I know the spiel about sound at shows. I’ve written about it, edited commentary on it from our writers, and read about it in other publications over many years. Blah blah blah. OK, so perhaps the one qualification I’ll make in my assessment is that these systems won’t sound like what I heard at FAE 2020 if these mega-systems were set up in your carefully constructed custom listening room. But then you already knew that.
The vinyl revival is real and big, so turntable sales are brisk -- but at every hi-fi show, it’s uncertain how many new turntables and related products you’ll see, and in what price ranges. I don’t know why that is -- it just happens that way. At the Florida Audio Expo 2020, however, I wasn’t expecting the diversity of vinyl-related products, as you’ll see in the coverage below. Call it a pleasant surprise. All prices are in US dollars.
Based on my Florida Audio Expo 2019 experience, I originally thought we’d end up with two features on loudspeakers. After finishing walking the floors, I think we’ll get three or more features. There are far more products being shown at FAE 2020 than there were at FAE 2019, which is why I’m glad I’m not the only one here covering it. Below are more new and/or interesting loudspeakers I found, with all prices in US dollars.
There were new models of electronics at this year’s edition of the Florida Audio Expo, at all different price points and with vastly different form factors and functions. Here is a selection of the most interesting pieces that I saw. All prices are in US dollars.
Florida’s fabulous wintertime weather was the excuse most of us used last year to justify visiting the first-ever Florida Audio Expo. No one knew what the show would be like, but we all had an inkling that the weather would be much nicer in Tampa in February than where we were coming from. So if the show didn’t pan out, which is a real possibility for any new show, it would still be a nice weekend away. Little did we know that the first Florida Audio Expo would turn out as well as it did.
Thanks to an introduction made by Canadian distributor Audio Alliance, Accuphase Laboratory was the first stop on my January 2020 trip to Japan. Traveling from my hotel in Tokyo’s bustling Ueno area in the Taito district, I arrived at a local train station to meet Kohei Nishigawa, Accuphase’s international marketing supervisor. “I came to pick you up in the Accuphase car,” Nishigawa offered. Sure enough, he directed me to the station’s parking lot, where we got into a white Toyota SUV bearing orange Accuphase logos on its sides and rear.
On December 16, 2019, I visited Synergistic Research’s headquarters and factory, located in Santa Ana, California. Glad to avoid the unwieldy Los Angeles International Airport for the smaller and virtually painless John Wayne Airport, which is located only about ten minutes from my destination, I was greeted curbside by Andy Wiederspahn, Synergistic Research’s general manager.
Shortly before the beginning of 2018, Soundstage! Network founder Doug Schneider visited Magico founder Alon Wolf at the company’s headquarters and factory in Hayward, California, to hear the then-new Magico A3 loudspeaker ($12,300/pair, all prices USD). On December 17, 2019, almost two years after Doug’s visit, I arrived at Magico to hear the company’s new A5 loudspeaker ($21,800/pr.).
I was back at New York City’s Chelsea Wine Vault on October 19, 2019, for another audio event, this time featuring product demonstrations by Dragonfire Acoustics and Theoretica Applied Physics. As I have written before, the Chelsea Wine Vault mixes a gorgeous retail wine store with high-end audio. Now-retired Wall Street tycoon Andrew Hoover III, who stores his wine collection in the Vault’s commercial wine-storage facility, has so many high-end audio systems that he uses the Vault as his system overflow space. High-end systems are everywhere!
Vivid Audio has a new loudspeaker coming -- the S12. It’s part of the Kaya range, and it’s the brand’s smallest and most affordable loudspeaker yet. I covered the S12 when Vivid presented it at the recent Audio Video Show in Warsaw, Poland, and it was shown again at the Tokyo International Audio Show (TIAS).
In my report on speakers, I mentioned that new hi-fi electronics are much easier to find at TIAS than speakers are. That’s why, for this Tokyo International Audio Show (TIAS) 2019 coverage, I wound up with one article on speakers and, with this final installment, three on electronics. Below you’ll find more electronic components that I found at TIAS 2019, with all but one from Japan-based brands. All the prices are in Japanese yen (¥). Right now, one US dollar is equivalent to 108.62 yen.
CDs and even SACDs are still big in Japan -- and so are records. Japanese audiophiles still love physical media for music playback. As a result, it’s not surprising to see new CD and SACD players at the Tokyo International Audio Show (TIAS) 2019, like the ones I covered from Luxman, as well as turntables and related products, which are featured below. All prices are in Japanese yen (¥), with one US dollar equivalent to 108.62 yen.
New loudspeakers aren’t as easy to find at the Tokyo International Audio Show (TIAS) as they are at other shows. Part of the problem lies with the Japanese manufacturers -- some make loudspeakers, but more companies seem to be focused on electronic components. As a result, although it happens, it’s actually not that often you see a loudspeaker debut from a Japanese brand.
Each year at the Tokyo International Audio Show (TIAS), two of Japan’s best-known electronics brands exhibit in rooms that are side by side -- Luxman and Accuphase. Sometimes, the two companies even release similar products at the same time (though, as you’ll see below, their new products this year weren’t similar).
“It’s a terrible trip to an amazing city.” That’s what Jeb Roberts, one of our copy editors, texted me when he found out I was about to leave to cover the annual Tokyo International Audio Show (TIAS), held this year from November 22 to 24.
At Audio Video Show 2019, there was a large area devoted to headphones at the Warsaw National Stadium. At many of the tables, attendees waited patiently for 15 minutes or more for a chance to audition headphones and related products.
I’m going to finish off my show reporting with my last series of electronic products. At this, the close of the Audio Video Show 2019, I’d like to draw your attention to the sheer number of products we’ve presented in this show coverage. It’s a large cross-section of items, but without trying too hard I know that -- if we had time -- we could have unearthed a significant number of additional components.
More speakers! Such a diverse group -- so many ambitious designs, all coming from different countries. Audio Video Show 2019 was noticeably larger than the 2018 version, with more exhibitors, more products, and what felt like a greater number of attendees. And that meant lots of multicultural speakers for us to cover.
Well what do you know? There were a whole bunch of analog pearls hidden within the fleshy innards of Audio Video Show 2019. While my initial feeling was that there were fewer turntables actually in use this year, what I found made up in quality what it lacked in quantity.
While I was walking around the Radisson Blu Sobieski and National Stadium, it seemed like every room had new products. Every. Single. Room. Usually we have to hunt for these, but there was no escaping components that needed our attention. We found a wealth of opportunities for show coverage here at Audio Video Show 2019. All prices are shown in Polish zlotys (zł) or euros (€). (Currently, the zloty trades at approximately US$0.26. Note that prices in Europe typically include value-added tax, which in Poland is 23%.)
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