T.H.E. Show at Newport is, by all accounts, the fastest growing audio show. At least here in the U.S. That’s pretty awesome news for show organizer Richard Beers — and it’s awesome news for you, the audio enthusiast, too.
At 140+ rooms, Newport is catching up fast to the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (170+ rooms last year) and will probably eclipse CES/T.H.E. Show Las Vegas as those shows becomes less interesting to the huge and ever-growing class of so-called “second-tier” audio manufacturers. Nothing wrong with the Vegas shows — it just seems to be targeting a different audience.
I think the explosive growth of the Newport Show is awesome, and the location has a couple of things going for it. One, of course, is SoCal itself — like Manhattan, there’s simply a lot of disposable income on flagrant display down there and audio is ever so very cool. Of course, it’s also SoCal (itself!), and those of us from the Wrong Coast have a bit of secret envy for those living the semi-tropical lifestyle, and no amount of smack-talk about traffic, smog, drugs, booze, scantily-clad models and the wanton discharge of concealed-carry weaponry is going to convince us Puritanical snobs that we’re not, somehow, Missing Something Important. I mean, it’s almost Vegas. Of course, this also means it’s probably bat country.
I made it to Newport last year, and it was by far the most fun I had at an audio show. Of course, that’s hardly fair as RMAF for me was largely a bust, but still. The location (right next to the airport) wasn’t really ideal (that would have meant actually relocating to the beach, you know, with waves, but then, I’m a Beach Boy, so what can you do) — but it was wickedly convenient — I stumbled off the plane, rolled through baggage claim, tripped across the highway and collapsed into a heap inside the Atrium Hotel. Ta da! Being SoCal, the weather was conspicuously outstanding, and there’s just something about an audio show that’s centered around a large pool area that clearly and cleanly separates the whole Newport experience from, say, AXPONA.
This year, I had to take a pass on the show and I’m truly bummed to miss it. My general health is probably all the better for it … but I still have no idea what to do with this suitcase full of … ahem. Never mind. In my stead, audio journalist team Mal and Kirsten Kenney will be making the rounds — keep an eye out for them and treat them with all the respect you would have for yours truly. Okay, more than that. Okay, a lot more than that. Okay, how about some respect? Thanks. Much obliged, I’m sure.
T.H.E. Show opens tomorrow — lots of great stuff on tap. Magnepan will have a new loudspeaker. Audience will have new amps. WyWires will be showing off their newest power distribution and a new line of cables. And there are a million other bits, both large and small, that will no doubt delight and amaze. HeadFi lovers will be tempted with another pavilion stuffed full of personal audio offerings. And there will be dancing girls! Okay, maybe not, but Michael Mercer and Arnold Martinez will be mixing it up out on the patio deck. It’s a full-on-lifestyle onslaught — there will be a cigar bar, but everyone needs to find Marc Phillips of Colleen Cardas Audio and bum a smoke. Don’t worry. He’s friendly. Thirsty? Need to get your drink on with your pinky up? Lucky ducky! There will be a wine bar — but don’t forget that Nina Sventitsky is a wine importer and will likely be the woman to find. Consider that your “Where’s Waldo?” moment, courtesy of PTA. You’re welcome. Did you say you like cars? Guess what! Aside from the Red Shark rental you four-wheel drifted into that ace parking space that dude rudely called “the curb”, there will be sweet rides from all those manufacturers you can’t afford, much less pronounce. Actual, real-life musicians like Mike Garson, Tierney Sutton, and Nneena Freelon will all be performing live. A dozen or more seminars and other distractions are ready to while away your free time — not that you’ll have any. 140 rooms is a lot of ground to cover. And last, but not least, I’m told that there will actually be decent eats rolled in courtesy of a couple of different on-the-go venues. Nom nom nom.
If all this feels like a party, I think you’ve finally clued in to what the future of the audio show circuit is going to be all about. Part audio. Part spectacle. All fun?
Lemme know what you think! We’ll certainly be returning the favor.