2012 pro audio trade show season begins

With the turn of the calendar to January, the broadcast industry is looking ahead to a new year full of fresh ideas and solutions to help it achieve higher standards of audio in a more efficient fashion. As always, the first batch of trade shows sets the tone.

In the U.S., the two key trade events in January are the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and the NAMM Show in Anaheim. While neither is broadcast-specific, both conventions have a long history of innovative products and breakthrough technologies with relevance to the increasingly convergent field of broadcast audio. Meanwhile, Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) in Amsterdam and Broadcast Video Expo (BVE) 2012 in London’s Earls Court are both gearing up for February exhibitions.

While CES is awash in everything from household appliances to gaming systems, the show has always held a strong audio component. Broadcasters are well served to be aware of the latest developments in audio consumption, and CES is a traditional wellspring of new products and technologies. Anyone paying attention saw the growth in mobile technologies as delivery systems for audio, video and games, and CES is where the next generation of end-user hardware is most likely to surface.

The NAMM Show, on the other hand, is focused primarily on music stores. However, within the acres of flashy electric guitars, band instruments and rock star autograph sessions lies a vital core of pro audio gear. While music stores serve a core of amateur and semi-pro musicians, they do so with the same gear that’s used in major recording studios and on high-profile tours. These demanding applications have inspired and popularized such broadcast-standard technologies as computer recording software, wireless in-ear systems and a wealth of related hardware.

Of the early-year conventions, BVE in London offers the most traditional connection to the broadcast industry. With a strong educational component and over 300 exhibiting companies, Broadcast Video Expo is in many ways a preview of April’s NAB, with a lot of the major players in European pro audio in attendance. The installation side of the business will be addressed in Amsterdam, where Integrated Systems Europe 2012 will host over 750 exhibitors covering everything from system control and telephony to traditional audio-visual.

Thus, the first two months of the year provide a nice overview of the audio world, from consumer gadgetry and permanent installation to studio recording and live music, with a major broadcast exhibition right in the midst of it all. While manufacturers will without doubt complain at the difficulty of covering so many exhibitions in such short order, taken together, these conventions offer a superb combination of new products and technological advances that can be seen as a preview of our industry’s spotlight event, April’s NAB Show in Las Vegas.