May 21, 2009 - High End Success!
by Doug Schneider

I've been coming to High End in Germany for years now, my first visit occurring when the show was still held at the Kempinski Hotel in Frankfurt. In past years, I had no cause for concern about how this show would be -- it's one of the best in the world and my favorite to attend. But 2009 is a little different. It's no secret that the world economy is down and companies in all sectors are hurting because of it. When I talk to the reps at many audio companies, they more often than not tell me how bad things are. At best I sometimes hear, "We're doing OK."

This downturn has spilled over to shows, and for months there have been rumors about whether or not High End would be hurt. I heard whispers of a huge decline in exhibitors, and I was worried that I'd come over here and see a lot of empty space.

After the first hour or so, I realized that there's little cause for concern. High End 2009 doesn't appear any bigger than it has been in previous years, but it doesn't seem any smaller either. In other words, the companies have come, even if they're not doing all that well. Furthermore, based on what we saw during the opening day, they've brought lots of new products with them. Obviously, they know that despite the economic downturn, they have to continue creating business for themselves.

From what I can tell, it appears that High End 2009 will be a success. I'm sure the show organizers would have liked to have seen growth this year -- who wouldn't? -- but all things considered, the show seems to be about as strong as it can be, given what's happening around the world. This fact certainly gives everyone who follows high-end audio something to celebrate.