"Dazed and Confused"—LAAS Audio Show Cancelled (And Not Due to Lack of Interest!)

This morning the Los Angeles Audio Show scheduled for June 8th-10th at the Hilton Irvine Hotel was suddenly and without warning cancelled via a somewhat bizarre email show organizer Marine de Rogez-Presson sent to participants.

Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society President Bob Levi told me in a phone call this afternoon that "the letter came as a complete surprise," leaving him "dazed and confused". He was not alone.

Levi made clear and wished for me to point out that while the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society played a significant support role for this show, it was completely under the control of Ms. de Rogez-Presson, who bought the rights from the previous owners following last year's Los Angeles show, which though not without its significant issues, was more or less a success.

This year's show began with an October 26th "save the date" Presson email blast. In December at the L.A. and O.C. annual gala Ms. Presson took the floor and spoke for quite some time about the plans for this spring's show, which had moved back to Irvine and to the familiar Hilton Hotel venue. Presson seemed on top of her game.

A degree of confusion began with the announcement of another Irvine show, "T.H.E. Show", scheduled for the week before the LAAS Show. That was a foolish move, of course, guaranteed to help no one, and hurt everyone, but that's not what caused this meltdown.

Late winter, exhibitor rooms began to fill up and things appeared to be going normally. I was asked by Mr. Levi to host a room with the working title "Michael Fremer's $1,000,000 Dream System". I agreed, though the name needed to be changed to one that was less obnoxious. The show agreed to pick up the cost of the room, which made it more attractive to manufacturers.

Then suddenly Ms. Presson disappeared. Phone calls and emails went unanswered. Since I'd been actively soliciting manufacturers for my room I began getting calls asking what was going on. Of course I had no idea. I called Bob Levi and he too wasn't sure what had happened—at least he didn't let on that he knew what had happened to Ms. Presson.

On April 18th Presson sent around a "personal note" that many found odd and cryptic. It began:
"I am writing to you with a delicate but necessary, and more importantly, optimistic update on the LA Audio Show, taking place June 7-10, 2018. As Robert Evans stated, "There are 3 sides to every story: Your side, my side, and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each differently," but he also said that "any man who thinks he knows the mind of a woman is a man who knows nothing," so please allow me to share..."

To address the issue of her disappearance Presson wrote: "At this point, the calls and emails to discuss the whys and whats of other people's actions and statements is counter-productive. I realize there have also been discussions about my 'lack of presence,' and want to assure you that today I am back in the driver seat as I was for the Society and I's most successful 2016 event."

I responded with an encouraging note: "Beautifully written and expressed", but something felt "off." Her note did not explain why she'd "gone missing" but in a follow up phone call she told me in confidence that she was in the middle of a painful divorce—something I kept to myself, but now feel it appropriate to discuss. She said she was back and the show would move forward.

At AXPONA 2018 a number of exhibitors told me they were passing on the LAAS show for various reasons, mostly related to the Munich show being so close and the sense that an insufficient number of west coast dealers would participating. It would be "make or break" show, I concluded.

After AXPONA I again began getting calls about Presson not responding to emails and phone calls. Near panic set in more recently as manufacturers prepped for Munich and didn't know to where to send gear for the LAAS show since no one was returning calls or emails.

Bob Levi sounded somewhat uneasy in a few conversations I had with him but he never let on that things were heading south, nor did he think they were, though he found himself taking on greater responsibilities than he'd originally planned to handle.

Then Ms. Presson again disappeared at a time when her presence was a necessity if the show was to take place. Phone calls and emails went unanswered and more panicked manufacturers contacted me, including the ones who had agreed to participate in the room I was hosting. They were AudioQuest's Joe Harley, Devon Scott of TARA Labs, Dan Meinwald, importer of Marten Audio, Raphael Pasche of CH Precision, Paul Wakeen of Still Points and Mike Latvis of HRS, which was supplying all fhe VXR racks. The planned system was going to be great! We had the only pair of Marten Coltrane Supreme 2 speakers in America that an owner was going to lend us. They've never been shown in America. Here's a picture from a Stockholm show a few years ago:

Stories circulated that Presson had returned to Colorado to handle her divorce, but no one was certain. No one knew to where they should send the gear before the show. Calls and emails went unanswered, fueling the speculation that Presson had had a "meltdown" and fled.

Then this morning came her cancellation letter, which opened with a quote from the "spiritual writer" Justin St. Vincent followed (in part) by this:

Dear Industry Friends,
It is with sadness and regrets that I announce the cancellation of the 2018 LA Audio Show — Orange County. Refunds will start to be issued immediately to those exhibitors who have already paid deposits and/or full remittances for space and other services. These refunds will be in the form of checks and will arrive by USPS Mail to the address provided on contracts. Attendee tickets will be refunded through the system they were purchased.

Once more, I remind you that as Robert Evans stated, "There are 3 sides to every story: Your side, my side, and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each differently," but he also stated that "any man who thinks he knows the mind of a woman is a man who knows nothing," so please allow me to touch briefly on what has changed since my last note."

Any sympathy I might have had for Ms. Presson's predicament quickly evaporated. Whatever her issues, she could have reached out for help getting the show produced. But she chose to be secretive and cryptic when she should have been open. No doubt she had some crushing personal issues but she let down thousands of people by being secretive and ultimately selfish.

She referenced "a series of events" but never said what they were. Before her final "holy spirit" quotation from Romans she wrote this:

"It has been an honor and privilege to carry on the legacy of my mentor, Richard Beers. I have sought to do right by him by keeping his traditions and adding innovations I believed to be vital to the future of our industry. It was always my hope that Richard's divided inheritance would be unified again in the end, and for me, it has been evident that this year presented multiple opportunities to end the separation and I could no longer ignore the dangerous reality of our circumstances. It is my sincere belief that while the lessons and blessings earned were worth everything and part of His plan, I must also admit this LAAS should never have been created, to begin with. We should have collectively worked harder to stay unified in our efforts, and I hope that is how you are able to collectively move forward at this time."

The capitalized "His" means, I assume she's referring to God's plan, not Richard Beers' plan. I can assure everyone reading this that God doesn't give a shit about high performance audio and I personally don't give one about Presson's self-indulgent pain. She let down everyone with her self-absorbed behavior instead of reaching out and asking for help from those who might have been able to get the job done.

Meanwhile, if you think she has retreated and is simply "licking her (self inflicted) wounds", you'd be wrong. While damaging the audio industry and the reputations of members of the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society, she's been very busy finding Jesus as part of her "healing process".

You'll excuse me for having zero sympathy. Or maybe you won't. At this point I could care less. The bottom line is, the grown young woman we thought was running the show turned out to be a little girl.

Anton D's picture

It seems the show ended in the manner it was conceived.

Richard was a friend of mine.

Thank you for you emotionally honest report. I don’t believe anyone involved had a Damascene experience and sincerely undertook a journey of faith. The real answer is more likely to reside in the DSM 5 than it is in Romans 15:13.

OldschoolE's picture

the mind of another, at least those of us with even a cursory background in mental health, let alone a deeper one, have to agree that the "truth" does reside in the DSM 5. There is nothing wrong with having a faith, but this sounds more like a disguise than anything genuine.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

I thank Michael for letting me know about Marine Presson's divorce when we spoke this AM. For more information on the development of two shows in S. CA, and how she became involved, please see https://www.stereophile.com/content/los-angeles-audio-show-cancelled. I have also posted a link to this article in the comments section to my own.

anomaly7's picture

Yes, rather than getting proper medical help for her psychological problems, or just reaching out to others for help, she's escaped responsibility for her actions by seeking refuge in religion, and calling it all God's plan.

ravenacustic's picture

Amen! I’m surprised she didn’t pass the plate on her way out.

OldschoolE's picture

Clearly, she is a person in need of help, but instead of being honest and getting that help, she chose to put herself into a potentially second oppressive predicament, possibly self-inflicted as you suggest. It is rather selfish and odd that the day the letter of cancel is sent out she launches a new site overtly religious and hawking shirts and as she put it "I certainly did not want to miss the opportunity to brand myself and my story". I ask you, are these the words of someone recognizing their responsibilities and that they are a follower of a faith or someone avoiding responsibilities and who believes they are a faith?

Anton D's picture

You are spot on. The branding statement sums it up. This is not an act of ‘good faith.’

cvcgolf's picture

Well, John Kelly did just enlighten us all by correctly pointing out that women are more emotional then men.. As if we needed that little tidbit of information..

I've been witnessing women crying in the workforce my whole life.. The bad breakup, the boyfriend/husband fight, the sick dog, the cheating boyfriend, the fight with the sister or best friend, the missing cat, etc, etc, etc.. And that's if they even show up to work in the first place..

The Audio Society still rocks but this lady is definitely, well, a lady.. lol

theboogeydown's picture

Wow. It's 2018 and this one takes the prize. In an era where human decency and dignity have taken a back seat, this one really measures up. Show this to your female partner if one will have you and she'll likely begin laughing in you face about your tiny tackle, as witnessed in your post!

Bromo33333's picture

So all you do it pile on the misogyny? Really? This is what you have to offer the world by way of enlightenment, that you hate women?

Montpier's picture

The circumstances behind the cancellation of the audio show are unfortunate. But the gender based comments attacking the organizer are truly sad and speak volumes as to why the audience at these shows seem to be very skewed towards... let's say white guys of a certain age who have obviously not engaged in much physical activity for many years and whose social skills have considerable room for improvement. (Okay, yeah that might include me, but at least I ride a bike regularly and have turned up at an audio show with my significant other even thought she thinks I'm crazy.)

Anton D's picture

Which misogynist posted: "any man who thinks he knows the mind of a woman is a man who knows nothing.”

Weird all around.

WesHeadley's picture

Wow, don't know what's more absurd-- the outdated female stereotypes or the misogyny. Either way, Ms. Pressen is apparently not the only one with "issues".

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Some months back, Marine Presson scheduled "A Pinch of Romance" couples event at LAAS in honor of International Women's Day that presumed that all audio couples are heterosexual. I objected strongly.

If you look at the quote from Presson's spiritual guide at the start of her cancellation missive, and then check his bio, you will discover that he is on the Board of Promise Keepers. That should tell you everything you may ever wish to know about the innate sexism of her statement.

OldschoolE's picture

any presumptions of orientation (being hetro) and don't think that should be read into that. Everyone has the right to live and love others as they see fit. That said though, I do take issue with that "Promise Keeper's group. They are bad news.

Jenn's picture

just wow.

cgh's picture

True peace can only come with divine help from A=432 tuning, golden means, and the Schumann resonance... she'll be back

prerich45's picture

As a Christian, I was taught that my yes be yes and no be no. This person should have sought help for a committed show. After the show was complete, she could have resigned.

While I understand faith, marketing one's self because of it is a definite no-no. I'm saddened - not for her but for the Audio community that was relying on her for this endeavor.

OldschoolE's picture

this truth! In fact, being Christian is not a requirement for it. Just being an honest human is all it takes. Everyone's yes's and no's should be just that.

I could not agree more that help could have been sought and obtained if it was truly desired. Absolutely, the right thing to do would have been to accept help and rely on trusted friends for support in getting through the show and then resigning!
Instead what happened was far more expensive financially, emotionally and every other way for exhibitors, attendees, press and all involved. Judging by the letter (which has many "tells" among the disconnected thoughts), this was a selfish act. She is not someplace licking wounds and trying to heal. Putting up an overtly religious website to brand and market one's self drum up and sell shirts using a religion as a front is the biggest "tell" of all. If one wants to lick wounds, heal and restore and re-focus there are many right ways of doing that. Given the pressure of branding and marketing one's self and running a website selling stuff, how does that allow space and time for healing? That;s what really burns me, is the dishonesty in that.
It's not that I don't feel or care about her, we should care about anyone suffering and in need, but at the end of the day we are responsible for our choices and we need to help heal ourselves along with any assistance we seek and are willing to accept.
It sounds like she had a few trusted folks around her who wanted to help both mundanely and emotionally, but she refused. Instead she turns to a religion and uses it to re-invent, brand and market herself. According to her website she is even offering counsel through chat and email, etc.! That is a VERY BAD IDEA for someone who needs to heal themselves, let alone not even being lay-qualified!! She doesn't realize that she is actually getting into more trouble. I would not want to have her karmic bank account.

misterc59's picture

I feel that the show participants and some show attendees (among others) have certainly been negatively impacted emotionally and financially. Plane tickets purchased, hotel rooms booked for accommodation purposes, and other costs, perhaps some refundable, and some not. Sure the larger companies can more easily absorb the results of this fiasco, but you can be sure many smaller exhibitors will definitely feel the pinch, and some in a big way. My sympathies to you as well Michael for putting in all your effort/expense for this (non) show. I hope by some miracle (no divine pun intended here) the show will be held, but the outlook at this point...

Montana's picture

Alright, Marine had a meltdown. Which one of us hasn't at some point in our youth? But it looks like this was imminent for some time, so why was a back-up plan not formulated? Why is it too late for someone to pick up where Marine left off?

StevenRochlin's picture

Thx Michael for an excellent write-up on the events that lead up to....

OldschoolE's picture

There is an incredible amount that goes into putting on an event like this, much more than most realize. On top of that, while generally speaking she walked away from it, there is a mile of red legal tape since the show is technically still owned and not yet released, technically speaking. Who needs any blowback? If someone wants to put on a show next year without any use of any elements of LAAS, they can do so free and clear. It would be nice to see, but......

Bromo33333's picture

She wasn't operating in a vacuum. The backers of the show should have seen things not getting done well before it was past the point of recovery, and didn't do anything to avert this outcome.

I have rarely found that a "rogue trader" took out a trading house. I doubt this failure was just this one person.

OldschoolE's picture

communication was both ways. I can agree that there should have been more checkups and monitoring in reasonable capacity, but as with any coin, there are two-sides. The other side of this coin is honest communication, it was lacking more from one side. In other words, one could not see into the room because the curtains were closed too much.

Michael Fremer's picture
They did, and began taking care of things not done that should have been done (which I won't list). When she pulled the plug it was a surprise to all. Since almost everyone in the Society (which did not put on this show, merely acted as a sponsor) works full time, it was impossible to push the responsibility onto others. Besides, Marine legally owned the show and under the circumstances it was not possible for an outsider to simply "take it over'.
OldschoolE's picture


Bromo33333's picture

And frankly, the world moves on. This was one audio show in a sea of "too many audio shows" ... the sun will come up. Nobody died.

mraudioguru's picture

I agree. This has gotten out of hand. Do we really need all these shows?

I started in the high-end audio business back when there were only (2) shows. The winter CES in Las Vegas and the summer CES in Chicago.

A few more is fine, but the abundance of recent audio shows is too much.

Sure glad that I'm not a manufacturer. I bet it gets VERY expensive.

Michael Fremer's picture
But a great deal of money was lost by many. And a great deal of time spent was wasted, mine included. Nobody would die if the entire hi-end audio industry disappeared but life would not be as pleasure-filled.
Hazbeen's picture

I had a high degree of confidence this would not be a well organized show based on just one of her communications. So, unfortunately, no surprise.

I am aware of a quote by an exceptional basketball coach, at a prominent Catholic University no less who tells his new players each year the following: "Some of you will become all-Americans here and might be drafted into the NBA one day. If you thank anyone other than your parents, your friends and family, your team mates and coaches, then you have it all wrong. If you become an all-American here and describe it as God's will, you won't play in another game for me because to say that, no matter how sincere, is to assume that you know God's will. Is it God's will that for you to be victorious that someone else has to walk out of the gym believing it was God's will for them to lose? I don't know God's will but I do think working hard, keeping your word and following through with your commitments would at least be consistent with it! Do those things and everything will work out for you in every part of your life!"

Its a shame she didn't seek help from others....there are enough terrific dealers and numerous resources in LA to have pulled it together in time. Maybe the garish car show might have been left on the cutting room floor. LOL

OldschoolE's picture

No matter what one's belief system, one can not predict the universe, the will of any deity or even the will of any human before it happens, at least not with a great degree of accuracy. One can not know what or when karma will do, one can only anticipate cause and effect.
In fact, that coach said it as plain as it gets! "working hard, keeping your word and following through with your commitments would at least be consistent with it! Do those things and everything will work out for you in every part of your life!"
We attract things in our lives by our choices and actions and that is what we need to be mindful of. We are not perfect, but we can at least be as mindful as possible. We don't know what will come when, but we can live our lives ethically and things will work out.

Bromo33333's picture

Sh*t happens. Not all of it good. Do your best to work around the bad and embrace the good.

The audio show won't happen. Life goes on.

JoeESP9's picture

Gee Michael you've disappointed me. I could care less does not mean the same thing as I couldn't care less. One means you care the other means you don't. Misuse of that phrase is as annoying to me as calling TT mats "slipmats".

Only DJ's want an LP to be loosely coupled to the platter.

TommyTunes's picture

I know nothing about her except what has been written on Stereophile’s site and this page. I’m sure all of you had your sh*t together at the age if 26 especially if you are going through a bad divorce.
I really wonder how you would have reacted if it was you daughter that was having these issues. From what I understand all money is being refunded the only thing lost is some of your time.
How about showing some compassion for her rather than stomping her into the ground.

mrbig's picture

There was more lost than time - how about those who purchased non-refundable airline tickets and hotel rooms.

Philb7777's picture

Even non-refundable airline tickets can be held onto as credit and used later. Most manufacturers will take advantage of this. Hotel rooms can be cancelled within 48 hours notice for a full refund at most hotel chains and the rooms reserved for demoing gear at LAAS are being fully refunded by LAAS. I agree, it sucks, handled poorly by a young lady probably a bit over her head with significant personal problems developing, but I think slamming her publicly is a bit over the top. The great audio shows will survive and the below average ones will dissolve away.

Anton D's picture

At what age should we consider someone competent? Not 26?

She was grown up enough to own a show, run the 2016 THE Show and the 2017 LAAS, so are you saying that was luck?

I think we are giving her credit for what she accomplished in the past as part of why it's so odd to see this person blow off an obligation.

You ask if she were my daughter? I would tell her that the show is over in one damn month, put on your grown up pants and then lose your shit on the Monday after the show. You made promises and signed contracts!

What would you tell your daughter?

cvcgolf's picture

To exclaim that we audiophiles have so many shows and therefore we should all just accept the abrupt cancellation because a 26 year old girl had a broken heart and life goes on is an asinine statement..

People want to see and hear the latest equipment and manufacturers want to sell their latest equipment.. The more shows the better.. We all learn, enjoy and have a great time for 3 days..

This is Los Angeles for Christ's sake!.. We should not only have an audio show but actually one of the best in the country.. This city has a rich history of not only where some of the greatest music artists recorded music but also the historical locations of where they performed..

Since when does getting a divorce give you the right to suddenly stop working?.. Statistics show that In America, there is one divorce approximately every 36 seconds.. That's nearly 2,400 divorces per day, 16,800 divorces per week and 876,000 divorces a year.. That's a lot of people who suddenly throw in the towel and stop working..

To cancel this show and let so many people down is unheard of.. It's selfish and absolutely ridiculous!

jkingtut's picture

Alas even Mr. Zimmerman had to serve somebody.

jkingtut's picture

that came and went as well. Fortunately I had to deal with it growing up, so later years need not be wasted.

scottyh777's picture

Marine Presson is a cunt

Genez's picture

"I can assure everyone reading this that God doesn't give a shit about high performance audio."

Not true.... God has a few faithful ones whom He wishes to bless richly with excellence. After all.. God created the very minds that gave us high end audio. Even if they recognize it or not. God created music. More importantly. God gave us the ability to love music. So, lay low on God with this one. Your problem is really with that sorrowful and painfully confused lady.

Bluejimbop's picture

“If you’re going to do business with a religious son of a b1+(#, GET IT IN WRITING. His word isn’t worth $#!+. Not with the good lord telling him how to f@(% you on the deal” - William S. Burroughs