This month, with the Bristol Show imminent, Linette looks at the folk who make up the gathered throng at a typical Hifi show. Will you spot yourself in there, I certainly did?TQBIRDSSPONSOR

Show season is well under way and we will be making our way to Bristol for the 2016 Sound and Vision show very soon.  You meet all kinds of people at shows and there are some definite groups that tend to crop up at most shows….lets have a look under the lid.

Classic Audiophiles

They’ve been supporting this industry for many years.  Most likely an ‘older’ gentleman, they are in their idea of heaven, they’ve been let out for the day (perhaps the weekend) to do nothing but wander the rooms of the show, run into others of their ilk that they only ever see at shows and generally have a great time.  Will probably be found at some point in the bar with a pint, a pie and a very happy look on their face as they reminisce on the last hour spent listening to Pink Floyd on a cracking system and at the kind of volume that ‘her in doors’ would never tolerate.

Hifi Journalists

The Journos are easy to spot, they always have cameras and can always be found anywhere where there is free booze.  The PR People want as many, paper and virtual, column inches to be written about their super new product as possible…and they know the best way to ensure this is to keep those Journos fed and watered.  The Journos will have been invited to many product launches at a show and will carefully select the ones to attend based on the quality of the drinks and nibbles as much as the sneaky peak at new gear. The Hifi Journo has a big appetite for delicious canapés and press freebies…they haven’t bought a T-shirt or USB stick in many years.  They brandish their press passes like a weapon and use them to get anywhere and everywhere.drunk

PR Peeps

They will be incredibly busy, the PR Peeps are the gods of multitasking, their time split between organising press events and helping the Exhibitors set up and, of course, working the room in the bar. If you ever need to find a Hifi PR person at a hifi show, the bar is probably the best place to start…if you ever need to find a Hifi PR person anywhere, the bar is probably the best place to start.BIRDSSPONSOR600X74

Bored Spouses

These are not happy people when at a hifi show, they are trying to show an interest in their loved one’s hobby but they just don’t get it.  They can be spotted by their fixed look of complete boredom when dragged into yet another demo.  They’ve got a bit of headache and need a drink but they trail wearily behind their beloved for the sake of marital harmony.

Happy Couples

The complete opposite to the Bored Spouse and their other half, the Happy Couple are young and bright and shiny.  They have embraced the new technologies and are looking for a cool new multi room system to go in their impossibly tidy and interior designery house.  They are highly likely to make a purchase at the show of hifi that is as bright and shiny as they are.

The Lone Female

The Lone Female goes quietly about her business.  She’s planning on auditioning several sets of speakers that she has on her wish list.  She’s a regular at Hifi shows and used to be looked at like she had dropped in from another planet, thankfully there are more women at shows these days and she feels less out of place.  She particularly dislikes condescending guys running rooms at shows that speak to her like she doesn’t know what  a cartridge is, little do they know she’s been stripping down and rebuilding vintage turntables since she was at university.

 AV Roomsters

An Audio Visual or Home Cinema room can usually be felt before it is seen or even heard.  A deep sub bass, strong enough to shake the pits of hell rumbles from the room which will be dominated by the biggest screen ever seen.  A large amount of speakers will be playing the soundtrack of various super-hero antics, explosions and crashes.  The guys in charge of the AV room show no pity for the poor person valiantly trying to play refined classical music in the next room….the bass is so strong it’s making their records skip and they could really do with a lie down and some ibuprofen.

The Hipster

Now hifi is becoming cool again, the Hipsters have caught on to it.  They can be easily spotted by their skinny jeans and manly beards and will always be near to anywhere selling or playing vinyl.  The only problem that they have with their vinyl collection is that the black stuff is becoming far too mainstream these days, they are selling it in Tesco’s for gods sake, so they are checking out Reel 2 Reel in the hope that they can catch the next wave of hipness before any of their mates.

Head-Fi Kids

Very easy to spot as they will always have a pair of headphones either on their heads or around their necks.  They wear their brands like a badge of honour and will be found, glued to the headphone stands playing with expensive little gadgets and wondering if spending their student loan on a new DAP would be such a bad thing to do.

Mr (or Mrs) I Know Everything About Everything (IKEAE)

One to avoid at all costs.  If they corner you then you will be lectured at about how they know so much more than anyone else here and have a hifi that is infinitely superior to anything you could ever dream of.  They quite often try this on the Exhibitors, who at first think they may have an interested potential customer, but soon realise they have been drawn into a ‘my homemade bell wire speaker cables are so much better than what you are selling’ hole and they will be stuck in for at least an hour.  If you do get caught by Mr IKEAE the best defence is to let them rattle on for a bit and then tell them about your system, making sure that you list the highest end brands that you know, their brain will fizz a bit as they try to tot up the value of your fictional system, at which point you can make good your escape.

The Toddler Wrangler

Bringing small children, who are well behaved, to a hifi show can be a wonderful experience for the child.  However, a crowded, noisy and hot hotel does not, generally, a happy well behaved child make.  The Toddler Wrangler (Parent) thought it seemed like a good idea at the time but they have already been asked to leave one demo because of a tantrum and had to creep out of another room because some little fingers have poked several tweeters…they are now in the bar filling the monsters full of pop and crisps whilst casting looks of unbridled jealousy at the contented Classic Audiophile at the next table.

The Exhibitors

They have been in the hotel all the previous day and since about 6 am today setting up their room.  Tempers did become a little frayed after carrying several tons of hifi up the stairs because the lift packed up.  The system that was behaving itself perfectly back at the showroom has now decided to chuck a hissy fit and their PR guy, who is supposed to be helping them get things set up for the press conference, has disappeared to the bar. However, the show must go on and of course it will.  After a lot of tinkering things have improved and the system is singing, everyone breathes a sigh of relief and prepares themselves for three days of hifi show.  They will enthusiastically share their product knowledge with the visiting hordes, play tunes and generally have a great time…some of which may have to be done with a bit of a hangover after the inevitable night out following press and trade day.

Linette Smith


Read more Bird’s Eye View with Linette Smith


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