Your Show of Shows: Newport Beach 2013 Starts Friday

In only its third year, T.H.E. Show Newport Beach has already become the largest consumer high-end/high-performance/fine-audio show in the United States. Running May 31–June 2 in the Hilton and Atrium Hotels, directly across the street from southern California's surprisingly low-key Orange County/John Wayne airport, the booked-to-the-max show promises 140 active exhibit rooms, an estimated 450 manufacturers from around the globe, and enough ancillary events to rival a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey three-ring circus.

Except that there are a lot more rings.

Anytime you want to kick back and take your mind off audio equipment, there are more enticements than you can shake a cable at. How about a cigar show, fine wine show, and car show (on the Hilton tennis court for starters? The latter promises the Tesla S electric sedan; the GTM, "one of the fastest cars on earth;" and 15 other autos, some far more expensive than a Wilson Alexandria XLF. To enable you to keep up with the GTM, you can head to the nine food trucks, including the enticing Lobsta Truck, Tamarindo Truck, and Rolling Sushi Van.

On Friday and Saturday after hours, as it were, the Atrium parking lot will be transformed into an outdoor theatre showing Avatar and Pixar Short Films Vol.1. Those seeking more of the "live" experience, albeit amplified, can fill one of the 300 seats near the Atrium pool bar from noon to 6, or the Hilton courtyard in the evening, to enjoy the likes of Tierney Sutton, Nnenna Freelon, Mike Garson, Audra Lee, Dean Peer, William Artope Jr, Nina Storey, and the Extreme Guitar Duo. Or they can listen to Arnold Martinez and Michael Mercer spin platters by the pool.

Speaking of platters, there are two places you can buy them: at the 1500 square feet of LPs and CDs for sale in the Hilton Marketplace, or at the 2200 square foot Vinyl Ballroom by the Atrium pool. (Bob Levi, President of the Los Angeles & Orange County Audio Society, says the Vinyl Ballroom occupies 3000 square feet). Given how much is going on poolside, and how many attendees are expected—two weeks before show's opening, there were at least 2000 pre-registrants—they're going to need a traffic cop, or at least a stoplight, by the pool.

Too much fun in the sun? How about visiting the 2000 sq. ft. Headphonium Ballroom in the Atrium, where at least 20 headphone exhibitors will attempt to can you with their wares. JVC and Dynaudio also plan to pack their ballrooms with goodies. You can also kick back in the LAOCAS's Hospitality Suite at the Hilton, which promises $5 discount coupons for many of the software vendors, or the San Diego Music & Audio Guild's Hospitality Suite at the Atrium.

Last but not least, you can attend any or all 16 seminars, not the least of which are three that include Stereophile editor John Atkinson: Friday's kick-off seminar at noon, "Garbage In, Garbage Out!" and Friday and Saturday 's "Meet the Editors" panels. Also from Stereophile, Michael Fremer will join JA at Saturday's Editors panel, and also lead "Turntable Set-Up Demystified" events on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. From our online sister publication,, Tyll Hertsens will participate in "Headphones: The Good, Bad, and Ugly."

Exhibit Premieres
Richard Beers, President of T.H.E. Show, was too blitzed from putting all this together (with more than a little help from his friends) to even think of assembling a list of show premieres, and Levi was too busy counting his new members. (Given that LAOCAS offers free show admission to new members, the society's membership has swelled from 600 to 1400 in the past three years.) But together with Lucette Nicoll, publicist extraordinaire, Stereophile has uncovered a number of US consumer audio show premieres. While the list is far from complete, it contains enough ear-opening enticements to make show attendance a necessity.

In no particular order, let's start with the new line of Hartvig Audio turntables from Denmark. Reite Audio shows its new phono stage, line stage, monoblock power amplifiers, and headphone amplifier. Speaking of which, The Cable Company displays its new Hi-End Headphone home audition library, and debuts on the West Coast the Abyss headphones and Cavalli "Liquid-Gold" amplifier.

Lawrence Audio displays the new Cello floor-standing loudspeakers. EAR USA brings Marten's new Django L loudspeaker, a smaller version of what has been renamed the Django XL. Nola debuts the stand-mounted Micro Grand Reference Gold, designed for smaller rooms. Kharma, back after too long an absence from these shores, displays the new Elegance dB9 Signature, part of an Elegance line that succeeds the Ceramique line. ENIGMAcoustics unveils the Sopranino, "the world's first self-biased electrostatic speaker," and the Mythology, a compact bookshelf full-range series.

Not to be outdone, YG Acoustics presents the US debut of the Sonja 1.2 loudspeaker, a two-module version of their flagship Sonja 1.3. Earo Acoustics makes the first public presentation of their ultra-thin Wally loudspeaker, Onda Ligera shows their loudspeakers and electronics for the first time in the US, and AAudio Imports debuts Capriccio Continuo's Auralea 309 curved loudspeaker. From TEAC in distributor mode come three never shown Cabasse loudspeakers, the Pacific 3SE, wireless Stream 3, and Minorca.

TEAC also shows the TEAC UD-501 dual-mono DAC with USB and DSD streaming, and M2Tech HIFACE DAC, a USB stick-sized baby (think AudioQuest Dragonfly in size and price) that decodes up to 24-bit data at 384kHz, which is nothing to scoff at. Sunny Components promises a bunch of new products: Wadia Intuition 01, which seems to be a one-piece DAC/amplifier that can handle 384/32 via USB; Isotek EVO3 Elite power cables, Premiere power cables, Genesis power regenerator, and Super Titan power conditioner; and Sunny Mediacube. Some of these will make music with Wilson Audio's Alexia loudspeaker, which should make for quite an interesting demo. Cary Audio introduces the new DAC 100t vacuum tube asynchronous USB DAC, which also comes in a solid-state version and processes up to 24/192.

Acoustic Sounds promised new pressings of recordings by Patsy Cline, Phoebe Snow, Elvis, the Doors, Norah Jones and "much more." LKV Research introduces the Phono 2-SB phonostage, and Dynamic Sounds Associates (DSA) brings their direct-from-the-manufacturer Phono II phono preamplifier. Optimal Enchantment debuts the two-chassis Reference Phono 10 phono stage.

Red Dragon Audio debuts their latest 1000- and 500-watt amplifiers. Empirical Audio debuts their Final Drive transformer buffer, meant for insertion between components. Bob's Devices introduces two new step-up transformers, the SKY 30 and, for VPI turntables, the VPI-SUT. True Audiophile shows the 24W Audion Super Sterling 120, claimed to be the world's single-ended KT120 stereo amplifier.

Expect lots of cable premieres. For starters, look for Teresonic's new Clarison Digital cables, paired with two other product introductions, the Baetis Audio XR music server and Metrum Acoustics HEX DAC. Nordost brings their long-awaited Valhalla 2 line, which completes their new cable line-up. Synergistic Research introduces their new top-of-the-line actively shielded Galileo LE interconnects, speaker cable, and power cords, which will be paired with VAC amplification and Magico Q7 speakers. Not to be outdone, WyWires introduces the Platinum Series interconnects and Gold USB cable with Bybee Slipstream Purifiers. And Shunyata Research, another inhabitant of the Sunny Components rooms, introduces five new products: the eight-outlet Hydra AV, PS 8 Venom power strip with its optional Venom Defender module, Venom HC power cord, and Venom HDMI.

T.H.E. Show Newport Beach kicks off on Friday, May 31, at 10:30AM in the Hilton Lobby. Join John Atkinson, Michael Fremer, Robert Harley, and David Robinson as they cut the gold ribbon, then dash for safety as thousands follow the yellow brick road to Music La-La Land. On Saturday and Sunday, the show starts at 10AM; on all three days, it ends at 6PM. JA and I will be on hand to share as many show highlights as possible with you.

MikeMercer's picture

Thanks so very much for the amazing write-up on T.H.E Show Newport Jason!!  We've been working our tails off to make this event FUN, with a variety of stuff to see and hear!

When Richard asked me to take on The Headphonium (I'm co-producing it and hand-picked the majority of the companies showing) I wasn't sure what I could do!  I've never done anything like that (just write about that stuff, or, exhibit when I worked for an audio company) before - but I've been having a BLAST editorially with personal audio lately as you know.

Plus getting to work beside Lucette in the promotion (I love her, she's AWESOME) and aid in the social media side of things has been terrific!

I'm proud to work for these amazing people (Richard, Lucette and Bob) and, having worked for RMAF for years (handling Marjories social media) we were able to pool all our passions and this is the result!

I hope to see you at the DJ event at some point!  I won't be playing loud house music this time.  I'm going to provide some cool ambience poolside!  Well, maybe a LITTLE house music!