T.H.E. Show Newport Beach Starts Friday
"We're sold out," veteran organizer Richard Beers declared by phone. "Believe it or not, I actually managed to squeeze in two more rooms in the last few days. I've also managed to keep 99% of hotel exhibit rooms staggered so sound doesn't bleed through the walls."
Getting solid figures out of Richard is not as easy as drawing blood. He has no problem saying, "Judging by pre-show ticket sales, we should easily hit 7500 people through the doors." But when you ask if that number describes unique visitors or total attendance, things get fuzzy. What you get instead is, "We all know this show is very crowded. It grows every year, and draws more consumers than any other similar audio show in North America. Which makes sense. There are 60 million people in Southern California."
Well, almost. According to Wikipedia, it's more like 22 million. Nonetheless, Southern California contains roughly 60% of California's population. Quite a few of those folks not only have lots of money, but also have a real love of music. In short, they have both the means and the motivation to flock to T.H.E. Show. And flock they do, especially on Saturday.
One of the reasons folks attend in such large numbers is that T.H.E. Show offers something for everyone. For those more interested in music than gear per se, there will be 35 hours of live entertainment. Those seeking other ways to spend their money may flock to the exotic car showRichard promises a whole new crop of audio-equipped luxury modelsthe wine show, or even the cigar show.
But the main reason to attend is the enormous range of high-performance audio gear, which includes many North American debuts. "Roughly 60% of the exhibits will introduce new products," says Richard. "And we have five companies that are brand spanking new. There is new young blood in this industry."
A comprehensive list of new products is impossible to construct, but you can be sure that many products just unveiled in Munich will make their North American debuts in Newport Beach. I, for one, expect surprises galore.
One potential show highlight promises to be the unveiling of what is claimed to be the most fabulous home theater set-up ever exhibited. MBL, Sony, Kimber Kable, DataSat and Stewart Screens are teaming up with The Source AV Design Group of Redondo Beach to present what they are calling, "A theater system SO AWESOME, the likes never seen before." Another will be the huge range of seminars, which include Michael Fremer on turntable set-up and other specialists on DSD and computer audio.
Richard makes special note of the Stillpoints exhibit. The company is so confident that their new Aperture Acoustic Panels can help deliver good sound in acoustically impossible rooms that they're setting up shop in the Atrium's sonically compromised Sunset Lounge.
We've never before put active exhibits in the Sunset Lounge, which once was the hotel's nightclub, because its acoustics suck," says Richard."Half of its walls are glass from floor to ceiling, and it's got a domed ceiling that makes things sound even worse."
Will Stillpoints succeed? Will T.H.E. Show Newport Beach introduce new, game changing products that have the potential to receive one of Stereophile's Product of the Year awards? And will attendance in fact increase to the point that T.H.E. Show may have to consider relocating to a venue that accommodates even more visitors and exhibitors? If you can't make it down to Newport Beach to find out for yourself, please stay tuned to this network after show's end for detailed show coverage from yours truly.