The future of Hi-fi shows

I was disappointed to hear that the Bristol hi-fi show has been cancelled for the second year running and do wonder if the organisers cancelled a bit too early and am curious what other think?

I should point out that I am pro vaccination and also fully supported the lockdowns in the days before vaccines became available. I’m also fully in favour of doing whatever is necessary to protect NHS capacity should the situation demand it.

However, the show was cancelled before the data was in about how dangerous the Omicron variant is and how many hospitalisations it is causing - data which is only just now becoming available.

My thinking is:

  1. We have a vaccine which protects almost everyone from needing hospitalisation
  2. It seems covid will be with us for the long term, I doubt 2023 or 2024 will look much different so are we now really living in a world where hi-fi shows will never happen again?
  3. I’m not sure that a hi-fi show is any worse than being in a fairly busy shop or supermarket. It’s probably lower risk than a bus or train and certainly lower risk than a gig or cinema

Hopefully society will adapt to enable these events to continue in the future without restrictions with attendees deciding what personal measures they wish to take (vaccines, masks or not, attending or not etc.).

But we could well be several years away from getting to that point due to the level of concerns many people have with the virus as a result of the degree of restrictions and negative media coverage which has influenced behaviours.

1 Like

I was talking with a hifi distributor who said for them these shows are important in building their product and dealer network. But for them a relatively small player they are very very expensive and really need to deliver for their business. So in short, he was actually pleased it was cancelled as he felt it would have much less footfall with the current virus status and customer perceptions.

1 Like

All of your points are valid. It’s really a simple question of economics. Hiring the venue and setting up the necessary logistics is very expensive.

As you may know, I’m part of an organisation that puts on music events. While tickets are still selling fine for the spring and summer, sales for events in the next couple of months have simply died. In the absence of restrictions we have been given very strong guidance not to go to things we don’t need to, and a hifi show has to be one of the least necessary things on the planet. The organisers and exhibitors simply cannot take the risk. Anyone could catch Covid at any time and have to isolate for a week. It could take out the whole of an exhibitor’s team so that they couldn’t attend and then the booking fee is money down the drain.


Very interesting to hear your insights and I can imagine that if footfall isn’t as great as usual it would be a big lossmaker for all concerned.

I think aside from hearing great systems and great music one of the things I miss most is that hi-fi is often quite a solitary hobby and the hi-fi shows are a sort of coming together! We all make our upgrades and tweaks alone in ouir listening rooms but it’s rare to get to share them with others with the same passion. To be fair my missus is always very encouraging and receptive but I really enjoy it when my one genuine audiophile friend comes over and hears something and it’s a shame that he lives so far away.

I have contemplated setting up an audiophile bake-off now and again or possibly attending one but I’m also wary of opening up the house to strangers (easier of course if it was known people on here). In many ways the dealers themselves are best placed to bring their local audiophile communities together like that but it’s very rare that they do.


1 Like

There was a time when Hi-Fi dealers did have demonstration events, either invited or open house.

I imagine many still do, within the Gov. guidelines prevailing.

It was a good opportunity to meet fellow enthusiasts who were locally based.

Likewise, there were a few well-known groups within this Forum who met on a regular basis to share their experiences. And a good few more smaller get-together who met on an ad-hoc basis.

But the Bristol and Heathrow type of events strike me as a bit of a risk at the moment from both airborne transmission and surface contamination. To be financially successful there would be too many people crowded into too many small rooms.

I would cha;;Engle your first assumption. That’s not what any of the data is showing at all.

Hi Mike, I think you are referring to my bullet point 1 at the top of the post and I’m no doctor and I know the Gov’t are studying the data this morning so am expecting Chris Whitty will have something interesting to say about all this later today. My understanding though is that 80% of those in hospital with Covid are unvaccinated and one assumes the remaining 20% who are vaccinated but hospitalised with covid may be the elderly and frail with multiple health issues. I’m not aware of formerly healthy and vaccinated people ending up in intensive care in any numbers in the current wave - but maybe it’s just not being reported.

Also the press seem to be reporting that Omicron is 60-70% less likely to lead to hospitalisation. All of which I think goes some way to supporting my point 1.

Anyway I’m no expert and you may well be on the front line in which case I’m quite prepared to eat humble pie!

I’m hoping we will all know a lot more if the Gov’t do a national briefing today. Speaking personally if I thought going to a gig or hi-fi show could put an average vaccinated middle aged person in hospital I wouldn’t want to go. If an average person who is vaccinated would suffer a week laid low with a cold then I would go.


Yes, I was referring to your first bullet. The UK is somewhere near the bottom of the list when it comes to accurate Covid data. Putting aside the obvious time lags I think the WHO estimated that our data is likely to be 5 to 10x out in terms of accuracy. So that 80% could be considerably less. That aside the numbers of people in hospital with Covid is much more complex than presented. You have people hospitalised with Covid alone and people who go in with something else but then get Covid etc.

All that said I do tend towards your view on shows. I can see why they cancelled but all you have to do really is stop following politicised government guidance and apply common sense precautions. You risk assess every room and decide on whether a room can be used at all; maximum numbers; whether windows will need to be open; whether Co2 detection will be required. You reduce the seating by 50% and put it 1m apart whilst asking people to wear masks. 2m apart if you can. You limit total numbers in the building at any one time and allow tickets for 1/2 day only. There are lots of choices.

Now, if Bristol had done all that and concluded it wasn’t viable then fair enough but my experience with hotels etc. is that “risk assessment” is a fairly novel concept and you have to really push to get sensible answers. My guess is proper risk assessments weren’t done and the more likely issue is that attending dealers cannot spare the bodies else their main source of employment will likely have to shut.

1 Like

The guidance thing is interesting. We have a show in early February. We must pay the artist fee, the hall hire, the cost of the sound and light techs. If hardly anyone turns up, which seems likely, we make a big loss. The artists don’t want to cancel because they need to earn a living. We can only lose so much.

Pubs are open. They pay staff. They order beer and food. If hardly anyone turns up they lose money.

That’s why hospitality needs clear guidance. It’s fine to say that people should be free to make their own decisions, but whole sections of the economy are on a knife edge and don’t know how best to respond. If all concerts were banned for a couple of months we could reschedule, which isn’t great but at least it’s clear and we could plan. It’s all a nightmare.


So presumably the earlier you cancel the event the more you mitigate the loss?

I don’t want this thread becoming a proxy Covid discussion, and please would all members respect and abide by forum rules - no politics! Otherwise it’s not going to last long on here. Thank you.

1 Like

We can’t cancel as we are under contract with the artist, so it’s them that must do it. And they need the income…. I’m just using us as an example, but it’s a situation affecting huge numbers of venues. There is no easy answer of course, but a bit more certainly wouldn’t go amiss.

It’s a massive dilemma. Personally I’m not ready for indoor shows unless seated and socially distanced but I’m very comfortable with attending football fully masked. How on earth a venue is meant to judge the likely outcome of putting on an event I have no idea.

Yeah I can understand that Nigel, I was talking more generally.

I think cancelling a show in Feb is a good idea considering the uncertainty around Omicron at the moment. What is more important, protecting the NHS and the health of the population or listening to some new hi-fi gear in far from ideal conditions? Whilst for many the risk of serious illness does appear lower, that Omicron is more infectious and high numbers infected does mean the NHS could become overwhelmed with covid patients, which would then further exacerbate the issues around treatment for other illnesses being delayed and the massive waitlists.

Longer-term we will get back to having hi-fi shows and many other things we used to take for granted.

I heard this morning that very soon people who want to come and visit Venice will have to book their visit days online. Hifi shows, concerts….will do the same. Or are already doing it.
The future is already here.

I agree with @JonathanG It would be nice to share Naim kit and sounds in people’s home a bake off as you put it! but I think a rather dangerous thing perhaps. I would have to feel very comfortable allowing someone to see my expensive kit unless I could feel completely confident. I’m sure there are some individual members of this forum who meet up and go to shows together. I don’t know. Interesting one for discussion. Naturally, the music would sound way better then Hotel rooms in Bristol

1 Like

I’m not sure you need to worry that much; if there was a break in shortly after Forum members visited, the list of obvious suspects wouldn’t be very long….

I’ve been to a a few Forum members’ houses and it was very kind of them to put up with me, and a few have been to my house too. Interestingly, there has never been much boring hifi chat, it’s usually about music and general stuff. I once organised a trip to Naim HQ, which was fun and Naim were really gracious. We met all the top people and our esteemed moderator, had a really good discussion, factory tour, lunch, listening session etc. Being able to do that sort of thing seems like something from another time.


I went to the UK hifi show in Daventry recently and had some very ‘enlightening’ chats with exhibitors.
The show was fairly busy but most importantly all obligatory measures were in place, and everyone was relaxed, felt safe, and happy to be there. The exhibitors said it had gone ok and they were keen to return for future shows … (in their words) “if it was allowed to continue”. Read into that what you will.

Whilst I agree with, and abide by, forum rules this topic is inextricably linked with current affairs. Therefore it’s important to have a conversation - it’s not just a ‘hobby’, it’s about saving the future of the performing arts and allowing artistic creativity to flourish.

The show must go on !

1 Like