T.H.E. Show Newport Beach Starts Friday

No sooner has the Munich Show ended than T.H.E. Show Newport Beach is set to commence. Running from May 30 through June 1 in the Hilton/Atrium hotel complex that lies directly across the street from Orange County's John Wayne Airport, Southern California's installment of T.H.E. Show promises well over 300 exhibitors in 180 active sound rooms, 40–45 additional headphone exhibits scattered over two Headphoniums and other locations, and at least 15 vendor booths crammed with goodies galore.

"We're sold out," veteran organizer Richard Beers declared by phone. "Believe it or not, I actually managed to squeeze in two more rooms in the last few days. I've also managed to keep 99% of hotel exhibit rooms staggered so sound doesn't bleed through the walls."

Getting solid figures out of Richard is not as easy as drawing blood. He has no problem saying, "Judging by pre-show ticket sales, we should easily hit 7500 people through the doors." But when you ask if that number describes unique visitors or total attendance, things get fuzzy. What you get instead is, "We all know this show is very crowded. It grows every year, and draws more consumers than any other similar audio show in North America. Which makes sense. There are 60 million people in Southern California."

Well, almost. According to Wikipedia, it's more like 22 million. Nonetheless, Southern California contains roughly 60% of California's population. Quite a few of those folks not only have lots of money, but also have a real love of music. In short, they have both the means and the motivation to flock to T.H.E. Show. And flock they do, especially on Saturday.

One of the reasons folks attend in such large numbers is that T.H.E. Show offers something for everyone. For those more interested in music than gear per se, there will be 35 hours of live entertainment. Those seeking other ways to spend their money may flock to the exotic car show—Richard promises a whole new crop of audio-equipped luxury models—the wine show, or even the cigar show.

But the main reason to attend is the enormous range of high-performance audio gear, which includes many North American debuts. "Roughly 60% of the exhibits will introduce new products," says Richard. "And we have five companies that are brand spanking new. There is new young blood in this industry."

A comprehensive list of new products is impossible to construct, but you can be sure that many products just unveiled in Munich will make their North American debuts in Newport Beach. I, for one, expect surprises galore.

One potential show highlight promises to be the unveiling of what is claimed to be the most fabulous home theater set-up ever exhibited. MBL, Sony, Kimber Kable, DataSat and Stewart Screens are teaming up with The Source AV Design Group of Redondo Beach to present what they are calling, "A theater system SO AWESOME, the likes never seen before." Another will be the huge range of seminars, which include Michael Fremer on turntable set-up and other specialists on DSD and computer audio.

Richard makes special note of the Stillpoints exhibit. The company is so confident that their new Aperture Acoustic Panels can help deliver good sound in acoustically impossible rooms that they're setting up shop in the Atrium's sonically compromised Sunset Lounge.

We've never before put active exhibits in the Sunset Lounge, which once was the hotel's nightclub, because its acoustics suck," says Richard."Half of its walls are glass from floor to ceiling, and it's got a domed ceiling that makes things sound even worse."

Will Stillpoints succeed? Will T.H.E. Show Newport Beach introduce new, game changing products that have the potential to receive one of Stereophile's Product of the Year awards? And will attendance in fact increase to the point that T.H.E. Show may have to consider relocating to a venue that accommodates even more visitors and exhibitors? If you can't make it down to Newport Beach to find out for yourself, please stay tuned to this network after show's end for detailed show coverage from yours truly.

junker's picture

I've just received word that the management has been forced to prohibit the playing of the old audiophile chestnuts: Patricia Barber, Rickie Lee Jones, Diane Krall, & Norah Jones. Thank you for your cooperation.

markus's picture

Don't put Patricia Barber in the same camp of Norah Jones and Diana Krall.
She is very talented and is NOT boring at all,and this from a guy who love from led zeppelin to earth wind and fire,from rick james to Chromeo,from miles davis to bach .

junker's picture

But really... how great would it be to hear Rick James' Superfreak at a hi-fi show?


Hi-Reality's picture


I'm privileged to live just 15 minutes from T.H.E. Show event and I really look forward to experience this year's. Checking on my phone, I will rely on Stereophile's (and its sister sites') daily reports in order to find out which room deliver a Hi-Reality performance level. If any(?)

I look forward to experience what The Source AV Design Group's constellation you mention will deliver and at what total price.

Regards, Babak,
Founder, www.Hi-Reality.org

Here are some photos I took from the last year's show: http://hi-reality.org/2013/05/31/t-h-e-home-entertainment-show-newport-beach-ca-2013-day-one/

Hi-Reality's picture

I got a ticket and went in at the end of the first day of the show. It was approx. half an hour demo and it was overall a fantastic performance! great great Audio Visual content/recordings along with a an excellent AV performance (they had worked 6 hours to tweak the audio performance using room acoustic technology from the Swedish DIRAC, one of the best in the world as I learned). But was it Hi-Reality? no, it wasn't.

I realize the quality of the content is really really essential. Towards the end they played some Sony-produced 4K material (with no sound) that was really good. In the neighboring room MBL used another set of of their gears (i.e. their Hi-End speakers) and played analogue tape recordings; it was definitely one of the best sounding systems I've ever heard, I've never heard Dire Straits Romeo & Juliet so good before. But even these golden AV moments were not Hi-Reality. The search must go on...

Regards, Babak
Founder, Hi-Reality.org

zimmer74's picture

Jason, the show was over more than 24 hours ago. Where is your report? This is the internet, not a snail-mail magazine!

Volti's picture

Geez, give the guy a break. Do you have any idea how difficult it is just to travel across the country these days? Let alone write anything of any value that we'd like to read. I hope Jason takes his time and delivers an interesting and well-written report, and if that takes a few days, it's really no big deal as far as I'm concerned.

corrective_unconscious's picture

No, no, Jason is the "Stereophile" writer who is not a meth addict. Please adjust your expectations accordingly.