High End 2015: That's A Wrap!
According to "Press-Release No.11, High End 2015Final Report," "the world's largest trade fair for the audio industry" saw 506 exhibitors from 42 countries (+11%). There were 20,637 visitors (+16%); this figure includes 14,079 non-industry and non-press visitors (+13%) and 6,588 trade visitors from 71 countries (+22%). There were also 504 accredited journalists (+5%) from 38 countries, with 53% coming from abroad.
I am aware that the math is slightly off, but these are the figures and totals supplied. I am also well aware that these figures do not clarify if the visitors are "unique" visitors, which means that if a person buys a 3-day pass, they count as one "unique" visitor rather than three visitors. But given that I'm first opening the press release while the press folks are asleep and the long weekend is at hand, there's nothing I can do about this except send them a note and post their response later on.
More than 60% of exhibitors came from abroad, which represents over a 2% increase from the year before. Of the 42 countries represented, Germany took first place, followed by the USA, UK, Italy, Switzerland, and France. There was also an increase in Asian exhibitors, particularly from China. Of trade visitors, 66% came from abroad, most prominently from the UK, Italy, Austria, China, Switzerland, France, and the Netherlands.
There were a total of 33 presentations on room acoustics, music streaming and more. I wanted very much to catch the DSD presentation by Jared Sacks of Channel Classics, especially since he's now overcome his initial reluctance to experiment with DSD256, but too much was going on. That included the very first live demonstration of MQA at an audio show, which I caught in a private session with Bob Stuart. I also never checked out the "High End of Wheels" exhibit, but it seems to have been quite the thing.
Yes, there is a certain paradox to High End Munich. On the positive side, not only is it the largest and busiest consumer audio show in the world, but it's also the most enjoyable. The fun part has to do not only with the environment within the hall, but also the ability to get a wide selection of food and drink inside and out (in the smoke-filled beer garden, of course). The energy is very, very positive, and the spirit of attendees far less jaded and entitled than at some US shows I attend.
There's also a refreshingly wider range of music. Yes, boys and girls, there is a world beyond Ella & Louis, Pink Floyd, Daft Punk, and The Dance of the Tumblers, and at least some of the exhibitors at High End Munich aren't scared of it.
Yet there are also some glaring issues. The first is that some of the spaces, including virtually every open space in the halls, present tremendous acoustic challenges. The second is the glaring division between women and men. While in the US, I do see the occasional woman who attends the show as either a visitor or industry person because she's an audiophile, rather than because she's the partner or spouse of a man, here I don't recall encountering a single woman wandering the hallways solo. The contact people for High End Munich may be women, but the leadership, at least as they appeared at the press conference, is all suit-and-tie men. There was one female journalist whom I met, but she was with her husband.
Then again, Bavaria tends to be quite conservative, even by German standards. Berlin is a whole other world. If the Swiss folks in Munich were playing Offenbach, I wonder what the Berliners would have been playing.
The next High End takes place from May 58 in Munich. Here's hoping I can return. Work schmirk, I loved it.