LA Audio Show 2017: In La La Land

The beauty of the beast: Linn Klimax turntable at Viola Audio Laboratories.


laasFriday dawned bright in LA as the sun made its way through layered haze to paint my hotel room walls, and wake me up. This was the start of day two at the Los Angeles Audio Show, and I was looking forward to hearing what manufacturers, and vendors had brought to the Sheraton Gateway Hotel.

Audio Note UK CDT Five Transport, and DAC Five Signature in the Audio Federation room.

I had been thinking a lot lately about what high-end audio means both to me, and those invested in sharing their vision of high fidelity to consumers. To me, every room at audio trade shows are a microcosm of the audiophile world where a complex social, and sonic experiment takes place in an effort to produce a connection between a product, and a human being interested in listening to music.

Ferrari Red Raidho D1.1 loudspeaker in the High End by OZ room.
Los Angeles Audio Show coverage brought to you by Spatial Audio.

Wanting to establish a tangible aural connection with another person in the modern audiophile world – a world that I find is often too opaque, or veiled in a fog of dense information regarding which path listeners should be taking towards sonic enlightenment – is an incredibly noble undertaking in many ways. I liken it to teaching someone a new language, because once you acquire a basic understanding of how, and what to listen for in recorded playback, it’s like having a magical, secret world revealed to you. And with that secret world comes another way of thinking as well. What language you, the listener, choose to learn to read in this hobby is a whole other matter, but to me the diversity of lexicon in hifi is it’s greatest strength.

AmpandSound Royd loudspeaker.

And that’s why I continue to be amazed by this hobby. I think it’s incredible that so many people work so tirelessly in these hotel rooms at trade shows – dedicating their time, their money, and a good part of their lives – in their attempt to shine some light through the haze of this industry, and offer a sonic vision to those listeners willing to travel the somewhat murky path to high fidelity. Every time I enter a room I can’t help but be conscious that the man or woman standing there smiling – beaming even – wants to connect with me through music, and that can’t help but make me smile too.

–Rafe Arnott

YG Acoustics Carmel 2 speaker in the Alma Music & Audio room.