It's a Wrap: AXPONA Reflections

Exciting. Engrossing. Exhausting. Enjoyable. Nothing but e-words from me. I could go on, but not without breaking out the thesaurus. —Rogier van Bakel, Stereophile's newest Contributing Editor

Numbers are one thing. At AXPONA 2022, those numbers included 7498 unique visitors, plus 98 incontrovertibly unique members of the press, 138 active exhibit rooms, and a large number of Ear Gear and marketplace exhibits. 220 showgoers attended Friday's 8pm Blues Night with Toronzo Cannon, and 300 defied expo burnout to enjoy Lori Lieberman on Saturday at 8.

But numbers mean only so much. This AXPONA was all about emotion.

"I'm no writer, but it was as if we all rose up out of hibernation," Stereophile's General Manager Keith Pray wrote in an email. "Vibrant, alive, and fun ... It felt like we all needed to see and talk to each other."

"I recently came across a word that I can't say I've ever heard in casual conversation, but that I think perfectly encapsulates how I would describe the overall feeling at AXPONA," wrote Emron Mangelson, dCS Audio's Head of Sales for North America. "That word is 'propinquity.' Propinquity is defined as 'the state of being close to someone or something.' Our industry is small and close-knit. I got a sense of the joy that permeated AXPONA—the sense of being able to gather with friends and colleagues over this unique passion for excellence in reproduced music performance. The 'Propinquity Effect' was palpable."

These sentiments encapsulate the feedback I've received from dozens of people. Another one of my colleagues, Julie Mullins, wrote, "It felt wonderful, even a little weird, to be back, foreign yet familiar. The energy was palpable. People—exhibitors, attendees, press—were clearly happy to be there. Only regret: There were too many exhibits and people to see in under three days, as time flew by. It's good to be back."

Not everything was hunky dory—when is it ever? While Norman D. Varney of AV RoomService enthused over his reception in the Expo Marketplace, another exhibitor spoke to less people than he'd hoped. For COVID-sensitive people like myself who chose to wear masks and avoid group dining, the sense of connection was truncated.

And for Mike Manousselis and the folks at Dynaudio, tragedy intervened.

"I'm sure I speak for everyone at Dynaudio when I say we were truly looking forward to returning to AXPONA, especially after the two-year absence due to the pandemic," Mike wrote. "But on Tuesday, we learned that our dear colleague (and a friend to many in the industry) Mick Tillman had passed away suddenly.

"Losing a dear friend, an incredible person, and such an integral member of our Dynaudio family—someone who had become like a brother to me over the decades we have worked together—made AXPONA the last place I wanted to be. I didn't think I could've gotten through the show, but the incredible amount of support, compassion, and humanity that so many industry colleagues and friends demonstrated made it possible. I won't name the names of those who truly stood out, but I trust that each knows who they are and how appreciative I am.

"We will all miss Mick dearly, but I hope we were able to honor him and make him proud. I always tell people that our shared passion for music and audio attracts so many purely good people into the industry. What I experienced this weekend made me feel thankful, honored, and privileged to be a part of the high-end audio community."

And there you have it. Even as many of us weep for what is happening around the world and mourn immeasurable losses, including those from the ongoing pandemic, we count our blessings and rejoice in our shared passion and the humanity it helps to reinforce. AXPONA 2022 brought music and camaraderie back home to our hearts, where they belong. It brought us together with what gives us sustenance, hope, and joy. It is for the joy, and for all who made it possible, that we give thanks.

Many more shows and discoveries await. Will we see you there?

rschryer's picture

And I'm going to venture a guess here and say that at 74 individual reports, this AXPONA 2022 show coverage must constitute the biggest show coverage of any in the history of Stereophile! Perhaps even the biggest ever published by anyone, in the history of the world! Maybe even in the history of the universe! Whoa, I feel small.

Fantastic job everyone.

John Atkinson's picture
rschryer wrote:
Fantastic job everyone.

Yes, the Stereophile team rocked mightily! Terrific reporting.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

windansea's picture

Great job, lots of info for those of us who could not make it there. Thank you all.

Anton's picture

Thank you.

Sticker shock is a recurring sensation for me, but there were fanfares of Hi Fi for the common man, too! If I can no longer aspire, I can at least live vicariously!!

Really great coverage.

tonykaz's picture

Is this a strong show attendance nowadays ? considering we're exploding out of Covid restrictions and rather anxious to breath Free & Fresh Air again.

What's the purpose of this Show? is it to attract New Dealers ? or is it for established manufacturers to show a bit of life and new product?

It seems like these Audio Shows are some sort of Entertainment Venue that Manufacturers have to pay a hefty price for the chance of having a brief performance display. I wonder if Full Page Adverts in Stereophile would'nt be a better investment ?

Schiit has an important new Powerhouse Tyr Mono Amp ( $1,500 ea. ) that I didn't see on display or read about , why weren't they at this Show? .

I guess the Audio World has changed , I miss the good old days of CES and WCES. oh well

Tony in Florida Keys

ps. maybe the extravagant prices for new Audio Gear is reflective of the extravagant costs associated with manufacturers having to attend all these various Events of the pricy Audio Show Circuit

Jack L's picture

......... attend all these various Events" qtd Tonykaz

Yup. No free lunch, my friend.

Jack L

tonykaz's picture

I can't quite understand who these Shows are for.

Are they to attract new Dealers for Product Lines ? -- Like they always were ?

Are they to sell product to civilians directly ? Which would typically be a no-no !

Are they to get free Magazine column inches of favourable commenting ?

Are they to attract important reviewers to request long term "review samples" ?


Are they to simply provide a place to Show-Off and socialise with industry peers?

Tyll Hersten would do fascinating Video Interviews at the few Shows he covered, we don't seem to see any of that in-depth reporting lately.

John Atkinson would also do some outstanding Show Coverage with brilliant insights.

I wonder if our lovely hobby can restore itself to previous levels of thrilling excitement ???

Tony in Florida

Jack L's picture


Public shows are for showing the world on whatever carried by the show hosts. Audio is for whoever interested in audios.

When big money spent on hosting the shows, such money got to be recovered from selling the products/services by adding it to the pricing of the products/services. Finally it digs deeper into the consumers' pockets.

This is business, not charity !

Jack L

tonykaz's picture

Thinking as a Manufacturer having participated in Show exhibiting, it appears that the only Business being done is the Business of Show Organising .

How many of the 7,500 came with intensions of making a purchase decision ? , it certainly wasn't revealed by any of the reporting. I would've been asking folks what they heard and loved enough to purchase.

People pay a cover charge ( the organisers keep ) , wander around, collect literature and have a nice day out with a friend and fellow traveler .

As a Manufacturer ( retired ), I don't quite see the Business Formula for little Shows like this.

Tony in Florida

ps. I could just call up Keven Deal and see if he picked-up any new dealers. He's the most aggressive guy in Audio today. ( I think )

Lazer's picture

The purpose of AXPONA or any other audio show is to sell products….to consumers, directly or through dealers. That’s it. Personally, I had a great time.

tonykaz's picture

So, to clear up my confusion, you feel this Show is an Entertainment Venue ?

Did you buy anything ? Did you notice anyone buying ?

I used to spend around $10,000 to do a Show like this, so I'd have to sell $50,000 worth to break even.

We call this hobby an "Industry", can we have the "Industry" report now?

Tony in Florida

Lazer's picture

Whether or not I bought something doesn’t change the purpose of the show. Obviously, the purpose is to sell products. Your “confusion” seems more like obstinate skepticism to me.

But to answer your question which asks for an anecdotal answer….YES, I did make a couple of purchases at the show and I saw others doing the same.

Lanny in Minnesota

tonykaz's picture

You make a good observation , I think.

I'm pleased they were allowed to sell at that Show and that you found something that demonstrated well enough to make an immediate investment. I've never done a Show were sales were tolerated or even encouraged.

Shows like this would be exciting if all the Vendors could sell enthusiastically, it would and could cover the overhead costs of exhibiting and help in building customer relationships.

Thanks for writing back.

Tony in Florida

Julie Mullins's picture

I'm pleased they were allowed to sell at that Show and that you found something that demonstrated well enough to make an immediate investment. I've never done a Show were sales were tolerated or even encouraged.

I heard unsolicited remarks from at least a few vendors at the show who felt they'd done well with sales at the show. One said he sold 42 of his components. Granted, the comments came from companies that sell directly, at least in part. Others who only sell through dealers tell me they do shows in part to obtain press coverage as well as gain more direct exposure to consumers in the marketplace.

tonykaz's picture

thank you for your revealing Industrial Response about vendors selling direct , press coverage and the hope for consumer exposure .

I was wondering where the hopeful new Dealers were & how many were there ?, why weren't entire product lines on display ?, why didn't Stereophile and ABS have booths demonstrating the wisdoms of Magazine Advertising ?, even the Floor Planners like Westinghouse weren't offering business opportunities.

What happened to our lovely industry ? even my mother was an audiophile , back in the Day !

Now that all Europe seems to be at War again, I wonder if their beautiful & vibrant Home Audio Industry will collapse like what seemed to have happened to the USA?

Thank you for taking the time to write,

Tony in Florida

Jim Austin's picture

Stereopile did have a booth--do you think we needed to cover this in our online show coverage? I'm not involved in ad sales, and I would not comment here even if I was.

Stereophile's focus at the show as on covering what was there--especially new equipment. But if you want to learn about new dealers, stay tuned: Julie will be covering that in upcoming Re-Tales columns.

For what it's worth, I think our industry is doing just fine. For the moment, Russia's war on Ukraine seems to have affected mainly the supply of Russia-made tubes, and that only temporarily. The biggest issues for our industry seem still to be supply-chain issues that started during COVID. Business continues to be good. Sales remain brisk. I expect to learn more about the effects of the war (if any) on our industry when I attend Munich in a couple of weeks. This war is a very serious thing, but not so much for audiophiles.

And if the Ukraine war were to spill over into other parts of Europe--well, then we have more serious issues to contend with than whether we can get that new Swiss hi-fi component we've been wanting.

Jim Austin, Editor

tonykaz's picture

Considering that we're just coming out of Covid Lock-down, I'd thought that a Gala Esprit de Corp would permeate Show Coverage including Smiling Faces at the Stereophile Booth. It wouldn't cost. Tyll Hersten would regularly cover all the print industry folks at the Shows he covered. Why the sudden bashfulness ? I even recall Jason whistling at one of his Shows.

It makes sense that New Dealers would be the major focus of a Show like this, brief introductions would be welcome and exciting, doncha think ? ( I hope that there were some )

I too would like to think that this industry is "doing just fine" but other industries are attracting youthful devotees like the small Gun Show that just took place in Southern Florida. Young men & women ( with small children ) were participating in all forms of firearms sports. I'm not a Gun person, I don't own any firearms or even support that industry but they share an excitement that we once enjoyed, they are drawing consumers on a large scale which exemplifies what we once had in Home Audio. I carry around a high performance personal Audio System and yet I never meet any civilian that still has more than a Sound Bar much less a 33.3 system or even a CD player. "just fine" seems apologetic.

In Europe , Covid knocked out the Public Audio Show Industry ( I'm sure you realise ) , now we're concerned about the looming energy shortage and cutbacks in economic Forecasting related to GDP. The Gloom & Doom coming out of the EU & NATO nations is a horror , especially the 6 month forecasts. Egads, brace yourself ! The Logistics Industries ( shipping and transportation ) are cringing.

High End at the Premier WCES -- Las Vegas is gone

RMAF the finest Audio Show is Gone

Just Fine doesn't look so good any more.

Still: Schiit and PS Audio seem to be doing quite nicely ( maybe even Kevin Deal )

Tony in Florida

ps. and we have the worthy LP12 on the front cover of Stereophile with prose from it's best writer, hurray !!! ( all the others are wonderful too ! )

Anton's picture

Did any exhibitor use cable lifters to keep their speaker cables off the floor?