T.H.E. Newport Beach Show 2011
With well over 115 individual exhibits and hundreds of high-end audio and home theater brands making music just steps away from a wine show, auto show, a cigar show, and live jazz, T.H.E. Show: Newport promises to raise the bar for consumer audio shows in Southern California.
Scheduled for next Friday through Sunday, June 35, in the Newport Hilton, adjacent to Orange County's John Wayne International Airport, T.H.E. Show: Newport is the brainchild of Bob Levi, President of the successful Los Angeles & Orange County Audio Society, and Richard Beers, President of T.H.E. Show. Levi came up with the idea, selling Beers on the notion of a new show that would open the audiophile fiefdom to the area's 24 million inhabitants. Beers in turn summoned forth over a decade of knowledge on show organization, and provided the infrastructure to make the event possible.
"It's a very happy marriage," Beers told Stereophile. "Bob is promoting the heck out of this thing. With his giant databases, the word has spread pretty much around the world."
Those databases, it turns out, include all 14 or so "ultra high-end" dealerships in the great Los Angeles and Orange County area, all of whom society members visit approximately once a month. Many of those dealers are exhibiting for the first time, and will be giving it their all.
In their favor, and to the advantage of attendees, are the hotel's superior acoustics. After Beers agreed to put on the show, Levi and a group of LA and Orange Co. Audio Society members, including Dan Meinwald of E.A.R. Electronics, tested the acoustics in three different possible hotels before settling on the Newport Hilton.
"Dan's taste is impeccable," says Levi. "He always has one of the best-sounding rooms at shows. He went into every room, clapped, yelled, patted the walls, and helped us decide."
Another thing T.H.E. Show: Newport has in its favor is its emphasis on lifestyle enjoyment. "What I've found lacking in all the shows I've attended over the last 10 years is the fun factor," says Levi. "They're not as much fun as they should be. People aren't smiling or having as good a time as I feel they should be. It feels so much more like business than like pleasure. One of the things I wanted to accomplish, which is one of the reasons I sought out Richard, is that I wanted to raise the fun factor for one of these shows."
Beers seconds the motion. "This show is designed to open up this industry to a broader audience," he says. "Everyone thinks, "I need audioI need home theaterI'd better get over to Best Buy or Magnolia.' We will show them that there are alternatives to Big Box Stores, and it's good stuff."
The organizers' vision for the show echoes the words of Stereophile's Stephen Mejias, who recently declared in his blog from the Munich 2011 High-End Show, "The Munich Show was not only promoting and selling sound, but was promoting and selling a way of life. . . . If hi-fi were presented in the States as it was at the Munich show, we might not have such silly questions about attracting a younger audience, attracting women, or even whether the hobby will survive. We would be too busy enjoying ourselvesstopping for a Spaten in the sun before heading on to the next exhibitto waste time and life with any of that foolishness."
T.H.E. Show: Newport will also offer all the essentials that make a high-end audio confab great. In addition to the demonstrations of recorded sound, and the ability to hear your own music on CD, hybrid SACD, flash drive and iWhatever, a host of seminars and live jazz presentations will round out the proceedings. Two Meet the Press and Turntable Set-up sessions, both which will include Stereophile's Michael Fremer; a headphone seminar with InnerFidelity.com's Tyll Hertsens; and a loudspeaker seminar with no less authorities than Richard Vandersteen (Vandersteen Audio), Andrew Jones (TAD), Kevin Malmgren (Evolution Acoustics), and Kevin Voecks (Harman group) will vie for your attention with Blueport Jazz Jim Merod's live entertainment line-up of Dean Peer, Mike Garson & Lori Bell, and a host of other jazz masters. You can grab your glass of wine, smoke your cigar, and hang by the pool as you reflect on all the wonderful music you've heard and knowledge you've acquired.
There is, of course, still a place and need for a more laidback, single focus "family feel" show like the current #1 consumer audio show in the country, Denver's extremely comfortable Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, scheduled for October 1416. Both Levi and Beers venerate RMAF, whose organizer, the irreplaceable Marjorie Baumert, will be in attendance at Newport. Nonetheless, Levi envisions a time when T.H.E. Show: Newport will become "the greatest audio show on earth."
"If it's not year one, it will be year two," he promises. "With the buzz we're going to generate with all the lifestyle events, excitement, and fun, this show will become the template for many other shows in this country and around the earth."
Michael Lavorgna will be blogging live for Stereophile from Newport Beach. Stay tuned to this website for a host of juicy show reports.