The Second (Northern) California Audio Show Starts Friday

The pendulum has swung back to the West Coast. Just one week after the Capital AudioFest, three weeks after AXPONA NYC, and six weeks after T.H.E. Show Newport Beach, the second California Audio Show is set to begin. Scheduled for July 15–17 in the Crowne Plaza SFO in Burlingame, the show is located just minutes from San Francisco Airport, a few giant steps from a major freeway, a free shuttle ride away from the airport's BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) stop, and an eight-minute walk from CalTrain's Broadway Station.

Show organizer Constantine Soo, founder and editor of, reports that the show currently promises 42 rooms of various sizes, all with active exhibits playing music. The list of exhibitors and brands, complete with a generous helping of California retailers, service providers, and distributors, includes a host of companies whose equipment resides in the homes and dreams of Stereophile readers.

Especially enticing are the seminars from Acoustic Science Corporation, Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems, Cookie Marenco's Blue Coast World, and MIT Cables (aka Music Interface Technologies). The latter two will attempt to look into the audiophile crystal ball, with MIT's "The Past, Present, and Future of High-Resolution Audio" coming directly after Marenco's "DSD—Then, Now, and Tomorrow."

Marenco's DSD seminar dovetails with the launch of Channel D's DSD-equipped Pure Music v1.8 computer playback software and the expected California Audio Show preview of Sonic Studio's forthcoming Amarra 2.3 with its own set of DSD features. Chris Connaker of will join Marenco to co-moderate a panel that includes original members of the Sony DSD design team, Gus Skinas of the Super Audio Center, Leslie Ann Jones of Skywalker Sound, and legendary Telarc engineer Michael Bishop of Five/Four Productions.

On an extraordinary system assembled by Tim Marutani Consulting for Blue Coast World in the Plaza Ballroom 1, Bishop will play many of his live-to-stereo DSD masters, including previews of new Five/Four direct-to-DSD masters and new FIM re-releases of great Telarc titles. State-of-the-art equipment from Magico, TAD, Constellation Audio, Continuum Audio Labs, and Bottlehead will unite with a cutting edge computer and reel-to-reel playback set-up. Expect a first hearing of Merging Technologies' new Emotion high-end media server. The Swiss company, known for its award-winning Pyramix Digital Audio Workstation, has for the first time managed to embed its DAW Audio Engine in a stereo, multi-channel, and multi-zone Media Server that handles PCM, DXD, and DSD.

Marutani also promises to showcase Bill Schnee's Bravura Records live-to-two-channel, 192/24 recordings and Reference Recordings' HRx 176.4/24 masters. He will even offer sneak previews of RR's forthcoming Reference Mastercuts LPs. Marenco, in turn, will also offer the show's only live performances, which she will record direct-to-DSD twice daily and upload for immediate free DSD downloading. These performances were packed at the 2010 California Audio Show.

Bay Area and California retailers are also making a strong showing. AudioVision San Francisco, which sat out last year's show, is sponsoring four different rooms, with gear from Devialet, KEF, Naim, Nola, Clearaudio Simaudio Moon, Dynaudio, Bel Canto, and Anthony Gallo sending a lot of music through Crystal Cable, Nordost, Shunyata, and Cardas.

"This is actually low key for us," AudioVision co-owner Randy Johnson explains. "We first opened the shop when Stereophile held its show in San Francisco's St. Francis Hotel. We had nine rooms, which put us on the map. We're never going to attempt something like that again!"

Hardly on the sidelines, the two rooms from Music Lovers Audio Video of San Francisco and Berkeley promise Wilson, Ayre, and a whole lot more. Audio Image Ltd. of Oakland, Soundscape of Santa Rosa, Loggie Audio of Redwood City, Angel City Audio of Rancho Cucamonga, Audible Arts of Campbell, High Value AV of Santa Cruz, and Bob Hodas Acoustic Analysis of Berkeley (pairing Focal with VTL) are some of the other California Dealers who will tout premium value equipment. In addition, from the Northwest, Puget Sound Studios will play some of its fine masterings of classic and new recordings. Apologies to anyone I've missed.

Soo may not be bringing a wine show, cigar show, classic car show, and pornography convention to Burlingame, but he is enticing people with great sound and astoundingly low admission rates. Online pre-registrants can attend all three days for $10; those who buy tickets at the door will shell out a hardly gargantuan $20 for a three-day pass.

Bay Area jazz station KCSM-FM will have a live booth at the show. Every hour, they'll interview attendees, and invite audio reviewers to answer questions from their listening audience.

"We're trying to bring fresh blood to the hotel," says Soo. "Our goal is to reach a music-loving public. I want to give people an opportunity to experience this hobby and passion of ours."

To ensure that your window on the show is just as fresh, Stephen Mejias will be blogging for Stereophile. Stay tuned.