35 Hi Fi Show a

Australia’s two major hi fi shows for 2018 are happening next month and they’re being held on consecutive weekends. The first is in Melbourne and the second is, um, also in Melbourne. One audio industry veteran describes this as “beyond ludicrous.”

The International Hi Fi Show and Entertainment Expo is at the Pullman Mercure Hotel in Albert Park from Friday October 12 to the following Sunday. The Australian Hi Fi and AV Show is at the Como in South Yarra the following Friday to Sunday. So while Melbourne hi fi enthusiasts face a couple of full weekends those in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra or anywhere else must be feeling like the folk way down the back of economy class.

The first show is backed by leading hi fi website Stereonet (www.stereo.net.au) while the country’s major publisher of hi fi and home entertainment magazines and their associated websites, Next Media, backs the second. They’re ferocious competitors. And given the influence of the backers most people in the industry I approached over recent weeks spoke on condition of anonymity, so they wouldn’t offend either side.

35 Hi Fi Show b“It’s absolutely ridiculous that they didn’t at least talk to each other; what chance is there for world peace?” one major importer asked. “Two shows in the same city on consecutive weekends? There’s likely to be great confusion between them and at this point we will not participate in either.”

“The timing is unfortunate,” another said. “This year due to a number of reasons we have decided not exhibit at either show.”

Another: “We’re still struggling with this, but we have made a decision to attend one of the shows. We can’t afford both.”

Another: “We don’t want to support one show over the other, it would put noses out of joint, so we’re probably not going to either. The costs are significant and staffing is always a problem.”

To be fair, one of these commenting has just booked space at both shows.

I spoke to the organisers of each who both blame the other. To explain further I’d need far more space than I get here and a battery of lawyers, so I’ll just make some suggestions for people thinking of attending.

35 Hi Fi Show c

Both show websites list exhibitors and these can name the distributor and the brand as two entities rather than one, making the show look busier. Lots of brands are listed, but there are around 3000 brands in hi fi. If you want to know which distributor handles a particular brand go to www.avhub.com.au/who-sells-what. Participating distributors may not be displaying all their brands and models but the staff should be able to answer questions about them.

Look for who isn’t there, particularly important with speakers given the vast number of brands available. Some big brands are listed by both shows, others, like Bose, B&O and Sonos are listed at neither at time of writing. More esoteric brands may be only at one show or at neither.

Prioritise what’s attractive. I’m tempted by the display of vintage radios at one show and it’s supported by the Historical Radio Society of Australia. But I’m also tempted by Yamaha’s vintage audio room at the other; in 1954 Yamaha was the first company to use the ‘hi fi’ moniker with its Hi Fi Player. You may like the idea of shuffling through sale-priced vinyl records or listening to live music and seeing it recorded.

A day pass at the door of the Albert Park show is $22, at the Como it’s $28. Add travel and accommodation if you chose the wrong place to live.

First published by smh.com.au September 2018.

 

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