Hitting the Road

The Audio Expo North America (AXPONA) is coming to the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel and Convention Center near Chicago April 13th to 15th, the first year in this hotel. Also, for the first time, Ultra Fidelis will have a room wherein we will be representing, demoing the gear of, and hobnobbing with some of our best industry friends and partners.

Some of you probably know about AXPONA and have attended or plan to this year. For the rest of you, know that it’s a fun way to get deep immersion in the crazy world of high quality audio without having to travel to 50 cities in the U.S. and elsewhere. You can come for one, two or three days and dive in with the hard-core lovers of sound. It’s “kid in a candy store” stuff for audiophiles.

Although I’ve attended many audio shows of various ilk over the years (my first Consumer Electronics Show was the year the Elcaset was introduced. Google that for a chuckle.), I have only once actually “exhibited.” Summer CES (Chicago), 1993, the one and only time the Show was open to the general public, I worked the Vandersteen room, since Quintessence Audio, the store I was at then, was the local dealer. What I remember most was that Richard and I were both having to work through the ramifications of the “hard work” we had been doing until late the night before. Let’s just say “conditions were not ideal.”

With that as my historical perspective, the thought had only distantly crossed my mind of doing another show, a little more so now that AXPONA appeared permanently ensconced a mere 90 miles away, but only a little. Until January 16th, mid-afternoon, when our friend and AudioQuest representative Rick Blair sent an email asking if I was considering doing a room at AXPONA. Um, no. Not taking that for an answer, he immediately laid out a plan involving some of our favorite co-conspirators and less than two weeks later, we had a room (690 if you happen to make your way down), and a very happy list of equipment assembled to play for those in attendance.

Since then, many details have been worked out including AudioQuest creating a wonderful banner for display outside our room and shipping a bunch of fantabulous cables that all need burn-in, a task we are happy to muddle through. Richard will be unveiling the brand new Vandersteen M5HPA power amps to the general audio enthusiast public, driving the magnificent Quatro CT’s. We will have a passel of Audio Research front end equipment, a Lyra Etna on an AMG V12 Turbo and an Aurender N10 serving up digital music. All the gear will be housed and isolated in HRS equipment stands (we will have an RXR stand available at very friendly pricing after the show). AC power will be purified by two AudioQuest Niagaras and vinyl optimized by Perfect Vinyl Forever.

Preparation goes on, at least in the background, every day as there is a seemingly endless checklist of things to do, especially when you only do one show every 25 years and have established no protocol. The fun part for me right now is selecting the vinyl that I’m taking for demonstration. My Aurender N10 is jammed with music and will also have access to Tidal, which means more or less everything, but vinyl is obviously limited to what we pack and haul to the show. It’s an engaging task to determine what makes the cut.

I’m sure we will get there and discover something has been overlooked, and I’m just hopeful we will be able to improvise our way around it, but, if not, at least the show is not too far from home. Or maybe you could stop by the store and grab that laser setup jig we forgot. Hope to see you there!