Australian Audio & AV Show Melbourne, Small But Lively and Well Attended

The venue for the 3 day Australian Audio & AV Show was the stunning Intercontinental Melbourne The Rialto Hotel a former wool storage facility turned into a glass covered atrium with dual antique brick facades and gothic style glass windows facing and connected to one another via cross-bridges. An elegant ground floor restaurant is on the lower level.

Most of the show was on hotel room floors 3 and 4 with additional rooms including a seminar room on the one floor from the bottom "LG" level. The Chester Group organized the show, now in its fourth year with sponsorship by NextMedia, publisher of Sound+Image and Audio Esoterica magazines.

I spent time with Audio Esoterica's engaging editor Edgar Kramer. The current issue of his glossy, bi-monthly magazine features a cover story on the Kronos speakers and reviews of, among others, Wilson Sasha Series2, the Devialet 200, Krell S-550i integrated amplifier, the Brinkmann Bardo, with Jelco SA-750EB arm and Acoustic Systems Archon MC cartridge, the Trinity Electronic Design DAC, the Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 800 integrated amplifier and his review of the Sonus Faber Extrema loudspeakers. I'm jealous!

The show kickoff was a black tie Sound+ Image Awards dinner Wednesday evening, emceed by the magazine's fast, witty and absolutely hilarious Jez Ford. Despite the serious jet-lag from having flown in that morning, I had a great time and felt right at home because many of the attendees recognized me and were so friendly and welcoming.

The awards went to companies mainstream like Yahama and esoteric like Ypsilon, which won for its CDT 100 transport and DAC. VTL and Audioquest were runners up in amp and USB DAC categories. The slick production included musical and visual introductions and I kept thinking this is something Stereophile should do for its awards but where? In Las Vegas? That would be the only time much of the industry would be in one place but everyone is so busy it probably wouldn't be practical.

During Thursday's set-up day fellow Caliburn owner Eugene Hand took me for a tour of wine country in his Maserati coup but the cold rain made it a less than ideal tour. We topped it off with a visit to Quality Records in Malvern, which has a superb collection of the latest new releases along with a great selection of used classical vinyl at ridiculously reasonable prices. I picked up a few nice UK Deccas for under $7 each

. The show organizers had me busy doing two seminars a day for each of the show's 3 days: a daily turntable set-up seminar and one featuring an informal Q&A session with Continuum Caliburn project coordinator Mark Doehmann.

All sessions were packed with the vinyl faithful and it was so much fun meeting people who though they live more than a half a world away, treated me like a next door neighbor that they have known for a very long time. They were so appreciative and complimentary they left me walking on air the whole time.

I tried to visit as many rooms as I could that featured products not seen in America and in this case I extended my reach beyond vinyl. Still, I didn't get to see as many rooms as I would have liked because of the seminars and meetings I attended.

My trip over and expenses were covered and I tried to give the show sponsors their money's worth. On Sunday afternoon I was told everyone was happy with my visit and that everyone enjoyed meeting me as much as I enjoyed meeting them. Like vinyl playback itself, the experience of walking through the corridors and having people come up and say hello and ask for photo opportunities was magical. I turned out the lights each evening thinking what a lucky fellow am I!

tnargs's picture

I missed it this year, but it was quite a drawcard to have a headliner like you there, Michael. I hope it isn't your last visit to our happy land.