T.H.E. Show Newport 2016 Wrap-Up

On the way home, 11AM, Xyzzyx Rd., Nevada, ~100 degrees F. Thank you air conditioner.

I really wasn't aware of the changes to T.H.E. Show management until I started these reports. It seems we're in very good hands. Marine Presson, now General Manager of T.H.E. Show Newport, started working with Richard Beers prior to last years show aiding with smartening up the look of the graphic design...something it sorely needed, IMO. Richard quickly realized he had a tiger by the tail and rapidly promoted her into the inner-working of show production. I'll not spoil the tail, which she tells much better in her own words in this Tone Audio interview.

I was particularly struck by her comment, "Secondly—we are also putting more emphasis on the personal listening market and expect to see more young faces than ever before, a necessity for the survival of the audio industry in general."

In my last five years of experience at T.H.E. Show Newport I've always felt it a terrifically fun audio enthusiast event. It's begun to show its influence as a trend setter with food trucks now a staple at R.M.A.F. The past three years has seen the Headphonium—a special area set aside for headphone and personal audio exhibits—make its appearance in the venue. I was sad to see it disappear this year, even though there was a significant headphone presence among vendors in the marketplace room.

I've often wondered if the headphone presence at an audiophile show should just be subsumed into the larger body of exhibitors. After experiencing this show, I don't think we're quite ready yet. Headphones and personal audio, in my opinion, are part of the larger audio enthusiast activity, but I don't think we're as mature or settled as traditional two-channel audio. We're still changing and growing into our identity as a segment. I do think headphone enthusiasts and audiophiles are fundamentally different in the nature of how they self-identify as audio enthusiasts. I do think we need a little separate space to play out this maturation.

Obviously, we have separate event like the Head-Fi CanJams and regional meets like CanLanta. But when audiophiles and headphone enthusiasts do come together at an event, I do like the diversity of the two cultures to be apparent...like with CanJam at RMAF and the Headphonium at T.H.E. Newport in years past.

These separate areas also provide a clear draw for personal audio firms. Without the special areas, presenting new personal audio ideas and product is less likely to become a special draw for headphone enthusiasts, and therefor less potent exposure for exhibitors. Basically, I think headphones still need a leg-up when presenting itself alongside its more mature two-channel audio brother...or we start looking like an accessory all over again. We've long struggled to become a legit category that stands on its own two feet; going backwards is not an option.

So, putting money where my mouth is, I'll commit to next year's show and will help in the ways I can should Marine want to hoist the Headphonium back onto the stage. Without it, I have a hard time seeing T.H.E. Show as needing my coverage...which would bum me out because it's still my favorite show to attend.

And that, dear reader, should be your take-away: I'm not sure of where its value is regarding headphone stuff directly, but its a very good time for an audio geek! If you want to have a really fun look at two-channel audio gear and experience a whole bunch of like-minded folks, T.H.E. Show Newport 2017 should be at the top of your list! A really fun time by design...thanks, Richard.

COMMENTS
tony's picture

will be the huge draw that the 2 Channel folks need for their next generation market, they should blend it right in like the legitimate product it is. It's actually much bigger than 2-Channel, all things considered and it's far more popular.

But, it's Internet based, not Dealer/Rep based so the 2-Channel show people hafta look at Schiit ( and most of the others ) as taboo black sheep gobbling up the lion's share of the Audiophile grazing landscape, hitting price points that are impossible for any Dealer to cope with.

As a one time Audio speciality Dealer, I'd choose the Internet as a Marketplace over paying rent to a Landlord and having Sales Staff scratching up Demo Product.

I just had a meeting with the Midwest's Prominent Audio Sales Rep. Ray Wright. We together conclude that there isn't a viable High-End Independent Audio Dealer in the entire Mid-West. Harley-Davison ( free membership to the local chapter and free hotdogs on Sat. before the club ride ) are the new hot item ( along with Mustang Convertibles ). Geez! Where is all that 2-Channel stuff I sold for my 3 years in the Business? ( stored in basements, I'm guessing )

A nice feature of Newport is that it's not overrun with crowds, some even say they heard pretty good sound ( which is not likely at a jammed up show ). But, here comes MQA and another Marketing Push.

Tony in Michigan

mikemercer's picture

Tyll,

It warms my hear SO much to read this!! When Richard approached me in 2013 (like 2 months before THE Show then) he asked me if I could do a headphone show there. I did a naming contest real fast - and John Darko won (he actually came up T.H.E Headphonium) - called Jason Stoddard (Schiit Audio), Alex Rosson (then - Audeze) Ken Ball (ALO Audio) and Own and Jimmy at A&K for help...

And in 2013 - at the very first Headphonium - ALO introduced their statement Studio 6!
It was the FIRST US show for Astell-n-Kern outside CES

and we had a BLAST!!

Then I brought Warren Chi on-board and we were OFF!!

Last year - we were supposed to be in the main ballroom - and we had to turn-AWAY like 16 exhibitors when we were stuck in the tent.

But that show was my HEART.
And I would LOVE to being it back w/ you and Marine!!!!

FAnderson87's picture

I can't wait for the Show Newport in 2017! I hope I will be there, because I am pumped for this. I am looking forward to meet you there and have a little chat with you, perhaps. :)

Frank

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