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T.H.E. Show 2022: Hi-Fi Shows Are Back…So Why Are Manufacturers Making the Same Mistakes


Putting on a Hi-Fi show is an enormous amount of work; having worked in the financial media and event planning side of that industry in the 1990s, I have a strong understanding of the challenges of running something as complex as a trade show with as many 30,000 attendees in multiple cities over the course of a few months. Everyone loves to complain about how they are run — but none of those people could do it better. If they could — they would be in that business.

The COVID pandemic was the final nail in the coffin for a number of Hi-Fi industry trade shows like RMAF and there is enormous risk involved when putting one on; there is no guarantee that consumers will show up even if they pre-order tickets.

Emiko Carlin worked like a meshuganah to put The Home Entertainment Show 2022 on and we were very proud to be involved as both a media partner and participant. It’s something that we will definitely do again.

Meeting existing readers and new readers after this weekend was a great experience for our team; this was the first industry Hi-Fi show for many of them even though they have been audiophiles for many years.

We had breakfast and dinner together almost daily for 4 days and it gave us an opportunity to compare notes, and listen to differing opinions about the systems that we all listened to.

The eCoustics Team at T.H.E. Show Long Beach 2022 (except Emiko).

If you think we all agree about what we collectively listened to — you would be wrong.

We’re going to cover our “Best in Show” in a future article at the end of the week, but make no mistake — some companies understand the landscape in front of them a lot better than others.

S. California is an enormous market for high-end audio/video and personal audio equipment and it was encouraging to see younger consumers and more female listeners attend over the course of the three days.

All of that being said, I still see (having attended and covered shows going back to 1998) the same people attending and manufacturers making the same mistakes; which is increasingly frustrating for a number of reasons.

The Skinny

The region has a number of very successful dealers and it makes sense that they represented the vast majority of the rooms at the show.

But I have a sincere question for all of them.

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Do none of you sell anything that is affordable for potential new customers to experience at a show?

I understand that dealers want to show off the “best” that they sell, but how does it attract new business if you run a pair of $8,500 loudspeakers with electronics and cables that run over $100,000 USD?

Boenicke W8

The Boenicke W8 were one of the best loudspeakers at T.H.E. Show 2022; I might even nominate it for the “Best Room” when we vote.

The $85,000 worth of electronics driving them seems like a lost opportunity.

Most of the show attendees who are seasoned audiophiles are not dumping their existing systems for this one, and the younger people who attended their first high-end audio show are probably leaving that room both impressed with what they heard but also discouraged that they can’t afford anything.

This same scenario played out in so many rooms. Far too many.

If the industry doesn’t kick the habit and let the 25-45 crowd who are new to all of this experience systems in the $2,500 to $20,000 range — the current generation of audiophiles will die off in the next two decades and that will be it.

The other issue involves the inability of vendors to properly sell the experience.

You’re selling the world’s best music listening experience. Create a listening experience that resonates with people. Hotel rooms and ballrooms lack any real sense of intimacy or the look and feel of a living room or den.

Invest in rugs, art, lighting, and furniture that creates some actual ambience.

Devore Fidelity O/baby

Common Wave Hi-Fi did that in their DeVore Fidelity/Audio Hungary/Merason room that actually felt like a real room. I wanted to go back because it felt like my den; albeit just slightly smaller.

You want someone to pony up $120,000 for the system you are demonstrating?

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Earn it. Seduce them. Make them want to stay and listen all weekend and think about which kid they are selling to pay for it all.

Related reading: Show reports about T.H.E. Show 2022.


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