The 4th California Audio Show Starts Friday
Constantine Soo, the show's promoter, explains that he left the Crowne Plaza, the nearby site of the show for the past two years, because of its lack of big rooms. It's hard not to imagine that the severe sonic limitations of some of those large rooms contributed to his decision.
The good news is that not only does the Westin SFO have space for nine separate ballroom exhibits on the lobby floor, six large exhibits on the second floor, and two more on the third, but it also has solid walls, rather than air walls, between rooms. The hotel, constructed in the 1990s, was reputedly constructed to higher standards than the older Crowne Plaza, and promises better sound isolation between rooms and floors, a more reliable electrical supply, and considerably more parking space (for 700 cars). Hopefully its windows offer better sound proofing from freeway noise than the lamentable Crowne Plaza. Though the Westin's restaurant only seats 75, it will also operate a "Grab and Go," cash-only lunch stand. Beyond its door lie 10 restaurants within a 20-minute walk.
Commuters are in luck. The hotel is right off the Millbrae exit of Hwy 101, and a jolly 7-minute walk from both the Millbrae BART and Caltrain stations. Even if there is a BART strike, which will halt the Bay Area Rapid Transit service, Caltrain will offer an alternative to crowded freeway commuting.
At least five major dealers from the extended Bay AreaMusic Lovers Audio (SF and Berkeley), AudioVision (SF), Loggie Audio (Redwood City), and Soundscape (Santa Rosa)are participating, with Michael Woods of Elite Audio Systems (SF) representing Linn from the UK. There are quite a few new exhibitors, including Raven Audio (amplifiers), Phasure from The Netherlands, Zu Audio, Enigma Acoustics, Endeavor Audio Engineering (loudspeakers), Pass Labs (making an extremely rare appearance at a consumer audio show), Piraeus Audio, Linn, and High Fidelity cables. Look forward to US premieres from WyWyres, Acapella, and Zu Audio, among others, and major-scaled exhibits from Von Schweikert, MartinLogan, and others.
Five seminars are planned for Saturday and Sunday: Ask the Editors; a DSD panel , organized by Blue Coast Records' Cookie Marenco; a Digital Recording and Mastering session, organized by Phasure, that includes Bay Area heavy hitters Paul Stubblebine, Mike Romanowski, and Sean Martin; Music and the Mind, a brief outline of the anatomy, physiology, and psychoacoustics of hearing, with VJ Rao, M.D. and Peter Stordiau, founder and chief engineer of Phasure; and Computer Audio Playback, again sponsored by Phasure, with Matan Arazi, Ray Burnham, Demian Martin, and the aforementioned Stordiau.
There will also be live entertainment. Expect the Steve McQuarry Quartet (jazz) on Friday, and a Classical String Trio, composed of San Francisco Symphony musicians, on Saturday. Both will present limited seating, unamplified, closed-door concerts. I'm especially excited about the closed-door policy, which will enable people to focus on the music without the distraction of people constantly walking in and out.
One of the show's sponsors, ASC Tube Traps, has prepared order forms for exhibitors wishing to use their products to tame room reflections and the like. This is one show where every exhibitor who cares enough to treat their rooms for better sound will have the opportunity to do so. Bravo!
In addition to static displays from Velodyne, MSR, JIB USA, Audionerd (at least 1000 LPs for sale), and ASC Tube Traps, Soo has reserved a "huge" HeadMasters ballroom on the main floor. Expect active headphone listening displays from eight companies, plus an exhibit devoted to headphone accessories
CAS offers prize giveaways for attendees who purchase advance three-day passes online. There will also be daily prize giveaways. Also free is Stereophile's complete detailed coverage, to which new reports will be added through August 15 or 16.