The value of shows

August 25, 2019
 by Paul McGowan

The upcoming Rocky Mountain Audio Fest opens on September 6th, just weeks away. We'll be there showing off Stellar Phono and the production version of the new AN3 loudspeaker.

Consumer audio shows offer the curious, the prospective buyer, the aficionado, and the newbie a chance to see all the new gear, hobnob with designers and manufacturers, touch, listen and get a sense of what each company is offering.

Audio shows are fun. We focus on the two main shows, Axpona and RMAF, but that's not to suggest there aren't plenty of other smaller, regional shows to go to as well. I wish we had the bandwidth to do them all.

It takes a lot of money, time, and energy for PS to participate at a show, though that wasn't always the case. When we were much smaller we could get by with one of those small bedroom displays. We'd borrow a pair of speakers and bring our entire audio system on a single bellman's trolley. Today, it's multiple pallets and a setup crew.

The value of shows for attendees seems obvious. Room after room of sound systems, new gear, interesting people. For us, the benefits are interacting and meeting with our extended Hi-Fi Family—a reunion.

I do hope you'll have a chance to come visit us in Denver on the 6th.

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26 comments on “The value of shows”

  1. I bought PSAudio product following a visit to an audio show. Traditionally, such shows would be for retailers to meet manufacturers and distributors to look for new stock lines, and for manufacturer product launches, with a public day at the end. With the change in the industry and fewer retailers, I assume they are mainly public events now. I haven’t been to one for 3 years, but there is a nice new venue in the UK with PS Audio represented, end of October. May well go. Near Heathrow. AN3? https://www.hifishowlive.com/

  2. Every year I visit 2 or 3 audio shows (Holland, Belgium) with 4 or 5 audio buddies.
    And indeed it's fun. We're having a nice day out. Wouldn't want to miss it.
    Always have a little chat with the PSA distributor (Aspera).
    Last year one of the best, if not THE best, sound of the show.
    They played with DMP, DSD and big, very expensive speakers from YG Acoustics. What a glorious sound !
    I'm curious if they bring/use something of the new PSA stuff (AN3 ?) to the shows (september/november) this year.

  3. Yes shows are fun, but I have only traveled long distance (i.e., have to fly) to go to a show a couple of times. To my myopic way of thinking, the money spent flying, renting a car, staying in a hotel, and eating out for three days or so could be put towards audio or music. I have gone to AXPONA several times now, though, since it is within driving distance which greatly reduces the outlay. It also happens to be a great show!

    With respect to the AN-3, I am a little surprised that you are calling it the “production version”. I know the version displayed at AXPONA was a prototype, but there have been major changes since then so “production” seems a little startling. Certainly good to hear you think it is production ready, but just the same ...

  4. Many incl. me often also complain about shows and the irrelevance listening sessions there more or less have. But if we are honest, it’s different and the performance there influences opinions and online communication about a manufacturer a lot.

    I think not only a few manufacturers underrate this and take too little care for an as perfect as possible presentation and listening experience. Otherwise we would see much more room tuning or special positioning of speakers which then don’t allow a max. number of listeners I guess.

  5. I attended the CES (Vegas) more than a dozen times, plus many smaller shows directed at audio in LA, Newport, etc.

    The room demos were sometimes fun and occasionally informative. But with so many variables (once you get past the hotel room acoustics) it can be difficult to isolate the performance of a given speaker or amp for example if you happen to be shopping. Even when the performance is less than pleasing it is fair to ask, why was that?

    Overall I found the best experience to be talking with manufacturers and designers about their products, as well as seeing friends from previous shows. Also some years ago venders would offer nice discounts on software (LPs in my case), but I've not seen that more recently.

  6. Was getting all set to make my reservation for RMAF all most booked a flight , when I happen to look and it had been moved up a month?? Is there some reasoning behind this other than screwing up my plans?

  7. Another good reason for going to shows, if you're in full-blown acquisition mode, is that manufacturers and retailers will often offer special deals on their show samples. (And if they don't advertise a deal, just ask them for one.) It's easier for them to sell it right out of the hotel room than to pack it up, ship it home and then have to sell it at a discount after the show. If the designer is present, you might even get him (or her in a few cases) to sign the piece, making it even more valuable as a collector item. (Bring your own Magic Marker.) In the case of a major item, this could pay for attending the show.

  8. Why not recommending active loudspeakers instead? And what about these multiple power supplies of the separates each contaminating the mains power supply as every current consuming device? I found the idea of PS Audio to start with the optimization of the foundation of a stereo system most convincing, the foundation being defined by the mains power supply and the room acoustics. I am still looking for a convincing solution to minimize the interference of the components’ power supplies (often SMPSs creating a huge amount of RFI).

  9. You will be introducing two new products. It will be interesting to see the response of the people specially the audiophile community. Wishing you all the best. Regards.

  10. I agree completely, there are some really good speakers out there for not that much money. I'm one of the "I just want a project" kinda guys. Being old and retired I have plenty of time, an electronics education and a lifetime of experience so I have what I call my ongoing speaker project. Which sound really good, even if I do say so myself! It's possible to pick up really good used drivers on ebay or even dead drivers that you can recone or replace voice coils in and have yourself a great driver. One of my main reasons for going diy was I wanted to build crossovers, which I did using high end components. I even went so far as laying out traces and etching my own boards with the least amount of components in the signal path as possible and seperate boards for inductors to maximize seperation and prevent crosstalk. If you're not a woodworker I would advise using a flatpack cabinet or even hiring a woodworker to build them for you. I'm not a woodworker, I know my limitations so I didn't even attempt to build the cabs. Building your own speakers can be a fun project but don't think for a minute it's going to be a lot cheaper, not if you're expecting high end sound. I could easily buy the Elacs Paul mentioned for what I have in my two towers. Just the crossovers cost me $500 for components, all told I'm close to $2000 and I do really like the way they sound - there isn't anything I can point to and say "I'd rather have that". I already have some ideas where to go next though, that's the ongoing thing I mentioned. To puppet Paul, if you just want a project by all means build yourself some speakers, it can be a highly rewarding experience (not to mention time consuming lol) - but you'll come out cheaper to get something like the Elacs. If you want really great sound that is.

  11. If after watching Paul's video, Manny still wants to build his own speakers, there's a great book out there entitled The Loudspeaker Design Cookbook. I don't recall the author's name but it's been around for years and had been revised over the years.

  12. Paul's advise is very sound for lots of reasons given and many more that were not. Having been designing and building high performance loudspeakers for over 40 years, experience counts as does being a fairly skilled craftsperson able to work with the materials traditionally used and now materials scantly used. Having an Electrical Engineering degree and working as a Systems Engineer has been enabling, though one thing is certain to achieve excellence one needs to understand that such levels only can result from a deep passion and commitment to work through failures taking the lessons they teach and fixing material, component and system design limitations and perhaps most important, understanding the fact that an audio reproduction system is, in Systems Engineering vernacular, a "system of systems". An amateur shouldn't expect to hit a grand slam homer his or her first time at bat in the professional ranks. If one has the passion, a good skill set and a willingness to think outside the box and means to support a development effort then go for it. From my perspective the industry is ripe for development and progress.

  13. I suppose I have caused a lot of confusion with my words. I am sorry.

    When I say "production" version of the AN3 what I really mean is a production Alpha unit. That's quite different from both a prototype and a production ready unit.

    A prototype in our vernacular is a first stab at seeing how an idea manifests itself in physical form. We learn a great deal from prototypes. Following the AN3 porptype's public debut at Axpona, we went to work redesigning and reworking everything we liked and didn't like about the proto. That work can result in another prototype if we're unsure, or a production Alpha if we are sure about the hardware components.

    What we're showing at RMAF is more correctly called an Alpha unit where the hardware components like cabinet, drivers, electronics, packaging, are all what we plan to produce. We, of course, have much work left to do on software and voicing, but these use "soft" parts meaning they are not hardware. Cap and inductor values can easily change in the crossover, we can make minor adjustments in cosmetics (paint and finish touches) up till the last month or so before releasing a beta—which represents the final production—but pretty much everything else hardware related in an Alpha is locked down.

    That's where we're at and I should have more properly called it an Alpha. Sorry about that.

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