It's about the music, dude 

Who the hell cares how the music actually sounds? Well, if you're worth your salt as fan of the stuff, you should give a shit. In fact, you owe it to yourself — no, demand it of yourself — to hear how your favorite recorded songs can sound. Sure, it's easy to get lost in a sea of cheap, hyper-consumerist junkology like MP3 players, lossy downloads and overly compressed modern CDs — the crap that fuels the toss-away nature of music by canceling out much of the aural spectrum and the musical dynamics. (Think about this: Why would any musician or producer spend hours and hours getting the tonalities and room sounds down if it's all going to be eliminated completely in an MP3 file? Bosh!)

Anyway, you need to hear how the magic of a studio or a great in-yer-face live recording sets a time, place and space for music, how it can come alive and appear before you. It's as if you're sitting in the recording studio listening to freshly recorded songs played back, unfucked with.

So it is that the 5th annual AK Fest is a killer show palace of killer, ear-twisting stereos. That's it. But that's huge. It's brought to you by the upstanding gents at– a locally based, internationally popular audio discussion and news forum. You can, for two whole days, bounce from hotel room to hotel room (50 of 'em) and hear dozens of different systems, from aesthetically and aurally pleasing solid state setups to glowing tubes push-pulling lovely harmonics, all of which will reveal to you what music is supposed to do, just like how the artists and producers intended.

You'll meet blue-collar DIY guys sharing personal but ear-popping stereos that they hand-built on-the-cheap to local powerhouse dealers like David Michael Audio and Audio Dimensions showing off earth's best from Harbeth speakers or Audio Research amps. Among many company exhibitors — including Manley, Marantz and Esoteric — you'll hear the Jack White-approved manufacturer McIntosh, who's hauling in its latest audio porn from its New York factory. The AK Fest is a place any novice can ask any dealer, manufacturer or fan some "silly" question and not get a truckload of snobbery and judgment in return. See, these guys started out in high-end audio asking the same "silly" questions.

Bottom line: You ain't heard music until you've heard it through a proper two-channel system. So feel free to bring your fave recording on vinyl, CD, or whatever format, to test drive a system.

Saturday, May 3 (9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. w/Laith Al-Saadi performing live at 8:30 p.m.), and on Sunday, May 4 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 19525 Victor Parkway, Livonia; 734-462-6000. For more fest info, go to or call 248-200-9074.

More by Brian Smith

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