An open letter to RMAF Vendors 2014

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. Read 15417 times.

Pez

An open letter to RMAF Vendors 2014
« on: 14 Oct 2014, 08:14 pm »
I hope there are a few of you out there reading this. I'm sure a lot of the ones who are reading this are the ones who care deeply about their potential customers perceptions of their brand. Those ones are likely already doing 95% of what I personally think they need to do for a show like this and to you I say kudos! Either way I hope this finds you and helps you understand things from our (or at least my) perspective.

I have noticed a few things from years of doing these shows that I think anyone can benefit from. But before I get to that let me just say overall this show has gotten better and better through the years, but to get to the next level there are 2 major things you have to remember.

Setup Setup Setup
 I know you're busy, time is precious, travel and shipping is incredibly expensive. I know this, I'm sympathetic to this. That said don't come to the show thursday night or friday morning and scramble to get things setup in time. If you're rushed and your system is not optimized prior to Friday morning then you are doing it wrong. I have setup at these shows before to help vendors out, I know first hand nothing is more stressful than seeing the first show attendees trickle in friday afternoon and things are not ready for prime time. That reflects poorly on you and as an extension your gear and products.

Know your gear!!!! I have seen several times a manufacturer struggling because the dac isn't syncing with the CDP or the amplifier is not integrating well with the speakers or this or that etc etc etc. Why? Because 4 guys all pay for a room, they all bring their own gear, show up and expect things to just work. WRONG! This stuff needs to be verified far before the show. Don't bring a piece of gear you literally just finished last week. Don't hook things up to gear you've never ever heard and hope for the best. Worse when things are going poorly I have seem teeth and claws out when a shared room partnership goes south. It's ugly. The DAC guy blames the cable guy blames the speaker guy blames everyone else. No matter how bad things get keep your friggin dirty laundry far away from the eyes and ears of clients. But none of that would be a problem if the proper pre show work is done.

Big name vendors- this paragraph applies EXCLUSIVELY to you. I know you will neither read this, nor if you did would you act upon it, so I'm pretty much free to do/say what I want here. You all suck with one exception - Kimber Kables/Isomike (OK, two exceptions TAD too!). Every year without fail your rooms are god damned terrible. Without fail. Wilson, legacy (which was better this year, but still overall bad), Dynaudio, Joseph, Focal, Nordost, B&W etc all set up mediocre sounding rooms and in many cases down right terrible. Many don't setup room treatment the rest don't have enough or setup improperly (no first reflection treatment???? WTF????). They have the least friendly most dispassionate people running the rooms. All of which have this attitude of 'well you should be amazed because LOOK! Big impressive shit you can't afford!' They really fail to prove to the true audiophiles why they should sell their house, wife and children for this gear. So my point? first just because your speakers are $450K does not mean you somehow sidestep physics and no longer require room treatment. Nor does your lofty price mean the system will just sound good in whatever room you plunk them down in. And the people running the rooms? Fire them all. Their snobbish attitude and lack of interest in showing even a modicum of polite human to human interaction is disgracing your brand.

Cater to your clientele
you'd think that would be a no brainer, but let me elaborate. Being friendly and welcoming is only the start. When potential customers sit down don't inundate them with your equipments bullshit specs. If we want to know we'll ask. Just launching into a prerecorded speech wastes our time, annoys people who are listening to music, and I promise you no one will remember a word you said. Harsh I know, but the system MUST speak for itself. If someone likes what they hear they will absolutely start asking questions.

Which brings me to another point. Take conversation out of the room as much as possible when people are listening. I know, you've been locked up in the room for 6 hours and it's hard not to interact with customers right there on the spot. But please, I can't tell you how many demos were absolutely ruined this year because of that issue. On to my next point

Too much in one room is a very bad thing. Some vendors have the larger corner rooms in the tower. These vendors invariably try to cram everything they can into these rooms. One went as far as to have a second smaller system playing in the bedroom that's attached to the main room which meant I got to listen to two systems at once! This vendor got very bad marks from me for their setup. Is it fair? No. Is it my fault they put themselves in this situation? No again. Showing off some speakers that aren't plugged into a system- great. Having a nice little cove to discuss your setup with clients- even better using the space to put another system in and letting people play with it!- Not really smart.

This next point is close to the heart. You absolutely positively 100% need to allow your customers the ability to listen to a CD and/or vinyl of their choosing. Few exceptions to this-If you are a vinyl only room you are exempt from the CD requirement. Same goes for digital only guys, no vinyl requirement. But if you're doing a server system you'd better damn well be ready to upload someones disc on the fly. Last exception- you have all the music ever recorded. Beyond that you are messing up bad if you are telling people they can't play their own music. This is a huge 'screw you' to potential customers plain and simple. Moving on.

Don't ever comment negatively on someones musical selection. Telling someone the system sounds bad because their music is poorly recorded is just about the worst thing you can do. I often bring poorly recorded music because it actually does a great job of showing a systems versatility. If a great system sounds great on great music... GREAT! If a great system sounds great on poorly recorded music... EVEN BETTER!!! If a great system sounds like garbage on poorly recorded music... NOT GREAT! This means I will not enjoy about 40% of my music if I buy your wares (this is bad in case you haven't figured it out) And no I will not stop listening to my poorly recorded music.  :guitar: :rock: :drums:

Last- I was in CanJam listening to a headphone amp and playing with the controls on it when a vendor came up and hastily took the amp out of my hands and switched the controls back and said 'This is the optimal setup, just leave it there' This is actually the same vendor that told me my music was poorly recorded in a previous year. This vendor will never ever get a dime of my money. I understand you don't want people to screw up something, but innocuous things like eq, volume or DSP modes need to be fair play to show goers. Limiting peoples ability to tinker is not just condescending it's infuriating. Juxatpose to Odyssey room where Klaus handed me the remote and said 'Go ahead, crank as much as you want!'

Final thoughts
With the shrinking interest in Hifi, vendors are going to need to adapt. Obviously mastering the basics is essential and a good place to start, but more important? Time to take personal audio seriously. Headphones, portable amps, dacs etc are here. It is the only growth sector and it is exploding like mad. Many vendors have already figured it out and are riding the wave all the way to the bank. The rest of you need to understand where the market is going and adjust accordingly if you want to be around in 5 years. As dedicated to 2 channel as I am if I were running a company I know what I'd be doing.

Good luck to you all.
« Last Edit: 29 Sep 2015, 06:52 pm by Pez »

studiotech

Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #1 on: 14 Oct 2014, 08:34 pm »
Thank you.  I've been hawking about room set-up since my first RMAF visit.  Now, with several CES and AXPONA under my belt, I can say for sure that too many vendors are out in left field with their set-ups.  There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for something as simple as L/R being backwards or one side being out of phase, but I find these problems time and time again.  If you are in charge of a room and YOU don't hear that things are swapped or out of phase, you ought to be put on the bench.  This is the "Super Bowl" of HiFi, you all need to bring your A game.

Greg

Don_S

Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #2 on: 14 Oct 2014, 08:44 pm »
Pez,

All that and not one word about sucky music?  No comments on playing the entire 20 minute movement of a boring piano recital that only uses 10 keys?  Or some song that is more story-telling than music like  Hugh Masekela Stimela (The Coal Train)--but hey, its only 10 minutes long.  :duh:

Dude, you were too easy on them.  Attendees time is precious and attention spans short when there are a lot of rooms to visit. Vendors need to be on their best game 100% of the time.

Give me music with a variety of instruments and vocals.  Give me music with dynamics.  Give me music with PRAT.  Give me my music.  :lol: :thumb:

a.wayne

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 685
Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #3 on: 14 Oct 2014, 11:16 pm »
Show conditions are tough , small  noisy rooms to work with , yet, there's no excuse for bad sound, understandable it wont be the best for most, but bad,


never .....

 :banana piano:

standub

Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #4 on: 15 Oct 2014, 12:08 am »
Seems to me either you need to be making headphone gear or home theater/mutlichannel now.

DaveC113

  • Industry Contributor
  • Posts: 3886
  • ZenWaveAudio.com
Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #5 on: 15 Oct 2014, 01:05 am »
I remember the guy in the room with the big Focals (NOT the one with the VAC gear) literally laughed at me when I asked to play my demo disc and there 1-2 other people in the room at the time.

One of his colleagues was talking to people outside the room and I told him what happened and he apologized and promised to play my track later, but damage done at that point.

I also got a condescending attitude about it in the Goldmund room, like I must be crazy to ask something like that...  :duh: :nono:

worldcat

Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #6 on: 15 Oct 2014, 01:14 am »
The reason HP and portable dacs are selling is because you can get good sound at much cheaper price.  A full 2 channel set up is insanely priced. 

The best thing you can do for your 2 channel system is work on your room thats the biggest battle. :guitar:

jtwrace

Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #7 on: 15 Oct 2014, 01:19 am »
I remember the guy in the room with the big Focals (NOT the one with the VAC gear) literally laughed at me when I asked to play my demo disc and there 1-2 other people in the room at the time.

One of his colleagues was talking to people outside the room and I told him what happened and he apologized and promised to play my track later, but damage done at that point.

I also got a condescending attitude about it in the Goldmund room, like I must be crazy to ask something like that...  :duh: :nono:
I got the same thing from Alex (Wywires) though.  People either will accommodate or not. 

vinyl_lady

Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #8 on: 15 Oct 2014, 01:53 am »
I got the same thing from Alex (Wywires) though.  People either will accommodate or not.

Which room? I know the Daedalus/ModWright room would play your music, vinyl or CD and the Zesto/TAD room would play your vinyl and both rooms used WyWires.

jtwrace

Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #9 on: 15 Oct 2014, 02:12 am »
Which room? I know the Daedalus/ModWright room would play your music, vinyl or CD and the Zesto/TAD room would play your vinyl and both rooms used WyWires.
Zesto with Alex.  He said "No".  He did the same thing last year but George said of course and did so. 

Vapor Audio

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 2022
  • Building Audio Bling since 2007
    • Vapor Audio
Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #10 on: 15 Oct 2014, 02:21 am »
How about turning the table a bit ... some things attendees should consider. 

Take the sweet spot if it's open.  I can't tell you how many times there have been 5 people in the room, and none in the sweet spot.

If you don't like the music, make a request.
If it's too loud, ask us to turn it down.
If the room is hot or stuffy, let us know. 
And definitely don't leave the room with unanswered questions about the products. 

... we aren't mind readers. 

In short, stop being so timid!  Speaking for myself, all I ask is for the chance to give you the best experience possible. 

vinyl_lady

Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #11 on: 15 Oct 2014, 02:24 am »
Zesto with Alex.  He said "No".  He did the same thing last year but George said of course and did so.

Good for George

RDavidson

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 2219
Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #12 on: 15 Oct 2014, 02:34 am »
I've never been to RMAF, or any other audio show. After reading this, I might never do it either. I'm a pretty level dude, but one thing I can't stand is being around snobby people (especially one's who are supposed to be helpful). I won't be treated like a lesser person, or be disrespected, even if I can't afford $100k speakers.

gofar99

  • Newbie
  • Posts: 2
Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #13 on: 15 Oct 2014, 02:49 am »
Hi,  I usually just read on this forum but this thread compels me to add my thoughts for what they are worth.  I see both sides (as an enthusiast and manufacturer), but I share the thoughts in the original post.  I have been to RMAF before.  I personally was absolutely underwhelmed by this year's one.  I have set up equipment in similar rooms.  Yes it is normally not optimal, but it can be done well.  I find no excuse to have incompatible equipment.  I agree 100% with the get it checked out and set up and tested before the show.  We have always brought everything we needed.  No last minute untested, unproven changes.  This includes test equipment for the just in case something fails.  Personally I would much rather have a good static display than an active one that sounded poorly.  At this RMAF there was a lot of the latter.  In my opinion very few set ups sounded decent.  I would be embarrassed by many. 

I provide the above comments because I care about audio and its future.  Collectively we need to do better if it is to survive.  I have heard better audio in big box stores than I heard at RMAF.   Let us demonstrate that high quality music reproduction is not only desirable, but possible.

WGH

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 2968
  • Artwork that Opens and Closes
    • WGH Woodworking
Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #14 on: 15 Oct 2014, 03:22 am »
I've never been to RMAF, or any other audio show. After reading this, I might never do it either. I'm a pretty level dude, but one thing I can't stand is being around snobby people (especially one's who are supposed to be helpful). I won't be treated like a lesser person, or be disrespected, even if I can't afford $100k speakers.

You really should go if you get a chance. The snobs are only in a couple of rooms, I chalk it up to bad parenting and move on. The people you meet make RMAF the best time ever, a hotel full of audio geeks, it doesn't get any better than this. And you get to meet all us cool AudioCircle guys and gals.

Wayne

dB Cooper

Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #15 on: 15 Oct 2014, 03:22 am »
RDavidson, don't be deterred. Audio shows are fun. For folks like Pez and Tyson, it's kind of a workday, so maybe that's the POV of Pez's commentary.

I agree with a lot of what Pez said. Never been to RMAF, but at CAF once there was a vinyl only room where the vendor was literally telling everybody what to hear, carney-barker style- "See if you can hear Neil (Young) in the room..."- and do you know what, I still would have left even if his (fullrange driver) system hadn't sounded like crap. Like Pez says, the system should speak for itself.

Another vendor at CAF started giving me the high pressure sales routine, wanting to know what I had and pushing his gear. I lied about what I have just to get him to back off, but leaving the room was the only thing that really worked. Vendors have to realize, if they don't already, that most are there just to nerd out on audio gear. I'm not spending $100K for a 1.5WPC system that doesn't sound as good as my 1971 $330 Dynaco setup, even if I had it.

Somehow there needs to be an entry level. Nobody is going to get into quality home music reproduction if they think they have to spend $1000 on just the power cord to plug it into the wall. Personally I think that same $1000 would have 100X more effect if spent on room treatment, but to each his own. I have about $700 into my home headphone system and (to me) it sounds more musical than at least half of the equipment I heard at last year's CAF. Only a few, Odyssey, GT Audio Works, the Clue and a few others, seem to be bucking the trend. God bless 'em. (And to paraphrase a link shared on here elsewhere, if your speakers cost $450K, go to hell.)

Kudos to all the vendors who are into it because they love music. You can usually tell as soon as you walk into the room.

Tyson

Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #16 on: 15 Oct 2014, 04:24 am »
I can tell you that Pez works harder at RMAF than he does at his real job, that's for sure!

It's funny, people say the shows are getting worse, but for us it's been getting better.  Probably because we outright skip the mainstream audio rooms (Dynaudio, Wilson, TAD, Krell, VAC, VTL, Magico, Levinson, Martin Logan, Rockport, Esoteric, Focal, MBL, etc and etc, ad nauseum).  Once we stopped wasting our time with all that crap, it freed us up to see the smaller, more passionate vendors.  It's been an ongoing process.  Every year we cut away more mainstream fat and as a result, every year the show gets better.

That said, it might be out last year of coverage.  Pez and I have been talking about it quite a bit, calling it quits after this show. Not decided yet, but I wanted to mention that it's a possibility.

CIAudio

  • Industry Contributor
  • Posts: 1198
    • http://www.ciaudio.com
Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #17 on: 15 Oct 2014, 04:29 am »
Quote
How about turning the table a bit ... some things attendees should consider. 

Take the sweet spot if it's open.  I can't tell you how many times there have been 5 people in the room, and none in the sweet spot.

If you don't like the music, make a request.
If it's too loud, ask us to turn it down.
If the room is hot or stuffy, let us know. 
And definitely don't leave the room with unanswered questions about the products. 

... we aren't mind readers. 

In short, stop being so timid!  Speaking for myself, all I ask is for the chance to give you the best experience possible. 

Ditto


Exhibitors should make every effort to achieve good sound, but it's not always easy.
Say they have a new "big" speaker they want to show, but the only demo room available is 12 x 17.
The big speaker overloads the tiny room and doesn't sound very good.
Their options are settle for this, use the same 6" 2-way every year, wait 3-5 years until a suitable room becomes available, or don't exhibit.

Realize that it's a show, things are rarely optimum.
You get to hear, see, touch, narrow down your choices.

Better than a car show where you only get to look at them from behind the velvet ropes  :lol:

Vapor Audio

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 2022
  • Building Audio Bling since 2007
    • Vapor Audio
Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #18 on: 15 Oct 2014, 04:46 am »

Ditto

Exhibitors should make every effort to achieve good sound, but it's not always easy.
Say they have a new "big" speaker they want to show, but the only demo room available is 12 x 17.
The big speaker overloads the tiny room and doesn't sound very good.
Their options are settle for this, use the same 6" 2-way every year, wait 3-5 years until a suitable room becomes available, or don't exhibit.


... or build balanced speakers that don't overload rooms. 

A 50hz wavelength is 22' long whether it's coming out of a 15" woofer or a 6" one.  It's imbalanced speakers that overload rooms once room gain is added in, size shouldn't have anything to do with it. 

lowtech

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 492
Re: An open letter to RMAF Vendors
« Reply #19 on: 15 Oct 2014, 05:26 am »
...OR to put it a different way.  Build speakers that are designed to work *with* the room instead of against it.