AXPONA 2018 Is a Really Big Show!

AXPONA show organizers moved the event this year to a new venue: the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center, a large, modern hotel located within a half-hour of O'Hare International Airport designed and built with conventions and shows in mind. This is by far the largest, best-supported AXPONA show in the event's history.

From the top, the show took over tower floors 16,15,7,6,5,43,2 and parts of the main floor as well as an "Expo" hall that may be one of the largest indoor spaces I've ever seen in a hotel. That space alone, where the record and CD vendors plus dozens of headphone manufacturers and accessory sellers set up shop, took much of day one to cover. We will post a video of that space as soon as it can be edited and uploaded.

AnalogPlanet editor Michael Fremer moderated the day's and the show's opening panel discussion, a "Vinyl Industry Update featuring William Voss (Technics), Josh Bizar (Music Direct), Mat Weisfeld (VPI) and Jeffrey Smith (Discogs).

Music Direct streamed it live and it's been archived on the company's Facebook page so you can watch it when you find some time.

Thursday night Michael Fremer visited Music Direct's headquarters and cavernous warehouse. That video will be posted as soon as possible as well. You'll enjoy the behind the scenes look at this hugely successful online vendor and sister company of the Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs record label.

Stay tuned.

Dave H's picture


My wife and I attended Axpona here in Chicago both Saturday and Sunday. For the most part I enjoyed it, but found more than a few of the listening room setups a little bit annoying. Almost every single one had a phonograph front and center, top of the rack, spinning away with led lights highlighting it. The problem was that most of them weren't playing anything. Rather, the setup was streaming Tidal. One even had the stylus placed over the record to really make it look as if they were playing vinyl, until you looked closely and saw that it wasn't down on the record. Again, streaming Tidal.

I don't think I will attend next year. I don't go there to listen to some unknown DAC pumping Tidal into some amp. And with the lights turned down so low that you can't even make out the equipment that is thanks. I think that out of about 100 rooms, there were maybe 10 that were actually playing vinyl, while the rest were just posing. I asked one guy about the model of the turntable that was spinning (again, but not playing), and he replied "I don't know, they just gave this to me and said to set it up front". Really!

love your blog. Keep it up.


OldschoolE's picture

Yes, you will find that at every show these days. You can have 20 rooms with vinyl/analog front ends and really only three or four of them will actually play vinyl. Tidal is everywhere and personally, I don't like anything about Tidal and find zero value in it. I do use a streaming service (Spotify) for research and occasional background music, but that is all. For me and listening it is vinyl or CD (depending) and that is it.
I wish that exhibitors at shows would be more intellectually honest: If you have the intent to play vinyl then play it. It doesn't have to be 100% of the time, but play it. If you have no intent of showcasing analog gear or playing vinyl, then don't have it in the room. What would be the point? It really is that simple. It is ok to have both if you want to play both, nothing wrong with that.

Michael Fremer's picture
Both sad and ridiculous. It's both costly and labor-intensive to participate in a show. To get lazy in the room during the show is beyond ridiculous!
OldschoolE's picture

It is VERY costly and labor intensive to participate at a show, I'm eyewitness to that. What you said Michael is the very point!

OldschoolE's picture

The very point I was trying to make in response to the initial comment. Ultimately, it is of course up to the exhibitor, what they do with their space and who they want to appeal to.

Anton D's picture

I do admit those tables are my weakness in the realm of audio jewelry.

I think I would have gone if the show were closer to town. My fantasy would be Loews, the Wyndam, or downtown Renaissance.

Rudy's picture

Ran into you a couple of times, Mikey! It definitely was a lot to cover, even from a spectator's side of things. I was fortunate to attend with some Chicago pals, and several members of our audio club were in attendance as well. Great time all around, and kudos to the AXPONA board for pulling off such a great large show. Thanks to PS Audio for the free beer, also. ;)

In the rooms with turntables, most of the time we visited, they were playing records. Music servers were popular, and a few rooms did play Tidal. The marketplace was unreal--I bought two used pairs of interconnects, grabbed a few titles from the Morrow Audio haul, and even gave Chad a few dollars for a couple of 45 RPM releases.

The one presentation I saw was one of the "master classes," but I felt it came across more like an infomercial than anything useful. And listening over headphones was lame. They should set aside a small meeting room for this sort of thing, next year.

I should also say that this year's AXPONA had the worst weather of any show I've attended! I drove in from southeast Michigan, and stayed across I-90 at the Springhill Suites. The cold I could handle, but getting soaked by rain/sleet on Saturday and Sunday wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

Rest up--Munich is next month!

Shindo's picture

I missed the free beer !

gMRfk6LMHn's picture

Just want to thank you Michael for the great videos you provide for the people who just can't get to these big shows and especially this most recent one, thoroughly informative and entertaining.

It is rather strange that exhibitors having paid so much to get a stand at these shows, I would have imagined that one would want to extract the most out of the space and the time allotted to show off their equipment by demonstrating it.

James, Dublin, Ireland