Recently, Audiophile Review Editor Steven Stone wrote about an event he was hosting for the Colorado Audio Society. My first thought was that I would like to attend but upon checking the calendar, I saw a conflicting function on that same day and besides, given the totality of travel expenses, it just didn't seem so much a practical idea. However, my attention did turn to something I feel is lacking, especially in the Southeast and certainly in my hometown of Charlotte, NC - an audio society.
With the expressed purpose of a place where audiophiles can gather to discuss the hobby and listen to music, an audio society makes perfect sense. I suspect most audiophiles spend the predominance of their time either alone with their hobby or perhaps an immediate family member whose interest is peripheral at best. Where better to spend time talking about the hobby in general, and best of all, on a small(ish) personal basis than a meeting or club devoted to high performance audio? About the only event that comes even remotely close is an audio show, and the sheer scope of even the smallest show precludes intimacy with those who reside close by where you live.
There was, at one time, a Charlotte Audio Society but from what I am able to determine it disbanded in or about 2004. I am unaware if another one has taken its place or if any attempt, however fleeting, has been undertaken to form a new one. And that's unfortunate, because I can't see how having a group of audiophiles that all live in somewhat close proximity to each other anything but a good thing. Where better to gather monthly, or even quarterly, to discuss the hobby and best of all, listen to music? It also appears that while there were at one-time other audio clubs in the Asheville, NC area, the Raleigh, NC area, and even the Wilmington, NC area, and unless I am shamefully mistaken, all have seemingly shut down, for whatever reason. It would seem that North Carolina audiophiles are simply out of luck when it comes to a gathering of like-minded enthusiasts.
In looking at the West Coast, there are numerous clubs / societies available. In doing a quick Internet search, I counted five or six just in California alone. That didn't include the other parts of the West Coast. There are also societies in the Northeast, both the southern and northern Midwest, and one or two in Florida. Why so few in one of the most densely populated areas of the country? Don't we have audiophiles in the mid-section of the East Coast?
Statistically, Denver, CO is slightly less populated than Charlotte, NC. However, Denver looks to me to have a more robust interest in high performance audio. Just look at the number of dealers in the greater Denver area as compared to Charlotte - Denver has a disproportionately higher concentration of dealers, all of whom seem to be surviving. Charlotte, we get by I guess is the best way of putting it. I have to believe, however, we do have sufficient people interested in the hobby to resurrect an Audiophile Society. And yes, I am going to look to see if I can get the ball rolling.
I plan to start talking to some people whose opinion and viewpoints I respect and somehow reach out to the community to see what, if any interest exists in a Charlotte Audio Society. I know there is a very successful club in Atlanta but it seems ludicrous for me, or any Charlottean to drive to Atlanta once a month for an audiophile meeting.
Of course, this is not something that should be limited to one city. I would like to challenge any audiophile living in a city, town or metropolitan area that does not currently have an audio society to investigate forming one. If it is nothing more than a few people that is fine. Let's face it, because the audiophile hobby is quite limited in patronage, and there is a certain level of technical knowledge that must be understood in its association, having scores of people with whom various detailed facets of the hobby may be discussed is not very likely. I doubt I'll be running into an audiophile at the grocery store this afternoon. Having comprehensive discussions of sonics and the technical intricacies of the audiophile hobby is not very likely something I'll be doing daily. So it seems supportably reasonable that likeminded enthusiasts must make a decided effort to meet, assuming that is something the average devotee is interested in even doing.
Call it whatever you would choose, but having several people with whom you can discuss gear, music and the hobby in general can be a different methodology into enjoying the hobby. And who knows, maybe some new friendships might be made along the way. At the very least, it will support the hobby and there can certainly be nothing wrong with that.