In the wake of the horrendous tsunami disaster in Indonesia, the annual trek to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is overshadowed by the simultaneity of suffering, destruction and loss of life, business-as-usual and the relatively exclusive privilege of being able to work in an industry whose High-End sector is unapologetically dedicated to completely unnecessary luxuries for the few lucky ones who can afford them.

But business does continue and those inclined to lend a helping hand better make sure it does. In preparation for the show, I just finished burning 3 CDs. That's still ludicrously excessive seeing how both courtesy and sheer scope of the event mandate a few precious moments only per exhibit, usually three to four tracks tops. But in years past, I took with me a 24 SLAPPA case loaded to the gills. A mere three this time seems like progress. Also, I deliberately selected specific tracks for certain friends who, being stuck in their rooms, often confess to boredom with some of the stuff du jour that gets played to death each year.

With Albert Porter's AudiogoN crew, a whole phalanx of PFO writers, the tireless SoundStage! team, countless inmates, Steve Rochlin's ETM gang, Wes Phillip's daily Stereophile coverage, this event gets covered on-line in both real time and shortly thereafter so comprehensively that industrious readers are assured to learn about pretty much everything that was shown by piecing together the various show reports.

This makes individual ambitions at completeness both foolish and boring - why read the same stuff over and over here and there? As a matter of practicality, I thus will not be nearly as comprehensive as in years past. Following the example of Marja & Henk's coverage of the London & Holland shows in the last quarter, I'll instead pick personal cherries and let you worry about collecting the rest of the story elsewhere.

Expected personal highlights will be the unveiling of Matthias Ruff's and Holger Fromme's new Avantgarde Meta Duos and statement electronics; Vinh Vu's new Gingko Audio Tubulous speakers; meeting my gang at Jonathan Scull's after hours in Jim Wang's Harmonic Technology exhibit for some sculliwag light-technology cable demonstrations; checking out Tsuda-San's statement tube amp in new cosmetics in the ESP exhibit; thanking all of 6moons' sponsors in person for their support; spending time with Jim Saxon, Mike Healey, Jules Coleman, Bill Cowen, Marja & Henk; renewing friendships with makers and retailers; and making new friends in the hallways of the Alexis Park and St. Tropez as well as the restaurants after hours.

I also look forward to meeting certain readers who attend, to finally put faces to names with whom I've exchanged plenty of e-mails over the last 2.5 years. And I always look forward to be introduced to new music! So put something aside for me, would ya?
Fully hornloaded, 2-piece Meta Duo with 4 x 12" woofers and 2 x 500w amplification

When I put together the above ad for Mike Maloney's T.H.E. Show guide, Jan Petter Egidius from Norway hadn't yet joined our team of writers, hence his country's missing. New Zealand will shortly be represented and for 2005, my hope is to add a writer in Japan and someone in Italy and/or Germany. And there's the trip to China to visit Mark Schifter's Sound Art China facility. It's promising to be an exciting year.

Gingko Audio's new Tubulous speakers promise to be high performance & short bread