From an exhibitor’s perspective
We’ll begin this tale by telling you, dear reader, that it’s been almost a decade since AVA Group sent multiple representatives to a USA-based High-End exposition. The last show where we personally exhibited our brand in the USA was at a decaying CES at The Venetian in 2014. When we embarked on our journey to the states now once again, we could only think back to the atmosphere created by the never-ending slot machines run by hopeful individuals in a simulated environment created to ensure people will lose track of time.
Alexander, now 30 years old and serving as the CEO of Vitus Audio, had an unforgettable experience during his last visit to Sin City (despite not being allowed to touch a drop of alcohol). The city’s universal appeal and its ability to entertain people of all ages had left a significant imprint on him. This experience had set a baseline of expectations for the thrilling adventure that awaited him and his team in Chicago, where they would represent Vitus Audio at AXPONA.
On the other hand, Lukas, the 26-year-old COO of Vitus Audio, had only one previous experience with the USA, and it was quite recent. He had spent a few weeks in the City of Angels during his vacation the previous summer. This experience sparked an ecstatic enthusiasm in him to return to the continent and further his interactions with the American culture.
The following reminiscence will be told in somewhat chronological order, and we hope that you will enjoy the view of AXPONA 2023 from an exhibitor’s perspective.
The Audio Experience
The expectations of a manufacturer’s presence at shows vary from partner to partner and on the individual manufacturer. We’ve always been hands-on to involve ourselves in the setup to both support the local partner and to seize a bit of control over the outcome of the presentation. This trip was no different. All of our products (2x MP-S, MP-D, MP-L, SP-103 and the long-lived RI-101), was shipped in good time to the local partner Jamie from The Audio Experience. Jamie also kindly lent his pair of Estelon Extreme speakers for the event, meaning all necessary equipment for the show was received and accounted for. What a visitor sees is the “façade” and not all the headaches’ exhibitors go through, and something seemingly as trivial as receiving the equipment has been make-or-break for some exhibitors in the past.
Our second day in Chicago became a packing spree. Jamie had everything playing and warming up to really help the system release its magic. To pack everything in the rather short timeframe we had to work with, everyone needed to work together efficiently. Luckily, we could swiftly grab the necessary tools and pack the VA equipment. Alfred and Ilias from Estelon brought out the intelligent custom packing tools they’ve created to pack both Extreme speakers, getting the job done in less than half an hour. Bearing in mind these speakers weigh 250kgs each, that’s pretty impressive! Aldo and Jamie managed to crunch through the rest of the packing list, ensuring cables, trinkets, brochures, and remaining essentials were put aside, not to be forgotten. If only this process was as easy as it sounds in writing. We ended the day by visiting a restaurant Jamie approved of, then went to sleep to be ready for setup the following day.
Have you ever woken up knowing it’ll be a long day? Not a bad day in any way, but a long day? This is how we felt at the beginning of the setup day. After devouring a big breakfast, we went back to The Audio Experience, loaded the car, drove to the exhibition’s facilities and parked rather disruptively to unload as optimally as possible. Without much coordination and planning, something beautiful started to unfold; everyone knew their role instantly. The sheer ability to just work as a team, no questions asked, no bargaining involved, purely doing everyone’s best to finish the task at hand. Overall unloading the thousands of pounds of equipment into the showroom took just about an hour’s time. A new record by our standards.
With all the boxes in the room, the next step was to unpack and create a soothing atmosphere which captivates people’s attention and invites them to sit down and enjoy the mellifluous recreation of the system. This is often easier said than done, however, Estelon, Jamie, Aldo and ourselves are all aligned with the philosophy of the less-is-more principle, enabling us to build a low-ambient room whilst still keeping the products in focus. We always do this by placing the speakers a little in front with the power amplifiers in the middle while moving the additional electronics to the side. It calms the visuals and allows the spectator to observe the unmitigated size of the power amplifiers while simultaneously allowing for a separate space where we can pull visitors to, to show and talk about the products without intruding on the ongoing musical presentation.
Hours upon hours later we were finally satisfied with the entire setup; the system was up and playing, the drapes placed properly, our boxes stowed away, decoration with placement of the banners, chairs in place and the right level of luminosity found. We were almost ready for the show days. Typically, we always work until we reach a point of exhaustion where we know no further advancements will be made and call it a day. This allows us to revisit our processes the next morning and reflect on the overall setup prior to the show.
The proceedings of show days vary from show to show, time of day and especially in what country the show is taking place. Under normal circumstances we’ll stand close to the entrance and control the music. This way we’re approachable if anyone has questions. Visitors are there to listen to music and not to receive a sales pitch. We respect that and let our hard work represent itself.
This year’s event did go a bit differently than the prior years. The Estelon and Vitus Audio representative, Aldo from Elite Marketing Dynamics had received special permission to assemble press, dealers and dealer prospects for an event-day the day prior to the opening of Axpona 2023. The idea was to create a controlled environment with few people to present the capabilities of the system, answer targeted pre-devised questions, hold interviews and allow for uninterrupted videography without interfering or restricting general visitors of their experience.
The general show days were as expected. People rushed in during the first opening hours with traffic slowly dissipating towards the end of each day. At times, the room was so crowded you could barely move around despite the large floorspace. At other times, having a sound conversation without bothering the people around you was possible.
Of all the outcomes one could think of with the re-introduction of VA into the USA as a whole, we could not have wished for a better one. As a result of being paired with long-time friends from the Estelon team, Aldo’s detailed planning along with the power of The Audio Experience, created blissful, joyful and marvellous memories. That said, the success of the show provided us with so much work once we returned to our factory that it halted the launch of this blog post. There’s a saying “you have to strike while the iron is hot”, and we found ourselves in a scalding – in the good sense – situation that required absolute focus and commitment. In the past we found the US market to be a difficult one to conquer. With the current representation and the momentum of the Axpona show, our arms are as high in the air as our expectations.
Thank you, Aldo, Alfred, Ilias and especially Jamie, whom we would like to extend our deepest gratitude towards. Your hospitality and general involvement proved critical for the outcome of the show. Not only are you a workhorse like no other, your uplifting spirit and humour kept everyone in the right frame of mind throughout stressful setup periods, helping teamwork and consistent output in the workforce.
The VA team
Links to coverage of our room at Axpona 2023:
The Feldy Network:
Enjoy the Music :
Home Theater HiFi:
Jay’s Audio Lab:
The Listening Chair with Howard Kneller:
Mono and Stereo: