I just wanted to post my impressions of the California Audio Show held in Emeryville (SF Bay Area, just across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco). A list of exhibitors can be found here:http://www.caaudioshow.com/
This was my first audio show ever, and I only had time to check things out the last 3.5 hours of the 3-day show. I would have easily arrived earlier and stayed longer, but time-off from toddlers is a rare commodity, as is quiet listening time with my Virtue One.2, GR Research OB5, and Rythmik D15se.
So in my (very) limited time there, here's some of my favorites:
1) YG Acoustics Carmel. In a word, fantastic, and it better be for an $18K retail price.
2) Salk Soundscape 12. $14K minimum plus upgrades.
OK. Back down to (my) budget. Here are a couple of my favorites:
1) Salk Songtower QWT's. What needs to be said that hasn't been said before?
2) Fritz Carbon 7's. Absolutely amazing bass output, clarity, imaging, and soundstage. They were powered by some vintage amp from 1983.
3) Fritz (yet-to-be-named) bookshelves paired with a "fully loaded" Virtue M901 with battery kit and Piano M1. While the speakers didn't have quite as much bass output as the larger Carbon 7's, they were the bomb. Seth - You should consider replacing the orange/red sides of Fritz's Sensation/Piano with aluminum versions (probably a bit too "loud" a color combination for more conservative tastes).
I would also like to add that since I was there at the end of the show and the attendees were trickling out, it was an absolute pleasure talking for quite some time to Fritz and Jim Salk - who were no doubt tired from the 3-day event. You could tell from their product knowlege and selection of components that their focus is on quality, quality, quality. Interestingly, the first speaker Jim built was a GR Research AV1 back in 2001.
When I called my wife that I was on my way home, the first question out of her was "Did you buy anything?" And my response was no. I heard some wonderful equipment, and some, not so much. But the key was that when I came home, I'm not really longing for any replacement gear right now - yes the Virtue One.2 is that good, although I may take up the offer on a Sensation upgrade! As I'm typing this, I'm listening to Fritz's demo CD. Thanks Fritz!
I also had a few, OK several, disappointments on the show (my opinion only):
1) Acoustic Technologies Classic speakers. These are single driver speakers that were driven by a First Watt F3. A $2,450 pair of speakers that I felt does nothing exceptional. Grossly unacceptable for the price IMO was that these speakers were finished in a red maple type VINYL veneer. YIKES!
2) Audience LLC (sorry Roger). When all of your presentation materials showcase towering line source array speakers, and all you have at the show are the LSA2+2's (at least that's what I think was there), you can't help but wonder what they really have to offer.
3) Tonian Labs. I never got to hear them because they were packing up their wares 3 hours before the show ended. WTH???? I overhead one of the guys mentioning that they have a "long drive back". Your business decision fellas...
4) Audio Image LTD. They're a local vendor in the East Bay who showcased some Sound Lab electrostatic hybrid speakers. One of their displays highlighted crossover construction with Mundorf caps and some very nice looking inductors mounted on a PRINTED CIRCUIT BOARD! With a retail price exceeding $40K? (I didn't even bother to ask), do you think you could at least throw in OFC point-to-point wiring?
5) Music Lovers. They're another local vendor in the Bay Area with two stores (in SF and Berkeley). The only speaker in the room, a bookshelf that escapes my mind, was awful for the lows.
6) JIB-Germany. Pretty looking cables. Perhaps you'd sell more if you had them hooked up to something and compared "Brand X" to yours?
7) Earthquake Audio. Now they have a lot of products, and I counted at least 5 personnel, including one very tall and lovely brunette. Gotta cater to those male customers that constituted 99% of the attendees right? Anyway, switching from your Cinenova amps and some wonderful speakers to the iQuake (a powered 2-speaker system with direct iPod connectivity) as a part of your demo is a quick and easy way to show how crappy an iPod can sound. Do you really think that people are coming to an audio show to listen to a $375 iPod setup?
Since this was my first audio show, I thought there were some DON'T DO'S that I think some exhibitors should follow:
1) Don't leave the noisy hotel room AC on during your demo. Distracting as hell on an already crappy listening environment. If your stuff sounds good, I'll live with a stuffy environment.
2) Don't "schedule" your demos at fixed time intervals. There's way too many exhibitors showcasing their wares when you're not.
3) Don't showcase nice room treatments and leave large hotel room mirrors untreated. It basically says you don't know how to treat a room.
4) Don't showcase speakers when the tweeters are only 20-inches off the floor.