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Tomorrow marks the first day of Audio Expo North America (AXPONA, for those you well versed with the audio show circuit), one of the best audio expos in the U.S. For three straight days, extremely high quality demo rooms will unleash sonic goodness upon serious audiophiles and curiosity-seekers alike, tastefully packed within the innards of the Westin O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois. This year’s event is primed to feature more than 110 rooms of glorious hi-fi listening. If you’re in the area or have the means for quick travel – make plans to attend.

Last year AXPONA’s production company (JD Events) partnered to begin rebranding the event as “Audio Con.” This year, however, all signs point toward a solo flight, as any mention of Audio Con has been removed. While we're sure there are lots of corporate reasons for this about-face, 2015's introduction of a Con-branded event definitely seemed to indicate that AXPONA was ready to take another step toward solidifying itself as the singular audio event worth booking each year. Nevertheless, many of the events favorite draws – live performances, educational presentations, and loads of listening rooms – are back and appear to be better than ever. Speaking of listening rooms, this year’s group of exhibitors is super strong, including Wilson Audio, Volti Audio, Vapor Audio, THIEL, SONY, PSB, Pass Labs, Martin Logan, Madisound, Linkwitz Lab, Legacy Audio, KEF, and a beast of the home theater world: Chicago’s Seaton Sound. Just a note on Seaton Sound, if you want to hear the home theater hammer get dropped with ferocity, then make time to pay them a visit.

New to 2016 is “The Manufacturers Showcase,” which is a museum-like showcase of the newest products from 18 premier manufacturers. Visit this area to see new gear from the likes of Emotiva, Legacy Audio, Luxman, ELAC, and Channel D. The press and VIPs will have access to this showcase on Friday, so plan on visiting sometime during Saturday or Sunday. Another new offering is the “Musician’s Gear Expo.” This area of the show is a mixture of music creation, instruments, and other gear that allows for hands on access to new instruments and other accessories in designated demo rooms. Also, old standbys like pavilion areas with high-end gear on display and a large and vibrant marketplace, will return for another year of fun.

Home Theater Shack will have two senior staff members on the scene and reporting direct to Home Theater Shack, live! Audio gurus Wayne Myers and Dennis Young will be contributing to a fluid show thread, detailing everything they see. In addition, AVS Forum Senior Writer Mark Henninger will supply photos, videos, and a bit of commentary. Early next week, head over to AVS forum to read finalized show coverage by Wayne, Dennis, and Mark. We'll update this article tomorrow with a direct link to the show thread.

AXPONA offers a variety of ticket options for attendees. Current ticket prices are: one day pass $25; two day pass $45; three day pass $55; VIP pass $125; Industry pass $55; and student pass $5. The VIP Experience Package includes VIP Check-in, a special VIP badge, scheduled semi-private audition appointments in Listening Rooms, and access to the VIP Lounge. A limited amount of VIP passes have been made available. General admission tickets include access to the exhibits including listening rooms, the Marketplace, Ear Gear Expo (EGX), as well as educational seminars, live music, and special events.

AXPONA is open Friday (April 15) and Saturday (April 16) from 10 am – 6 pm, and Sunday (April 17) 10 am – 4 pm. The Westin O’Hare is located at 6100 North River Road. Ample parking is available at the Westin’s main and overflow lots for a discounted rate of $10 per day for AXPONA attendees and exhibitors.

Image Credit: AXPONA
 

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As I mentioned in the other post, it was great, but less crowded than last year, not sure why.
The parking was at times abhorrent as we had to use a CTA Parking and then ride the bus a considerable distance. We finally walked to the show and listened to many rooms, both good and not so good. It will be fun to see what Dennis and Wayne feel are their favorites.
 
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