The Free Republic of Stereophile
I joke sometimes at Home Entertainment Shows, as I regard the crowds jostling one another to enter rooms, paw through bins of records, or get the good seats at the musical events, that "these are my people." The thing is, it's true. I do the same things.
You could work up a Jeff Foxworthy routine: You know you're an audiophile if:
•You've ever carried Wet Wipes in your pocket just in case there's a box of records forgotten in some corner of the jumble sale.
•You've ever stayed awake until 4am because the powerlines were quieter.
•You've ever bought that fourth copy of Rhapsodie Espagnole because you aren't sure whether stamper numbers 1A/1A are better than 1A/2A.
•You carry around a card with the Bach Cantatas you already own on Telefunken because you keep buying Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme when what you need is Wachet! betet! betet! wachet!
The reason I know all of this, of course, is that I've done them too. And that's what I really love about the HE shows, I am among my people.
It doesn't matter where you're from, if you're a hi-fi nut, I have more in common with you than the guy who lives next door to me, the kids I went to school with, or any of my ex-girlfriends. At the HE shows, I get to talk with people who know what a shaded dog is—or how to set up a tonearm. I think those are important, but darned few of the folks I meet ever give 'em a thought.
One thing that gets lost in the chatter on the web is that audio manufacturers and importers fall into this camp, too. Spend time with Jim Thiel or Richard Vandersteen or Dusty Vawter, and I almost guarantee you won't end up talking about their gear, you'll be yakking about records, music, and all the other stuff you hold dear. They too are members of the tribe.
So ask me what was best about HE 2006 and I'll tell you it was meeting guys from the Stereophile Forum like Buddha, who drove from Las Vegas to be there, and Clifton, who brought me some jazz LPs by artists he'd seen me mention as favorites. It was meeting Pete Roth in the Ayre room and the guy whose name I didn't catch, but whose list of great sounding rooms perfectly matched mine (yes, I can still hear!).
The best part of HE 2006 was being among my tribe and realizing just how darn good it is.