Chicago-based audiophile consumer show, AXPONA, put out a release that after its April 2019 show that they will be moving the date of their show to late October-early November of 2020. The show will be hosted at the Renaissance Shramburg hotel located near Chicago’s O’Hare airport. They will additionally be adding a “trade day” to the show to help support the editorial and dealer support of the show long term.
Besides the normal press release chatter about show changes and upgrades, AXPONA has made one hell of a bold call in their change of timing. The importance of specialty audiophile shows is something that we’ve written about extensively including covering our first AXPONA for 2018. One of the key advantages of AXPONA is its spring scheduling. Now that CES is no longer viable whatsoever for consumer electronics, there is demand for people to see specialty audio at the start of the year. That’s what makes AXPONA’s move even more curious is that they’ve thrown themselves as relative newcomers into an over-crowded fall show season.
Seasonality in the AV business historically peaks at The Super Bowl in early February and starts after Labor Day. During the summer, people are typically on vacation, school is closed and weather suggests that there might be better things to do than to fire up the old tube amps and sweat it out during an audiophile listening session. Once football is back on TV and the kids are in school, the weather cools in much of the United States and the business of specialty AV gets back to normal.
Most AV dealers attend CEDIA in early fall which is very much of a custom installer show but they do attract the best of the best in terms of specialty AV manufacturers including many audiophile exhibitors who also participate in shows like AXPONA (Chicago), Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (Denver), Capital Audiofest (Washington D.C.) and the Chester Group’s audiophile show in New York City. Now all of these additional shows will vie for support from a limited number of manufacturers in a limited period of time. The logistical costs of shipping, drayage, travel, meals and overall time will make it literally impossible for anyone company to support all or even some of these shows.
AXPONA didn’t respond with a comment about their move which is being viewed as a hostile by many audio enthusiasts, audiophile manufacturers and beyond. Rocky Mountain Audiofest (RMAF) is considered to be the longest standing show and run by the Denver Audiophile Society and has more than a decade of people who make their pilgrimage to Colorado. The rumor about RMAF is that by 2020 that the show will move to a new airport hotel with better listening rooms, a more modern appearance and will be hosted in a venue that isn’t an hour drive from the Denver International Airport. That news isn’t confirmed but has been mentioned a number of times.
Perhaps AXPONA has the muscle to try to put some of these other shows out of business or to change their dates but it’s equally possible that they just shot themselves in the foot with a .45 in terms of needlessly picking a fight with other audiophile shows. Moreover, the overall importance of having geographically diverse shows is key to keeping the audiophile hobby viable as its enthusiast audience is an older one and specialty audiophile dealers are closing one after another nationwide.
To try to have four audiophile shows in less than four weeks is simply tremendously bad planning that will lead to a poor result.