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February 2006
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Competition Is Good For Business
Article By Steven R. Rochlin


Competition  For me, the recent Las Vegas shows was an eye opening experience. Our $80,000 Equipment Contest is being very well received by the industry, yet it appears writers for other magazines were not overly thrilled at the prospect of what they feel is their competitor receiving high visibility. Be that as it may, some comments behind my back were met with amazement from others within the industry. i guess over a decade of hard work in helping the audiophile community, including traveling the world to cover nearly 100 shows, has little merit. So be it, no hard feelings, but at least some of us take the time to try something on their own. A leap of faith as it were. Of course the slings and arrows have been felt for years. Am sure many of you remember years ago when certain magazines were saying that Internet thing was just a fad and as for the credentials of those reviewers for those magazines... Now it appears virtually every magazine has a site online with reviews. So you see, competition is a good thing as audiophiles worldwide have more choices. We all win!


Show Competition Part I
For years our community has enjoyed T.H.E. Show that directly competes with the CES. While the former is operated by audiophile enthusiasts to benefit the industry, the latter is operated by a huge business with what appears to show little interest in audiophiles. Of note is that the CES has ceased any instructive seminars for the audiophile community at the high-end audio venue for the past few years! As a point of reference, T.H.E. Show's Mike Maloney once had a very successful audiophile loudspeaker company called Scientific Fidelity. How the industry benefited from such competition between T.H.E. Show and the CES is that exposition room rates went down for those who chose to buy a room at the CES while services went up. Free lunches, reduction or elimination in the expense of having gear brought from the parking lot to the exposition room...

The one thing many attendees hate about the CES is the fact they do not organize the rooms to be together, and all rooms being on a lower level. The CES may be said to illegally have rooms on the upper floors, as there is no elevator service to the over 20 separate buildings! So if you are in a wheelchair you can forget about all those rooms on the upper levels, as the stairs are steep and there is no facility for wheelchair ramps. On the other hand, T.H.E. Show has their rooms very well organized and there is indeed an elevator for those who are wheelchair bound.


Show Competition Part II
The Las Vegas shows are generally for the industry and filled with manufacturers, distributors, installers, and/or retailers. The general public usually can sneak in by falsifying information on their application, but what the pubic needs is a show for them. Enter Vacuum Tube Valley (VTV). As an enthusiast magazine, Vacuum Tube Valley has been around for many years. They also have very good experience holding shows on both the East and West coasts of the United States for the public to enjoy. Their next VTV Expo will be taking place on May 6 and 7 in New York, then another show on June 3 and 4 in Los Angeles. So how is this great news for the industry?

Vacuum Tube Valley (VTV) LA Expo 2006Because the Los Angeles event allows for proper competition as there will be another show only a block away by a major conglomerate (read: a company not dedicated solely to audiophile interests) who charges a huge amount more than VTV! Sure we can all lament about what happened to Art Dudley when he sold Listener to a large company with other non-audiophile interests and how quickly it went wayside, never again to grace the loving audiophile community. Now we have a major parent company operating a show versus true audiophile enthusiasts operating a show during the same time in Los Angeles.

Years ago the  CES was forced to lower their high rates because T.H.E. Show was there providing proper competition. The same can be said with the upcoming Los Angeles show as those who desire showing their products can save thousands of dollars with VTV versus a self-proclaimed leading targeted media company (sic) with many interests outside of the audiophile community. We are not talking about a subtle financial difference if you desire having room at their show! With the VTV show being reasonably priced and operated by audiophiles, it makes sense in my opinion to support our community. Of course i should also mention that only a few days before either of these shows is one of Europe's largest shows, Germany's High End Society event in Munich. As for which show is the best investment for manufacturers, only those looking to attend any of these shows can make their final decision. Naturally those companies looking to make their worldwide presence known would choose Munich. But let us get back to the United States.

Only the Unites States audiophile community can decide which way they vote by investing their hard-earned dollars. Is it some huge conglomerate with a very small minority interest in audiophiles yet charging vast amounts of money or VTV with much lower room rates as they are dedicated to the audiophile community?


Another major topic during the Las Vegas shows was the fact of The Absolute Sound purchasing United Kingdom-based print magazine hi-fi+. With the usual disclosure of Enjoy the Music.com having joined forces with other like-minded, enthusiasts-owned magazines including The Absolute Sound, (and now in 2011 including hi-fi+, Hi-Fi World and HIFICRITIC)  it is important to note that all of these magazines are owned by enthusiasts and not by some corporate conglomerate. We gladly join our friends who also share in the desire to inform our readership, and not a way to help some larger company with interests in automotive, fishing, snowboarding, etc. Of course i love motor sports and have been known to snowboard, but i have yet to see the snowboarding or fishing community give great support to audiophiles. For me, the audiophile community is like an extension of my family. So it brings me joy to see these TAS and hi-fi+ together to further enhance their reach to audiophiles on both sides of the pond.

So you see, competition is a good thing. It matters not if it is magazine content or expositions, having competition generally brings fair value and balanced views. As we always say, in the end what really matters to me is that we all....

Enjoy the Music,

Steven R. Rochlin







































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