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T.H.E. Show SoCal 2024 Report

Our hi-fi show coverage of T.H.E. Show SoCal 2024 includes stereo systems ranging from a few hundred dollars to over $500K.

T.H.E. Show SoCal 2024 Report

T.H.E. Show SoCal was held June 7-9, 2024 at the Hilton Orange County/Costa Mesa in Costa Mesa, California, and the venue provided an opportunity for thousands of attendees to listen to state-of-the-art high-end audio systems and headphones. Over 160 brands were on display during the three day event with systems ranging in price from a few hundred dollars to over $500,000.

The following is a rundown of a number of things that caught our attention. The list below is in order from least to most expensive.

RSL Speakers

For the second year in the row, the highest value room award goes to RSL Speakers. They had two rooms showcasing their budget-priced speakers (from $210/pair) and subwoofers ($299 – $799) in either a stereo and 7.2.4 Dolby Atmos home theater setup.

This family owned and operated company originated in southern California in the 1970s and continues to impress us with how they can offer so much sonic performance at affordable prices. Very few manufacturers are doing this well right now at hi-fi shows and it’s important for the industry that this becomes a bigger trend.

Where to buy: rslspeakers.com


WiiM

WiiM took over the budget-priced network streaming category when they introduced the $99 WiiM mini streamer. However, we got a sneak peak at their new WiiM Ultra network streamer with touch screen that’s coming out this year for $329.

Which WiiM Network Streamer Should You Get?


Brane Audio

A bluetooth speaker at a high-end audio show? Yes, indeed! Upstart Brane Audio showed their first-ever product, the Brane X Smart Speaker. At $599, this portable Bluetooth speaker went head-to-head with the competition, and is guaranteed to astound you with its rumbling bass capabilities.

Where to buy: $599 at braneaudio.com


ELAC

ELAC demonstrated their brand new entry-level Debut 3.0 speakers. We heard the larger bookshelf and tower speaker models in the range, which both feature 6-1/2″ woofers. At $449 / $999 per pair respectively, we were pleasantly surprised how much sound quality can be achieved at such low price points.


SVS

SVS showed off their flagship Ultra Evolution Pinnacle floorstanding loudspeakers used as a stereo system as well as part of a 5.2.2 Dolby Atmos home theater. We first heard these loudspeakers at CES 2024 and continue to be impressed with their scale and accuracy.

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Where to buy: $4,999/pair at SVS


Aperion Audio

Aperion Audio had two rooms. In their home theater room they showed their new Theatrus system in 7.2.4 Dolby Atmos configuration with topper speakers for height channels — $11,740 in total for speakers and subwoofers. Meanwhile, room two demonstrated their brand new Grandis GR6 bookshelf speakers ($2,299/pair), along with Verus V8T Towers ($3,998/pair) and Super Tweeters ($999/pair).

Where to buy: aperionaudio.com


IsoTek

Although IsoTek didn’t have a dedicated room, we caught up with Lenny Coco from MoFi Distribution in the Andrew Jones Audio Experience Room to take a quick look at IsoTek’s power conditioning lineup.

Learn more: isoteksystems.com.


HiFiMAN

HiFiMAN had two new models at T.H.E. Show. We had a chance to listen to the new flagship SUSVARA Unveiled open-back headphones ($8,000) along with the new Mini Shangri-La electrostatic headphone system ($2,300). Since we’re unsure if these models will ship with tunings as demonstrated, it’s too early to render a verdict.

Where to buy: $2,300 or $8,000 at Headphones.com

HiFiMAN at T.H.E. Show SoCal 2024
Mini Shangri-La (left), Susvara Unveiled (right)

Oriaco

Oriaco which blends the words “origin of acoustics” is a brand created by Tony Minasian in Southern California in 2020. However, most are unlikely to have heard of it unless they’ve attended any recent T.H.E. Shows.

We met Tony a couple years ago when he introduced the Oriaco G6 EM stand-mount loudspeakers ($3,500/pair), which surprised us with its detail and airiness. This year he added his first floorstanding model, the Oriaco F8 ($9,500/pair) which extends bass down to 52 Hz. This rather unique loudspeaker has both side and rear vents, as well as an upward firing tweeter. It’s designed for people that especially prefer acoustic music and each model is custom made by Tony.

Where to buy: $9,500/pair at tonianlabs.com

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Mon Acoustic

Korean manufacturer, Mon Acoustic, showed off their PlatiMon VC Two loudspeakers priced at $17,000/pair which are comprised of two separate units, each encased in a 6061-grade aluminum enclosure. The upper version is a bookshelf speaker (model VC One, available separately at $6,000/pair), while the lower half doubles as a stand, while adding both low bass extension and a super tweeter.

Where to buy: $17,000/pair at monacoustic.us


ATC

The legendary British brand ATC is celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year, and demonstrated their SCM20ASL Limited Edition stand-mount loudspeakers in metallic blue finish with matching C4 Sub Mk2 subwoofer ($24,000 combo, not including stands). This compact system looked and sounded stunning. With only 150 pairs being made in that color, we’d be surprised if there are any left.

Where to buy: $24,000 at lonemountainaudio.com


Final Audio

The only electrostatic loudspeakers (ESL) at T.H.E. Show were from Final Audio, which was previously known as Final Sound from 1989 to 2015. The Dutch brand exited the U.S. market about 12 years ago, but is back in the hands of the original founders after being acquired by Philips in 2004. Note, there is no relation to the Japanese headphone manufacturer named Final.

Final Audio had all of their models there, but was mostly demonstrating the second from top-of-the-line Model 15 ($15,000/pair) full range electrostatic panel speakers. Those that visited on the last day also got the hear the flagship Model 35 ($27,000/pair) as well as smaller/hybrid models in a surprise 7.2.4 Dolby Atmos setup in an adjacent room with dual Tekton Design 4-10 Line Array Subwoofers ($860/each).

If you’ve never heard electrostatic speakers before, you’ll be quite surprised what such panels are capable of.

Where to buy: $2,250$27,000/pair at final-audio.com


Boenicke

Swiss based Boenicke has impressed us at previous shows with their slim floorstanding speakers; models W8 ($8,500/pair) and W8 SE ($15,500/pair). This year, we got a glimpse at the top-of-the-range W13SE+ ($57,000/pair) with the owner of Alma Music and Audio, Alex Siufy.

Where to buy: $57,000/pair at almaaudio.com

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Audio Group Denmark

Audio Group Denmark formed in 2020, but already encompasses four brands — Ansuz, Aavik, Børresen and Axxess — to deliver complete audio solutions at various price points. There were two stereo systems on display in adjacent ballrooms, and interestingly they were both powered by a Axxess Forté 3 streaming amplifier ($11,000).

The $30K system (all-in) included the Børresen X3 loudspeakers ($11,000/pair), while the $100K system used the quite impressive Børresen C3 loudspeakers ($38,500/pair).

Where to buy: houseofstereo.com


Steinway Lyngdorf

Steinway Lyngdorf combines the craftsmanship of legendary piano maker Steinway & Sons with the expertise of Danish hi-fi pioneer, Peter Lyngdorf. The partnership was based on an ambitious promise, “To reproduce the sound of a Steinway & Sons grand piano to the degree that even seasoned concert pianists could not discern the difference.”

In the T.H.E. Show’s lifestyle lounge, Steinway Lyngdorf’s Model B loudspeakers ($110,000 stereo system) encapsulated the entire space with breathtaking sound. Despite less than ideal conditions in a gymnasium sized ballroom, Steinway Lyngdorf exceeded all expectations, but ultimately Tom Farinola from Atlantic Home Entertainment & Stereo explains it best — they are truly the best kept secret in audio!

Where to buy: atlanticstereo.com


Gryphon Audio Designs

Gryphon Audio Designs (from Denmark) makes some of the most expensive and state-of-the-art loudspeakers and audio components in the world. However, their entry-level, yet still expensive, range was featured. The system included Gryphon’s EOS 2 Loudspeakers ($24,800/pair), Diablo 333 Integrated Amplifier ($24,900), ETHOS CD player ($39,000) and Power Zone 3 power conditioner ($14,000) along with a Bergmann Galder-Odin Signature Turntable ($35,700).

Granted it wasn’t the $500K Gryphon Trident II loudspeaker system that was the talk of T.H.E. Show last year, but an EOS 2 system will fit into more rooms and could very well be your gateway into the world of Gryphon.

Learn more: gryphon-audio.dk


TAD – Best of Show

When you put $500,000 towards a stereo system, it’s not necessarily guaranteed to deliver sonic nirvana. However, TAD’s flagship Reference One Loudspeakers (model R1TX at $160,000/pair) are really something quite special. They were paired with TAD Electronics and cables along with Synergistic Research accessories in a room treated with Jocavi acoustic panels. We got an extended listen to these in TAD’s after party, and once you hear these you really don’t want to listen to anything else.

Where to buy: padhifi.com

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Stay Tuned…

This page will be updated as we are still continuing to post photos and videos on our YouTube and Instagram channels from T.H.E. Show.

Final Thoughts

T.H.E. Show SoCal 2024 was another tremendous success, and the team behind the event should be congratulated for a job well done. Although the majority of rooms were in the $50,000+ range, it was encouraging to encounter more budget priced audio solutions than we’ve ever seen at any hi-fi show. Technology is trickling down to lower priced loudspeakers and components, and one doesn’t need to mortgage the house to install an audio or home theater system of their dreams.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. ORT

    June 30, 2024 at 1:49 am

    It looks like it was great fun! That is exactly what a HOBBY is supposed to be. FUN.

    If I am fortunate/blessed, maybe next year.

    ORT

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