Merryl Jaye art

Surprisingly, this was the first time I attended a CES where I wasn't immediately overwhelmed by the throngs of technophiles who annually converge in sunny Las Vegas each winter for the world's largest and most popular electronics trade show.

My arrival at McCarran International airport was a relatively safe and comfortable one thanks in part to the extra long leg room I purchased. I arrived at 10:00 AM Tuesday, the official opening day of the show but noticed immediately the taxi lines were only a few hundred people long as opposed to a thousand. An omen perhaps? Fortunately, I avoided the taxi lines altogether this year by way of my dear uncle Arthur, who retired to the 24-hour 'Vegas scene some years ago to further pursue his passions as a jazz musician. Unc was kind enough to pick me up right outside the taxi stand. It was walking directly past it that I noticed how light the lines were. Nevertheless, I was so utterly grateful I thanked him all the way to the Flamingo Hotel.

Although I found this year's attendance rather light, others had an entirely different spin on it.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) - the folks who run CES, sent out press releases via email stating "The 2012 International CES was the largest in the event's 44 year history, with a record number of more than 3,100 exhibitors across the largest show floor in CES history – 1.861 million net square feet of exhibit space – and drawing a record of more than 153,000 attendees, including more than 34,000 international attendees. More than 20,000 new products were launched at the 2012 CES..."

Based on eye witness accounts (namely that of Dave Thomas, Key Kim, Norm Luttbeg, Don Shaulis and my own), I don't think the CEA's statistics were referring to the High End Audio segment. Held at both the Venetian and Flamingo hotels, I found the crowds unusually light - especially at the Flamingo, home to The Home Entertainment (T.H.E.) Show. This might be news to anyone who hasn't ever visited CES but to anyone who has, the CES is more about sight than it is sound. The convention center is where most of the action is. And it's always been more about the newest LED TV's, Hi-def, home theater gizmos and technologies than it is about High End Audio (especially two-channel). Moreover, for the first time - to my knowledge - the CES wasn't held from the usual Thursday through Sunday slot. Instead, the powers-that-be had it switched to a weekday event (Tuesday through Friday). Unfortunately, I think this adversely impacted on any high-end audio manufacturer's sole purpose for showing up in the first place: obtaining new dealers and distributors. Nowadays, a lot of dealers and distributors are working full-time jobs elsewhere to support themselves due to slow sales in this ever-frightening economy.

The optimistic press were in attendance in droves. We have to be. And though, in terms of sound, most were of the same usual suspects. But trudge ahead we must. I'm reminded also, it's the folks who make up the high-end that are always a delight to see once again during our CES annual pilgrimage.

So, to our Stereo Times readers, as usual, there was plenty for our lens to capture!




No signs of Bugsy Siegel. The staff here at the storied Flamingo hotel are always helpful and gracious to the throngs of crazed audio geeks rushing through their doors. Thanks to all of you for making my travels that much easier and pleasant.






Starting the day on the right foot. The daily live entertainment at T.H.E. Show during (free) lunch hour has totally spoiled me. There's nothing like live music, good friends and food to get you in a good mood.


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One of the best sights at T.H.E. Show was seeing many of the dreary hotel rooms lit up with the fantastic paintings of artist Merryl Jaye (photo below). Her penchant at capturing legendary jazz artists like Sinatra, Miles, Diz and Coltrane is obvious by the wealth of her portfolio and the many dozens of original paintings that were here on display.





This artistic rendition of Lady Day (Billie Holiday) is stunning.


Here's a painting of my favorite all-time jazz musician John Coltrane, it appears, in one of his many contemplative moments - perhaps right before a performance. On the left is Yoyo Ma.