A Year Without CES

In the last 15 years, this is the second year we have not gone to CES.

Miss it? A little. Still got my post CES cold, anyway. *sucks*


From a business standpoint the case was clear: prices going way up, attendance going way down – and because this has been the trend for awhile, the number of exhibitors going way down.

Assume the CEA isn’t just trying to call off the uniquely troublesome high-end audio part of the show [a bunch of scoundrels (that would be all of us) masquerading as business people bringing big expensive heavy gear into 100s of pristine luxury hotel rooms and playing very loud music for 4 days].

Then the prices are going up because the rest of CES is still growing. CES overall is successful and there is little competition. Fewer vacant hotel rooms in Las Vegas means higher prices. And THE SHOW Las Vegas abandoning Vegas for Newport Beach a few years ago is no longer there to keep CES competitive.

A growing CES also means attendees of the main conference have more and more to do, and it gets harder for them to find and even remember that there is a high-end audio part of this show [Apparently. Higher attendance MIGHT also mean MORE people making it over to the High-Performance Audio part of the show – but in practice this is not happening].

Last year, attendance was very, very roughly 50% industry and press (friends), 40% people coming up from the very, very busy SANDS conference center downstairs (being at CES for other business), and 10% die-hard audiophiles (more friends).

My hope at this show was always that we would inspire the 40% who just happened to be at CES and stopped by our room to love what they hear, eventually become audiophiles and, someday, someday… to buy something. And by and large this worked. These people, less angry and irritable than their audiophile counterparts I might add (why is this?), almost universally smiled, loved what they heard and told us so, and asked what things cost. And when we told them they put us on their “someday when I’m rich” list. Most of these people are in growing industries, most quite young, so a good percentage will someday be “rich enough”.

But it is a lot to ask of smaller companies, like ours, to invest significant funds right now so that in 10 or 20 years these people will decide buy some decent high-end audio gear, especially when*what* gear they buy will largely depend on what appears on their radar at that time. But larger companies? What else do they have to do in early January? [unless they want to invest that $$$ to get more immediate ROI].

To this analysis we could add the rise and preeminence of the Munich show, the recent success more local Newport show, and…

But, you know, there used to be a lot of international attendees who would come around from the main show, wheeled carry-on dragging behind them, in expensive dark suits checking things out with expert eyes and presumably expert ears [i..e they appeared to be audiophiles]. Why are they not here anymore? Do they just not go to CES anymore? Are they too busy now to make it over from the main conference? Are there just not enough high-performance audio exhibits to attract them? Are they going to Munich anyway, so why bother with a shrinking, unexciting CES audio show?

None of those answers impress me.

Really no clue why they are no longer coming – but I would love to know the answer, as we are always trying to more accurately model the high-end audio economic picture, here now and the future.

And, let’s face it, the best gear just isn’t being shown at CES by most manufacturers. This is why we really, REALLY liked this show. It used to be, but not anymore. And much of the very best, what *is* being shown there, is unobtainable…

As for shows ourselves – looks like we are at least signed up and headed to Newport (L.A.) in late Spring….