The New York Audio & AV Show: That’s a Wrap!

Prior to the onset of the Chester Group’s New York Audio & AV Show, there had been some controversy in regards to big-time local dealers Stereo Exchange and Lyric hosting their own events the weekend of the show. These events brought in big brands such as Totem, McIntosh, B&W, and Audio Research, who would be presenting exclusively at their stores. Would these dealer events keep participants away from the New York Audio & AV Show? How would these coinciding events affect one another? Were these signs that the show organizers had not done the work necessary to motivate exhibitors to participate in the New York show?

All of these reservations quickly melted away as the Stereophile staff entered the Waldorf=Astoria at approximately 2:30pm on Friday, when a long line was already forming. Showgoers exiting the elevators to the registration desks did not have to move very far to reach the back of the queue that wrapped back around to the elevators. What these attendants had before them were two floors jam-packed with 70 exhibitors, live music performances, and educational and enlightening seminars, enough to keep anyone busy for three days.

Long lines persisted throughout the weekend, with many attendees having to wait to enter the more popular rooms, including MBL, Sound by Singer, and the Robyatt Audio room, SM’s sexiest system at the show. So to answer the first question of whether people were drawn away from the show by the events at Lyric and Stereo Exchange: it did not even matter. People were at the Waldorf=Astoria, and they were having fun.

This was my first audio show, although I’ve been working closely with hi-fi gear for the past year at Stereophile shipping out amplifiers, gathering images, and editing copy, and for two summers prior as an intern, engrossed in the Stereophile Buyer’s Guide as my primary responsibility. The world of hi-fi appeared to me as dry and scientific: lists of components and specifications accompanied by hyper-analytical descriptions of sound quality, but what the New York Audio & AV Show went to show me was what hi-fi is really all about: the music and the people we share it with.

Some key moments that established this for me include:

- Putting faces to the names that I had been emailing for the past three years including Walter Swanborn of Fidelis, Peter Ledermann at Soundsmith, Rober Stein at the Cable Company, and Vinnie Rossi of Red Wine Audio.
- Being chastised for my Phish CD by another audiophile who criticized it as a a poor reference.
- Introducing new music to fellow audiophiles and passing around the record sleeves to talk about the musicians, including Pablo Milanes, Syclops, Egberto Gismonti, and Teddy Pendergrass.
- Learning about new music from exhibitors such as David Cope at Audio Note, Jeff Catalano at High Water Sound, and Gideon Schwartz at AudioArts.
- Sharing smiles and making new friends through music.

Even upon brief acquaintance, nearly everyone attending the show was in good spirits and open-armed to new lessons, fresh tunes, or simply sitting next to each other in peace and listening. I guess the cozy nature of the New York City subway pays for when it comes to getting comfortable with sitting closely with one another.

More than anything, the hi-fi show reminded me of a music festival. Everyone is there for the same reason: to enjoy the event and what it has to offer so happiness abounds. And why not make friends while you are at it? Either by greeting a familiar face who’s name you may not know or participating a in a brief conversation about the sound in the room, this is how audiophiles really get closer as a community, by joining together and enjoying the music, and this is what I experienced all weekend long.

As for the local NYC dealers who chose not to be a part of this event, there are obviously many costs in participating in audio shows: transportation fees, opportunity costs of time, dinners and airfare. Also room variables, such as bass control issues at the Waldorf=Astoria this past weekend, may not show your system in the best possible light. Despite these costs and setbacks, by negating their presence at the hi-fi show in their area local dealers are essentially removing themselves from legions of happy and ear-hungry audiophiles. Some New York and New Jersey dealers were present, including Ciamara, The Audio Doctor, High Water Sound, Sound by Singer, and Innovative Audio. Innovative also held an after-hours event for showgoers, a successful venture for the purpose of integrating the audiophile masses to their stores, rather than excluding them. To the audiophiles who did attend the show, what brands were showing off their products or the costs of getting there seemed to matter less than the act of listening together.

Anyone unsure about attending or exhibiting at the New York Audio & AV Show would feel encouraged by the many crowded rooms, the great music, and the overall excellent atmosphere. Hopefully, we’ll see you next year.

JasonVSerinus's picture

I am as happy to read this positive and upbeat report as I am to learn that over 2,000 tickets were sold for the show. Some were for one-day, some for two, and others for all three days. While there are no official figures for the number of unique attendees, the Chester Group must be satisfied; they have scheduled the second New York Audio & AV Show at the Waldorf=Astoria for April 5-7, 2013.


Thank you, Ariel. No longer are you an audio show virgin. It's a trip, isn't it?



audiodoctornj's picture

Whew, yes it's over, and I am still putting the showrooms back together again!

It was an exciting show to participate in.  I did get a chance to peek into a few other rooms, and it was obvious that this was quite a good show with some really top notch companies, as noted it would have been nice for the other New York retailers to have participated, and in that way everyone would be competing in the same arena.

The rooms in the Waldorf were very tricky; you had overly absorptive rooms with a bit of bass bloat which was a double whammy. We brought a boat load of Acoustic System resonators and Shakti Stones and a few tube traps to enable our Blade room to sound really good; I would have loved to show the Stereophile staff just how effective these tuning devices actually are.

All told my two rooms, Beekman and Lexington, were very busy and it was nice to meet some new people and catch up with some old friends and clients. The new KEF Blades were very popular and I think show goers were finally able to hear the superb Chord electronics which are very well respected in the UK, but relatively unknown in the US.

Boy It was also nice to finally get noticed,  I started Audio Doctor in 2005, and we did the 2007 Stereophile show, and although we had some great sound, we received  no critical notice, what a difference five years and  moving up in the audio world with some of the best vendors, makes.

I was a little sad that Audio Stream did not mention our world premiere of Ed Meitner's brand new DAC 2SE X high resolution DAC, $15,000.00.  I think Mr. Livonia would have been very impressed by this remarkable DAC which features all new next generation Meitner technology and it sounded amazing!

We had some server/driver/setup difficulties getting our high resolution 24/192 HD tracks to play on Friday, but on Saturday via a laptop viola we got HD tracks to play on the EMM Labs DAC and Bill Evans Waltz for Debbie sounded shockingly real! It was like Bill Evans was in the room, I only wish we had more time to really play with the HD stuff, we never got a chance to play the Esoteric D02 with the high resolution files.

It was nice to see the unique Merill Rubber turntable photographed by Art Dudley on the show report.

I have been really re-experiencing my love of vinyl and we came back from the show with the Kronos turntable plus lots of other exciting new gear.

Welcome back to New York, we finally have a good audio show and maybe next year all the areas players will actually participate. Thank you Art, Stephen, and John for visiting our rooms and taking pictures and posting some nice comments.



Dave Lalin, President, Audio Doctor,

ikymagoo's picture

Is there a Chicago audio show?

JasonVSerinus's picture

As far as I know, the shows closest to Chicago are Montreal's Salon Son et Image, which just passed, and Rocky Mountain Audiofest in Denver in October. RMAF and T.H.E. Show Newport June 1-3 are the biggest consumer shows in the U.S. proper, and draw the largest number of exhibitors. IMHO, if your budget allows, both are well worth the effort to attend. RMAF is like family, with large numbers of exhibitors atttending year after year.

bpw's picture

I would certainly consider exhibiting (I'm a dealer in the Chicago area), but only if the cost is somewhat tolerable. The unions make things prohibitively expensive and onerous for exhibitors. I heard horror stories about the costs of showing at HiFi 99, held downtown, which was the last audio show of any kind in Chicago.

To make it work for everyone, whoever puts on a show in the Chicago area needs to model it after RMAF and make it easy for exhibitors to bring in, move, and remove their equipment themselves without cost if they wish.

Al Stiefel (RIP) strongly considered doing a show here in Chicago. Alas, it didn't happen.

audiocaptain's picture

Your wish is AXPONA's command. There will be a show in The Doubletree hotel Rosemont O'Hare March 8-10 2013. Check out

christopher3393's picture

Another show for rich people.

Stephen Mejias's picture

I think I understand where you're coming from, and I, as much as anyone, would love to see an entire show dedicated to truly affordable, high-quality gear. But there was something for everyone to enjoy at the NY Audio & AV Show, just as there's something for everyone to enjoy at any hi-fi show. Single-day admission started at $17, and I bet you can afford that. No one says you have to buy anything once you get in; all you have to do is have a good time.

mav52's picture

I agree. I've been to a few of these audio shows in the last 2 years and yes the equipment is out of reach for most normal people, but having a chance to see and listen to new products and to met people that enjoy audio is well worth the price of admission