK without being emotionally involving, or relaxing. The opposite, it put my ears on edge. Perhaps the digital crossover and room EQ they were using?

Other rooms with great imaging included the Brooks Berdan room with the Magicos, the large Legacy conference room, and the Thrax Spartacus demo room. The later had really good mid to treble balance, but was a bit chesty on vocals.

The award for most pretentious goes to the room demoing monitors and the short bald guy who tried to aggressively stare me down for politely asking if he could step six inches to the side so he wasn’t blocking his own demo. Hilarious.

Post removed 

I appreciate the reviews and comments.  As usual, I take them with a large grain of salt.

My eyes, ears and budget are my ultimate judge.

Responding to an earlier comment, unless I was in the audio equipment business trying to make deals or connections, I would probably not attend any shows that only had static displays. 

I go to hear equipment and associated music.  of the many shows I've attended, there were always  some rooms and equipment that had questionable sound. But, I've found most were good to outstanding.

I know what overblown bass like.  Same for musical instruments.

I've found that sometimes, small business owners just don't have the budget for extravagant room correction devices, and show me any hotel room that is good for audio.

Audio shows are fun or can be.  Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose on sound quality.

Listening in a store (with my music) or best, at my home using my equipment is my ultimate judge.  However, I would try hard to condemning equipment I've heard at shows because of so many other factors that impact the sound.


try hard to avoid condemning......

sigh, sorry


I agree that we can have some sort of idea about speaker capabilities from these shows and also that rooms should not be treated as best possible demos.

That is, go see what you like, what is the right size, and not too ugly, and when you are ready to buy, go find a dealer to give you a proper sounding demo.

But I also seriously question anyone who thinks they went to this show and had a spiritually transcendent experience.


Oh, I almost forgot to mention, I really like Butcher Block Acoustics' racks.

Pretty, very sturdy and functional. For those of you obsessed with vibration damping they won't be the last word, but for those of us who want gear that can handle a 65 lb receiver, and a TV and look reasonably pretty for under $2k, I really really like them.