When Derda Talks, People Listen
“The State of Streaming Audio” was a great way to kick-off day three, having just begun the previous day with Michael Fremer and Leon Shaw talking all things analog, it felt only natural to visit the other side of the isle. This digital discussion panel was helmed by Audio Advice CEO, Scott Newnam, who was doing a fantastic job as ringmaster of the show all weekend long. Himself making the rounds, meeting with exhibitors, and engaging with every attendee possible. The Audio Advice team lives up to their family-like reputation, and through Audio Advice LIVE 2022, have been the embodiment of southern hospitality.
Reporting by Eric Franklin Shook
Of course everyone’s crowd favourite David Solomon of Qobuz was there to both inform and entertain the audience, but it was Jonathan Derda of MoFi Distribution who had us excited about how far we’ve come on the hardware side of digital streaming, and what’s yet to come. Some who were there would say that Derda had us on the edge of our seats, and left us wanting more. A sign of a true showman.
Going Back for More, It’s Day Three
Typically it’s a good idea to leave the final day of any audio show open to revisit and clean up the gathering of facts and impressions about the listening rooms. Several exhibits are in a battle for the consensus favourite, while others are just so much fun that we look forward to listening to them all over again.
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Rooms like the one hosted by MoFi Distribution, featuring new speakers from Piega were drawing some of the largest crowds throughout the show weekend.
On Sunday, my son Jonah Shook decided to tag along to check out the systems and dazzle us with his own hi-fi acumen. Himself being a self-started “music producer” at just fifteen years old, there were some pretty interesting takes. Some were hot, some were surprisingly informed. Maybe he’s been reading a few of Dave McNair‘s articles on listening. Who knows. I doubt he reads my writings much, just based on the homelife dynamic of not listening to his father (me) at every moment I deem necessary.
Dark Theaters, Dark Photos
It’s difficult to cover home theater exhibits in the dark, but it’s not difficult to enjoy what they bring to the show. Several of the best sounding rooms were in fact home theater based systems, with equally impressive images to match.
Of special note, the exhibit featuring theater loudspeakers from RBH Sound, projection from Sony, and signal processing from Trinnov. Whether it was a music video, a cinematic action movie, or an operatic musical performance. Everything about the theater going experience was top notch, and reminiscent of what we two-channel audiophiles look for in our music playback systems.
Still a lot actually.
Just after making the rounds of the upper half of the show on day one, (floors 16,15, and 14 in that order) we found ourselves with breaking news in our hands. New products from ELAC, SVS, Cambridge Audio, and McIntosh Labs were making quite the splash among the attendee chatter.
On day two, everything gets bigger. The large meeting rooms are we had the pleasure of meeting with MoFi Distribution to experience what probably could be deemed as the most hi-fi sounding and high-end system of the show. The Piega Master Line Source loudspeakers were as eye catching in person as they were a captivating listen.
On day three, we go back through the entire show to get a second or third listen to our favourite exhibits, or visit the one we missed. Time is of the essence at audio shows, and invariably there will be doors (to exhibits) that are for one reason or another locked for the short moment as you are making the rounds. So it’s on Sunday that you make your way back through for one final try. At Audio Advice LIVE 2022, it was only one door, and that my friends has to be a new audio show record.
Reported highlights are as follows.
- Over 60 of the world’s top home theater & home audio brands with suite-after-suite of immersive demo rooms
- KEF will be bringing their flagship Blade Meta One Speakers & will partner with Epson to feature a full home theater setup, as well as two 2-channel setups
- Bowers & Wilkins will partner with Sony in an immersive home theater demo & will also have a 2-channel setup featuring the new 800 Diamond series speakers — all of which need to be heard to be believed! If you have not experienced this new series, which was years in the making, you will be in for a treat! They’ll also display their iconic Nautilus speaker in one of their new Formula 1 colors, which is a true sight to see.
- MoFi Distribution will offer the US debut of several brand new components featured in a 2-channel audio system approaching $500,000. This system will feature the Piega Master Line Source Loudspeakers, which are one of the physically largest speakers we have ever seen, the BAT REX 500 mono amps with the REX3 preamp, an exotic new rack from Finite Elemente, and Isotek power conditioners.
- MartinLogan will show off their legendary Neolith Speaker System as well as a Statement 40XW home theater system. This 7 foot tall, 40 driver home theater speaker is something you must hear!
- Sony, JVC, & Epson will demo several of their brand new projectors in fully immersive home theater setups. We will also have a massive reference home theater demo room featuring the Sony GTZ380, RBH reference speakers, & Trinnov Audio
- McIntosh will be set up in several rooms and will demo a 70 driver McIntosh XRT 1.1K speaker system paired up with a huge stack of McIntosh gear including their massive 1.25KW mono blocks and C2700 tube preamp.
- Sonos rarely exhibits at shows but will be at Audio Advice Live. Experience their latest flagship products & home theater offerings with a 5.1 home theater setup.
- Focal Naim: Experience the Focal Naim 10th Anniversary Edition consisting of Focal Sopra N°2 loudspeakers featuring a concrete finish on the side panels and a tin-coloured front panel. A range of Naim electronics powers the loudspeakers: the NDX 2 music streaming device, combined with the NAC 282 and NAP 250 DR pre-amplifiers, all complemented by HiCap and NAPSC power supplies.
- Qobuz will have a heavy presence at the show as the official streaming partner
- US Debuts from Piega, HiFi Rose, Mark Levinson, SVS, Klipsch, and more!
- Explore a dedicated Headphone Experience room featuring top-of-the-line headphones from Audeze, Focal, Mark Levinson, Sony walkmans, a complete gaming setup, & more!
Headphones and Gaming?
The head-fi exhibit was worth visiting again, especially since Jonah could give us some generational perspective on the gaming front. Though, during our visit, one of the elder gentlemen from Kirmuss Audio was having a serious go at the gaming rig.
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A Quick Bite, One Bang!
The local fare had been extremely kind to us throughout the Audio Advice LIVE 2022 weekend. Standouts like Ashley Christenson’s Beasley Chicken + Honey were keeping several of the show goers and exhibitors fueled during the show.
If there’s one thing about Raleigh, North Carolina to love, it’s all the great restaurants. However, the locals love our restaurant scene just as much as the hungry traveler, so reservations on the weekend nights are a must.
Jonah pictured above, wasn’t really having it, when I broke out the camera to document our Instagram worthy spread. Teenagers! Amirite?
Making a list, and checking it twice!
As the rest of the week and weekend will prove, there was a lot to see and hear at Audio Advice LIVE 2022, and plenty of it worthy of reporting on. An overall number of rooms that we’ll cover in the days ahead is expected to be well over thirty.
There will also be a list of our favourite rooms that will be featured in our wrap-up article at the end of the Audio Advice LIVE 2022 show coverage. We look forward to sharing our thoughts in detail, room by room.
Saying Goodbye, Till Next Year
We can’t thank the Audio Advice team enough for putting on one heck of a show. Going in, we knew that Audio Advice would put on an impressive event, and still our expectations were surpassed throughout the weekend. Of special note, the panel discussion and the professional guidance throughout the show from the Audio Advice LIVE team.
Talk around the campfire is that Audio Advice LIVE will become one of America’s premiere audio events of the audio show calendar. It’s not a matter of if, but just how soon.
Thank You to Powerful Friends, EMBER Audio + Design
We welcomed EMBER Audio + Design (website) as this year’s Audio Advice Live 2022 show coverage sponsor. EMBER Audio + Design is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and has played the backdrop for many of our hi-fi adventures, like HUBCON 2022.
A family owned and operated brick-and-mortar retail shop. EMBER Audio + Design specializes in modern furniture with high performance audio and video for residential and commercial spaces. With over two decades of experience, they select products from the very best modern furniture and hi-fi manufacturers. Showing how well modern design and good hi-fi work together.
They also make it attainable. Good hi-fi and design should not be out of reach. While they service clients at every budget, they feel it is important to make sure that the average person (with the average income) has access to beautiful things that can enrich their lives. EMBER Audio + Design works closely with clients to create spaces that are refined, functional, and truly lovely to be in.
A big thank you to the entire EMBER Audio + Design team!