Who is Scott Walker of Scott Walker Audio, and how can he possibly have so many exhibit rooms at one show? On Saturday at T.H.E. Show 2019, I spent the entire day covering just three Southern California dealers because they had such a strong presence–three rooms for Alma Audio, four for Sunny Components and, get this–eight rooms for Scott Walker Audio. That takes fortitude, incredible organizational skills and, as it seems, a lot of staff and partnerships with manufacturers such as Synergistic Research, Magico, Constellation, B&W, McIntosh and VAC.
Scott Walker Audio is located in my hometown of Anaheim, and they’re one of the many high-end audio stores in Southern California that have popped up since I left in 2007. It’s clear he’s making an ambitious push for high-end audio in Orange County, an area that has changed drastically since both Scott Walker and I were kids. Most of the eight rooms at the show featured lofty systems that offered compelling sound. In one room I listened to a system consisting of Magico loudspeakers, VAC amplification and an Acoustic Signature turntable, and in the next room I’d be listening to Magicos with an MSB digital rig and an intriguing integrated amplifier from Constellation Audio. The big Scott Walker Audio room, the one that everyone was talking about, featured Magico speakers with amplification from The Gryphon. These weren’t so much systems at different price points as choices between different types of high-end sound.
Synergistic Research had a very strong presence in these rooms, with Ted Denney actively conducting one demo after another. Two of the Scott Walker Audio rooms featured an ambitious idea: two rooms of exactly the same dimensions with exactly the same systems, with one featuring Synergistic Research room treatment technologies and one without. Denney would lead small groups of people back and forth to compare the sound in the two rooms. I found that the rooms were too crowded to form an accurate opinion–this was perhaps one of the most popular exhibits at T.H.E. Show 2019–and I wasn’t able to return at a quieter time to take the challenge. But you have to admit this is a brave way to demonstrate the difference your products can make in an audio system.
What was my favorite Scott Walker Audio exhibit room? I’ll play it safe and go with the classic matching of McIntosh and B&W 800 D3 speakers, which sounded warm and cozy and full-bodied. I was intrigued, however, with B&W’s new Formation series of lifestyle components, which had gorgeous aesthetics and a satisfying sound. (This was the one Scott Walker Audio room that wasn’t aiming for big sound, and I found that oddly relaxing.) It’s clear from T.H.E. Show 2019 that Scott Walker is an audio dealer who is aiming for the top, and SWA is trying to make Orange County the audio mecca I always thought it should be.