Report: T.H.E. Show Newport 2012

Brick-and-mortar audio retailing is in decline, but fortunately there’s another way to hear the best new sound gear: Attend one of the growing number of regional audio shows. Last year saw the first Los Angeles-area show in years, T.H.E. Show Newport, which took over much of the Hilton Hotel near the Orange County Airport. Last year’s show was so successful that this year’s show expanded into the Atrium Hotel next door.

The coolest thing about regional audio shows is the relaxed atmosphere; most manufacturers are happy to play any software you bring and talk to you in great detail about their products. I don’t see a lot of new products at these shows, but I do see plenty that I don’t have time to hear at hectic shows like CES or the CEDIA Expo.

Here are some of the coolest products, rooms, and demos I saw last weekend at T.H.E. Show. This is just a fraction of what I heard, and what I heard was just a fraction of what T.H.E. Show had to offer. If you live in the L.A. area — or anywhere within a couple hours’ flying time — I strongly suggest you drop by next year’s show. You will definitely hear things you probably would never get a chance to hear otherwise. And you’ll definitely hear at least a few systems that totally blow you away.