Somehow I managed to snap a single shot of the large, lobby level show directory signage before another throng of eager attendees covered up my view. On Saturday April 26, when AXPONA was mobbed until the last hour of the show, it would have been impossible to take this photo.
In the consumer audio show arena, the newly rebranded Audio Con (after Comic Con) from AXPONA Chicago seems on course to claim the crown as one of the three top high-end shows in North America. Taking place April 2426 in the Westin O'Hare in Rosemont, the show is prepared to welcome a significantly larger number of visitors (pre-registration is up 30% 11 days before show opening) to 105 active exhibits (two-channel and multi-channel), plus an entire ballroom's full Ear Gear Expo (participation is up 50% from last year) and a sizeable marketplace area (displays up at least 30%).
It's not just the first audio show in Chicago in 14 years, since Stereophile's Hi-Fi ’99 at the Palmer House. It's also the first in a millennium where computer audio is changing every aspect of the music and audio industries.
Nor is it a minor effort. AXPONA Chicago, which runs March 810 on five floors of the Doubletree by Hilton O'Hare Airport, promises 90 separate exhibit rooms, 74 table displays in approximately 30 different booths presenting 100 or so brands, and equipment from over 400 manufacturers. Dealers exhibiting number 26, with 15 from Chicago, and others from New York, California, Florida, and other states. That's a lot of show.
The 2014 AXPONA (Audio Expo North America), scheduled for April 2527 in Chicago's completely refurbished Westin O'Hare, promises to the biggest and most comprehensive US consumer audio show east of Denver. How about, for starters, at least 56 known product introductions, with many more intentionally unannounced; 75 active exhibits in "standard" hotel rooms, whose dimensions are a far-from-standard 14.9'x19' with 8.5' high ceilings; 35 significantly larger meeting rooms and suites, spread over numerous floors, often filled with more than one active system per room; an Ear Gear Expo with exhibits from 23 headphone and headphone amp/accessory manufacturers; and a lobby level marketplace that promises 70 displays from 30 different vendors?
It's the afternoon before AXPONA Jacksonville opens, and Carmen Davis is getting prepared. Badges are ready, and welcome smiles and hugs are plentiful. But it's not until after 5 that the show guide arrives from the printer. There were, it seems, so many last minute cancelations and room changes that what only a few weeks before had been announced as 40 exhibit rooms has instead been consolidated into 28.
The largest consumer audio show in America's Southland, AXPONA (Audio Expo North America), returns to its roots when it opens in Jacksonville on Friday March 9. The three-day show, which launched in Jacksonville in 2010, has happily switched locations from a "not-ready-for-primetime" venue to the more upscale Omni Jacksonville.
What the hotel offers audiophiles, besides its amenities and lovely waterfront, is its neighbor across the street, Jacoby Hall in the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. Home of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, the hall's much touted superior acousticsmezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade has called them "sensational"offer attendees the opportunity to refresh their ears with the sound of a live, unamplified orchestra in a very special hall. What better way to tell if the audio systems you're hearing present a reasonable facsimile of the real thing?
Yes, I too noticed the signs, liberally distributed around the baggage pick-up area at O'Hare, that welcomed visitors to four shows other than AXPONA. "AXPONA 2015 NOT WELCOME IN CHICAGO!" quipped Michael Fremer in his first show blog for AnalogPlanet.com. Judging from the comments so far, it's clear that some readers forget that behind Mikey's New York outrage lies a seasoned stand-up comedian...
Using Vivid loudspeakers, Richard Rogers of Shunyata and Bruce Jacobs of Stillpoints conducted a very convincing demo in which they began with stock power cables and no room treatment. First, they switched from stock power cables to Shunyata's Venom digital power cable ($395) and Venom High Current power cable ($295). Next, they added Stillpoints Ultra 6 equipment supports under equipment where there had been no supports before.
Finally, they added at least six Stillpoints Aperture acoustic panels to the sidewalls and horribly reflective glass windows behind the speakers. Each change elicited more depth, air, believable timbres, midrange, bass, vibrancy and substantiality to the sound...