The Show at Lyric HiFi
Saturday–Sunday, April 14–15, 10am–5pm: Lyric HiFi (1221 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY) invites audiophiles to listen to an assortment of systems, interact with representatives from brands such as McIntosh, Focal, and Audio Research, and qualify to purchase demo units at 20% off, all part of The Show at Lyric HiFi.
Lyric co-owners Lenny Bellezza’s and Dan Mondoro’s fine-tuned listening rooms will host at least seven different systems. In renovations which cost nearly $500,000 (and that’s in 1982 dollars), architects and acoustical engineers sought to stifle the rumbles of the Lexington Avenue 6-train emanating from below. As a solution, a 2.5-inch layer of heavy-impact fiberglass blankets the surface of the building. Above that, a floor of reinforced concrete at 3.5 inches thick insulates Lyric showrooms from subway thunder, so that visitors can listen to the various systems in peace and not be reminded of their daily drudgery.
Featured systems at The Show will include:
System 1: Focal Grande Utopia EM loudspeaker, a speaker that JA said could be the best speaker in the world ; McIntosh MC2301 300-watt tube monoblocks, first discovered by Bob Deutsch at CES 2008; a McIntosh C1000 preamp, reviewed by Michael Fremer here; a dCS Scarlatti system (also reviewed by Mikey); the AMG Viella 12 turntable; and Nordost Odin cable which according to JVS, can transform the sound of a system.
System 2: Nola Concert Grand loudspeakers; Audio Research Reference 250 monoblocks with KT120 tubes (showcased here by Chris Ossanna); another dCS Scarlatti system; the elegant Oracle Delphi Mk. VI. turntable; and an Audio Research Ref Phono 2 phono preamp.
System 3: Magneplanar MG20.7 speakers powered by the Simaudio Moon 700i integrated amplifier, which JA said "offered respectable measured performance", fed by the Simaudio Moon 750D DAC.
System 4: Simaudio Moon MiND (Moon Intelligent Network Device) streaming to ADAM ARTist 6 active loudspeakers.
System 5: A Sonos: a wireless high-fidelity multi-room music system, and one of Stereophile’s Recommended Components.
System 6: B&W 802 Diamond loudspeakers, reviewed here by NYC denizen Kal Rubinson, juiced by JA’s current reference Classé MT-600 monoblocks and sourced from the Classé CP-800 preamp featuring an inboard D/A converter.
System 7: A B&W Zeppelin iPod dock!
Lyric will also demo two home theater rooms, including one all McIntosh home theater, and will also conduct a Nordost A/B cable seminar.
The Show at Lyric falls on the same weekend as the New York Audio & AV Show held at the Waldorf=Astoria organized by the Chester Group, international audio and AV show organizers. Also happening this same weekend is the Springtime Sale at Stereo Exchange. The not-so-coincidental meeting of all these events, previously discussed here, appears to be a competitive move by the two biggest independent hi-fi retailers in New York City, a move to take advantage of the arrival of the show. Instead of renting rooms at the Waldorf=Astoria, Lyric and Stereo Exchange are opting to host their own events in-house and use the momentum of the NY Audio & AV Show to push people to their storefronts, accompanied by big name brands and sale prices.
Lyric is unabashed in their attempt to chase the shadow of the New York AV show, as evidenced in the name of their event “The Show at Lyric”. Jason Victor Serinus brings up in his comment on the Stereo Exchange article, “This reeks so much of New York competitiveness and one-upmanship.” JVS is right, and it reminds me of another very New York business competition: Ray’s Pizza. The first Ray’s Pizza opened at 27 Prince Street in Little Italy in 1959. As of 2011, there are at least 49 pizza restaurants with some variation on the name Ray’s Pizza in New York City, be it Ray’s Famous, Famous Ray’s, or Not Ray’s Pizza, and almost all of them are independent from one another, preying on tourists and New York newbies hoping to satisfy their curious craving for the Original Ray’s. Similarly, we have The New York Audio & AV Show, often mistakenly called T.H.E. New York Show, a carryover from the title of previous New York shows as well as the current prefix to the active and popular T.H.E. Show at Newport and T.H.E. Show in Las Vegas. The title “The Show at Lyric” clearly tries to associate this event with the larger NY Audio & AV Show though the two are not related whatsoever. The choice between them for the befuddled audiophile is like trying to choose between Famous Ray’s Pizza on 207th Street or Ray’s Pizza Bagel Café on St. Marks; the pizza may not be the same, but it sure promises to be.
The question I asked readers previously was why a hi-fi shop would opt to demo in-house rather than at the Waldorf. Vienna Acoustics' Patrick Butler answered this question via his comment on the Stereo Exchange post:
Shows represent to exhibitors a great opportunity to connect with the public and the press. However, this comes at a significant cost and must be weighed against the promoters ability to get a relevant section of the public in the front door. The investment in exhibiting must have some return on the back end, in the form of good press coverage (the press shows up), new dealers, business generated to local dealers, etc. This is simply the reality of running a business.
Convincing local dealers to get involved is an essential first step in organizing a hi-fi show. The dealers are connected with the local audiophile community, and they are the representatives for the brands and consumers in the area. The promise of press and people is just one of the things that the show organizers should promise local dealers, but this promise may not be enough to outweigh the costs of demoing in a hotel room away from the store where one is at the mercy of the hotel room’s limitations, be they room acoustic issues, electrical malfunctions, or any other variables which could regularly be controlled in one’s own show room. What other things could show organizers promise to make sure local dealers get involved?
Here are a few ideas:
- Offer discounted prices on demo rooms at the hotel.
- Label the show as officially sponsored by the local dealer in order to cement their participation and seal of approval.
- Subsidize transportation fees on gear shipped from dealership to the hotel.
- Press lists and contact lists should be distributed to the dealers to assist in their own promotion of the event. PR representatives hired by show organizers could work both for the dealer and the show. Show organizers should also forward evidence of their own promotion to dealers prior to the event to validate the concerns of whether the event has been promoted enough.
I also pondered whether a free shuttle from the Waldorf to the dealer’s events would be helpful, rather than asking them to demo at the hotel. If entrance to dealer in-store showcases were considered an extended part of the New York Audio and AV Show, and a ticket was required for entry to the stores along with a provided shuttle bus, then show organizers could re-route human traffic to local dealers making the show bigger, involving missing manufacturers, and skillfully integrating the dealer locations on the show map. Yet the major drawback of this is an emptier Waldorf=Astoria, as patrons spend time exploring the other hi-fi shops of New York as part of the event, which brings fewer visitors to other Waldorf exhibits, which have been paid for in full by other manufacturers and dealers, and weakens the overall image of the show leaving an indefinite answer to the unavoidable final show question: “How was attendance?” Ticket sales are one thing, but vibe and image are what make any good social event talked about amongst fans as a positive experience for days and weeks and years after. On the drawback side for the dealer, less income may flow inbound if a show ticket is required to enter dealerships, preventing non-ticket holders from coming in. Yet, people who would not pay for a show ticket to begin with are also not likely in the market for some new hi-fi. A weekend long pass only costs $39, not a prohibitive fee for most audiophiles. While alternative locations would really give audiophiles something to do all-weekend long and add a new layer of depth to the types of events at the New York show, it is still difficult to rationalize why a local dealer would participate without added incentives and also difficult for organizers to willfully allow people to stray from other exhibits and venture elsewhere on the Manhattan island.
This is all very confusing for me. The idealist inside wants everyone to get along and for show organizers to co-host with dealers, share events and customers, and listen together. The pragmatist realizes that even in hi-fi we have our Ray’s Pizza moments, where competitors will use each other’s name and efforts to better their own buck rather than take the risk in partnership. These dealer events happening the same weekend as large hi-fi shows have been taking place since 2007, a practice started a Lyric during a previous New York show, and from the dealer’s standpoints, they are a “win-win” situation: low cost event propelled by the buzz of a larger hi-fi show.
That being said there are some New York City dealers who will be demoing at the Waldorf=Astoria including High Water Sound, Innovative Audio Video Showrooms, Sound By Singer, The Audio Doctor, and Wes Bender Studio.
Attendance for the Show at Lyric is free. You can catch members of the Stereophile staff at Lyric this weekend as well as at Stereo Exchange as well as at the New York Audio & AV Show. Maybe we’ll get a slice of Ray’s pizza too. Ray’s Orginal? Ray’s Famous? Eh. Let’s just get tacos instead.