Ann Arbor's Leon Speakers will celebrate Michigan-made audio products and its 20th anniversary in a special public event called "Michigan Made HiFi" on Oct. 6 from 4-8 p.m.
The event has been organized in conjunction with two other Ann Arbor companies, Paragon Sight and Sound and MoFi Electronics. It will take place at Paragon, 3780 Jackson Rd., Ste. H.
Several new products will be on display, with demonstrations by Leon Speakers founder Noah Kaplan, and visitors will have a chance to see the restored 1967 Airstream trailer that Leon Speakers staff use to travel to a large industry trade show.
The event will include live acoustic sets by musician Camila Ballario, pizza from the Bigalora food truck, and Michigan craft beer provided by Tippins Market.
Kaplan says Leon is partnering with the two other companies because Paragon was one of the first companies to carry Leon products. Ann Arbor-based turntable maker MoFi also was another obvious partner for the event.
Kaplan says he aims to network with other local businesses that focus on handmade and locally made products and to create a "creative campus" of like-minded companies doing things related to sound and art. That includes creating a venue for live music called the Leon Loft.
"We're trying to put Michigan on the map as people who care about quality and craft," Kaplan says.
Despite the fact that music is more easily accessible in various digital formats than ever before, Kaplan says vinyl is "fully on the way back." However, he disputes the idea that the trend is all about nostalgia.
"People are buying and trading vinyl because it speaks to people's personalities," he says. "People crave things they can touch, and they want to buy products they can see and touch and to collect something tangible."
At the same time, he doesn't shun technology and thinks that the future of buying and consuming music will be a "hybrid."
"Sometimes people will stream music on their phone, sometimes they'll play it through speakers, sometimes through headphones," he says. "I think it will be a mix of everything — a little bit of digital, a little bit tangible. It goes along with our vision at Leon Speakers of mixing design with technology."
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of Leon Speakers.