As Jason Victor Serinus mentioned last week, T.H.E. Show Newport Beach is now being held at two hotelsthe larger Hilton (T.H.E. Show Newport West) and the Atrium (T.H.E. Show Newport East), shown here.
Not sure whose idea it was to put gigantic scissors in Michael Fremer's hands. Luckily, everything worked out. No CDs were harmed. The ribbon was cut, marking the start of the 2nd annual T.H.E. Show Newport Beach.
It's 6pm on Thursday night. Stereophile editor John Atkinson has proposed that we rendezvous in the lobby of the Hilton, secrete ourselves in a corner over a beverage of choice, and discuss how we three (John, Stephen Mejias, and moi) will cover the show.
Having covered shows with John before, and seen how many people come up to him to chat as he attempts to get from point A to point B, I had my doubts that we could somehow manage to talk undisturbed. Talk? We never even got that far. Conversation upon conversation began as soon as John hit lobby. Here, Bob Levi, President of the Los Angeles Orange County Audiophile Society (left), engages John in conversation as, right behind them, Jonathan Scull, PR man extraordinaire and former Stereophile Contributing Editor (second from left), and Dave Clark of Positive Feedback Online (second from right) do the same. Unseen are the many exhibitors who are staggering into the lobby after spending an entire day trying to get their equipment unpacked and positioned optimally.
The Hilton Lobby was a happening place on Thursday evening. While John and I were schmoozing away in one area, Richard Beers, President of T.H.E. Show (center), had gathered around himself a throng of young acolytes, aka show helpers, for their pre-show orientation. Wearing his "Beers" T-shirt, Richard was positively glowing as he schooled his admirers in the fine art of registering people and directing them from place to place.
You'd think, given that T.H.E. Show Newport Beach has proven so successful that it now occupies lobby areas, conference rooms, poolsides, and multiple floors in two venues, The Hilton Hotel and the across-the-parking-lot Atrium Hotel, that there would be one lusciously thick program guide for both shows. Think again. There are two different guides, one marked "East" and the other "West." Unless you look closely at the photo at the cover, carry a compass, or keep track of the sun's position, you may end up as befuddled as the poor soul who kept walking into the VTL room and demanding where they had hidden the tonearm exhibitor he was seeking.
It's 11am Friday morning. The ribbon has been cut, the doors and flung open, and the lines begin to form at the Hilton. By midday, the line to the elevators on the other side of the lobby extends out into the hallway. Some attendees resort to the stairways instead of waiting.
And to think, this is only the first day. Bob Levi is predicting up to 10,000 attendees over the course of the three-day show.
Because it was housed in a protective plastic case, which was allergic to my flash, my photo cannot possibly do full justice to the US pre-debut of the gorgeous Rubicon Atomic AD/DA preamp (price not yet announced, probably under $40,000, hopefully to be demonstrated in full form at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in October and available for purchase at the end of the year). This 384kHz converter, phono preamp, and headphone amplifier with an integrated atomic clock and gold-plated relay volume control utilizes the 10M Rubidium atomic clock, which is said to be 100,000 times more stable than a traditional crystal oscillator. Coupled with Antelope's 64-bit "Acoustically Focused Clocking technology" the Rubidium purportedly manages jitter superbly. Already boasting an award from Japan, the unit is one of several from the company that uses DACs endorsed by Morten Lindberg, founder and chief engineer of audiophile label 2L.
The KEF Blade has been a constant in my show and audio showroom experience of late. Here demmed by Johan Coorg of KEF America and Michael Silver of Audio High, the Blades ($30,000/pair) were making very warm, inviting, and, yes, coherent sound with lovely depth when paired with the Chord SPM 6000 monoblock amplifiers ($49,000/ pair), Chord CPA 5000 preamp ($20,000), Chord Red Reference Mk.III CD/DAC ($25,000), Audience Power Conditioner, and a MacBook Pro rigged to play J River.
Using as his source a MacBook Pro playing iTunes/Pure Music, Dusty Vawter of Channel Islands was using his Transient MK II asynchronous USB converter ($699) with the VDC-5 Mk.II upgrade power supply ($399), PLC-1 Mk.II preamp ($899), D-500 Mk.II monoblock amplifiers ($5000/pair), and speaker prototypes that, perhaps a year from now, will yield Channel Islands loudspeakers. Playing a cover of "Sounds of Silence" on an Usher sampler, the sound was invitingly warm. The system also did a beautiful job of transmitting the natural sound of cymbals, which is no easy task.
"Bigger, bigger, bigger...more, more, more!" That's how Richard Beers, President of The Home Entertainment Show Newport Beach, aka T.H.E. Show Newport Beach, describes the second installment of what he and co-conspirator Bob Levi, President of the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society (LA&OC Audio Society), wryly call "An Audio Tradition...Since Last Year."
Scheduled for Friday June 1Sunday June 3 in sunny Orange County, California's red state within a blue state, the second annual T.H.E. Show Newport Beach has already expanded from the Hilton Hotel, right across the street from the John Wayne/Orange County Airport, to the adjacent Atrium Hotel. Just shy of 300 exhibitors are expected to fill 80 hotel rooms and 15 huge exhibit rooms in the Hilton, 10 or 12 booths in the Hilton "Marketplace," and another 3540 hotel rooms and 15 huge exhibit rooms in the Atrium.