Imagine being isolated, not knowing about possibilities available outside your domain. While you are not voluntarily held captive, the world around you is severely limited by your own choices. Sometimes there were brief glimpses of 'the outside world,' yet these were only small teases as the awareness of The Bigger Picture was only now being challenged. Could there be a way to escape this self-made prison and expand one's horizon? These are the thoughts that ran through my head years ago.
Attending the Las Vegas CES over a decade ago brought to life how limited the equipment selection was during public shows. This is not to say public shows had little gear, far from it. Just that the CES had a 'world' of gear with many worldwide manufacturers seeking United State distribution and sales.
Over the years i came to realize that even the grand ol' CES had limits. Perhaps not limits in the pure sense, though many of the same companys attended year after year. My thirst for knowledge and experienced grew stronger! Here i was in America hearing from my friends on the Internet about all this highly raved about gear available in their country. Sure there may have been whispers, and perhaps a few of us hearing hints that Room AP1202 has this great new product from...
i recall another audiophile saying to me years ago, "Steve, once you've seen three shows you have seen them all." At first i was taken aback; how could only three shows contain all the gear from around the world? It was years later that i realized his advice came from a worldlier standpoint. Perhaps once you have attended a few shows in the same county you have seen virtually all the gear available within that country.
Sure my memories of the PA Tube show in 1997 with Dennis Had of Cary Audio and good ol' Triodemeister Gizmo making their grand appearances still shine brightly. Then nyNOISE fulfilled the alternative to mainstream show in 1999 with ever-more glorious handmade and niché products. How many of you attended the Vacuum State Of The Art Conference And Show in 2003? With all three of these shows long forgotten by some, or worse still not even a blip on their 'map of life,' what is the next step to audio discovery? Has the proverbial prison doors closed on the American audiophile?
The answer is a swift no as today we have the very impressive and well organized Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) in October and more hobbyist plus vintage audio Vacuum Tube Valley Magazine VTV Expo. Both of these shows are must-see events, as their is a dazzling array of equipment to be seen and heard! But what if you are like me, with an unquenchable thirst for more knowledge and hopes of enhancing your aural experience? Fear not as the world is filled with audio exotica just waiting for you!
In May/June is what i call Europe's high-end CES, better knows as the High End Society show that is now held in Munich. Have spilled much cyber ink on this show over the past few years. September brings about my other favorite European show, the Top Audio & Video show in Milan Italy. Germany may rule the planet for their precisely CNC machines turntable and engineered digital devices, though make no mistake as the Italians also have their own take on such devices while also employing fashion design house styling. Think of it like comparing the best sports car from the two countries. Both are extremely impressive in every way; yet get the job done in vastly different ways and with different esthetics.
This year my plans are to throw out the old way of show coverage. My hopes are to entice the American audiophile to realize that there is an 'undiscovered' world of aural delights waiting for them. It is time to break out of the self-made prison and experience the world around them. Not as a substitution for attending the VTV or RMAF shows, but as a way of discovering the many possibilities not available on home soil. An added benefit is you can include your significant other (S.O.) as after the show you may easily travel to other worldly destinations by train (or rent a car).
As an example, in only two weeks my truly gorgeous woman and i are escaping from our daily lives to join the jet setters in Italy for the Milan Top Audio & Video show. Life is too short, and too valuable, to place self-imposed limits. You and your S.O. could trip around Europe and include Paris, Milan, and Monaco... or Bellagio, Tuscany, and Rome. The possibilities are nearly endless while you get to see, hear, and experience many great audio products. Once you attend one of these great European audio shows your S.O. may ask about next year's event and look forward to joining you! As i always say, in the end what really matters to me is that we all....