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Monthly Editorial by Marc Mickelson
February 2001

Only the Best

Another January has passed, and so has another trip to Las Vegas to cover the CES and T.H.E. Show. As everyone in the industry knows, the pilgrimage to Las Vegas right after New Year's is important because Sin City is where the seeds of the upcoming electronics year are sown. Everybody who's anybody is in Las Vegas in January, and this makes covering the Shows a daunting task. There are venues all over Las Vegas, and getting from one to another with appointments at both is nearly impossible unless you drive -- and then parking is completely impossible.

But the CES is the show for the consumer-electronics industry and especially for high-end audio, where manufacturers frequently go to great lengths to set up multiple rooms of equipment for visual and aural display. I've often wondered which came first -- the CES or the full-system display approach that audio companies use to showcase their wares. In either case, the idea has spread, and there are now literally audio shows all over the world, none of which are as massive as the CES, but for their own reasons they are still important.

People have asked us many times how we go about picking the shows we will cover. In the past, we believed we should cover all of the shows we knew about and could report on easily -- with not a lot of cost or exceedingly long plane trips. But as our show coverage grew into what it is now -- the best you can find in any medium, with more pictures and product-specific information than you'll see anywhere else -- we decided to take a longer look at the shows we attend and cover in real time. There's also the work load involved -- the SoundStage! Network sites are backbreaking enough, and shows only add to the time we have to spend in front of our computers. But luckily for us, the cream has risen to the top, and we really haven't had to think about which shows to cover -- they've let us know.

The CES and T.H.E. Show are givens, as is CEDIA, which will be held in Indianapolis in 2001, then in Minneapolis before returning to Indianapolis for a number of years following. CEDIA is a truly great show, but its atmosphere is like that of the Las Vegas Convention Center during CES and not the Alexis Park, which houses the high-end exhibits. This means there's more coverage of individual products and less of full systems, which are scarce. However, so many new and significant products are launched at CEDIA that there's no way we can ignore covering it. And as our coverage of it has shown, you like it too -- as tens of thousands of you visited to view our work every day.

But CES and CEDIA are trade shows, only for those people part of the industry as manufacturers, retailers, installers or press. Another kind of show is what occurs in Montreal and Frankfurt, a consumer show that mixes industry types, many of which are there working the show for the companies they represent, and consumers, who want to check out what's happening in the audio and home-theater worlds. And whereas the CES and CEDIA have a mix of A/V and non-A/V products, the Montreal and Frankfurt shows are for high-end audiophiles and videophiles specifically, as there are systems set up for listening and evaluation of products. Also, the companies that frequent these shows sell their wares there, so the whole atmosphere is part display, part A/V shopping mall, and attendees are the benefactors.

And the shows I list above are the ones that we will cover for the foreseeable future because they are the best and most important shows for the audio and home-theater industries, period. There are other shows for sure, but the four biggies cover all the bases (and two continents) and allow us to keep you completely informed as to what's happening. We will cover CES and T.H.E. Show on their own, and CEDIA, Montreal and Frankfurt (the last two officially named "Festival du son et de l'image" and "High End" respectively) as part of our yearly A/V Tour. I personally look forward to traveling from the Midwestern US to Montreal in March and meeting Doug Schneider and He Jung Kim there, even knowing the weather will be chilly, because of the warm atmosphere of the Festival, whose name is no exaggeration. Doug Schneider and Jeff Fritz will do the honors in Frankfurt in May, and I'll be back on the road in September with Doug Blackburn for CEDIA. And, of course, you'll be able to read about each show and see what we see due to our live coverage -- of only the best audio shows the world over. Stay tuned….

...Marc Mickelson

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