The Los Angeles Audio Show Hits the Ground Running Friday

For a first-time audio show, the Los Angeles Audio Show's (LAAS) June 2–4 stint in the Sheraton Gateway Hotel, adjacent to LAX, could very well move the bar higher for consumer audio show expectations. With 116 active exhibit rooms—participation was intentionally capped so that show manager Marine Presson could keep a handle on things during this initial run—348 brands and manufacturers, and a >8000ft2 HeadGear Planet with 35 booths in the "affordable section" and another five in the "Xtreme section," this looks like it is going to be one helluva show.

Of course, for a show that bears the imprint of Bob Levi, President of the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society (LAOCAS), there are all the unique features that reflect LAAS's Southern California/Hollywood pedigree. "We got gear and we got beer," said Bill Kanner, whose Kanner PR firm has been working full-time on the show, as he spoke about the 17 California craft beers that will available. To that we must add Starke Sound's 2300ft2 of "pure audio visual entertainment" in the form of Dolby Atmos Dual Home Theater exhibit, The BBB featuring Bernie Dressel holding forth on Friday evening starting at 5:30pm, the five sound-equipped cars on display from Sony and Harman, the Sony-sponsored Magic Bus that will feature a special album release with Fiona Joy Saturday at 3pm, cigar rolling poolside, and a separate vinyl marketplace. You can find all the events here.

"Sony is bringing everything they can," said Marine Presson, show organizer, who joined Kanner on the phone to give Stereophile the inside scoop. "They cut across six product categories, which is something they've never done before at a regional show.

"Their commitment is remarkable, and indicative of the fact that they know we're on to something," added Kanner.

Equally remarkable, in my experience, is the level of outreach LAAS has made to the non-audiophile community in music-centric Los Angeles. Every LA County university and college that has a Music Department has been contacted, with all students offered free admission to the show on all days. The KJAZZ radio station, various "ethnic" TV syndicators, standard TV news and features outlets, and business journals have also received outreach. "Everything short of holding a gun to their heads and ordering them to be here, I've done," said Kanner.

Both Ends of the Spectrum
Kanner and Presson want people to know that while there will be a lot of "absurdly expensive audio systems on display," there will also be Steve Lefkowicz's "Getting Started" room that will feature eight different systems, priced $500–$3000. People will be able to bring their own music and test it out, with help from people who 'know and understand."

"Music makes lives better," Kanner said. "There an awful lot of people who can't afford the huge systems, but are interested in better music reproduction than they get now or really know about. That's why we've created space and exhibits for those people. We want to expand the market for audio equipment and music in general to people who do not live, eat, and breathe audio stuff but like music. The more they know about equipment that can provide music, the more they can enjoy music, and the more this industry will thrive. We believe that, ultimately, the gear is in service to the music. Hence our theme: Hear to Make Music."

For announcements of new product showings, click here.

Education will also take place in the form of 17 seminars. Some of those, I must say, may leave heads spinning. As chief proponents for the DSD, PCM, and MQA hi-rez camps hold forth in separate seminars, folks who tend to base their opinions on what they read in articles and forums rather than careful listening could well throw up their hands in despair and run home to vinyl. (Michael Fremer is weeping at the thought.) Then again, if they have opportunities to engage in comparative listening on quality equipment that handles all formats equally well—be sure to do, at the minimum, A-B-A, because studies show that if you don't, you'll invariably prefer B over A—they'll know soon enough what speaks to them.

Assurances have been given that, in terms of food, the Sheraton Gateway is accustomed to large exhibit crowds, and has 2.5 restaurants plus grab'n'go stations to serve attendees. In addition, there are little sandwich shops and restaurants in nearby hotels, and a bunch of chains. Those crowds are expected, at least on Saturday, because pre-registration and new sign-ups to the LAOCAS (which earns people free admission) are ahead of last year's figures for T.H.E. Show Newport Beach, which took place in Irvine. (Note: T.H.E. Show Newport, which is a separate entity, will take place in Anaheim, 35 miles away from LAX, September 22–24.)

Just how LAAS adds up will be reported on this very site, both during the show and the week that follows, by John Atkinson, Jana Dagdagan, and your truly. We all may have to get new walking shoes by show's end, but these old souls are eager to give the soles of those shoes a run for their money. For all who plan to attend, don't miss the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Friday at 10am, where a special honor will be presented to one of the great consumer-audio champions of our industry.

zimmer74's picture

I'm glad to see there will be coverage of this show in LA, but what about the recently held Munich show, the largest and most important in the world? Past Stereophile reportage has been excellent. Perhaps it was a budgetary decision, but surely someone like Paul Messenger could have served as foreign correspondent. Mikey was there for Analog Planet...

John Atkinson's picture
zimmer74 wrote:
I'm glad to see there will be coverage of this show in LA, but what about the recently held Munich show, the largest and most important in the world?

Paul Messenger's coverage of the Munich show will appear in the September issue of Stereophile. Michael Fremer's and Michael Lavorgna's Munich coverage can be found on our sister sites and, respectively.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

tonykaz's picture

With Stereophile's Editors there to watch it happen.

This is the stuff that makes owning a great system worthwhile.

And, it's just the beginning.

Mention any Artist and we'll be playing their music in seconds, an Album gets reviewed and we can play it instantly, for $20 per month.

This is what our 20 year olds will have for record collections: High Quality Source music, in abundance.

Count me in!

Tony in Michigan

ickkraemer's picture

Mind revealing to us readers who are the names of the "Gang of Five" in the "Xtreme section," this looks like it is going to be one helluva show.