Is it me, or are Hifi shows dissapointing?

edited February 2011 in Analogue
I have to admit, I havn't been to one in a few years, but I would go year in year out, only to be completely disappointed with the set ups on display. I don't mean the eye candy, but the performance. The only room I remember being half good was the ATC speakers room. What's you verdicts?


  • Totally agree Dom.  I went to all of them from the mid 70s to the mid 90s.  I stopped when it all went AV and multi channel.  Went again about 5 years ago and it was better because it was back to two channel audio only - but only slightly.  The only firm who do it for me now are Audio Note.  They are the only speakers that could tempt me away from my Lowthers.

    The last dems I heard from two stalwarts of British HiFi were really bad.  I hate the excuse that it's down to bad hotel rooms.  Firstly because Audio Note have never given a bad dem - and they usually have a fairly small room.  Secondly at last year's Scalford Wigwam show well over half the rooms gave very good dems.  So it clearly can be done.  And I've heard some fantastic dems over the years.  So those that fail do so for other reasons than the venue.
  • Having done the London Bake-Off Show, I have a certain amount of sympathy with exhibitors at shows - it is quite a challenge to get a good sound that people will want to sit and listen to (I like to think that Ben and I did manage that).  All that said, I do wonder what some of the usual show exhibitors are trying to sell, because surely selling is the main motive for being there.  We all have different auditory systems and very different preferences and prejudices, but can some of these people not hear how awful their setups sound?  I do find it quite touching that some very small players book rooms to show off their particular babies, which are often the sort that only a doting mother can love, eg colossal, screechy horn speakers that no right-thinking woman would countenance anywhere near the home, or rather unsafe valve electronics - these people clearly believe that there is a market for their weird stuff and even though they have done no market research and are utterly misguided, I still say Good Luck to them!  They do not generally seem to turn up in the following years. 

    Going back to selling for a moment, I do know some people in the trade and nobody can say honestly that enough business resulted from attending a Show, to cover the costs of being there.  So why do they do it?  There is a bit of "if so and so is there, I must be too" but there must be something else.  Perhaps Shows are an opportunity for trade socialising and back-slapping.  Whatever is the truth, enormous numbers of men (and the occasional woman) do attend, so somebody is doing very well here. 

    I fool myself that I'm only going for the vinyl stalls, but I do like ogling stuff that I can't afford; and there's usually a lot of that.  I usually come away disappointed, but still go to the Heathrow Show each year, since it's only half an hour from here.  I won't travel further, even for the chaotic and honestly enthusiastic Scalford Hall Show. 

    If anyone deserves a consistent credit for good sounds at shows, it's Audio Note.  That they do it without any of the fancy mains stuff and support systems is even more remarkable.  They know their market and how to please it!  On the subject of Audio Note, I believe that they will be at the Bristol Show, so if anyone's going, do pop in and see/hear the new tonearm that I'm getting soon (I hope).

    Did I answer Dom's question?  I'm not sure, but he's right about the performance aspect.  He didn't mention the cost of beer and coffee at these places, which is another reason for staying away!
  • you may be right about these things being for the industry rather than the customer. What I would like is for forum members to get together and show their systems, real world systems, swap ideas and have a chance to meet face to face. Maybe persuade a hifi retailer or manufacturer to do a demo or two also.
  • Scalford Hall, or London Bake-Off Show?  Those pretty much match what you want.
  • No doubt your right Hugo. Are there any objections to starting another?
  • I do think that there are ways of doing events like the Bake-Off Show to encourage wider attendance.  Perhaps Uglymusic will chip in with some thoughts.  My feeling is that the 'themed' room approach was a good idea but too restrictive in practice - people generally just want to come along and listen, ogle, have a chat etc.  That's why I think Scalford Hall will be a success again - it's people showing off their stuff, and having fun doing it.  I also believe that you need a good reason for people to come, and the vinyl/CD sellers are perennially popular. 

    It need not cost the earth to organise a small show.  RD paid (iirc) only £1000 for a very nice business centre annex at the Epping hotel - that was pretty much perfect.  I have no problem with having a commercial partner to shoulder some of the costs.  What do others think?
  • Hi-fi shows are like hi-fi magazines......just a rough guide.

    A proper dealer dem followed by home dem is the way to go BUT a good day out can be had at a show especially if you can meet old friends there.

    Went to Whittlebury hall last September and quite enjoyed it and the surroundings and venue are superb with nice large rooms which adds to the experience unlike Heathrow/bristol where the rooms have terrible acoustics and invariably are miles too cramped to get speakers to work properly or sound right.



  • edited February 2011
    Far prefer exhibiting at shows to viewing and listening.
    I get this 'seen it all before' feeling and if you think about it, we have as you only regurgitate working circuits so many times!

    Amplifier/dac/digital dems at shows bore me senseless. The performance differences between the good ones (thats most of them) are simply swamped by the unfamiliar systems and rooms. The speaker and room sonics dominate, and the latter are usually not good as there is little time to set up.

    The best bit is definitely the banter, either with people asking questions and talking about kit being exhibited or having a good natter in the bar.

    For me the problem is that there is very little by way of innovative products at shows and while they are quite exciting places for a 20 year old, when you reach forty something and have attended just a many shows it all gets a bit passé.

    The bake-off show was a refreshing change though.
  • The Munich Hi End show is worth a visit, Easy jet leave early and return late, Uk shows rather pale into insignificance in comparison.
  • The Wam show at Scalford this year was damn near perfect IMHO.

  • Tru dat.
  • Hi fi shows are just that, mfrs or their distributors showing their kit. I used to go to a lot of them in the early seventies, but dont bother any more, proly due to the fact that most of the systems at the shows are set up by salesmen, the sound produced is often questionable, due to all sorts of reasons.
    But The Wam show is totally different tis run by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. And of course we all know our record/cd player rigs intimately.
  • I think the older Penta type shows were ever body mucked in were much more fun to do and go to.
    But normally for after the second day I hid in the Bathroom away from the crowds far to much noise without volume control.
    The Munich show was also very interesting but far to much walking and getting lost.

  • Went to Paris earlier in the year and had a great day I have to say. Some rooms were too small to do the kit justice but most coped pretty well.
  • What kind of show is the Paris one, Stu?
  • There's a report on HP about it at the end of Sept under shows.
    It is a good show, lots of people and very friendly to boot. The funniest thing was the JBL K2s in a room the size of a shoebox...added value in this room was that the guy looking after the room hadn't a clue about ANY of the kit..not names not anything.
  • I shall have a snoofle around, then  :o3
  • The Penta shows were fantastic Mr BD. And yes the mfrs all helped each other, I met George Hadcock there and he became one of my firmest friends after that. He used to drive from Nottingham to IAS in Southampton regularly to visit. Happy days!

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