CES 2015: What Happens in Vegas...

It's actually a ridiculously short story when told from my point of view.

Tuesday night, after the show, Audeze had a private party with an open bar. I arrived at about 8PM. As I had my first two drinks I chatted with a number of folks Alex, Tara, Warren, and a number of others.

Then, the next thing I know, I'm waking up in my hotel room. Things are fairly fuzzy but I lift my head off the pillow and I see room service for two virtually untouched at the foot of my bed.

"What the...?"

I attempt to sit up at the edge of my bed an almost fall to the floor. I'm dizzy, sweaty, and confused—it doesn't feel like a hangover at all. I have to lay back in bed for another ten minutes to try to clear my head.

When I finally manage to stand up, I look over to the table and my computer is gone, my cell phone is gone, my wallet is open and my money and personal credit cards are gone.

"What the...?"

It slowly dawns on me, I'd been drugged and ripped off. Fortunately, whoever was in that room with me didn't bother to open the closet and find my backpack full of camera gear—that would have been disastrous as the cameras carry and record all the content from the show. Unfortunately, the perpetrator also decided that all the booze in the mini-bar was fair game—the bill for that alone was about $40.

That morning is still a bit of a blur. I called the credit card company to cancel the cards and found out they had already stopped a $1000 charge on one of the cards. I got dressed and went over to the Venetian to talk to my boss and let him know what happened. He got the ball rolling to get my company computer replaced and I returned to my hotel to report the crime to security.

My chat with the security person didn't take too long; he took a few pictures, had me write down a simplified version of the events—not that I had much to say as I couldn't remember a thing since about 9PM the previous evening. He said they'd try to find me on the security cameras to see what happened.

At the end of the interview I asked, "So, how often do you get a story like this?"

He said, "Well, it doesn't happen every day...but it happens most days."

Oh my....

Now for the rest of the story:

First, and this is rather personal so I won't go into too deeply, for about the last 3-4 months life has changed significantly for me. I got a vision for what I want to do in my retirement and it has invigorated me significantly. My diet has changed pretty radically, and though it doesn't show up in pictures yet, I've lost ten pounds. But for a beer with dinner, I don't drink at home anymore. As I write this I'm about 6 days into quitting smoking (I knew I wouldn't be able to do it in Vegas). I've been practicing my ukulele regularly. Before CES I was feeling pretty good about where I was heading.

Then comes the Audeze party. Open bar, bunch of good headphone buddies I've known for years...I think I must have figured it was a good time to let off some steam and went a little wild. Over the next couple of days I ran into a number of people who were at the party and said I got pretty drunk. They also told me I left the bar with a group of people but was soon separated from the group—best I can tell I just wandered off into the night on Las Vegas Blvd.

There's no knowing what exactly happened after that. What I can say with surety is that I must have looked like one heck of a "mark." And Vegas is the kind of place where that's not going to go unnoticed for long. I don't know how, or when, or with what I was drugged—my guess is some lady-of-the-night either talked me into having a drink at a bar, or walked me back to my room and dropped something into the orange juice after ordering the room service. I'm grateful the only lingering harm to me in all this is just a sense of shame for being stupid enough to put myself in that position.

If there's a moral to the story it's this: Vegas is really not a good place to go wild for a night, or what stays in Vegas might might end up being your belongings.

On the other hand, I've been going to CES for 25 years now and I've finally got a good Vegas story.

ArtyFishal's picture

It is horribly disturbing that something like that apparently happens so often. That means that there are a significant number of predators in Vegas who do not mind endangering somebody's life in pursuit of a little cash. I'm not sure this counts as a "good" Vegas story, but it is definitely a story to tell.

Best of luck, quitting smoking! And I hope you have no future stories such as this one.

Beagle's picture

Glad you are OK and came out of this whole affair relatively unscathed.

Best of luck in your lifestyle renewal. It takes some determination and perseverance but it can happen and it does pay large dividends. I cut out a lot of 'unnecessaries' and I walk several miles daily. The nicest reward? It makes music and headphones sound much better!

ednaz's picture

First, as someone who's doing a similar lifestyle change at a similar stage in life - congrats and much encouragement. Keep at it, find some supporters (after 15 months of work myself on weight loss, I can tell you that without people you can call and let off steam to - no, scream at, without consequences - about how much the whole thing sucks, it can get really hard to keep it up.)


I unfortunately get to go to Vegas and New Orleans fairly frequently for big events my company does for huge numbers of customers, and my company always brings in a chief of police or head of security to talk to us first day. In Vegas these days, there are a lot of bad girls who now crash the big corporate parties and drug drinks there - enough to get your inhibitions to a level they can work with - and then top up the dose once they're back in your room. Or so the chiefs say. At a really huge event recently in Vegas, there were an interesting few minutes when a bunch of police swept into the event, grabbed the arms of a number of very lovely women and escorted them out at high speed, and the hotel/restaurant security pulled the customers who were with those women out of the room for private tests to make sure they were OK. And sent most of them back to their rooms for the evening with comped dinners. The event was one where, to get in, you had to have a wireless access card with your picture on it, that someone from my company handed to you personally.

So I recommend you not be terribly hard on yourself for what happened. With the right drug cocktail, the Pope would become a bar-dancing party-boy (hey, maybe he is?), and the sophistication of the grifters in Vegas (and New Orleans... similar experiences there the last few years) is pretty amazing. At any big event in destination cities these days, I dump my current drink and order a new drink if someone I don't know shows up at a table with me. And now I often carry (and fiddle with but never drink from) a drink that I never drink, only drinking something that I get directly from a trusted source, and among trusted company.

From your writings, and those of the sister web sites, felt to me like a minimal number of new or breakthrough intros, but a huge number of companies piling on to "me too" propositions.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Thanks for that info. It does make me feel slightly less stupid.
Lawk's picture

I have always had the suspicion you are a bit tipsy in various electronic show videos you uploaded for innerfidelity over the years.

Personally I think it is inappropriate and unprofessional to do this as a journalist.

And somehow I just can't sympathise with getting shitfaced to a point where you are later drugged. Even in a totally private after hour setting.

I mean I like getting drunk with people and friends just as much as the next guy, but there is a limit.

I am just as excited about the next innerfidelity review like the next episode of my favorite TV show, and I highly respect & enjoy all of your reviews, but not sold on this being a "good" vegas story.

Just glad you are ok.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
"I have always had the suspicion you are a bit tipsy in various electronic show videos you uploaded for innerfidelity over the years."

With the exception of the Saturday Night Beer Social at RMAF I seriously doubt it. As you say, work is work and worth doing well.

And agreed on the rest, as I said, I feel a little ashamed about all this...I do think it's worth people knowing about it, though. I would never have thought it was as common a crime as it appears to be.

Schopenhauer's picture

...to respond to this comment, especially since Tyll handled it with class and heroic humility. I find this comment a bit f'd up. Actually, not "a bit" but *really* f'd up. I don't know why Lawk said this. In point of fact, I *don't* want to know why he said this, so I hope he doesn't defend himself.

I find it incomprehensible that someone could spend the time it takes to type such a comment without coming to his senses.

Stillhart's picture

You don't have to be shitfaced to get drugged, dude. Look away from your drink for two seconds and it's over. It could be your first drink of the night.

Blaming the victim is really not cool. When this kind of thing happens to women, far worse things can be the result. People blame them as well. It's a sad world, sometimes.

stereophillips's picture

I'm coming late to this Lawk, but having been at many headphone events with Tyll, I believe you aare mistaking his natural ebullience with tipsiness. Tyll is outgoing and enthusiastic beyond most audiophiles' introverted norms, but he's all business during shows and meets--he built a good business by taking care of business. After hours, I have had a few beers with Tylls, but the emphasis is on "few." Overindulgence definitely ain't Tyll's problem. When he says he's instituted some lifestyle changes, he's not confessing to a drinking problem, he's saying he wants to lose weight, get fit, and work out, I suspect. So cut the man some slack, don't read any misconduct into his Vegas misadventure. -- Wes Phillips, longtime cohort

Argyris's picture

Personal improvement must be in the air this year, since I've embarked on a similar quest. For me, it's not so much about the physical benefits, but the mental and existential ones. It's already made me more aware of who I am as a person and who I'd like to be. I wish you the best of luck, Tyll.

As for what happened, like others have said, it's a terrible thing that happens all too often. Turn your back, let your guard down just once, and that's all it takes.

I've experienced my share of this kind of thing before. For instance, a little over six years ago in one of the campus libraries at my university, I foolishly left a brand new computer for just a few moments while I got up to take a stretch and stroll around the bookcases. When I got back, it was already gone. The perp knew enough to search through my bookbag and find the power adapter, which I had stowed away in one of the compartments.

The worst part was the feeling of being denuded and violated. I had to change all my passwords--the perp could have gotten into my Amazon account and had a spending spree if I didn't. I had to tell everybody what had happened, since obviously I didn't have the laptop anymore. I went through a period of self-berating and vindictiveness toward the thief. I did eventually move on, though--you have to--but it ranks as one of the crappier things I've experienced.

What happened to you, Tyll, is MUCH worse than any of my experiences (though I have friends who have experienced similar to you). You clearly have the right outlook on your situation, so I won't presume to give advice. I'll just generally say, for the benefit of anybody who reads the comments, that whenever you read about these sorts of things, you might feel that it will never happen to you. Don't--all it takes is one slip up on your part, or just a really determined perp, and you'll find yourself in similar trouble.

Jazz Casual's picture

"What I can say with surety is that I must have looked like one heck of a "mark." Which shirt were you wearing? ;) That really sucks Tyll but relieved that it was the extent of your misadventure.

anetode's picture

Sorry this happened to you Tyll. I'm not trying to imply that this would ever happen again, but for you and everyone reading: go to the hospital and get checked out if you ever suspect that you might have been drugged. Some people don't get to wake up from some drug cocktails.

Seth195208's picture

..you didn't get married. Or Get in a fight with mike Tyson.

Lofty's picture

Something like this happened to me a long, long time ago. I had no recollection of the event. In time, what happened slowly came back to me. I don't know what drug you were slipped but, for me, being able to reconstruct what happened helped my psyche.

Schopenhauer's picture

...to hear all of this! I'm just glad to know you made it out physically unscathed. Waking up in a bathtub full of ice with your kidney gone would've been a real downer.

And good luck with quitting smoking! I quit back in May after being a pack-a-day smoker for around 10 years. It's a long and difficult process (I still get cravings), but it's worth it. Not just physically. Successfully quitting smoking is an incredible self-esteem booster. We are all of us cheering for you!

DrForBin's picture


i am so glad that all that was lost are things and that you weren't hurt otherwise.

great courage to share this so openly, be well and don't beat yourself up. all of us have made mistakes.

tony's picture

All Shows draw the Predator Industry people. Us folks from Fly-over country are vulnerable ( we're the babes in the woods ) and a favorite diet for these specialists.
The Shark that hit you was working the "Short-con", a kinda "hit&run" type of action, probably this person hit two or three others that same night. They will post themselves where they can "screen" hundreds of people as they look for a good "mark".
Everyone has been the victim of a con at some level, the older you get the more you get pissed when you fall for another one you should've spotted.
I read reviewers work ( like you ) to avoid this sort of thing in my purchases, ( when the reviewer becomes an Advocate of some Company a kind-of Con results ).
You are a World Traveler, the person that hit you must've been a top-pro. Vegas draws the top-professional short-cons to work the half-million to one-million visitors that land on the Strip every week.
We do Shows in Vegas and elsewhere, we pair-up, a short-con can't work on two people and if you're gonna drink heavy it should be at your hotel where security has an eagle eye out for you, the Wolf knows that the Security people will spot a roving con.
You'll be alright though, good to share all this to alert your peers, Sound the Alarm!! , the Airlines should have a pamphlet for every traveler to Vegas about these Cons working the Strip as should the Hotels.

Home, Safe & Sound,

Tony in Michigan

HiFiGuy528's picture

That nearly happened to me once. We were all worried about you when you were MIA for the entire day after the party. Was glad to see that you weren't physically harmed in any way. Look forward to seeing ya again in the near future. Take care! ~ Mike

zobel's picture

You should feel like the universe just got your attention with a 2X4 to the head. It has happened to me, and fortunately, I'm still here too. You are one smart dude. Glad to hear you are going to be taking better care of yourself.

castleofargh's picture

maybe I'm not taking this the "social way", but hey wasn't this a one of kind crazy experience? nobody tried to sell your kidney, you didn't end up with "I love bieber" tattooed on your face. all in all and with passing time this will be nothing but a bad ass memory. I'm almost jealous.

and about the silly "you go too far" comment from lawk... dude, going to vegas and not having a little fun would be like going in egypt and missing the pyramids.

Three Toes of Fury's picture

Very brave of you to not only share your very scary story of being drugged and robbed but also of your personal life experience and change. Honestly dude..disregard any/all derogatory comments (though i expect few to only that one)..no one can dispute your professionalism, reporting, analysis, and all around championing of an informed audio community. You've got a big fan base and I for one am incredibly happy that you were not harmed further than stated.

As for the future...rock and roll dude, make those changes and do what makes you happy. It wont be easy and there's likely a "one step forward two steps back" scenario or two in your future, but if you make the decision that its the right time for some change, you'll do fine. Channel that energy into positive areas...perhaps listening to a great album or two!

Thanks again dude...keep up the great work, its appreciated.

Peace & Living in Stereo


veggieboy2001's picture

I'll echo everyone in saying I'm very glad little was hurt other than your pride. A horrible experience to be sure, but it could have (obviously) been much worse. We could all be victims, if we're targeted. What makes you vulnerable is your presence at these events, which draws the predators, not any fault or lapse of judgement on your part. I'm glad you will still be able to do what you love, and hope we'll be able to take advantage of your insight for as long as you're willing to share it with us. I'm glad you've embarked on your lifestyle changes, and wish ou much success & health...

Thanks for being so candid!

biseinen's picture

I'm just so happy you are ok Tyll!
Take good care of yourself and keep up the good work. Looking forward to more excellent reviews. =)

Pedalhead's picture

...on going 6 days without smokes. I know it might sound odd to be congratulating you in the wake of such a terrible series of events, but as an ex 20-a-day smoker, I know how hard it is to kick the habit, and six days in you've cracked the worst part. So, good for you mate. Being healthy will be a great way to underpin whatever you have planned for your retirement (hey, not too soon please, I like reading this stuff! :-) ).

So glad you're ok, and thanks for sharing so honestly.

Erlend's picture

I really like this article. Everyone have some flaws one way or the other. But to tell the story and whats going on takes courage! I really enjoy your reviews and article and you telling your story like this, just gives me more respect for you! Everyone makes mistakes, its human,

MGGWhite's picture

I respect your openness and I wonder if you like to share more details on the other part of the story that I personally find much more fascinating and interesting.

"First, and this is rather personal so I won't go into too deeply, for about the last 3-4 months life has changed significantly for me. I got a vision for what I want to do in my retirement and it has invigorated me significantly. "

This is intriguing and if you are open to share we will appreciate it.

We all face, sooner or later, a similar conundrum: we transition to the last decades of our life and wonder about how best to use the little time that is left. Priorities change and paths may or not change, but change is always a challenge and so your "vision" can be much more interesting to everyone than the Vegas incident. This is an incident for a day, the "vision" is what can be the story of the rest of your life .... much more interesting and intriguing if you like to share it with us. I hope your vision involves personal audio in some format ...

Best to you.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
....I'll let you guys know what I'm up to. Til then, it's personal.
ednaz's picture

...but I really think that, unlike a film/TV celebrity, you not only don't need to share your personal life, but it might distract. Even more, I think that for someone who does such intensely analytical writing, and amazing inside-out explanations of edgy technology, that a view into your personal goals and life visions would be really distracting from the super work you do. If you need compadres to keep you on track (when life gets tough, the tough get tough help) with your goals, this may not be the best place given the way the internet can suddenly become crazy.

Thankfully I stopped smoking (both times... losing a huge number of friends in 9/11 turned me back into a smoker and made me go through that quit process again) significantly separated in time from major weight loss and fitness improvement efforts, so I halved the support needs for each. It ain't easy... none of the "it" that are lifestyle changes.

Your technical tests wrapped in your subjective listening results are a unique thing. Knowing more about you is fun, and interesting, but doesn't raise the understanding of your rigorous (appropriately rigorous) analysis of personal media.

Smiling Kev's picture

Since I have knowingly done way more than my share of "stupid stuff" - a few times with truly serious consequences - I can't find any real reason to fault you in the potentially disastrous situation you survived, Tyll. Sure, you were being a little bit risky: Welcome to Las Vegas! And, perhaps, you were a little bit naive. But LOTS of us Midwesterners are "poor little lambs who have gone astray" [all together now: "BAAAH, BAAAH, BAAAH!] when we find ourselves wandering in a wolfish place like Vegas. The only thing that really matters is that you made it back home safely, with all of your wool intact.

The lingering trauma from having been rendered unconscious, robbed and generally victimized are nothing to joke about. However, you seem to already be healing and coming to terms with your Vegas experience. You're obviously a good person, Tyll, with a good head on your shoulders, a good heart, and a good moral compass. I predict it won't be too long before you'll be able - without wincing - to grin and join in whenever you hear Katy Perry's chorus to "Waking Up in Vegas": "Shut up and put your money where your mouth is / That's what you get for waking up in Vegas / Get up and shake the glitter off your clothes now / That's what you get for waking up in Vegas"!

Enjoy the process of planning your retirement! Just one suggestion: if you can go sooner, even with a few financial penalties, rather than later, then DO IT! I went at the earliest possible time and I've never regretted it for even a moment. Remember, nobody's last words have ever been: "Gee, I wish I had spent more time work!"

sszorin's picture

Do not even think of going into retirement. I find innerfidelity.com useful.

jimmyjames's picture

I thought this sort of thing only happened in the movies. Glad you are ok. Stuff can be replaced. You can't. Very admirable of you to go public with the story. A cautionary tale on several levels to be sure. Cheers to your good health and future endeavors.