What does the average audio/hi-fi show look like? A hotel, often on the edge of town, into which audio manufacturers and their local distributors are invited to show off the latest and greatest in hi-fi hardware to Joe Public. Turning up to these hotel-room demos in solid numbers are gentlemen of a certain age; median > forty.
In-between 5- to 15-minute sit-downs in front of expensive loudspeakers and electronics, frequently playing jazz, acoustic or white-dude blues, some of these men will ponder the gear’s “Wife Acceptance Factor” (WAF – outmoded terminology). Some will miss the irony of then asking why their significant other had chosen to busy themselves elsewhere that day.
Warsaw AV is not your average hi-fi show. The Radisson Blu Sobieski and Golden Tulip hotels channel some of the aforementioned vibe; but they also run against it with a broader age range and more female attendees. International visitors are wowed by the dominance of lesser-known brands, many not seen outside of Eastern Europe. However, it’s the Warsaw event’s third venue – a sports stadium – that pushes it closer to Munich High-End’s ‘exhibition centre’ appearance. And with Hifi News editor / Stereophile owner Paul Miller choosing the Ascot Showgrounds for the 2019 edition of his UK Hi-Fi Show Live!, one could make a case for non-hotel venues being the future of public hi-fi demonstration, once the currently dominant demographic has aged into retirement.
Loudspeaker systems occupy the stadium’s entertainment/broadcast suites on two levels. Downstairs, a circular corridor encircles the football pitch to connect us to a large headphone zone. Like the Munich event, Warsaw’s AV Show does what hotel-based audio shows do not: paint hi-fi with more of a mainstream brush. Perhaps that’s why Warsaw AV now pulls in 15,000 visitors across its three-day run – more than three times that of many local shows taking place in the USA, Canada, Australia and Germany. Does it also explain the far greater incidence of women and children? I can’t say for sure but it’s unlikely to be the show’s abundant ‘booth babes’ who have many of us asking what y
Earlier this week, I outlined why hi-fi shows aren’t a place to audition gear, no matter how far one’s nearest high street dealer. Some would counter that shows – like MDHT, like Warsaw AV – are a good way to get a brief taste of what’s possible. On that, I don’t disagree. However, a teaspoon sample is how I buy yoghurt. It is not how I buy hi-fi gear. A brief taste is simply not enough for decisions that involve hundreds – or thousands – of Dollars/Euros/Pounds/Zloty. Neither is it enough to prop up the pretence of ‘room reviews’. We can discern next to nothing when an unfamiliar room collides with an absence of A/B comparisons. Why not fess up to reality, put a bullet in the all the audiophile chin-stroking and play-writing and throw a party instead?
Such a mindset could often be seen in Warsaw this year. With so many people doing the rounds, filling many rooms to bursting point such that ‘one-in-one-out’ was a common sight on Saturday, exhibitors seemed less eager to impress and more eager to please — a crucial difference. (Pop your head into the Zu Audio room when you’re next at RMAF). For some people, the pursuit of better sound quality is more about having a good time than trying to impress their audio mates. And at no audio show in the world is this more evident than Warsaw AV:
Camera: Jana Dagdagan | 2nd camera: John Darko | Editor: Jana Dagdagan
Further information: AV Show Warsaw