As a Lone Star Audio Fest fan, exhibitor, and the author of an annual show report https://positive-feedback.com/author/norman-tracy/)
on the event let me encourage you to join us first weekend of May 2019. Audio by Van Alstine would be an outstanding addition to LSAF.
When I contrast my experiences exhibiting at RMAF vs. LSAF what stands out is in Denver the order of business was stress – excitement – fun while in Dallas it is fun – excitement – stress. As a smaller more intimate event run by enthusiastic volunteers keeping it fun for exhibitors and attendees alike is a core principle. Given the recent sad implosion of LAAS I am all the more appreciative of the core of volunteers who have made LSAF happen since 2007. The first paragraph of my PF report on the 2015 show goes into more detail on its history and culture.
You asked “give me some feedback on how the rooms were used and with what success”. Here are my experiences and observations. Your options are first floor conference/banquet rooms or second floor suites. Typical year will have one or two exhibitors on the first floor, the rest on second floor with overflow or late bookers on the third floor.
My opinion is the best first floor room is the Carrollton Room, here is a picture of JWM Acoustics debut in that room in 2015.
I covered this room in my 2015 PF report basically raving about the sound achieved by Joshua W. Miles’ JWM Acoustics debut. As a Junior Grade Hi-Fi Journalist I felt vindicated this year by Joshua’s very positive review in TAS and subsequent inclusion as a Recommended Component for his Alyson AML II speaker. This year Austin Acoustic took the Carrollton Room for their ultra-Fi horn system featuring 4-way horns, 8 tube amplifiers, another half dozen pre-amp and power supply boxes, plus PC digital, turntable, and (oh joy of joys) reel-to-reel tape. Carrollton is a long deep room so with all that gear in one end 4 rows of three seats each fit for the listeners. The sound achieved justified the resources expended, mountain top peak listening experience.
The Mesquite banquet room is the other first floor option and I believe the largest room available. In 2016 the Raven + Legacy team showed two complete systems using big Legacy towers each with their own Raven electronics, plus display tables with more Raven amps on static display and room for 15-20 chairs for listeners. The sound Raven Audio owner Dave Thomson got out of those systems was SOTA and this was before Legacy’s DSP room correction magic box was introduced.
Acoustic issues are reported in Mesquite, bass issues for Austin Acoustic in 2017 and in 2018 this is the room Audio Thesis moved out of for their Rosso Fiorentino speakers in favor of a second floor suite. Of course nobody has a HiFi show without complaining about room acoustics.
The Embassy Suites venue as the name states is an all-suite hotel. All the second floor rooms are suites with a living room + mini-kitchen in front, hall past the bath to rear bedroom. The front rooms feature HDTV on a credenza chest, sofa, easy chair, work/dining table, office style chair, and a couple of other upright wood chairs. I just move the table from long to short wall and turn easy chair to join sofa on long wall to face system placed on other long wall. The front room table and/or HDTV + credenza are often moved to the bedroom to free up more space. Most of us move the furniture around ourselves, for a $25-$50 upcharge the hotel staff will move all furniture in the front room into the bedroom.
Some exhibitors find the hotel furniture useful.
The following pics show the other popular way to use 2nd floor rooms. All hotel furniture pulled from the front room with the system placed on the wall facing the door. Seating can be on the sofa or a couple of rows of the more upright dining room style chairs.
One variation among the 2nd floor rooms is the four corner suites are setup as small conference rooms. These include big conference room tables, more of the upright chairs, and I believe lack a sofa. The next picture is one of Audio Thesis’ 2018 rooms sited in one of the corner suites. If someone were exhibiting headphone gear the big conference table and extra chairs in the corner rooms are perfect for setting up headphone listening stations.
Very excellent sound can be achieved in the 2nd floor suites. The solid concrete construction and room dimensions yield a bass peak circa 60 Hz experienced exhibitors deal with. The quality is such that as attendees tour the rooms it is easy to hear both the broad stroke differences between topologies as well as the subtle details in reproduction character the pursuit of Hi-Fi is all about.
With all the details fresh from LSAF 2018 this post has turned into a bit of tome. I will finish it off with a few more semi-random details.
The hotel requires we not damage the walls by taping signage or acoustic treatments to the paint. They do enforce a charge for damaged wall paint. Self supporting banners and drapes are popular among the professional exhibitors. The show officially closes at 6 PM but listening goes on past midnight for those so inclined and I have never heard of the hotel asking for the music to stop or be turned down. Of course when you do want to shut down and get some rest a closed door signals the night owls to look elsewhere.
A note about making reservations. Once the LSAF discount is setup in the Hilton system the reservation call system can get you a reservation on the reserved block (i.e. the 2nd floor) at the discounted rate. What you cannot get is a specific room number from the call center (option 1 on the hotel’s phone menu). Many of us have favored room or rooms and the way to get those or 1st floor room is call the Embassy ask to speak to the on site sales/event staff and if that room is open get it reserved. Now that reservation will come with a disclaimer that the room may not be available at check-in time. Let me explain something lest that be taken as incompetence by hotel staff or LSAF organizers. For most Hi-Fi shows exhibitor rooms are several thousand dollars. At LSAF it’s a few hundred dollars because the cost is simply the Embassy Suites’ regular room rate minus the LSAF discount. Part of the high cost of other shows is the organizers sign a contract with the hotel to buy blocks of rooms. Rooms they will pay for regardless of if they are filled with Hi-Fi fanatics or sitting empty. So in addition to the costs of professional event marketing and management baked into the exhibitors’ cost is a guess of the cost to cover any empty rooms. With that guarantee the hotel is willing to block off the event rooms assuring availability. What one gets for that higher cost is the rooms are set apart from the general guest population. At LSAF the day before our event starts the rooms may have other guests in them, and if they decide to stay an extra day we get a different room on 2nd floor. Do not let the length of this explanation lead you to worry it’s a game of musical chairs, the Embassy Suites staff is eager to please and do what it takes to keep us happy. That is happy with our room first weekend of May, the rest of your life is up to you.
I hope to see you all at LSAF 2019.