Behind the scenes of show making.
Great shows, or good one's at least, are divided within our walls as either passive types or Oxford types. They share some similitudes, but passive shows are more " plug and play " than Oxford. Where as Passive shows, we have a set idea about what we want to display and tweak on the fly, Oxford displays take up a whole new meaning.
Passive shows can take from beginning to end in organization a few hours for a 3 man crew, and this counts Kris, Steve, myself and Roger. So if you cumulate these, they usually add up to 12 or so hours max. But where real audio shows like the one's that are organized in Montreal, Toronto, New York and elsewhere, many rooms are compromised from the onset and many pro's will do a good enough job around these venues, but on occasion, some other pros don't account for the short changes, and simply dive in and make a wonderful room despite noise and chatter.
Our job is because, we do not deal with the shortfalls of the commercial venues, even a passive show of ours, in our estimation, HAVE to sound better because, in a way, our hands are not tied, therefore, no excuses.
Then when we feel like getting a little extreme, we provide Oxford set ups can last up to 15 hours based on between myself, Kris and adding about 3 hours for Roger. Burn in time is never counted for these shows. Once burn in is to my satisfaction, then we think process. To say we don't have a process down pat, what goes down on these Oxford set ups is the equivalent of a well oiled machine.
What happens in the beginning is that gear will be packed up at home, then brought to our location. That same morning upon delivery, where the Oxford show is about to take place one week or two, we will have Kris start the process of unpacking said gear. BEFORE this is done, we need to make room and decide what is playing on this set up, which means I have decided long ago what I wanted plugged in. So Kris makes room for the set up, and it gets a little messy as you see from the pics below.
Steve will then be asked to take out the cables we need for this, not any cable, but the ones we intend to play on this system. Then he also takes out alternatives for what we have in mind. Kris and I will test once set up is finished, and we will go from there. No need to be an Einstein at this level. As one see's below, its pretty quick, and on occasion, I may even change a component mid way when an idea comes to mind late. In the set up below, we were to use a different CD player and when we set the things up, the aha moment that I had, proved too strong and I had Kris change for a Cary Cd player.
From beginning to end of this process, it took approximately 2 man hours each for Kris and I
System is turned on and warmed up before we start testing, which is difficult when we do not want folks coming in listening to this " surprise system ". Once warmed up and with privacy assured ( if we can manage ), the coup de grace will be on what we may change a few things, here and there, I am looking for a peculiar sound. I will become quite particular at this level, and so will Kris. This process can take up to 3 hours each, again for Kris and I. Steve will be taking care of some background " stuff", making sure our wine glasses and beer glasses are out, that we have enough fresh coffee on hand, cleaning and clearing out cables and other things that were used to test with, so they are kept out for safety and security sake. Also making sure our Stevio stays out of the alcohol is a major point I must say ( making sure no bottle are empty after Steve handled them adds several hours to our work load ;-)
Below, on our Nordost picture show, once our set up was finalized by Kris and I the week before, Bruno came in and started to prepare his show around the system we provided him. So Kris and I provided a very high resolution system, so Bruno can do his job. Bruno was able to demonstrate, what tweaking a system does throughout that May 6th 2017 day. Needless to say, folks were flabbergasted. Shows and demonstration are a critical part of our DNA and should be made available to the public. The reason why we do these. But times do change it must be said,
On the picture below, we both now start with a warmed up system our testing. Within the next 3 or so hours, I will direct Kris to mix and match a sound I want. Kris will do that part himself as I wander off and help Steve out ( no, not with drinking wine, that comes later ! ). No matter where I am, even in the washroom with the door closed, I will know if it's the sound I want. Sure is a self inflated affirmation ;-), but there is some truth to that. Kris does have a say here as well by the way. Below, notice the amount of cables we used just for this Oxford set up, and yes, both Kris and I decided to tweak our cables till the end of process.
As one see's, one thing that may be surprising to most of our clients, is that I am not centered around " one cable" company does all scenario. Quite the inverse actually. This provides flexibility on what we intend to offer, and certainly expertise on case studies via where cable's matter a lot under different circumstances. We are basically half way at this point. Organizing our shop for the pending visitors also takes place... when the place is chock full, well this is easier thought than done. We tend too all pitch in as the system warms up.
The date arrives, Then our shows begin and we mostly have some fun. But I did not mention one key person that which without him, this would be impossible ! Meet Roger, totally behind the scenes, some of our regulars know him has he does come in on occasion. Roger will take care of our heavy technical issues or anything else for that matter. BUT, he also takes my ideas in marketing these events, and makes these available on line and onto our rather busy and dense website. So, without Roger, no one would really know about these shows AND, lets say, about this very article.
Roger is on his 11th year at my side, Kris is on his over 15 or 16 years and Stevie Wonder is 6 years already. The oldest, but he is actually the super kid in our group. He is also the one that makes the operation click and tick and he is the one that will keep me sometimes focused on more worldly issues, which is a tough job I assure you all folks.
In the picture below, our Audio Note 2012 show was our most complex and intense show ever devised. Even Roger was on hand and on deck to help out. From behind the scenes to end of cleanup, this show took approximately 70-80 man hours for all 4 of us, with no expense spared on our clientele. It was the show to end all shows for us at that time, it was the most expensive show. It was equally supposed to be the very last show.... hmmm.
As we are heading into 2018, we have just had quite the Roksan / Jean Marie Reynaud October event, a quick and clean November Sim Audio/Revel show and what may remain an untouchable December Audio Note event, where we wish our client a farewell and raise a glass together before the December holidays.
As we intend to have an natural end to these events, our December Audio Note tube event may last a while yet but effective now, other than our banner on our website, even this show will go as an implied rather than a full blown announcements from now on.
Lots of work that many business types would deem as foolhardy and unnecessary, buts its a path we enjoyed doing on your behalf for all the years we did these. Only those who attended these events know, that the shows we did were seen as us doing our job, and never once, was anyone ever approached with a sales pitch. That why some business folks would call these events foolhardy. I would call them, dead wrong.
Lets not forget, my team and I are what we eat, both Steve and Kris are hard core audiophiles with many years experience behind them. So am I. Crazy mofo' s we are. So we all come from a particular back grounds that have assured a great success for all our 262 show events.
Note, no pictures of when we clean up afterwards, would not know where to stand, as it takes a few hours for Steve and Kris to reorganize our shop in working order.
I hope most of you who attended these events enjoyed yourselves...a little bit at least. Enjoy the remainder of these while they are still around this 2017 year.
Enjoy yourselves life and your system !