It’s The Music Baby!

What started out as a swap meet between Wiredstate.com members in 2004 became what is now known as the premier and only High Fidelity show in the country to date. The show started with dealers and sellers sharing one big space…

I drove to Alabang Town Center the other day to get me one of those Micro SD cards. You know, those little thingies that let you store tons of music on your DAP? Yep, it took me an hour to get there and another to get back. Its a whole lotta “love” considering I live just 5 kilometers away. The reason? Yes, its November folks and the holiday season just kicked into third gear.

Its really not that bad though. The season brings a lot of pretty cool stuff with it like; Bibingka, Puto Bungbong, Vacations, Cool Weather and the country’s premier High End Audio and Video show called; The November HiFi Show!

Let’s Groove (LG) caught up with the King of HiFi, Audio Supremo, His Royal Coolness and Mr. Fidelity himself, Tonyboy De Leon to talk about his collection, Philippine HiFi in general and this years November Hifi Show (if all this sucking up does not get LG a room at the show next year, I don’t know what will). Tonyboy is the proponent of the November HiFi Show and has his hands on the entire show from start to finish. 

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LG: Hi Tonyboy, thanks for taking time off your busy schedule to do this interview. Let’s start off with you… any “Grail” albums on Vinyl or CD you have found recently and are there titles which you have yet to find? 

Tonyboy: I’ve been seriously into this hobby for more than 2 decades. I say seriously because it was 20 years ago when I decided to spend on gear.  Prior to that I only bought software and invested in a lot of industry rags.  So far the only album I desire are new issues or reissues that are well recorded.  At the moment, I’m waiting for the release on the Dunkirk OST in vinyl.

LG: What’s the most important album in your collection? 

Tonyboy: GRP All Star Live in Japan with special guest Sadao Watanabe. Not only is it a well-recorded live album with great content, but I also have fond memories of the first time I heard it with a friend named Bong in the 80s.   

The GRP All Star Live in Japan is one of the most sought after albums of the GRP franchise. Recorded live at the Osaka Festival Hall in 1980 and featured Sadao Watanabe as a guest artist. Personnel included Dave Grusin, Don Grusin, Marcus Miller, Roger Squitero, Buddy Williams, Bobby Broom and Dave Valentin. The album was pressed in Japan under JVC and GRP/Arista in the US and Europe. Fave tracks include Modaji, Tradewinds, Friends and Strangers and Captain Caribe. Great score if you can find it. 

LG: What moved you to start the November HiFi Show?  

Tonyboy: At the time when I was really into audio, I wondered why every major city had a hifi event except the Philippines.  Fortunately at the time, I knew almost all the high-end audio dealers and was an early and active member on the wiredstate.com forum.  So things just fell into place, I guess.

What started out as a swap meet between Wiredstate.com members in 2004 became what is now known as the premier, and only High Fidelity show in the country to date. The show started with dealers and sellers sharing one big space. While the fun and festive atmosphere was great, sharing the same space led to a loudness war between dealers. Tonyboy and the organizers of the show then patterned the format after similar shows abroad. Different demo rooms were created to allow people to move around and experience various audio presentations. This year, November HiFi Show has 58 Demo Rooms for Audio and Video presentations. That’s 58 great reasons to come and visit the show! Oh and here are few more beautiful reasons to go. Some random photos from previous shows.

LG: Based on your experience during the Hi-Fi show what is the percentage split between vinyl/cd/digital based on either sales/inquiries/feedback/collectors’ attendance or other forms of measurement? 

Tonyboy: Based on the registration over the years, attendance can be a low of 2000+ and a high of 4000+.  In terms of software I have no metrics, but my gut feel of the industry is most inquiry are with regards to vinyl.  Record seller can make as much as P500k at the show.

The Vinyl Record Industry recently hit its 25 year high with 3.2 million in new record sales last year. This is the ninth consecutive year vinyl record sales have grown. Tonyboy has this to say about the state of Vinyl Record sales in the Philippines and its future.

Tonyboy: I think its still growing but not as fast as say 5 years ago.  I think what would kill the interest are 2 things:  1.  People not setting up their turntable properly which can make an LP sound worse than a bad MP3 file, and 2.  Poorly recorded and reissued albums.  An example is the album Adele 21. Too bad because it has great content. The vinyl sounds like it was mastered from a MP3 file.  The CD sounds way better.

LG: What is your fearless forecast for Philippine High End Audio?

Tonyboy: I noticed that there is a new and younger market coming into the scene.  They are now getting their feet wet with high-end portable audio.  They are starting to inquire about high-end 2-channel audio.  These newbies will be the next bearers of the torch.

Agree. I recently scored a Digital Audio Player (DAP)/ In Ear Monitor (IEM) and was surprised (more overwhelmed) at the sheer volume of information. It used to be so much simpler… Receiver, Turntable, Speakers and you’re set! Now, there are so much more! Media Player, Cables, Cans, IEMs, Speakers, Brands… ugh. Still, I’d gladly brave the confusion for the chance to be a part of the “new and younger” market.

Good thing there are Facebook Interest Groups around to help make an intelligent decision. Some of these groups are gear centric while the others are focused on music but most are newbie friendly – specially to tech challenged folks like yours truly. 

Tonyboy: I believe social media contributes a great deal because it provides a platform to share ideas.  This year, Audio Pilipinas, Headphiles and Filipino Audiophile Club will have rooms at the show to help people who are getting into the hobby.

So there you have it folks! If its anything like last years show, this year should be another one for the record books. Yes, there will be bling so bring lots of cash. Who knows, you might finally get that vintage speaker to pair with your SET’s or a High End IEM upgrade for your twin DAC DAP. Whatever your dig and whoever you meet, don’t forget what brought you here… It’s the Music baby! See you there folks! The show runs on December 2 and 3 at the Dusit Thani Hotel Manila, Admission is Free.

For more information about the November HiFi Show: Visit Facebook.com/novemberhifishow/ 

This article is a collaboration of Reggie Halili and Derick Villarino, Admins and Contributors for Let’s Groove PH

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