AXPONA 2015: New to Me, Yet Familiar
Funny how strangely familiar it seems here at a show I've never been to before. It's defining feature, for me anyway, is the "Ear Gear" area produced by Brian Hunter of AudioHead. The thing that interests me about it is that it actually seems to fit right in and work. RMAF has had CanJam for a while, but it could be a one-offsomething that can work once, but not part of a business model. T.H.E. Show Newport has the Headphonium, and that seemed to work just fine. But Bob Levi has his poop in a group in Southern California, and he can make just about anything work. Here at AXPONA, well, that's a whole different thing.
AXPONA is a solid audio show that's been around for a while. It's totally representative of a high-end audio show that works. Now, to organize a headphone contingent, plug it in, and have it work is not only a testament to the hard work of Brian and the show organizers (I'm lookin' at you Liz), it's testimony that headphones are now a natural part of high-end audio. If a dedicated headphone area works at AXPONA...it'll work at any legit audiophile show. If there's a story to me so far, it's that I feel, for the first time, that headphones are a very real part of the high-end audio world. It's not some future thing, it's here. Weird.
I also moderated the "Future Directions for Headphones" panel. I don't know if we really mapped out the headphone's future, but we did have a good chat. My first question about the future was what's currently new. Dave Friesma mentioned Etymotic's home hearing testerthey're not just into headphones, Etymotic is a leading provider of instrumentation and components for the hearing health industry. Mr. Speaker's Dan Clark highlighted his new Ether headphones and told us about his pleated V-Planar driver diaphragms have a circuit trace that's almost 200 feet long, as I remember. He's a very real part of the quickly evolving future of planar magnetic headphones. The new Sennheiser's Momentum Wireless I recently reviewed was mentioned by Scott Houston as cool, but I poked him a bit to brag about how the well Momentum and Urbanite brands were fairing out there in the big, bad world of Beats. A battleship fighting an aircraft carrier, good sport that. And with the "why didn't I think of that" product of the month, Brannan Mason told us a bit about his $99 BTS (Bluetooth Solution) that turns your IEMs into a headset. We strayed off into 3D sound on headphones and target response curves pretty quickly. It was good fun.
Tomorrow will be serious listening to a few important things. I bet you can guess.