Show Report: T.H.E. Show Newport 2015

The Magic Bus Delighted Attendees at T.H.E. Show Newport 2015!

This year’s show was phenomenal, and the largest ever, with 8,557 attendees and 406 exhibitorsThe Home Entertainment Show Newport, or "T.H.E. Show Newport" for short, held at the Hotel Irvine (, was a wild success, thanks to the monumental efforts of Richard Beers, President, of T.H.E. Show Newport. Thanks to Richard’s invitation and warm hospitality to T.H.E. Show’s exhibitors, the Magic Bus’ phenomenal exhibit was a music- and car-lover’s utopia. It was thrilling to be among exotic and collectible automobiles, all made possible by Rick Reus and the team of Reus Audio Systems( Mr. Reus so loved the Magic Bus, he graciously guided numerous attendees to our exhibit, and for that I’m most grateful.

For every show, my goal is to make the Magic Bus experience original and unforgettable. In previous shows, the sound of uncompressed, unequalized, live instruments, played by Grammy and Emmy award-winning musicians, was “piped” into the Magic Bus’ audio system. This year’s show, which celebrates the fourth anniversary of the completion of the Magic Bus, featured Larry MitchellGRAMMY award-winning producer, and guitar virtuoso(, delivering the world’s first “silent concert” at a mobile audio system. The silent concert presented Larry’s performance in two unique and simultaneous ways – 1) outside the Magic Bus rendered through state-of-the-art headphones, and 2) inside the Magic Bus rendered through it’s revelatory audio system. Outside the Magic Bus, Larry played his custom-made Ibanez, Godin, and Knaggs guitars, which fed into a Fractal Audio Systems (www.fractalaudio.comAxe-Fx™ II Preamp/FX Processor. High-resolution backing tracks (96 kHz / 24-bit WAV files) from Astell&Kern’s (www.astellnkern.comAK120 II high-resolution portable player, in conjunction with Larry’s guitar, were mixed and distributed to Astell&Kern’s superb AK T5p headphones powered by Woo Audio’s (www.wooaudio.comWA7d Fireflies headphone amplifiers, and simultaneously to the Magic Bus’ audio system. Super exotic, high-end, headphone connectors and cables were provided by Norne Audio ( Kimber Kable ( provided many of the pro audio cables. Inside the Magic Bus, SMc Audio’s Flex-Connect( isolated and transformed (from balanced to unbalanced audio) the mixed backing tracks and guitar fed into the Magic Bus’ stunning audio system.

Figure 1. The Magic Bus exhibit.

Figure 2. Larry Mitchell delivering a “silent concert” at the Magic Bus exhibit.

To better illustrate the concept of our silent concert, I made a couple movies:

Magic Bus Exhibit Featuring Larry Mitchell

duration: 55s

Magic Bus ‘Silent Concert’ Featuring Larry Mitchell

duration: 36s

Figure 3. Larry Mitchell loves audience participation.

I was especially honored to share the Magic Bus with some of the industry’s greatest writers, reviewers, competitors, designers, and musicians. 

Musicians who visited the 'Bus included Jenna Mammina (, Rolf Sturm (, Fiona Joy (, Anne Bisson(, Dean Peer (, Kori Carothers(, and Marlon Martinez (

Renowned recording engineers Cookie Marenco of Blue Coast Records(, and Jim Merod of BluePort Jazz ( also visited the Magic Bus exhibit.

I was delighted to play for Jenna Mammina and Cookie Marenco the fabulous Blue Coast Records album entitled, Special Event 37 (, which was downloaded in 96 kHz / 24-bit LPCM and burned to DVD-Audio. In particular, we listened to Cookie’s favorite song of Jenna’s [and mine] “Wicked Game”, which was a jaw-dropping experience in the Magic Bus! Here’s a brief movie Jenna recorded: 

Jenna Mammina and Cookie Marenco Listening to "Wicked Game" in the Magic Bus

duration: 18s

Figure 4.
Jenna Mammina (left) and Cookie Marenco (right) listened to, and autographed, the Magic Bus.

Figure 5. Guitarist, Rolf Sturm listened to, and autographed, the Magic Bus.

I was especially delighted to share the Magic Bus experience with Fiona Joy. We listened to her album entitled “Signature – Solo” (, which was downloaded in 96 kHz / 24-bit LPCM and burned to DVD-Audio. In particular, we listened to her Grammy award-winning song “Grace”, which was a thrilling experience in the Magic Bus! We also listened to her unreleased studio master album entitled, “Signature – Synchronicity” ( /story). The “Chill Version” of her song “Grace” was revelatory! Later that evening, Fiona came back to the Magic Bus exhibit to hang out and enjoy Larry Mitchell’s performance. Here’s a movie …

Fiona Joy Having Fun in the Magic Bus!

duration: 25s

Figure 6. Pianist, Fiona Joy, after autographing the Magic Bus. 

Bassist, Dean Peer, and percussionist, Bret Mann, also stopped by the Magic Bus exhibit to hang out. Dean was particularly intrigued by Larry’s use of the Fractal Audio Systems Axe-Fx™ IIPreamp/FX Processor, so Larry invited Dean to grab his bass and give it a try. So as they jammed together, show attendees were the benefactors of some of the most amazing sound at the show as the Magic Bus rendered their sublime performance. 

Figure 7. Dean Peer (bass) and Larry Mitchell (guitar) jamming at the Magic Bus in an impromptu session (view from the front cockpit of the ‘Bus).

Because the Magic Bus is capable of playing frequencies as low as 10 Hz, there are simply no words to describe, or any reasonable means to capture, what was heard during that session. The experience was so profound, I was moved to close the doors of the ‘Bus and listen by myself for a few minutes to cherish the moment. Because this was unplanned, I was forced to capture what I could with my iPhone. Pardon the audio quality, but at least I’m able to share some semblance of what happened on that special occasion (note: I edited it the best I could, but there are still sounds of the doors opening and closing, along with some conversation):

Figure 8. Dean Peer (right) and Bret Mann enjoying the Magic Bus.

Figure 9. Pianist, Kori Carothers, listened to her amazing albums in the Magic Bus.

Figure 10. Recording engineer, Jim Merod (right), listening to Larry Mitchell through Astell&Kern’s headphones and Woo Audio’s headphone amplifiers.

I was particularly delighted that audio component designer, Tim de Paravicini, affectionately known as “The King of Tubes”, visited the Magic Bus. Mr. de Paravicini shared with me stories about designing electronics for Roger Waters, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and others. Mr. de Paravicini enjoyed listening to Larry Mitchell play into the Magic Bus, and so loved the design and sound of the ‘Bus, he graciously autographed it! For more information about Mr. de Paravicini, visit the following links:

Figure 11. Lucette Nicoll and Tim de Paravicini enjoying the sound of Larry Mitchell playing live into the Magic Bus. 

One of the most famous, and respected, legends in car stereo history, Earl Zausmer, stopped by the Magic Bus exhibit. At the 2012 T.H.E. Show Las Vegas, Mr. Zausmer, listened to the Magic Bus and declared it to be “… unequivocally, clearly the best sounding car today – anywhere” (, and autographed it with the inscription, “Perfection on Wheels”. 

Figure 12. Mobile audio legend, Earl Zausmer (right), with Larry Mitchell. 

Mobile audio sensation, “Mad Mike”, of Pimp My Ride fame, also visited the Magic Bus. “Mad Mike” Martin is currently the Customizing Supervisor at Galpin Auto Sports in Van Nuys, California ( 

In addition, executives from prominent audio companies including, TidalAudio PrecisionRenkus-HeinzMorrow AudioDigital Entertainment Group, and many more, too numerous to mention, all stopped by our exhibit to enjoy Larry Mitchell’s amazing musicianship at the Magic Bus exhibit. 

When Larry wasn’t playing, I also played for guests a number of exceptional demo songs designed to showcase certain sonic performance characteristics of the Magic Bus’ audio system, such as imaging, dynamics, tonality, low bass extension and power, and realism. And, as always, listeners were invited to play their own favorite demo tracks, too. 

It’s great fun exhibiting at T.H.E. Show, but the evening entertainment, fine dining, and socializing is equally fun, too. 

The evening concerts, a few of which I enjoyed, featured 
Antonia Bennett and Lyn Stanley, backed by all-star band members Mike Garson (piano), Marlon Martinez (bass), Duncan Moore (drums), and Bob McChesney (trombone). I’d already acquired the autographs of the band members, with the exception of Marlon, who was excited to be a part of the Magic Bus. I didn’t get a chance to meet Antonia, but I got a chance to meet Lyn Stanley
 and chat with her. She enthusiastically wished to experience and autograph the ‘Bus, but unfortunately, the opportunity did not arise. I look forward to seeing her at a future show. 

Figure 13. Marlon Martinez autographing the Magic Bus. 

Fiona Joy and Anne Bisson delivered astounding solo piano performances. JennaMammina (vocals) and Rolf Sturm (guitar) delivered a breathtaking set as well. After their performances, I was among the lucky few to share dinner with Fiona, Anne, Kori, and others. These beautiful ladies were delightful and fun. Here’s Fiona and Kori enjoying Astell&Kern’s AK120 II portable high-resolution player along with Astell&Kern’s AK T5p headphones.

Figure 14. Steve McComack, my audio mentor, looks on as Fiona Joy enjoys Astell&Kern’s player and headphones.

Figure 15. Kori Carothers beguiled by the sound of Astell&Kern’s player and headphones.

One of my music-loving friends and mobile audio enthusiast, James Hanching, joined us for dinner and inspired Anne Bisson to break out into song …

Dinner Time Fun with Anne Bisson at T.H.E. Show Newport 2015

duration: 44s

Figure 16. Pianist and vocalist, Anne Bisson.

The evening poolside concerts were also spectacular! Renkus-Heinz graciously provided the PA system, and the sound was extraordinary! Here are a few movies I captured: 

Dean Peer in Concert at T.H.E. Show Newport 2015

duration: 58s

Larry Mitchell Performing Poolside at T.H.E. Show Newport 2015

duration: 4m 22s

Larry Mitchell's Grand Finale and Poolside Antics!

duration: 15m 8s

As is common at audio shows, guests travel from all over the world to attend. As an exhibitor, there is no greater honor than to know that certain guests traveled great distances to experience the Magic Bus. This year, one special audiophile and music lover, named Gerald Costa, traveled from Boston, Massachusetts, specifically to experience the Magic Bus. Gerald listened to the Magic Bus for hours, enjoyed the silent concert, and visited many of the other exhibits. A day after the show I received an email from Gerald that I felt was worth sharing: 

I just wanted to send you a giant thank you for all your hospitality that you showed me this weekend. I was honored to have you let me listen to the bus by myself in a private session.  


It was such a privilege to be in the van when Fiona was listening to herself, and then to be brought into the ballroom where we listened to her master CD. Thanks for dinner and introducing me to Larry, and almost everyone that you know. I had the most memorable weekend of my life.   


Listening to Jenna with you was so amazing. I truly felt blessed to have been a part of T.H.E. Show with you and I especially liked the demo that you borrowed my Beach Boys CD for the young man that was hearing the bus for the first time. The expression on his face and enthusiasm was priceless.


Thanks again for the warm gesture when I was leaving and for the kind words. You made me feel special and I enjoyed my entire trip and to me it was the most memorable experience that I have had to date in my lifetime.

This heart-warming email summarizes what the Magic Bus is all about – sharing the joy of music!

These extraordinary experiences would not have been possible without the visionary ideals and gracious support of Richard BeersRick Reus, the Magic Bus sponsors, and all of you who visited and supported the Magic Bus, true aficionados of music and high-end audio. Together, let’s keep forging frontiers in audio. I hope to see you at the next show!

Warmest regards,

Jon Whitledge

July 19, 2015

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