Axpona is always a great show for us, but that's true for any show that's run by and for audiophiles. This year was pretty spectacular. The "Ear Gear" room is always a highlight, from the myriad of DACs and amps to try to the impressive array of headphones, and of course, in-ear monitors. Outside the portable audio realms, getting to listen to $1mil stereo systems in specialty listening suites was a personal highlight. But, naturally, the most fun we had was just talking to all the audiophiles walking around the floor all day. Getting to interact with people who share your passions, who are willing to listen to your product critically, and who have ears sharp enough to appreciate or critique even the smallest details is why we do what we do.
7 Reasons To Visit Axpona
Networking and meeting people
The number one reason I like to go to trade-shows and expos is to meet industry peers and consumers alike. Industry folk can always share a different perspective on the state of what's happening in the high fidelity audio world. Often we're all so caught up in trying to make the best version of our respective products that we can lose sight of the desires of our client base or the trends of the industry. Our contemporaries, be they direct competitors or not, often have some very new and unique insights to better inform how we serve our customer base. More important than that, however, is the direct customer outreach. No one has more to say about what they want to hear than the audiophiles wandering around Axpona. Getting them to sit down and listen critically to our entire product line remains one of the most informative exercises we can undergo. Not to mention, there is nothing more fun than getting someone who says "I only listen to headphones" to sit down and be blown away by some IEMs. We sold a few pairs to headphone purists this year and they were among the most excited to buy. Sharing our passions with our customers not only reaffirms out desires to produce the finest sounding in-ear monitors on the planet but it also increases our understanding of what makes an in-ear monitor great.
Walking the floor of Axpona exposes you to a plethora of product you didn't know you needed. Getting to try an $8,000 amp paired with $6,000 headphones is an experience unlike any other, and the entire floor is filled with such experiences. From the floors upon floors of listening suites with manufacturers' best stereo systems to the entire hall filled with vintage vinyl for sale the entire show is worth exploring. Even if you're not in the market to upgrade your audio gear, it can be eye opening just to see and hear how incredible some of the gear sounded. Among the in-ear monitor providers, all were offering trials of their entire lines, as were most of the headphone manufacturers.
Expanding Your Horizons
We go to Axpona every year and every year we're amazed by the amount of gear we've never even seen before. There are devices and accessories for every possible consideration. Want suede cups for your headphones? Check. Want speaker-stand feet specifically for carpet? Concrete? Double check. Want a granite record player? Got that too. Truly the only way to understand it is to walk the show.
It's no secret that manufacturers give great deals at trade shows. We were offering 15% off custom and 20% off universal in-ear monitors. Nearly every manufacturer was offering their own discount. So not only do you get to try a wide variety of product, you can pick up the product you want for a great deal.
Axpona is held in Chicago, and while many of the patrons walking around the show were locals, many came to the show from all over the Mid-West, some from as far as Northern Canada or Southern California, and if you're going to travel all the way to Chicago you might as well enjoy the city while you're there. It has much to offer for a weekend visit, from the stunning St. Mary's of the Angels Cathedral, with its enormous and beautiful architecture to the Fields Museum which is a phenomenal experience. Not to mention The Cubs, deep-dish pizza, an excellent music scene and a rich sense of American History. If you're in town you should make the most of it.
Critical listening is a big part of gear review. How better to judge how any given device sounds than by listening to a song you know back to front. However, every single booth has different music, and talking to the people running the booth as well as the audiophiles walking around with their fancy DAPs, so finding music you've never heard of has never been easier. You can find any genre and discover a variety of artists and albums to add to your own collection and enrich your listening experience with the source as well as the gear.
Last but not least, Empire Ears
We love Axpona for many reasons but the greatest of them is that we get to hang out with our customers for a weekend. Next time you see us there please feel free to come demo our entire line-up of in-ear monitors, ask us what's new and fresh, or just chill and shoot the breeze. We are passionate audiophiles too, so getting to share experiences like Axpona with other audiophiles makes our trip up north so much the better!