High-end Audio Munich Show: What’s wrong with the U.S. anyway?


The High-end Audio Munich Show has been growing. Growing. GROWING.


From the Highendsociety June 2014 newsletter

452 exhibitors from 40 countries (+25%)
5.387 trade visitors from around the world (+3%)
• 17,855 visitors (+10%)

Compare with these charts below, and you can see that Munich is continuing on course to pop off the top of the charts.

[Charts from Lesnumeriques (a French site that apparently tracks statistics)]







Here at home, high-end audio shows are shrinking. Why?

CES High Performance Audio show attendance is about a third of what it once was

RMAF reached its peak a few years ago and is shrinking.

Newport, for all its upbeat energy, is [anecdotally] not growing anymore.

I don’t hear anything positive [to be kind] about any of the other shows [except that Capital Audiofest has been a good place to buy and sell things].


The security state makes it hard for foreign visitors to attend our shows anymore. Is this the problem?

Not if CES as a whole is still growing.

But is it?

According to Wikipedia: 2006 attendance was over 150,000 individuals in 1.67 million net square feet of space, making it the largest electronics event in the United States.

Yet in 2014 it has only grown to 160,000. Whereas Munich Show grew from 12,000 to 18,000.



So CES has grown 6.6% and the Munich high-end audio show about 50%.

The effect of the Great Depression on the shrinking Middle Class makes them too worried to care about audio. Is this the problem?

Note the tiny drop in Munich attendance in 2009, while CES was down 20% at 113,085 attendees. The Great Depression hardly affected Germany at all.

10% of American home owners lost their homes and 30% are way behind on their debt payments



[map from CNN ]

But this is just too depression. I mean depressing.


[infographic from the Wall Street Journal ]

 On a more upbeat note, has streaming music taken over here in the U.S. and we are ahead of the rest of the world in adopting this method of enjoying music? Is this the problem?

Based on this infographic, the future portends real problems, but right now, with the typical audiophile who is able to afford $10K+ systems probably being older than 24 years old, this is not a problem yet.

Are our shows just more boring? Hard to navigate? Do not have that synergy needed to make people excited about the show and tell their friends they should come too? Is this the problem?

Never considered this until now after watching Fremer’s video.

Certainly hiding High Performance Audio away at the top of the Venetian in elevators that are always hard to find [yes, and in a hotel that tries to trap you in the casino :-)] and always jammed and very slow – this can’t be a great thing to attract casual visitors.

Are hotels also just too boring? By isolating each system in its own room for sonic purposes, does this dampen any kind of enthusiasm for the spectacle of it all [the RMAF CANJAM, for instance, is not in a hotel room, and continues to grow and grow. Is this because of headphones or is this because of the synergy of seeing all the gear in one ‘place’?]

Crazy to argue for a Munich-like conference floor layout for high-end audio shows… but this might work to our industry’s advantage, if not so much for the show goer’s ears.

Anyway, choose your poison – something is wrong and between reversing the security state, fixing the economy, or holding shows on conference show floors – I think the latter is way more the easiest 🙂