Axpona: We Sing Together in Atlanta
On Saturday night, after a long day of listening, writing, and chatting, I couldn’t force myself to enjoy another dinner or even have a beer. Things come to a dull end where all systems sound the same, I forget what it is I’m supposed to be listening for, I can’t give the exhibitors and attendees the attention they deserve. So, instead of pushing myself further, I decided to head back to my room and post a few blog entries before packing my bags and going to bed. Earlier in the day, I had already begun to regret my decision to leave the show on Sunday morning: There were rooms I hadn’t visited, people I hadn’t met, songs and stories I hadn’t heard, and now I had run out of time. Nevertheless, as I succumbed to sleep, I could hear myself singing.
From many angles, this most recent version of Axpona, held in warm and friendly Atlanta, Georgia, appeared fraught with compromises and confusion. As I arrived at the hotel, I immediately learned that several exhibitors had been up until the early hours of morning dealing with troublesome rooms, a frustrating consequence of the extremely late delivery of their demo gear.
For my part, upon checking into the hotel, my first move was to lock myself out of my room; and, once I got back into my room, I was embarrassed to discover I had forgotten the two most important assets to any journalist covering a show: my toothbrush and deodorant. During the event, some attendees (including myself, at times) were wearied by the long hotel corridors which seemed sometimes to go on and on forever or simply end, suddenly, in dead silence and darkness.
Where am I?
But, when looked at from above, the Atlanta Axpona was a great success. In the end, we see that none of these difficulties made much of a difference because, through it all, attendees, exhibitors, and press alike, joined together to make and enjoy some very beautiful music.
Though it seems painfully obvious, it’s important to remember that we do all of this for music. A hi-fi system should be a catalyst for the discovery and appreciation of more and more and more music. As one exhibitor told me, the problems he faced at the show didn’t bother him at all. All that mattered was that he was able to create music.
And I want to emphasize the fact that we joined together. While at the show, the editors and contributors of Stereophile magazine received many kind compliments from readers and exhibitors, but what delighted me most was being told that we were so approachable, so easy to talk to, “just regular guys.” Every day I remind myself that I cannot take this thing for granted. It is a privilege to receive new music, to test the gear carefully created by people who love music, to share my passion for music with you. I think I can speak for the entire Stereophile team when I say it is our job, but it is also a privilege, a pleasure, and an honor. Even at the end of the longest day, we are still singing.
We take the example of the exhibitors who stayed up late attempting to make magic in rooms that were too small, too large, corrupted by whirring fans and winding corridors, or whose ceilings were falling apart; we take the example of the attendees who drove many miles each day to see and to hear in person the gear they normally only see in magazines; we take the example of the members of the Atlanta Audio Video Club who volunteered their time and their smiles to help make the event a more pleasurable one for all; we take the example of the manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and educators who work to make high-quality sound and recorded music available to everyone, everywhere; we take the example of the musicians who treated our ears, minds, and souls to the real thing.
The real magic of shows like Axpona is that they remind us to be thankful. To everyone who found the energy and took the time to stop us in the halls, either to ask a question, make a comment, or simply to say hello: Thank you. It’s true that we are just like you. We do this for the music, too, and we will not let anything get in the way.
If we couldn’t speak, we would sing.