A Captivated Audience at the 2011 California Audio Show

A packed and captivated audience in the MBL room.

I was delighted to see so many people at the 2011 California Audio Show so attentively listening to music, as though listening to music on the hi-fi in 2011 is as much of an event as watching an episode of “True Blood” on Sunday night. Of course, we know that listening to music on the hi-fi is a special event, an active, enriching, and entertaining experience, worthy of our time and energy for the joy and nourishment it brings our minds and souls. It’s a lot of fun. If you were present at the California Audio Show, you experienced this.

And I was happily surprised to see such good attendance at the show: While Friday seemed relatively slow—typical for the first day of any show—the traffic on Saturday and Sunday was constant and healthy. Prior to arriving in San Francisco, I wondered if another California show was even necessary. After all, the very successful Newport Beach Show took place only weeks ago. The success of the 2011 California Audio Show proved that the audience is there.

So, hobbyists were indeed happy. What about the exhibitors? While small hotel rooms are not the optimal environment for setting up a system, and I insist that we find more appropriate venues for our shows, exhibitors managed to work around the challenges. Many employed creative speaker placement and made use of acoustic room treatments. Nevertheless, the sound of several rooms was corrupted by a high-pitched ringing (electrical in nature, I guess) that exhibitors just couldn’t tame. The beauty there, however, is that the high-pitched ring never prohibited me from focusing on the music. And that’s another thing that good hi-fi does: It allows the listener to recognize flaws, set those flaws aside, and enjoy the music. (The only occasion when the hotel really prevented me from listening happened when the power went out!) All the exhibitors I spoke with agreed that the California Audio Show, despite the small, difficult rooms, was a success for them, too—their rooms were consistently well-attended by enthusiastic listeners.

As John Atkinson concluded in his Capital AudioFest coverage, it seems that audiophiles are eager for more places and opportunities to listen to high-quality audio gear. Especially now, as the traditional brick-and-mortar dealer becomes increasingly scarce, regional events like the California Audio Show provide this opportunity. Congratulations to Constantine Soo of Dagogo and everyone who helped make the California Audio Show a success.

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