T.H.E. Show to Audiophile Societies: Come on In!
July 26, 2008 — T.H.E. Show, aka The Home Entertainment Show, has put out a welcome mat for members of "authentic Audiophile Societies throughout the globe."1 Scheduled for January 9–11, 2009, in Las Vegas, the same dates as the Consumer Electronics Show down the road, T.H.E. Show has for the first time offered members of audiophile societies paid access to over 100 anticipated active-display suites in both the St. Tropez and Alexis Park hotels.
Society members will also be able to buy products from a number of vendors of software and rare LPs and CDs; their Alexis Park salesroom, the Parthenon, is frequently packed to the gills during T.H.E. Show. Acoustic Sounds, Classic Records, Discland, Elusive Disc, M•A Recordings, TheMusic.com, and Reference Recordings have already confirmed their presence, and more companies are expected to come on board.
While a free ticket to Las Vegas's "alternative" audio event will not grant access to CES's overwhelming number of trade-and-press–only high-end exhibits at the Venetian and Sands hotels, T.H.E. Show promises something rarely experienced on this planet: the cross-pollination of audiophile societies. "We already have plans to bring members of different audiophile societies together," T.H.E. director Richard Beers told Stereophile. "We're considering inviting audiophile-society members to our annual exhibitor reception on Thursday evening. That might include keeping exhibits open longer, just for audiophile-society members. After our daily free lunch for exhibitors, industry, and press, we may offer a separate, low-cost lunch for audiophile-society members, complete with a speaker. We may also use the Parthenon room for an audiophile-society reception at which audiophile-society members from Greece, Japan, the US, and other countries can network. We're working it out as we speak."
Beers also promises a first-time demo sale on January 11, run by Audiogon. Audiogon will publish a list of equipment for sale, with exhibitors collecting tax monies to submit to the Nevada Tax Board—a welcome development for exhibitors, who have discovered that the first people to enter their rooms at a show's opening already want to haggle over the price of demo equipment.
"The reason we can issue this invite now," says Beers, "is because our expansion into both hotels has given us room to accommodate audiophile-society members. We can also offer very reasonable accommodations, $169/night, through our website."
Although exhibitors are notoriously slow to sign up for T.H.E. Show until summer's end, Beers already has commitments from 51 manufacturers, plus Stereophile Forum's Buddha's priceless NFS Audio. Among the best known are Acoustic Zen, Art Audio, Atma-Sphere, Audio Research, DarTZeel, deHavilland, Edge, Fidelis AV, GamuT, Magnepan, Pierre Gabriel, Purist, Rockport Technologies, Sound Application, Soundsmith, Stillpoints, VMPS, and WAVAC. VMPS will stage a major demonstration in which live music will be recorded in one room and played back in real time in the next. If you've never experienced such a demo, the results can be sobering. Few companies dare risk such comparisons, which expose the strengths and weaknesses of everything in the signal path, including the sonic degradation caused by long cable runs between rooms.
So far, Beers has sent invitations to 37 audiophile societies, and it's possible he'll extend the invite to newly emerging vinyl listening societies as well.
While all-volunteer audiophile societies are notoriously slow to respond during the summer, Bob Levi of the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society has already shared T.H.E. Show's invitation with the organization's 800 members. Folks from Denver (home of the Rocky Mountain AudioFest) and San Francisco Bay areas (the Bay Area Audiophile Society) are also expected to respond. Members of legitimate audiophile and vinyl societies who have not received invitations can contact T.H.E. Show at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 242-4545.