New York Audio Show - Part 1

Show report
Solid-state power amplifiers,
Tubed power amplifiers,
Digital-to-analog converters
New York Audio Show - Part 1

I don’t know anyone who is ambivalent about New York City. It’s a “love it” or “hate it” thing. My wife is not on the “love it” side of that particular fence, and I can see where she’s coming from. The noise is omnipresent. Someone is always putting something up, tearing something down, or fixing something (whether it needed fixing or not), and that construction always seems to require sustained bombardment with nuclear weaponry. With something north of a trillion people in Manhattan alone, it’s sometimes hard to find open pavement. Doubt me? Try walking through Times Square on a sunny spring Sunday afternoon. Ain’t happening—it’s like bumper cars, on foot. And yes, there’s the cost. The Big Apple is the most expensive place I’ve ever stayed. One incautious breakfast (for one!) cost me $100. Whoops. A dinner cost me three times that (but it was sooooo tasty) and I believe I got off lightly. I’m not saying you can’t eat cheaply, but that takes real effort, and also requires a certain willingness to take your life into your own hands (see comments re: ‘noise’ and ‘people’).

Fine, I get it. New York City isn’t for everyone. But I love it. The variety on offer is like nowhere else (and yes, that means LA, too). There’s so much of everything jammed into such a relatively small place, that it’s no wonder that New Yorkers get a bit, ah, focused on things.

“Never argue with a New Yorker,” said no one, ever. Okay, that’s probably not true, and it’s actually pretty good advice. But it is a bit like saying, “don’t talk to a New Yorker”—because everything is an argument. In three days, I got into more heated arguments about, well, everything, than I’ve managed to enjoy in the last three months. I argued about the price of cabs (pretty reasonable, I thought), the price of coffee (absurd, thought I), the number of potholes (given the taxes, unbelievable), the weather, the Yankees, the best slice, the unions, Obamacare, gun control, foreign policy—you name it. Everyone had vehemently defended positions. Everyone! The guy who hauled my crap to the hotel registration desk was a philosopher. The woman who made my coffee was an economist. The cabbies I met were aspiring writers, political refugees, and students. Everyone had a college education or plans for one. Everyone was paying too much for rent. Everyone new exactly where the closest Starbucks, pizza joint, or Duane Reede were to be found. I was exhausted by the time I made it to my room that first night. And that wasn’t even the first day of the audio show! Ahh! I’m still yelling! Ahh!

The 2013 New York Audio Show happened over the course of the weekend leading up to Tax Day here in the US. By some coincidence, it was also the same weekend as the Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival. I’m not sure if any of that kept folks from coming or if they came anyway, but I do know that the halls were rather crowded this year—and they were crowded last year, now that I think about it. I can’t see that as anything other than a good thing, and I’d even go so far as to add that the crowd this year wasn’t quite as geezer-heavy as some prognosticators might have been expecting. How ‘bout them apples?

Another myth-buster—while there were the obligatory rounds of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Nils Lofgren, and Diana Krall, I heard a lot of “other stuff” at the New York Show. More on that anon…. But the biggest complaint I heard from the show? Cost. Yeah. No surprise there. Apparently, this was an eye-popping experience for most of the exhibitors. The room cost, the fees, the setup costs, the cost of hotel dining, the delivery costs—lots of room to complain, apparently. On the other hand, one of the things that caused much snarling and gnashing of teeth at the New York show last year was the room acoustics—a problem that simply didn’t happen here. Not saying it wasn’t a problem, it just wasn’t any more of a problem than usual. Interestingly, the AXPONA show addressed this head-on with a truck-full of room treatment solutions from ATS Acoustics, and was no doubt one of the reasons for that show’s sonic successes—I’d love to see this sort of thing become standard practice (insert crickets here]. That said, the sound of the 40 or so rooms here at New York was, on the whole, quite good.