...the large suites at the top of the Venetian and Mirage hotels mean fewer exhibitors per floor. But, from experience, the super-high-end manufacturers, many of whom think their products demand more attention than the rest of the audio world, frequent these larger suites. So, where you can figure getting in and out of a room inside of a few minutes on the 29th floor, anything less than 15 minutes in the company of these companies is considered rude. In fairness, when discussing a $60,000 DAC or a $500,000 loudspeaker with the manufacturer, you would expect the manufacturer to have a tale to tell, and a roll-call of technology to discuss. But, such is the demand for weaving a tale around a product that, by the end of the first day, where my colleagues had covered perhaps 25 or 30 rooms, I had barely managed eight.
There were two interesting things that came out of these rooms, however. Where many of the brands on the 29th, 30th, and 31st floors were streaming Tidal, these upper floors with product prices to match were relying more on LP, CD, or SACD. Also, this year saw a coordinated move by a number of European and Asian high-end audio distributors to stay away from the Las Vegas, in the hope of moving business to local shows at Munich and Hong Kong. This left the show attended by the US agents, who brought a touch of much-needed pragmatism to the Venetian Towers.
So perhaps it was a good thing that the ‘million dollar system’ planned in the Lamm Industries room (featuring TechDAS and Graham vinyl and EMM Labs digital sources, Sanus racks, almost $140,000 worth of Kubala-Sosna Elation cables) topped out at a ‘mere’ $706,000. This was because the new Verity Audio Monsalvat loudspeakers had to be replaced with the previous Verity flagship, the Lohengrin IIS.
Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that if you are reporting on a room with a $180,000 amplifier, you end up writing about a $180,000 amplifier. But where the reaction to such things has typically been ‘fawning’ from the industry, this year it seemed a little more ‘realistic’. However, low cost doesn’t tend to feature much in the upper suites of the Venetian, partly because they have big rooms to fill.