Axpona 2019: The Wrap

More so than any other show, I need to apologize. We all know hifi shows can be big, really big, but there’s really no excuse for missing important things. And I missed a bunch. My excuse? I don’t have one. Besides, I don’t like excuses, I prefer apologies.

I was really looking forward to hearing Vinnie Rossi’s new speakers, the STILETTO 15, which I wrote about no less!, I missed seeing Jeff Catalano of High Water Sound and hearing what wonderful music he was spinning, and a host of other people, products, and rooms. My apologies for missing out on sharing the full breadth of gear at Axpona 2019 (I have a related secret so don’t tell anyone—there’s more show coverage coming from another point of view(s), not mine).

Axpona 2019 spirit Polaroid #2

Axpona 2019 was my first Chicago Axpona and man, what a great show it was. The show was very (very) well organized, the venue was lovely, the restaurants were good to even better than good, and the crowds—it was a crowded show—were in good spirits and everyone looked and felt like they were having a great time. What more can you ask for?

the venue: Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center | Schaumburg, IL

Truth be told, I enjoyed the heck out of my time at Axpona 2019 for a few reasons. It’s always a real pleasure to see old friends one only sees at hifi shows, it’s always a pleasure to make new friends with shared passions, and it’s nice to be reminded how fortunate we are to have the time to spend simply enjoying the reproduction of music surround by like minds. Hifi is an industry built on passion, where people make things that give other people pleasure. That’s a winning ticket.

I’ll quote myself, apologies, from my first show report from CES 2008:

And one thing I found is a lot of passion along with a love of the art and craft of making music…

In particular the after-hour events, the people I met and the people I already knew and got to spend time with made this trip not only educational but a complete blast. My martini glass nearly runneth over with good times. And unlike some other professions I’ve been involved in, the after-hour events still centered on the business of the day although now the point was solely its enjoyment. The ‘day job’ mentality pleasantly absent, unwinding meant more listening and more talking about music and its reproduction.

As a matter of fact, the fact that we were in Las Vegas ended up making little difference. Music is a universal and subtle yet powerful language that can even drown out and overwhelm a place as impossibly loud and impassably garish as the All-American (trip) Strip.

Some things never change. And I forgot I also wrote this:

“What kind of music do you want to hear?”
A harmless enough question. Granted, exhibitors can only bring so much music to shows (just wait ’till the next show when terabytes’ worth are a-plenty)

That being the case, you know with streaming and all, Stevie Ray, Dianna, and even Jazz At The Freakin’ Pawn Shop were still in multi-play mode. Sigh.

just another day in Schaumburg

There was no single trend that jumped out at me at Axpona 2019 as it has in other years, at other shows. There was no DSD, MQA, Computer Audio (remember that?), or revolutions breaking out and taking over. Perhaps the real trend worth spotting was a focus on the enjoyment of listening to music on the hifi, which seemed to be readily apparent as I went room-to-room.

Axpona 2019 spirit Polaroid #3

I heard lots of “wows,” “holy shits,” and “amazings” during and after the music. I did not hear many requests for file formats, “Do you have any double DSD?” which is a great thing in my book since that kinda thinking puts the cart before a dying horse. Music and its reproduction, in that order, was the star of Axpona 2019 which is as it should be. According to me.

Bravo all around. I look forward to Axpona 2020.