Another Year, Another CES
Las Vegas? Why bother to fly across the country or around the world when you can visit New York City, Venice’s Grand Canal, and Egypt’s Great Pyramid in one easy, smoke-filled, retail therapy-rich, constantly stimulating stop? Why search out music on the net when, in Las Vegas, it constantly bombards you in elevators, from outdoor loudspeakers, and at your free lunch at T.H.E. Show?
Ah, Las Vegas. In his wrap to CES 2012, Stephen Mejias did a beautiful job of asking the simple but profound question, “Why?” Why, of all the god-forsaken places on Planet Earth, has the Consumer Electronics Association chosen this compulsion-driven, ecologically devastating, one-stop tourist and gambling destination as the site for the largest industry trade show in the US?
Be that as it may, it was an exceedingly rich year for high-performance exhibitors on floors 29, 30, 34, and 35 of the Venetian; the few who stuck to the lobby level of the connected Sands; those at the far lower-key T.H.E. Show down the block who were arrayed on two levels of the Flamingo; and other exhibitors who drew folks to the and-you-thought-Times-Square-was-bad congested madness of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Not everyone was present this year. Gershman Acoustics, Coincident Technologies, and Eficion are but three of the speaker companies that chose not to exhibit, and there were some major personnel changes, most notably the absence of the retired-from-Nordost Lars Christensen, the unquestionable King of cable comparison demo. But those that were in attendance, in general, managed to reach the distributors, dealers, and members of the press for whom their efforts were intended.
Our goal in the many hundreds of blog posts that constitute our 2013 CES/T.H.E. Show coverage, as defined by Stereophile editor John Atkinson, now in his 35th year of attending CES, was not only to discuss the new products either available now or on the horizon but to give you the feeling that you were accompanying us on our rounds. Sometimes we are able to also give you a sense of how systems sounded. But far too often, we found ourselves, faced with so many exhibits and new products to cover, passing up listening opportunities in order to get to more rooms by the end of the day.
While, at earlier and far more congested CES gatherings, I sometimes felt that music was an afterthought, to be played in the background over business deals, here it often emerged as an exhibit’s raison d’être. Yes, we in the press sometimes ended up shouting over what passed as music as we gathered information for blogs, but we also indulged in quite a few opportunities to evaluate component performance.
Given all the vagaries of hotel room acoustics, taxed power sources, and the likethe Venetian allowed each exhibitor just 10A of power!I think it’s a near miracle that some exhibitors managed to get their systems to sound as good as they did. My hat goes off to them, and to the years of experience and expertise they put to the test each time they journey to a hotel setting or dealer showroom to strut their stuff.
Stereophile’s staff camped out in the Mirage this year, directly across from the Venetian. Although the quality of Internet service unquestionably added a few gray hairs to our collective noggins, the proximity to our target destinations, the comfort of the rooms, and the quality of food in the hotel “cafeteria” made this, for me at least, a far easier immersion in Vegas madness. And if some exhibitors ended up wishing that more of their distributors had made the trek, they discovered in compensation that lunch lines were shorter, and nervous systems a bit less strained.
Here’s to another year at CES. May the great music and equipment continue to pour forth, and, for better or worse, the dice continue to roll.