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Monthly Editorial by Marc Mickelson
September 2004

T.H.E. Show in Indianapolis

This month Doug Schneider and I will be traveling to Indianapolis to cover the annual CEDIA Expo, which piggybacks on the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association's series of courses for professionals seeking CEDIA Professional Certification. The Expo has always been a cornucopia of new-product introductions, with many companies not waiting until the CES in January to unveil their latest goodies. CEDIA and the CES are very different shows, with the latter more friendly to high-end-audio companies because of the display space available at the Alexis Park. CEDIA's equivalent? A number of portable "rooms" that line the perimeter of the RCA Dome in which some companies try to assemble demo systems. These resound through the RCA Dome, creating a constant din that's not conducive to evaluation. This has led some companies to take off-site demo space in nearby hotels -- or skip CEDIA completely.

Wendell Diller of Magnepan called me a couple of weeks ago to remind me of an alternative to walking around the RCA Dome this year: an offshoot of T.H.E. Show, the event that runs concurrently with the CES, will be taking place in Indianapolis three blocks away at the Capitol Conference Center. A group of high-end stalwarts that includes Magnepan, Audio Research, BAT, Conrad-Johnson, Cardas and Vandersteen will be there. What's most significant is that the Capitol Conference Center, a tall modern-looking building, offers suitable demonstration space. No more RCA Dome cacophony, and much more opportunity to watch, listen and enjoy.

Some within the industry disparage Mike Maloney and T.H.E. Show crew for putting on such events that take advantage of the CES and now CEDIA Expo. The thinking is that the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), which organizes the CES, and CEDIA deserve support because their collective mission is to serve the consumer-electronics industry, including, among many other things, organizing events such as the CES and CEDIA Expo. It's hard to argue with this.

However, not every company is served by these events, which are very expensive to attend as an exhibitor -- and in the case of CEDIA don't offer suitable demonstration space. So organizers of T.H.E. Show have stepped in to fill a niche and offer what the CEA and CEDIA don't. Small companies or those unwilling to display at sanctioned venues are now able to exhibit when they otherwise wouldn't. Does this hurt the CES and CEDIA Expo? Perhaps, but both seem very well attended, and many of the companies that exhibit at T.H.E. Show can't pay the price of exhibiting at the CES or CEDIA anyway.

As press, I'm grateful for a venue in which I can do more than simply ask "What's new?" and make sure I've noted where the dash goes in a product's model designation. I understand that next year, when CEDIA Expo is held in Denver, there will be space for up to 40 companies at T.H.E. Show, a substantial increase over this year.

The ingenuity displayed by the organizers of T.H.E. Show is becoming more commonplace in an increasingly competitive world. Where would the consumer-electronics industry be without it?

...Marc Mickelson

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