Welcome our multi-part in-depth coverage of The Home Entertainment Show 2022 once again thanks to our good friend Walter Liederman of Underwood HiFi, https://www.underwoodhifi.com/ , the best place to find high-end audio at affordable prices, for his magnanimous support in sponsoring our show coverage. As T.H.E. Show caters to the Personal Audio community as well as the two-channel loudspeaker community, we will be running these reports on both Headphone.Guru and HiFiAudio.Guru simultaneously.
T.H.E. Show has been the premier High-End audio show since its inception in the early ‘90s but with the passing of Richard Beers and the subsequent COVID pandemic, T.H.E. Show went on hiatus for a couple of years, but true to form, last year T.H.E. Show 2021 was the first HiFi show to return to operation though for obvious reasons in a greatly reduced form. Back again for a second year T.H.E. Show was bigger and better this time around and even saw the return of Headphonium and I would like to thank Maurice Jung and the gang for doing such a wonderful job.
T.H.E. Industry Happy Hour
The first event of T.H.E. Show 2021 was T.H.E. Industry Happy Hour presented by our friends at Enjoy The Music.com which provided food and refreshments for all of the hard-working exhibitors as well as the press.
My first visit was to Headphonium which contained the odd mix of two Personal Audio manufacturers, three Personal Audio retailers, a Radio Program, and a booth manned by a Personal Audio magazine offering up a selection of Personal Audio components for attendees to sample.
Justin Webber and Alan Lin of Headphones.com attended the ampsandsound table where Justin was debuting his new 6V6-based amplifier (TBA). He pointed out that since the 6V6 was an exceedingly popular tube that is often overlooked and rarely used in modern amplifiers, there is a large inventory of great-sounding old tubes still available. When asked what was new, Justin was quick to point out that in reality, all of his amps are new in that he is constantly upgrading them as new opportunities arise with the goal of making the best amplifier he can, but rarely publicizes the changes and only makes a point of it when he is inspired to make a completely new offering. That being said, he was also showing his epic HK Citation-inspired ampsandsound Nautilus Amplifier ($9,200) with the Rosson Audio Design RAD-0 Custom Headphone ($2,999) and using a Core Power Technologies A/V Equi=Core 600 Power Conditioner ($1,295) with Core Power Technologies Valiant Gold Power Cords ($399) for AC and the ampsandsound RCA to RCA Stereo Single Ended With Input Transformers – Step Up 1:2 ($500) on the input side, needless to say, the sound was awesome. Alan was showing off the Headphones.Com branded ampsandsound Forge Desktop Headphone Tube Amplifier ($2,899) and the Headphones.Com branded ampsandsound LeeLoo Desktop Headphone Tube Amplifier ($2,899)
Black Circle Radio
Black Circle Radio is an online radio program by DJ Mitch Anderson (who also produces the ecoustics podcasts) that is entirely produced using vinyl records as all musical source material. He had a booth set up with a couple of microphones and two listening stations and was there simply to interact with the attendees and answer questions.
Beach HiFi is a Long Beach based retailer part of a rising pack of dealers breaking away from the fold and embracing the growing field of Personal Audio. As such, they had a fairly large selection of their wares on display including an exciting new system from iFi Audio designed specifically for the Meze Audio 99 Classic Headphones, which includes the iFi Audio ZEN DAC Signature V2, iFi Audio ZEN CAN Signature MZ99, and iFi Audio 4.4mm Cable ($598 for all three). As to the brands they carry, for Headphones they have Focal, Audeze, and Meze; in the IEM segment Meze, Moondrop, and Audeze; and for Electronics iFi, Topping, Moondrop, and Soncoz.
Auribus Acoustics is a new headphone manufacturer that first showed up at last year’s T.H.E. Show with a functioning prototype for their Everest Headphone ($685). This year they are still in the prototype stage, but a lot closer to their production model. Despite appearances, this is a dynamic driver headphone that offers a lot of bang for the buck, we expect to see great things from them in the near future.
Ultimate Ears Professional
Ultimate Ears Professional was on hand with their full line of Custom In-Ear Monitors to tantalize the public. On display, they had three examples of their custom finishes, while demos of their UE 5 PRO ($499), UE 6 PRO ($699), UE 7 PRO ($899), UE 11 PRO ($1,199), UE RR ($999), UE 18+ PRO ($1,499), and UE Live ($2,199) were sequestered aside for attendee’s listening pleasure.
Internet magazine ecoustics played host to Headphonium with their staff of writers manning a table replete with Personal Audio products, including the largest selection of In-line USB DACs I have ever seen. Highlighted among their collection were a Schiit Ragnarok ($1,499), a Geshelli Labs JNOG (J2) DAC ($249.99) / Geshelli Labs ERISH2 (E2) Headphone Amplifier ($219.99), and the new Questyle M15 In-Line USB DAC ($249).
Awedyo Audio, an audio store in Whittier, California dedicated to Personal Audio who import their product direct from China, had a small table in Headphonium and three tables in the Marketplace displaying their extensive catalog of DACs, Headphone Amps, and IEMs. Of particular interest was their xDuoo line of tube amps starting with the humble xDuoo MT-601Class A Tube Hybrid Headphone Amplifier ($89), all the up to their xDuoo Flagship TA-30 DAC/Tube Headphone Amplifier ($729) which features Tube Rectification as well as Tube Amplification, PCM 32-bit/768kHz & DSD512 decoding, and Bluetooth 5.0. Hidden amongst their plethora of IEMs were a pair of Mum/Widing Chan $4,499 IEMs, I believe these to be the most expensive IEMs I have seen to date.
Victory Melody/Sonic Scientific/Whizzer
Though clearly part of the Awedyo Audio lineup Victory Melody, Sonic Scientific, and Whizzer were set up on a separate table across the aisle from Awedyo Audio’s Marketplace tables. Apparent focus was on Sonic Scientific and the various headphone amplifiers based on their Sonic Scientific Oracle-02 OpAmp.
Also set up in the Marketplace was Hidizs, manufacturer of a wide variety of portable audio products including their Hidizs AP80 PRO-X Portable Balanced Lossless MQA Music Player ($199) and Hidizs Mermaid MS4 HiFi In-Ear Monitor Earphones ($269).
Filling out the Marketplace was the usual mix of Software vendors including AIX Records and a couple of unique accessories.
CSP (CableSupportPlate) fits the bill of unique, though one can’t but acknowledge the practicality of their product.
Kirmuss Audio’s KA-RC-1Ultrasonic Record Restoration System ($1,290) is part of a new breed of Ultrasonic Record Cleaners that have been cropping up at HiFi shows. Given the fragility of vinyl, I’ll remain skeptical until more data has come in.
That concludes Part 1 of my coverage of The Home Entertainment Show 2022 once again thanks to our good friend Walter Liederman of Underwood HiFi, https://www.underwoodhifi.com/. Part 2 will appear next week after I return from CanJam Chicago 2022 as will our initial coverage of that show.