VSAC is a show by the people for the people. Thus it's as much about people as it is about audio equipment. Do you believe that's a given when it comes to audio shows? Think again. CES is foremost about business, pure and simple. It's a once-a-year opportunity for press, manufacturers, dealers, distributors, reps and importers to meet and, hopefully, sell. While the 'Stereophile Show' is ostensibly for the people, it's really and primedia about the money. Everything else is fancy lip service to promote the event. With the media conglomerate comparing the income figures for San Francisco's HE2003 against the magazine's bottom line, some wise ass named Jack decided to run a good-thing-on-paper through the photo copier for convenient carbon copifuckation. We now have Stereophile shows in New York and San Francisco next year. If manufacturers are dumb enough to support a second Primedia event in November -- right between CEDIA and CES -- they deserve to be bent over the barrel, have their wallets raped and be left bleeding in the parking lot. Should this insanity go without boycott, we'll face a third Stereophile show in Chicago by 2005. By the wicked heads of the Medusa, who needs that? Who's gonna pay for Primedia's self-serving madness? I'm not going and hope you aren't, either - someone has to send these knuckleheads the message that moderation's the name of the game when it comes to manufacturers supporting this type of expensive shows.

I tell you what we do need more of, though - shows like VSAC, shows like Montreal, shows that emphasize our hobby's enthusiast core. Anyone who participated will firmly agree. From the modest attendance cost for manufacturers and attendees to the laid-back collegial atmosphere and very manageable size of venue and event proper, VSAC 2003 was a blast. What's even better, coconspirator Ron Welborne [right] who this year assisted the show's creator Doc Bottlehead has already committed to doing it again next year - except it won't be VSAC, exactly.

From October 8-10, a new "in the spirit of" show will take place in Denver's Marriott Tech Center. Unlike VSAC, it won't focus on single-ended/high-efficiency/ DIY per se but borrow from Doc's concept of an affordable, accessible event for visitors and exhibitors alike. Hence the new title Rocky Mountain AudioFest. Click on the banner to visit the site and learn more. Room rates are $69/night. Local manufacturers Audio Magic, Inner Sound, Galibier Design, Green Mountain Audio, Jeff Rowland Design Group, Perpetual Technologies, Red Rock Audio, Teres Audio and Welborne Labs as well as retailers Audio Unlimited and Cherry Creek Audio have already expressed a desire to participate, with many of this year's VSAC exhibitors expected to join as well.

VSAC 2003 once again took place in the waterfront Red Lion Hotel of Silverdale, on the peninusla facing Seattle proper. For $17.25 one-way, the Bremerton-Kitsap Airporter on its way to Poulsbo could drop you off right in front of the door after a 90-minute shuttle ride from Sea-Tac proper, thus obliterating the need for a rental car. Though overcast into the afternoons before the sun would burn off the cloud cover, VSAC attendees didn't suffer the Emerald City's famous liquid sunshine. They did, however, suffer the absence of proper baristas, espresso bartenders. Even being fluent in Seattlenese coffee lingo (like ordering your double-cream, double-sugar latte as cake in a cup, asking for it with wings or on a leash [in a cup with handles] dry [without steamed milk, only foamed] or as thunder thighs [mocha with whole milk and extra whipped cream]) wouldn't have gotten you ahead of the crowd. The coffee in the hotel, much to the chagrin of connoisseurs, sucked big time. But the absence of the usual pushing and pulling from the pentodists more than made up for it.

Paul Weitzel of Diversity Records had invited label artists Ecstasy in Numbers onto the patio Friday night while the Kevin Jones band played the lounge on Saturday. Jon VerHalen of Lowther America sponsored an emergency keg of Alaskan Amber for those who preferred their chin-ups brewski style while the traditional craftsman room allowed one and all to display their hand-built wares, with a concluding award bestowed on the best component by Sunday evening by which time I was already back in sunny Taos. This traveling schedule also had me miss out on Sunday's seminars which included presentations by Bruce Edgar of Edgarhorn fame, Allen Wright of Vacuum State Electronics -- and author of the SuperCables and Tube Preamp CookBooks -- and Charles King on the use of test equipment for audio measurements and trouble shooting. I trust that other reports will fill those holes. The hotel had kindly lit a fire on the patio around which Cohiba and Stogi devotees gathered Saturday evening to recount war stories and add some glow of their own, with the kind of accompanying curly smoke that's the nightmare of DIY tube builders when firing up their creations for the first time but which was notable by its absence in any of the exhibit rooms propa.