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Prologue to the 2010 California Audio Show

Friday, July 30, Saturday, July 31, Sunday, August 1, 2010

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May 19, 2010

The idea of organizing a California audio show had been raised by manufacturers and importers during my business conversations with them throughout the years. Then, something curious happened. The noise on the topic from the group nationwide died down at the same time the local group picked up the topic with me; local being California. Discussion reached feverish pitch right before the market crash of 2008, then all of a sudden nobody was mentioning it anymore.

I went about my usual reviewing business until almost two years later in the Spring of 2010, when I got a phone call from an importer afar with the idea of a California show. It was only a mere two weeks later when he called again, this time demanding me to give the notion serious consideration. I thought about it and slept on it for days, and then I thought, “Why not? A local audio show should be welcomed by many and shouldn’t be too hard to do.” I was thinking of a show with a few companies from the local area, so I contracted Hilton Garden Inn of Emeryville to host the event. Soon, the show took on a life of its own and began to grow, and my wife and I had to retain specialists in various fields. 45 days later in mid-May, there are over 60 companies participating in this event and counting.

One of them is JBL, which has just shipped a pair of the $60,000 Project Everest DD66000 loudspeakers to Design Interaction, its San Francisco Bay Area premium dealer, who bought the pair just for demonstration purposes at the show. The system will be at the Dock of the Bay Gold Room, right on the Lobby level. This room measures a whopping 21 feet wide, 39 feet long and 10 feet high. Currently, there are only three pairs of the DD66000 speakers in the entire U.S., and the only time JBL ever took it to an American show was 2006, and it was the Las Vegas CES, an industry-only show not open to the public. It was an experience of a lifetime, and now, regular audiophiles get to be in the front row. Complimenting the system will be Mark Levinson electronics and more.

Then we have Legacy Audio on the 14th Floor in the Placer Room, showing its Whisper XD semi-active speakers, a 10-driver 4-way behemoth with built-in 500-watt ICEPower™ amplifications for driving the air-pressurizing woofers, complimented by amplification provided by none other than Win Analog’s $75,000/pair, 100-watt Single-Ended Triode monoblocks. Digital source is via the to-be-released next-generation CD player by Lindemann, courtesy of its U.S. importer, Aaudio Imports. All cabling will be via state-of-the-art MIT Cables. This room is a breathtaking 23 by 49 by 12 feet!

A few steps from this exhibit will get you to the exhibit of Audio Image Ltd. in the Board Room, also on the 14th Floor. Bob Kehn of Audio Image Ltd. is a SF Bay Area dealer who will demonstrate systems comprising two different pairs of Magico floor-standing speakers, as well as electrostatic speakers from King’s Audio of Hong Kong. Electronics will be by Accuphase, Solutions and VAC. This is sure to be high on everyone’s list as well.

Whether this show is getting more serious or more fun is in the eye of the beholder. For record-breaking purposes, however, the CAS will be the first show to have extensive participation from Acoustic Sciences Corporation, which will demonstrate its professional acoustic treatment expertise via its award-winning products in a series of comprehensive customizations of exhibits. They are the Design Interaction (JBL), Legacy/Win Analog, and Audio Image Ltd (Magico) Exhibits. This marks the first time that efforts of this scale is ever undertaken at a show; it will provide for the most rewarding listening sessions ever at a show, and it is another reason why this show, along with this unique effort, is not to be missed.

California is an interesting state. It is the earthquake central of the United States, and yet it is the most populous State in the Union. With a high population density, business resources and opportunities become plentiful. We have grown accustomed to staring at the vibrant billboards on our highways in the constant traffic jams, and we have more hi-fi shops, restaurants, theaters, malls, pretty girls, open-minded people and the hilly roads than you can find anywhere else. Besides, where else do you have access to snow-capped skiing resorts of Lake Tahoe and the extravagant Las Vegas within hours of driving? The city of San Francisco gets no snow in winters and is never too hot or cold, whereas Los Angeles is known for its Mediterranean summers which are dryer than New York’s summers. You need space? Check out the countless small tourist towns between the cities. You want city life? Turn around and it’s almost everywhere. Just don’t expect a different-tasting Kentucky Fried Chicken or Burger King.

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