An Audio Show Year-In-Review, Top Exhibitors of 2019

Everyone is wrapping up the decade or year in the hi-fi press, and I figured why not throw myself into the mix. This is more of a personal article for me, because it all boils down to what I’ve seen, heard, and reported on throughout 2019. I’ll be honest about this, no single person covers as much of the audio show circuit as I do — that’s not bragging, it’s just a reality. So without further ado, here are my picks for best hifi sounds for 2019.

By Eric Franklin Shook

Best Audio Show Exhibitors for 2019

The year for me spanned a total of eight shows, starting with the Florida Audio Expo, then moving on to Axpona, The Lone Star Audio Fest, CanJam SoCal, The Home Entertainment Show (T.H.E. Show), Summer NAMM, The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, and ending with Capital Audio Fest. Each show producing an average of 40+ articles to be shared between AudioHead and Part-Time Audiophile.

In-depth-reporting is the name of the game, as with other publications you’ll often find most are writing aggregate articles, which compile ten or more exhibit rooms into one post — offering at most a single blurb and a few prices for each room they pop their head into. Whereas, I prefer to dedicate one article to each exhibit room, diving deeper into the photography, the details, and the sound. Again, not bragging, just being truthful.

Throughout the year, I’ve amassed a lot of data that crosses the boundaries between shows, and gives me a larger view of the state of the industry and its players. From that experience, I’ve developed a few favourite exhibitors, along with a few that are undeniably doing amazing things around the show circuit. In no particular order, they are as follows.

Acappella / Audio Note / Audio Federation

– Big Horns, Little Horns, and great sound experiences always. These exhibitors are Audio Federation, a married couple, both audiophiles, and both keen on exhibiting simple systems with great respect for sound. Definitely an exhibitor I look forward to covering again in 2020.

DeVore Fidelity / Luxman

– Both DeVore Fidelity and Luxman have been showing large with new products, but also gathering large amounts of acclaim. Luxman particularly partnering with a variety of loudspeakers and source manufacturers. I would argue that it’s been a good sounding year for all those who partnered with DeVore and Luxman.

ModWright / Fern & Roby / Studio Electric

– If you were to corner me in an elevator, and ask me to rattle off three brands that I’m always excited to see at an audio show. I would recommend each of these companies. Yes, they are all small by comparison to the magazine cover queens of the last thirty years, but with my ear to the ground it’s these company names that live at the tip of my tongue when it comes to the beating heart of the industry.

VAC / Von Schweikert / Esoteric / The Audio Company

– What else is there to say about this exhibiting team that pictures don’t already tell. If you want to experience ultra-high-end audio on a scale seldom seen in real life — The Audio Company experience is worth the airfare. 

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