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HE2006: Zu Audio Rave

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by Josh Ray on June 05 '06

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Someone told me that the Zu rave would be filled with dorky audiophiles and just a handful of women. They were wrong. The dorky audiophiles went to sleep at 9pm and the women, afraid of the audiophiles, went elsewhere. Yeah, I'm incredibly disappointed with the audio community for missing out on one of the coolest shows in the history of hi-fi.

The good news is it seems Zu got some love from the audio insiders that did show up. As they should because the presentation was killer. A phalanx of ten Druid speakers atop custom 18" subs rocked the massive space. Seriously, it is amazing how much sound those Druids can crank. The bass was incredibly hard hitting and smooth. Of course, with a space so huge, there were room issues. But if there were more people there, some organic "room treatment" would have been going on and the sound would have been tip top.

Don't be surprised if you see Zu throwing more of these shows in the future. The lighting design was killer and the overall execution flawless. We need to embrace these kind of events (in a smaller venue, of course) if the average age of hi-fi consumers is to ever drop below 50.

UPDATE: 6Moons analysis and interview with Sean Casey about what went down. Srajan hypothesizes that putting on more of these raves would be madness, but Sean says "Zu will put on more parties in the future. We just have to change a few things..." So what are they planning? HIt up 6Moons to find out more. Very interesting read regarding the future of hi-fi, DJ events and the problems that plague our industry.

Also, check out our coverage of the Zu Audio room and our additional Zu picture gallery.

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Read the rest of the article for many more pictures.

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DJ Ming moving at the speed of light.

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Zu's Sean Casey on the right with the Exile event posse.

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Comments

Was it really that empty? That is just kind of sad.
Somebody threw a rave in SoCal on a Friday night and couldn't fill the room. It's only a hop skip and jump from the beaches. There should most definately be more people there. What happened?
HE was by the airport and no one goes anywhere near the airport for parties. If it was in Hollywood at a normal club, it would have gotten a lot of traffic. Also, HE event services had police camped outside so that turned a ton of people off, or so I'm told.
Josh, Was it really that empty? Oy vey. Cool looking set-up though. Ian
What you said, dude. Like, these guys threw a big party and nobody came. Bummah. Next time they should try some filthy hole in the wall near Sunset Boulevard or the 3rd St Promenade. Those places are always packed at nights. At least I'm glad to see my pocket tripod worked out for ya. :D
OUCH OUCH OUCH !!! Once more: It was really THAT empty? How sad. Actually, I would have loved to hear that setup, even if it was clear from the start that no chixxx would be showing up. Clearly, the audiophile world is a few galaxies away from contemporary culture. Doesn't look good, y'all. I would actually doubt that Zu would want to try this again, and I wouldn't blame them. Bringing the cops before the show even started was a no-no, and probably if it was free at least more audio nerds would have shown up. I'm surprised the DJs couldn't wrangle their own crews over to LAX, tho. As an audio nerd myself, I feel lonelier than ever!!!
Thinking about it some more, if the venue was much smaller and in a better location, then the show would have been off the hook. I could see having an event like this with audio demos going from 6-10 and then at 10, cranking up the music and getting wild.
We do alot of events and this was the best sounding setups I had ever heard. The photos look excellent. Most of the people that came sat in the chairs and couches that was behind the dance floor making the event seem even emptier then it was, most likely due to being an older crowd and not into the dancing so much. I hope to see more events produced by Zu. They're young, hip and cool, exactly what this industry needs.
Well let's face it, a "rave" does have a negative connotation for most folks these days. And the people who are into them are not going to go to one in a hotel. They're looking for somewhere in the hood where they can get plenty of merchandise before, during, and after. It is disappointing that a small contingent of people from the audio community showed up though. M
An event like this (Zu Rave) might do better in Vegas... We've done several parties in the past, with the biggest ones being in Chicago when HiFi shows were commonly held here. We've done a couple at restaurants with live stages (Blues bands booked too of course!) Also we did a product launch party at a suite in the Ritz-Carlton which was well attended.) Never tried a party open to the public I must admit...so hats off to Zu for trying. The main reason why we (NaimUSA) didn't exhibit at HE2006 is the crummy location by LAX. We've done almost all the others since the Stereophile show came on the scene around 20 years ago. I think the best LA show was at the Holiday Inn in Santa Monica (within easy reach of Hollywood and Beverly hills). Why they've resorted to LAX in the middle of nowhere is beyond me. Cheers Chris
I'm guessing it was at that LAX hotel because it was cheaper. It's actually a very nice hotel; it was completely remodelled a few years ago and is far, far nicer than any Holiday Inn on the planet. And it's about ten minutes from Santa Monica. Nobody went to the Zu party because a bunch of overweight middle-aged audiophiles aren't interested in rave parties, not because the location was bad.
I told you so ... this was a fun idea, but not a good idea. Playing to the wrong crowd. You want to attract the rave generation to hi fi? You won't do it at an enconium to the transition between middle age and AGE. You want to get the old fogeys into younger music? Fuhgeddaboutit. They revere their records, they don't "scratch" them on purpose. They want to hear the music that they listened to when THEY were young. How do the old Sun Sessions Elvis discs play on the Zu Crew's Boom Rig? When you're trying to sell bacon to the Muslims, you have to expect that they'll probably be fairly slow on the uptake. I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm just saying it's ... impossible.