AXPONA 2018 Advance: New venue, more gear, live music

There are a lot of ways to judge the significance and success of a hi-fi show — including the size of the venue, total attendance and number of exhibitors. By any of those metrics, Audio Expo North America has grown to be one of the premier events in the United States.

Now in its ninth year, the Chicago-area AXPONA is moving to a new hotel for its April 13-15 date. After drawing almost 7,000 visitors to the Westin O’Hare in 2017 – one of the best turnouts of any show on the domestic circuit – organizers have relocated to the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center.

“It gives us more room to grow,” event director Liz Miller told me in a telephone interview.

Miller is expecting more than 550 equipment makers, retailers, brands and distributors to fill the venue’s 165 listening rooms.

“AXPONA continues to attract the best manufacturers in the world and 2018 is no exception, with 60 first-time exhibitors,” she said.

The Chicago show will be the first out of the gate in a year when competition will be keen, including three planned shows in California this summer and the longtime Rocky Mountain Audio Fest taking its usual early October date.

AXPONA 2018 Coverage brought to you by Zesto Audio

AXPONA has benefitted in recent years from its strong staff, variety of events and aggressive promotion.

Organizers are not afraid to try new ideas and always are looking for ways to enhance the show. This year, the Exhibit Hall market – a central location for the Ear Gear demo area, along with vinyl, SACDs, accessories and other audio items – is expanding to 30,000 square feet.

In addition, AXPONA will continue its commitment to bringing in name-recognized pop and blues acts with concerts Friday and Saturday evening. There also will be a full schedule of seminars and a raffle for $10,000 in merchandise.

Show times are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Advance tickets for AXPONA are $50 for all three days, $40 for two days or $25 for a single day. A Gold Pass is available for $98 that includes admission plus perks such as a T-shirt and access to a VIP lounge. Student tickets are $10. Prices at the door will be higher.

If you can’t make it, be sure to follow Part-Time Audiophile’s coverage. We’ll be posting each day, and will follow up with our usual intensive room-by-room reports.

Five Reasons to Attend an Audio Show

1. See and hear much of the hi-fi gear on the market.

2. Take advantage of significant discounts offered by some exhibitors.

3. Meet equipment designers and company owners.

4. Shop for vinyl and audiophile recordings.

5. Meet like-minded hobbyists.