Positive Feedback Logo

Impressions:  AXPONA 2024, Part the First…Show Overview & Photo-Essay

05-04-2024 | By David W. Robinson | Issue 133

Ye Olde Editor, AXPONA 2024 (photograph by Bill Parish; image processing by David W. Robinson)

Another year, another trip around the Sun, another AXPONA.

Apart from the COVID years, I have been attending AXPONA since Mark Freed first invited me personally to do so in late 2014. 2015 was my first show. So, I've been there for quite a while now.

AXPONA was growing nicely until COVID. Then, like so much of the world, it was derailed completely for…what?...two years. Regardless of the restart of the show in 2022, the results were divided, and AXPONA was still not attended by a number of audiophiles, myself included. It was just too soon.

By my return with the 2023 show, however, things were finally back on track, and lost ground was being recovered. As I noted in Part the First of that commentary, I was quite pleased to see a noticeably growing number of younger adults in attendance, both singletons and couples. I even spotted a number of lone young females cruising the halls and sitting in the exhibitors' rooms. It's mind-blowing, it was! And very encouraging. The final official attendance numbers in 2023 were right around 9,230, as I recall.

I am very pleased to say that the 2024 AXPONA did even better than that. According to their official post-show press release, quoted in part:

"AXPONA (Audio Expo North America) welcomed 10,391 attendees, coming from 42 states and 31 countries, to the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center April 12-14, 2024. This was a 14% increase over 2023 and marked its biggest show yet….

AXPONA featured 202 dedicated Listening Rooms (on 12 floors) crafted by the best in the business, including 600 global manufacturers, retailers, distributors, and brands…."

This sounds about right. When I arrived and walked about during the opening day, I told one of my PF colleagues that my gut was telling me that attendance would be somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000. The official number of 10,391 is comfortably in that range. Certainly, the show was quite busy, with a lot of foot traffic. Most all of the exhibitors that I spoke with were pleased with the turnout.

A well-attended seminar, always a good sign...

Once again, and more forcefully, I was struck by the shifting and improving demographics of AXPONA. It was even better than the 2023 edition. More younger (down into their early 20s) adults than before; more younger women; more younger couples. They weren't just passing through as in the years before 2020. Instead, they were moving with room to room with excitement, focus, and purpose. This bodes well for the future of high-end audio and AXPONA.

On the floor of the Ear Gear area of AXPONA 2024

The Ear Gear area, Record tables, and Expo Hall were quite busy, with constant foot traffic. A number of younger people were in evidence here, with their penchant for personal fi/headphones.

In the Audeze space

The general floor space was busy, more or less, for all three days of the show. I didn't run into any exhibitors who were discontented with the turnout and floor traffic. On the contrary...and in such an attractive setting.

The artist in me approves.

Qobuz was ubiquitous at AXPONA 2024. Not only in their display space, but also in a number of exhibitor rooms with streamer/DACs in operation. Clearly Qobuz has established itself as the audiophile streaming service, which is no surprise to me, as I use it on a daily basis, both in our listening spaces here at Positive Feedback Central as well as in my Cadillac XT5. It works quite well with my iPhone 15 Pro Max via Cadillac's WiFi to 5G connection.

Use it all the time.

So the guys in .FLAC jackets have bested the MQA in the world of PCM.

Perhaps we can hope for streaming DSD64 (at the least!) from Qobuz in the future, eh?

On Thursday night, the evening before AXPONA opened on Friday morning, was the time for a great dinner and a follow-up cigar with Port. And several of my best friends in high-end audio—Bill Parish and Dick Diamond of GTT Audio, Ewald Verkerk of Mola Mola and Vivid Audio, Greg Weaver of the audio analyst/Positive Feedback, Pastor Dave Robinson (no relation), a member of the local PF community, and I all went out to dinner and a smoke.

Bill "The Man" Parish, in mid-puff, showing a mastery of the craft!

The restaurant that we went to shall remain a secret. Suffice to say that it was fantastic in its food, and splendid in its appointments for cigar and drinks lovers. A perfect combination!

Ewald the Fierce (you don't mess with Ewald...unless you're me!), basking in the Chicago sun...

At dinner with Joe Kubala the Stalwart of Kubala-Sosna Cables...a close friend and brilliant cable designer

A portrait in fresco of Ewald Verkerk being photobombed by Dick Diamond of GTT Audio.

Lots of moments like this during AXPONA 2024. 

Lots. Which is why we love shows so much, tiring though they are.

Greg "The Audio Analyst/Musical Mentat" Weaver, enjoying a stick with we who are other founding members of the Audiophile Cigar Society...

Pastor Dave sitting in on the Audiophile Cigar Society session, and enjoying the fire pit with us.

A transition, courtesy of some 20-year-old Port, with my Audio Oasis! Awards for AXPONA 2024 to follow in the next Part.

But...Part the Second (Awards) and Part the Third (Portraits) will likely have to wait until I get back from Munich, since I'm leaving early tomorrow morning.

Be patient...you'll see them all before the end of the month.