The Home Entertainment Show Opens Today in Costa Mesa, CA

I had to pause for a moment when I saw the cover of the show guide. Could T.H.E. Show, aka The Home Entertainment Show, which opens today in the Hilton Orange County in Costa Mesa, really be North America's longest-running HiFi Audio Show?

Then it hit me. When I first started attending audio shows, there were only two big games in town: the late and lamented Stereophile Show, which moved around the country, and CES in Las Vegas. Nor was CES a monolith. For many of us, the parts of CES we loved the most and flocked to were not the exhibits in the jam-packed, noisy Las Vegas Convention Center but rather the far more manageable and negotiable high-end exhibits a fair distance away in the anything-but-glitzy, far-lower-key Alexis Park and, across the street, in the alternative, independent T.H.E. Show in the St. Tropez.

Years later, T.H.E. Show's co-owner Richard Beers may be gone, but T.H.E. Show lives on in Southern California with his partner, T.H.E. Show President Maurice Jung (above; Maurice has just emerged from an extended hospital stay including double-bypass surgery and a toe amputation) and his wife, T.H.E. Show Vice-President Emiko Carlin (below, addressing the exhibitors before the show opened). It's not the biggest of affairs. In the strangest show guide I've ever seen, which unfathomably lacks maps of floors, I count approximately 141 brands. Beyond those with booths in the marketplace, I'm told there are "40 or 50" active exhibit rooms on the ground, first, and second floors. [I am told that there are five full floors in total.--Jim Austin]

When I couldn't find any listing of the show's hours in the guide, multiple searches finally led me from T.H.E. Show's Facebook page to its new webpage. That's where I learned that Friday's hours are 12–6, with press invited to roam as early at 10AM. (We'll see who's actually ready for business then.) Saturday's hours are 10–6, and Sunday's 12–5. There are a bunch of seminars, many from people promoting products, and an enticing Saturday night concert. And, last but not least, there's the music and camaraderie.

Please stay tuned over the next week for lots of show reports, with a special focus on companies I did not cover at either AXPONA or Munich.

jimtavegia's picture

Does anyone have a take as to why there seems to be a uptick in the number of audio shows in '23? Is this being manufacturer driven in order to get folks to see their products?

I am wondering if traffic at dealer's stores is way down in '23 even with the fear of covid at a low point? I have been to one of my main dealers twice this year and bought something each time, but it is over a hour away and why I don't go more is Atlanta traffic.

MatthewT's picture

That costs less than a new car.

jimtavegia's picture

that I was the only one to think this way as well. I talked to a large dealer last night for quite a while and he could not believe the prices and where the market was going.

The Davos crowd will have more things to ponder buying.

Ortofan's picture

... 50 years ago to the equipment then being sold by the local high-end audio dealer, which was the one selling McIntosh products.

The typical system sold to doctors, lawyers and other professionals consisted of a McIntosh MAC1900 receiver, a Dual 1229 turntable/changer with a Shure M91ED cartridge and either a pair of AR 3a or JBL L100 speakers. System cost back then was about $1,800, or about $13K, today.

The "ultimate" system was a set of McIntosh separates, a Thorens TD-125 turntable with SME tonearm and Shure V15 III, plus either a pair of AR LST or JBL L200 speakers. Total cost was about $4K, or about $28K now.

For comparison, in that era, a compact Ford Pinto or Chevy Vega cost just over $2K, a Cadillac or Lincoln was about $8K and a Mercedes 300SEL 6.3 was $15K.

Anton's picture

Appreciation to you in advance!

jimtavegia's picture

My first system was a Fisher 500TX, Dual 1209 with a Pickering XV 750 and a pair of Dynaco A-25, which even my non-audiophile wife really like this system. All under $800.00 .

As good as this system was, I have mostly been in headphone land over the last 3 years. None of my Preamp/receiver systems even approached the quality of either my Schiit headphone amps; whether the Asgard, Vali, or both versions of the Magni, and with my 2 Project S2 DAC/amps, with my AKG K701s, recommended by the late Wes Phillips.

I say this as I had been doing quite a bit of recording in the last 10 years prior to Covid using ("Pro???) headphone amps only to find out they couldn't even come close the quality and definition of the Schiit products for way less money. I have since ditched all three of those "Pro" headphone amps.

As I look to possibly getting a BenchMark DAC 3 by years end, I wonder how much better can it be; certainly, the digital conversion will be better, but the headphone sound quality vs. the Schiit? I will have to wait and see about that. I am really shocked at the sound quality of the Schiit gear for such a low price.

The one thing about headphone listening is that I take my speaker problems and my room issues out of the equation. Room reflections and resonances are always a problem.

I often think that the new Marantz products in the 30, 40 and 50 series are probably close to what I started with, but with many more features and the digital possibilities. The made overseas plays a part in that as well. There are improvements even considering inflation in affordable gear today that will cost multiple $thousands that are about = to what I spent in 1971/72.

Ortofan's picture

... a Benchmark DAC, then you might also want to consider a DAC from RME, such as their ADI-2 DAC FS. If you have a need for ADC functionality, as well, then look to the ADI-2/4 Pro SE.

jimtavegia's picture

I like the price to that RME DAC.

SanDiegoBrit's picture

Attended the show on Saturday. There is plenty to see, and a few notable absentees. But this is the post-pandemic era and we're just getting used to cramming into small hotel room again. Kudos to Scott Walker Audio for some amazing demos. The MSB+Estelon setup was amazing as you'd expect for $420K. The Triangle Art turntable is 'must visit' room for vinyl lovers ($130k w/o arm or cartridge). And the Class D amps from AGD were a real surprise. Revolutionary? There was something for everyone here. I just hope the show becomes a staple for SoCal. Well done to the organizers. Things are certainly looking up in the hi-fi world....