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A short film about the 2019 Warsaw AV Show

  • 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

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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