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Florida Audio Expo 2020 Show Report

Florida Audio Expo 2020 Show Report
Florida Audio Expo 2020 Show In Tampa, Florida


FLAX 2020: Fantastic Fun In Florida!
And as my final show report....
A Heartfelt Editorial By Steven R. Rochlin


  Frankly, you could skip reading this 'senseless rambling' article, as it is more of a bit of 'writing therapy' that is within my soul. For me, writing is a way to... If you do read the below, hope it make a bit of sense and you feel it was worthy of your valued time.

During the past 24 hours, the below article has been racing through my mind. After ~150 show reports by Yours Truly, from the Internet's very first high-end audio show report (CES 1996) to my last being Florida Audio Expo 2020, both a myriad of amazing memories over the decades and tears are simply impossible to hold back. For me, it feels a bit like being with family during shows. Many of you have helped me 'grow up', or perhaps better said as 'helping me mature', into the very happily married man you see before you today. Shows are far more than new products, as technology always moves forward and changes consumer electronics to better serve mankind. What's been the most important is the gentle assistance over the years, your caring kindness, and unending understanding when I was a young and bit cocky a--hole (sorry about that). It is without a doubt that over the years we have grown, together, as close friends.


During those early years my outfits were, ummmm, 'amusing'. Usually they also included fun accessories too. Fond memories include CES from forever ago as Art Dudley of Listener Magazine fame then very young daughter wanting to play with my McDonalds Happy Meal free stuffed Teletubbies toy Tinky Winky. It seemed to keep her happy while Art was busy schmoozing with fans of Listener Magazine. As the party ended, he tried giving the toy back to me, which made his daughter sad so of course so let her keep this free Happy Meal toy and this kept her happy and laughing. Today, Art's daughter has graduated college (!). The same story is echoed time and again, including Jeff Joseph of Joseph Audio, whose second floor room at CES' Alexis Park is where he proudly was showing everyone his new baby (on his Apple laptop, 'natch). Probably graduated college by now. Today, we have great guys like Mat Weisfeld of VPI fame bringing his wife and, OMG they grow up so fast, daughter attending events.


There are truly sad stories too. Both JGH and HP passing away. Have also been around long enough as Enjoy the Music.com's very own reviewer JJ Wyckoff, and more recently Jeremy Kipnis, have also passed. CES, which was once the most important event on the show calendar, is now basically a dinosaur for our industry.


Small offshoot events like T.H.E. Show was bought out, grew and flourished via Richard Beers, and now has yet another owner raising the flag to bring us music lovers a wonderful time. AXPONA is huuuge now, and the Florida Audio Expo grew an incredible ~50% YoY from 2019 to their 2020 event this past weekend! Was perhaps the very first American and web guy to report on the Frankfurt show, which today is the most massive HIGH END event we all know and love today.


Wish I had taken more pictures was the first thought that races through my albeit feeble mind. Then again, it is not the photos per se, it is the overall gestalt of the experience they represent. While a photo is a captured moment within time (and time is the most important commodity we have), it also delivers far less 'information' than the overall experience that encompasses what the photo truly is trying to express. How can a photo share the funny jokes, the laughter, and yes the tears? This past weekend tears were indeed of-the-moment as a close friend shared some news with me. These were tears of sorrow of a daughter passing. Also shed a few tears of joy during FLAX 2020 too.

While it may sound a bit selfish on the surface, am no longer that 20-ish boy with endless energy... and perhaps excessive naive ambition. Am sure many who know me realize am a man of obsession and of excessiveness that seems to fly in that OCD / AHAD way. Now in my mid-50s, there's simply no way to remain at the same pace of that 20-ish boy.


Moving Towards Success
Deep within my heart, also feel am doing both the industry and Enjoy the Music.com readers a disservice nowadays. Have been laser-focused on bringing aboard some truly impressive reviewers. For each show I attend, imho resources could be better invested into having one or two of these great photojournalists reporting on the event. Better reports from great guys = happy readers. Bringing it inward, it is manufacturers and distributors that are also being shorted by not meeting these writers and forming a lasting relationship... or at the very least having a better understanding of the direction Enjoy the Music.com is headed.

Am hesitant to say it is a 'guaranteed' upward movement and improvement for our lil' web site, as saying upward might also be my ego getting in the way as am truly humbled by the amazing staff we have today. Being proud of them, pride in having them meet you and cover shows... yet the word 'pride' is what it is. IMHO we have reviewers you really should meet, and feel I'm doing a selfish disservice to both the industry and our readers by not having them reporting on events worldwide.


Thank You
With literal tears in my eyes I left FLAX knowing I may not see many of my friends, extended family, as am no longer attending shows. With each passing year I can feel these events using up so much of my energy, which could be used to gain more magazine partnerships, hire more writers, share partner magazine content, 'edit' reviews... and dare i mention enjoying time with my Muse / wife as there is just one me and our time on this planet we call Earth is limited.

Furthermore, refuse to attend any event without my wife, as this uses quite a bit of her day job vacation time. While part of me desires to apologize, frankly won't as am being selfish in wanting to invest more of my life with my wife outside our glorious industry. Next weekend we're using some of her valued vacay to celebrate our 'first wedding in Jamaica' during Valentine's Day at Mardi Gras (fyi our real / legal wedding was in June).

Am deeply grateful for your understanding, and compassion, if you're kindness brings compassion in allowing my Muse / wife Heather and I to spend more time on holiday together. Plus at this point would my 151st, 152nd, 153rd... show report truly make a difference within the overall scheme of this thing we call life? There is a thing called life, and then there is living. Am sure you know which one I'm choosing.


My Final Show Wrap Up
First, a resounding yes will be posting room coverage of FLAX 2020 in the coming daze (spelled correctly), yet always do my editorial thingy first. FLAX 2020 was one of the most enjoyable events in many years. Bart Andeers and all the volunteers of audiophiles did a tremendous job! Hope you gentlemen enjoyed the free vacuum tubes i gave away to you. And yes, thanks includes you too Sue Toscano and far too many others to name here. Perhaps it was in knowing it was my fond farewell? When it comes to shows, imho bigger is not always better, and shows where we all have time to kibitz about family, spend time meeting fans of our magazine, listening to new products, and dare we mention special events such as the MAYORS high-end mechanical timepiece and jewelry event Enjoy the Music.com held this past weekend....

Please allow me to thank everyone who has been ever-so gracious and generous with Enjoy the Music.com over the past 25 years. Virtually nothing will change by me not attending events (actually it'll get better imho), and in fact there are already deals being made to ensure our continued growth to help both our readers and the industry alike. Very, very, very much appreciate your understanding. And yes, am very much still here at 3am to chat with many of my friends, post daily news, photo editing, etc. Simply said, my efforts of personally covering shows are really the only thing that is changing. That effort is going to be invested into this site for what I feel better serves our global community.

In fact, and as usual, since very early this morning, so have been working for many hours and it is only 12pm, to get things on the site updated, social media goodies promoted, yada yada yada. My Muse / wife Heather (literally just seconds ago) knows me so well that she texted asking how my day is going AND TO BE SURE I EAT (caps all mine, as she knows I'll code / write 24 hours straight without taking a break to sleep or eat. So yes, would work myself to death). Love you kind reader, truly I do, yet love my Muse / wife more. Given the personal choice, and for the record Heather has placed zero pressure on me as this is my own decision, it is time, that precious thing we call time, to be with my loved ones who so deeply care about me enough and know me better than I know myself.


Humbly Said, Thank You
If you've read this far, am truly humbled and graciously thank you for... everything. Thank you for the past 25 years of experiencing Yours Truly grow from that ambitious naive kid, to a few moments of success, make a few mis-steps along the way of course, and today step aside and have faith that many others on our staff can do far more that I alone can.

Remember at the beginning of this article I wrote about photos. You might also note that so far there has not been a single photo within this article. Of the literal tens of thousands of photos I've taken, or photos edited over the past ~25 years, there is in fact one photo I feel is 'the one' for this article. As I said earlier, a photo does little to fully capture the gestalt of the moment. If I may say, there's more than meets the eye within the pic below, you simply have to look for it.



For it is time for me to step aside, and let others triumphantly move Enjoy the Music.com forward. Thank you for allowing me the time to 'get this off my chest'. Writing, as is my (perhaps overly) ambitious (and perhaps naive) endeavors of percussion and drumming while I'm still 'young' as a form of personal therapy....


As always, in the end what really matters is that you...


Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin





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