RSL Speakers participated at the recent T.H.E. Show June 1-3. T.H.E. stands for Total Home Entertainment and included both audiophile stereo and home theater exhibits. Approximately 7,000 people attended. The show was a bit strange, but I’ll get to that in a minute. We had 2 rooms adjacent to each other; one for stereo and the other for home theater. We had a constant stream of friendly people for the three days. We were surprised at how many RSL Speaker owners came to our room. Some were still enjoying their speakers they bought in the 70’s.
Many of the rooms at the show featured the most expensive audio equipment imaginable. Speakers costing anywhere from $20,000 to over $100,000 per pair were not hard to find. When you add the electronics and cables, you’re looking at the same bucks as an exotic sports car. Most of the people we spoke to said that they couldn’t afford this type of equipment, although it was nice to look at. If few can afford their products, I wonder how some of these ultra high end manufacturers justify their presence at the show. It’s probably why at these shows, you see new names every year and many of the names from last year don’t come back. People said that our speakers were more in their price range (I think we were the most affordable speakers at the show). Yet, thankfully nobody used the “C” word (compromise) when referring to our sound quality.
We ran some pretty modest equipment in both rooms, because our theme for the show was affordability. In the stereo room, we ran a Primaluna integrated tube amp (about $1,500), an Oppo Blu-ray player (because it would play anything that anybody brought in), and our super duper buck a foot high resolution 12 gauge speaker wire. Some people who came into our room told us that the last room they visited had speaker wire that cost more than our entire system! In the home theater room, we ran a 7.1 system powered by an Integra 40.3 receiver. The 40.3 is a middle model in their line, but had more than enough power to create an amazing home theater experience. I ran the stereo room and my son, Joe ran the home theater room. Now for the strange.
Even though the show was supposed to be a “total home entertainment” show, we were one of the only ones demonstrating home theater. Most everybody else was demonstrating 2 channel. Last year, I asked those who stopped by our rooms if they preferred stereo or home theater. Many said that they were only interested in 2 channel and wanted nothing to do with home theater. It made me think that when stereo was introduced in the late 50’s, there were probably hi-fi shows where people would come into the stereo room and say that they were sticking with mono. After all, why would you ever need more than one speaker? This year, most of the people we asked said that they were into home theater. Some said they were interested in both home theater and stereo. Very few said they were interested in stereo only.
Yet we were among the only ones with a home theater demonstration room. Go figure. What was puzzling to me was how some of the high end audio components dealt with the acoustics of the demonstration rooms. As you may know, room acoustics can make or break the sound of an audio system and the acoustics of the hotel rooms at the show left much to be desired. Some high-end demo rooms had acoustical treatments, but many did not. As a result, I personally felt that some of the sound put forth by these expensive systems was unimpressive.
I can’t imagine why a high end audio company would go to all the trouble of producing such expensive audio gear and go to the trouble and expense of coming to the show and completely ignoring the room acoustics. Even with its idiosyncrasies, the show was worthwhile for us. People were able to go into rooms and hear megabuck systems priced as much as a condo and then immediately hear our affordable systems. The comments we received brought many smiles. And some from us.