Final Words

So, all in all, how was it?

Let me break it down. On the one hand, handshakes were replaced with fist and elbow bumps, real smiles by eyes smiling over masks, whispers by conversations at regular volume. There were fewer attendees than at prepandemic shows, and fewer exhibitors. That situation will surely improve with time.

On the other hand, everyone there seemed to be having a good time. You could feel it in the air, the vibe; it felt like a mixture of relief and gratitude to be back among fellow audio passionates, reuniting with old friends and familiar faces, and seeing new faces, some of them young, with wide eyes and a spring in their step. Together, all of us, like a devoted flock of audio disciples, visited rooms that had incredible gear. We talked about gear and listened to great music. It’s part of our faith. It’s in our hearts.

I didn't meet one visitor or exhibitor who had a bad thing to say about their experience at the show. If there was one telling barometer of our industry’s state, it was the number of women and young people I saw—a larger proportion than I’ve ever seen before at a show.

So, “how was it?” It was great.

John Atkinson's picture
You make me wish I had been there, Rob.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

rschryer's picture

Thank you, John.

MFK's picture

Thank you very much for your excellent coverage (writing and photos) of the show. A few themes seem apparent in the industry: integrated amplifiers can compete with separates, impressive equipment is being designed in many countries (not just the USA, Canada, northern Europe and Japan), vinyl is still important and a wonderful system can be put together for a reasonable price (i.e. under 20k CDN).

rschryer's picture

And I think your observations are on point.

thatguy's picture

" it felt like a mixture of relief and gratitude to be back among fellow audio passionates,"

The first time I went to a restaurant after things opened back up, it hit me how nice it was hearing people around us laughing and having a good time.

After months of eating takeout at home or in the car (for the places that were farther away) I had forgotten that being around happy people can be such a good thing.

rschryer's picture

We, even the most timid among us, are social animals.

We need to feel connected, and the show helped me reconnect.

thatguy's picture

I also didn't realize how much I missed reading about audio shows. Thanks for the coverage.

rschryer's picture

It was great to be back at a hi-fi show. Felt like old times.

Thanks for reading my report.

Anton's picture

Were the anti-mask/anti-vax liberty protestors trying to disrupt the show a distraction?

Asking as someone who lives in what used to be the United States.

rschryer's picture

But that's probably because they didn't know about the show. Having a hobby that flies under the radar of mainstream interests has its advantages.

Ortofan's picture

... room/system reports.

Was there no room set up with some sort of budget-priced system?

For example, based upon the exhibitor list of manufacturers, someone could have set up a system with the Rotel CD11 Tribute CD player and the A11 Tribute integrated amplifier, the Pro-Ject Debut PRO turntable and a pair of the QUAD S-2 speakers. US price is about $3,600, so about $4,500 Canadian. Add an inexpensive streaming device of your choice and the system price could still be under $4K USD/$5K CAD.

rschryer's picture

I saw no systems that fit that budget (nor was there a headphone "space" at the show this year, where prices surely would've been more affordable), but maybe I'll encounter a few at the Montreal Audiofest in March.

I found that the systems exhibited in Toronto were on average bigger and more expensive than those I typically see at the Montreal Audiofest.

I'll keep an eye out for more budget stuff when I'm there.

Ortofan's picture

... what you've been doing. JA1 has noted that coverage of lower cost products doesn't sell magazines - especially when it's featured on the cover.

Nevertheless, your observation that the proportion of younger attendees was larger than you've noticed at prior shows makes me wonder if they found the typical price tags for most of the equipment on demonstration to be off-putting, or not. If so, are such displays doing more harm than good to the hi-fi industry in terms of trying to sustain its existence by attracting a younger clientele?

Would there be many takers, do you suppose, if a dealer were to display a system configured and priced similar to the example I posted above? Include the necessary interconnects and speaker wire, along with a power strip so that only one outlet is needed to power everything up. The system could be picked up at the dealer for the advertised price, or offered with delivery (and maybe set up) for a modest additional charge. The dealer could create and post a video on YouTube showing how to set up and connect the system.

rschryer's picture

And yeah, seeing so many young faces at this show convinced me that we need to exhibit more reasonably-priced gear to get them interested—to make them feel that they don't need to be rich to enjoy our hobby.

"If the bait's too big, the fish nibbles, but it won't get hooked." - old audiophile proverb.

Ortofan's picture

... that they don't need to be rich to afford an audio system that will enable them to enjoy their favorite music reproduced with a greater level of fidelity than they would have experienced when using earbuds or a bluetooth speaker.

rschryer's picture


coolerking's picture

I was pleasantly surprised in reading this. It's nice to hear something with some heart in it. Some very light sentimentality amongst the crisp, bright, black and white, logical, and analytical content of almost all audio coverage is well received here. Thank you.

rschryer's picture

You're welcome, Mr. McQueen. ;-)

Terry Clark's picture

Agree with previous posts re lack of “budget” systems. Although I’m in the older group who have built very nice sounding rigs over many years, I felt the lack of reasonably priced audio would not do much to attract a younger audience. Think of it this way: I love my VPI, but the manufacturer may not be around in 10 years when I might need parts, if no new customers come to the hobby/brand. Yes, I enjoyed about 8 hours of audio equipment bliss, but frankly at age 59 I was likely younger than the average attendee. I believe maybe 25% of the equipment on display needs to be obtainable for everyone. Think ahead, peeps!!