CES 2008: The Vibes

As you may have noticed…. Visually, the Venetian is very different than the St. Tropez and Alexis Park.

The rooms at the Venetian, especially some of those up on 35, are exquisite. Well appointed, well decorated, clean – suitable for entertaining just about anybody you can imagine: rich folk, Hollywood actors and actresses, sports stars, even the handful of politicians you think you might be able to stand a few minutes alone with. Not quite what you think of when you think of your average audiophile.

The rooms at the Alexis Park, and more so the St. Tropez, are old, dilapidated, scungy, skanky, horribly decorated with stiff soiled curtains that conflict garishly with the patched, blackened carpet, and kind of smelly to boot – suitable for entertaining, well, nobody. Not quite what you think of when you think of your average audiophile either.

The equipment in the photos at the Venetian are gorgeous, more so that THE Show. At T.H.E. Show did my best to crop out the icky curtains and stains in the carpet, whereas at the Venetian I felt free to include some of the yellows and reds of the backgrounds, and the golds of the lamps, it added color and context for the equipment.

I do not believe that the equipment is all that much lovelier at the Venetian than at the St. Tropez and Alexis Park.

At the Venetian, the exhibitors setup their equipment in this luxurious environment. They look around at the fine furniture and the view and the elegance – and they dust off their equipment a little bit, make sure it is all aligned in an attractive manner. Maybe ask someone for an extra rack or go get some plants to spruce it up a little.

At the T.H.E. Show, people kind of shove some of the mismatched furniture down to one side of the room and plop some equipment on it, or on the floor. Wires go everywhere. Components are kind of dusty and fingerprinted from the last 3 shows, but, heck, they are still cleaner than the room.

So I think this helps explain the difference in the attractiveness of the components in the photos.

But given all this, I think it is universally acknowledged that it was more fun to attend T.H.E. Show than the Venetian. It was more of a personal experience. More of an audiophile experience.


Is it because:

A. the business business business attitude of the rest of CES [some of which is right downstairs]?

B. the Venetian has a casino downstairs? [I personally think not. The casino is like a whole other world, man. More Ferengi than Humon]

C. the traffic was lower at the T.H.E. Show? So people got individual attention and the exhibitors didn’t get overwhelmed and treat people like moving bowling pins [but still sufficient that it kept most exhibitors busy all day]?

D. the quality of the traffic, that only true believers made the effort to make it to THE Show?

E. the beauty [and perhaps the sterility] of the Venetian distracted people from the equipment? [I think not, THE Show could use a little of that sterility, let me tell you. And if the grunge did not detract from the enjoyment, why would cleanliness detract?].

F. None of the above

G. All of the above

H. I have no idea.

I. I hate tests… Cut it out!

At this point, we are returning to the Alexis Park. It worked well for us. We talk about getting one big room instead of two small ones, different rooms, blah blah blah. Point is, we’ll be back. At least for next year, anyway. The Alexis Park is in somewhat better shape than the St. Tropez, and, at the end of the day, it is all about connecting with other people.

And maybe I should … borrow … a couple or three of furnishings from the Venetian and use it, going room to room, to throw behind each system at THE Show as it is photographed.

Oh, and carry a duster with me. We use the ones they sell for automotive use. Picks up the dust instead of pushing it down the ventilation holes of the equipment.

And, uh, then make sure we use it in our rooms each morning… 🙂

CES 2008 High-end Audio Show Report with 2800 Photos

Is now, more or less, complete.

Less because we want to add an index to the report(s) …someday.

More because that day is not today, and it is not tomorrow.

So, then this is it, in two resolutions: Medium, suitable for lower resolution monitors and most laptops; and High, what the report was designed for .

2800 photos, of 180 rooms at the Venetian and 52 rooms at T.H.E. Show.

CES 2008 High-end Audio Show Report

We’ll be posting more about what was heard at the show on the Blog here, specifically the rooms in the Most Loved list.

The Style of the Sound at CES 2008

For many rooms, I have been using a ‘tag cloud’ like this to represent the type of sound the room is going for:

This has proven to be a very interesting exercise.

Some rooms, it is obvious what they are going for.

Some, many, it can be really hard to tell. Get some kind of sound out for the show, anything!, probably. So, in all likelihood , Workhorse.

Some are very flexible, and it is hard to pin down exactly what these rooms, this year, are going for.

One of the main goals of this categorization system has been to help people clarify what they are talking about. You see people say ‘The MBL room was best!” [Not the first day it wern’t] and another say “The EPOS room was best” [whatever ‘best’ means – which really means they liked it for some reasons often unbeknowst to us and themselves… but we digress].

But these two systems have completely different goals [ignoring the cost differential] – one is purely Impressive – Bass and Room Pressurization and that is it. The other serves to be Enjoyable for playing back your average piece of music.

So *our* readers can read these posts, and, assuming that the posters were trustworthy AND have ears, know that among Impressive systems [and among people who like Impressive systems – but this is a a little shakier interpretation], the MBL system was approved of. And among those who are looking for an [Economical] Enjoyable system, the EPOS system was approved of.

I think, that until we can get people to understand and reveal their sound style preferences, this is the best we are going to be able to do [and we can’t even get the ‘professional’ reviewers to do this yet].

Another goal of including these tag cloud is to help people understand the systems from afar. Another is to help people who heard the rooms think about what they heard with respect to what the goals of the system were. Another is to categorize the show in some way… did you notice that many Impressive systems were in the larger rooms [smart] but not all [cheapskates :-)].

[More later…]