T.H.E. Show Newport Beach Starts Friday

"Bigger, bigger, bigger...more, more, more!" That's how Richard Beers, President of The Home Entertainment Show Newport Beach, aka T.H.E. Show Newport Beach, describes the second installment of what he and co-conspirator Bob Levi, President of the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society (LA&OC Audio Society), wryly call "An Audio Tradition...Since Last Year."

Scheduled for Friday June 1–Sunday June 3 in sunny Orange County, California's red state within a blue state, the second annual T.H.E. Show Newport Beach has already expanded from the Hilton Hotel, right across the street from the John Wayne/Orange County Airport, to the adjacent Atrium Hotel. Just shy of 300 exhibitors are expected to fill 80 hotel rooms and 15 huge exhibit rooms in the Hilton, 10 or 12 booths in the Hilton "Marketplace," and another 35–40 hotel rooms and 15 huge exhibit rooms in the Atrium.

Exhibit totals are approximate. Beers, who describes himself as the guy whisking by at the show exclaiming, "Oh my God" while sustaining himself on coffee, alcohol, and nicotine, hasn't had time to do the math. But any way you total it, T.H.E Show Newport Beach promises a helluva lot of exhibits.

So many attractions also lead to a projection of mammoth attendance. Last year, Beers claims over 6500 unique visitors attended a brand-new show that this year includes an even bigger car show, a cigar show, and a wine-tasting display. (More on this below). Add in the Friday and Saturday night performances by jazz greats Tierney Sutton and Mike Garson, Friday and Saturday's after-hours dancing and pool parties jointly sponsored by retailer Brooks Berdan and manufacturer Burmester, and Jennifer Warnes shucking her famous blue raincoat on Saturday afternoon to autograph albums and socialize with fans, and you can well understand why he and Levi expect up to 9000 unique visitors this year.

Thankfully, most rooms, big and small, have solid walls, rather than air walls. Beers takes special care to checkerboard exhibits to avoid any potential "Clash of the Mighty Subwoofers" scenarios.

For those needing a break from it all, look to the Hilton's Aura Lounge in the lobby, the LA&OC Audio Society Hospitality Suite, and Positive Feedback Hospitality Room, the Atrium's Pool-Side Bar (with all-day entertainment), San Diego Music and Audio Guild's Hospitality Suite, and Berdan Records' Hospitality Lounge and Classic Vinyl Display. Rumors that there will be several padded cells for journalists, errant bloggers, and those who scream that they're not getting enough for their money have not been confirmed at press time.

One thing that is confirmed is tons of vinyl. "Probably more than any other show you can think of," says Beers. "Acoustic Sounds' Chad Kassem arrived with pallets of records last year, and left with an armful." And you know what has happened on the vinyl front on the last 12 months. That's why Michael Fremer's seminar, "Turntable Setup Secrets," on Saturday and Sunday afternoons is sure to be filled to overflowing, as will the seven or eight Record Collector booths, and others from suspects usual and unusual.

The seminar space only has 75 seats, so be sure to arrive early or prepare to sit on someone's lap if you want to attend Sunday's late morning "Meet the Press, aka Roast the Reviewers," for which John Atkinson and Michael Fremer will arrive pre-tanned. They won't be alone; six reviewers from other publications plus moderator Robert Harley will make for a panel so large that know-it-alls in the audience had best wear their running shoes.

John Atkinson giving his seminar on what speaker measurements mean at the 2011 Axpona.

In addition, a seminar on loudspeaker measurements, presented by JA at 1:30pm on Friday, starts off a line-up that includes sessions on headphones, tubes, speaker design, super high-resolution, and one on "Listening to the Science of Audio." Some seminars will be repeated; check the show program for details.

Attendeees will also be lined up for 10 rotating food trucks that cater to upscale clients. "I still want to know what Gourmet Mac & Cheese is," says Beers, "but I'm not sure they're going to make it. The rest is very fusion high-end stuff—it ain't your old man's hot dog stand."

Which reminds me of the time I visited the Nathan's hot dog stand on Long Island, on the way to Long Beach, back in the late '50s. As one of my fellow high school students, who was working there for the summer, took my order, he queried, "With or without the flies?" Maybe his name was Richard Beers.

But I digress. Beers promises a "much better" auto show with less classic and more high-performance cars, including one worth $1.4 million. There will be 20 unique cars altogether—Bugatti, Ferrari, a high-end Mercedes—competing for your attention with wine and cigars; entertainment that includes Dean Peer, Anne Bisson (a regular at Montreal's Salon Son et Image), Bill Artope, Jr., and lots more. Check out the entertainer photos and videos here.

You can also expect the debut of a recent cut of a documentary on musician Steve White, by videographer Clint Burkett; and, lest we forget, more equipment than you can possibly shake your cables at.

You can find a list of all the exhibitors here. Note that those beginning with letter "A" alone amount to 27! Virtually all the big guns, including some you don't yet know about, will be present, some with new product. Several headphone companies will present alternatives to the big YGs, Wilsons, Focals, TADs, and Magicos of the world.

John Atkinson, Stephen Mejias, and yours truly will be posting blogs, both during the show and for the remainder of the following week. If you can't be there, stay tuned to this network for your virtual passport to high-end heaven.

remlab's picture

But I'm bummed that JA's speaker measurement presentation happens only on Friday. Oh well..

John Atkinson's picture

But I'm bummed that JA's speaker measurement presentation happens only on Friday.

My plan is to video the session and post it as a streamed video sometime after the Show. - JA