CE Week 2015, held by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), was held in New York City from June 22nd through the 26th. As one of NYC's largest technology shows for the industry, more than 3000 attendees had an advanced look at some of the hottest tech and trends. Attendees could meet tech influencers who drive mass awareness about innovations within the consumer electronics sector. CE Week's audience is a combination of press, retailers, and analysts plus investors and other thought leaders.
At CE Week were a variety of booth spaces and exhibits that provided direct hands-on demonstrations plus the opportunity for companies to hold special networking parties and award ceremonies. A variety of master classes, perspective talks and seminars enhanced the education and information for those who attended this event. CEA paid special attention to carefully curate the audience to deliver the most ROI and most mass-market mid-year impressions. Now in its 9th year, CE Week gave the consumer electronics industry the opportunity to develop a one-on-one relationship with members of the press, retailers, bloggers, etc. so that potential customers and advocates could help further the industry's goals.
CE Week 2015 Show Report
This year CE Week was held in New York City on June 22nd through June 25th, with the majority of the events occurred at the Metropolitan Pavilion. According to the show's organizer, the Consumer Electronics Association who also produce CES in Las Vegas during January, this event had more than 3000 attendees from the trade, industry and press. All told, it is one of the largest technology events within New York City and as luck would have it for this member of the press, it also provided me the opportunity to attend the third day of the show, June 24th.
This was the first time attending this specific show and though my focus mainly was on audio and audio related products, it was hard to keep my eye on the prize so to speak. There were so many gizmos and gadgets on the exhibit floor that my inner geek nearly overwhelmed me. These products ranged from Adlens' adjustable strength glasses to Ionic's ProClean toothbrush that uses ionic technology to help keep your teeth cleaner and whiter.
While there was certainly no lack of innovative devices, even within the audio segment, very little of it was specifically related to high fidelity audio or music reproduction, with the exception of the Hi-Res Audio Pavilion, as it was called, and a few isolated vendors. However, a few exceptions caught my interest. The two most notable were: Hearnotes, a new company that is launching wireless ear buds using Kleer wireless technology and induction charging, and Aftershotz, with their Trekz Titanium headphones, which features lightweight and strong titanium material and bone conduction technology for sound transmission.
As mentioned earlier, The DEG's Hi-Res Audio Pavilion was one place where higher end vendors displayed their latest and greatest equipment. The vendors displayed their newest products, but though it was the first time many members of the press had seen them. The Digital Entertainment Group did a nice job of putting together a very cohesive display featuring Kimber Kable, Astell & Kern,
dCS and Sony.
The above is a photo, taken in front of the Sony display, shows the banner and a representative from Sony as well as my daughter Maxi. It was definitely great to have a chance to listen to the newest digital media players from both Sony and Astell & Kern, which certainly span the gambit between form, function and price. They personally left me wishing I had one of these amazing devices for my very own. This is the perfect time to write about the most interesting panel discussion attended during the show, not to mention the most relevant to the high-end audio industry. The seminar was The DEG's Hi-Res Music Super Session. Admittedly, it was not really an uneducated choice when I selected the 23rd as the best day to attend the convention. In a conversation I had with Steven R. Rochlin, my longtime friend, Editor and Creative Director of Enjoy the Music.com, about covering the show he mentioned the seminar and suggested that it might be a great session to attend. As always, he was correct. (Editor Steven notes: Am wrong quite often, too, yet there are those rare times I may get a thing or two correct. A broken clock is correct twice a day and all that.)
The DEG's Hi-Res Music Super Session was an informational session on the current and somewhat near-term future of high-resolution audio recordings. The format was a moderated panel. Mark Finer, Founder and Managing Director, Communication Research Inc. from The DEG was the moderator. The panel consisted of the following people: Jim Belcher, Vice President of Technology and Production at Universal Music Group's Global Digital Business division, Maureen Droney who is P&E Wing Managing Director of The Recording Academy, John Jackson who is SVP, A&R and Content Development of Sony Music/Legacy Recordings, and Howie Singer who is Senior VP and Chief Strategic Technologist for Warner Music Group.
It was fascinating to hear this esteemed group of people summarize in their opinion how the high-resolution music is moving forward. The topics ranged from metadata on various albums (for those who are not IT geeks like me, it means the information about the albums such as titles, track lists, etc.) to how certain online services are starting to stream high-resolution material, for a fee of course.
Ultimately, they boiled the challenges down into three major points: Education, technology and experience.
One could write a doctoral thesis on any of these points, yet the main takeaway for me is that the industry does understand, at least in its own eyes, and they need to work together to mitigate each of the challenges they represent. Though the panel seemed quick to explain there were definite obstacles such as recording formats standing in the way, they also appeared to be working through these challenges. The recording labels represented on the panel said they each had approximately 1600 high-resolution titles available and the number is increasing constantly. They also announced a new designation with a corresponding logo, Hi-Res Music to go along with the Hi-Res Audio already used.
In addition to the forums and lectures at the conference, there were also a number of vendor product announcements. In my mind, the most exceptional one was Monster. Noel Lee, Head Monster, is quite the showman and his presentations have never ceased to be both engaging and entertaining. In this case, that was not the only reason this particular session stood out though. Their announcements of a specialty line, DNA, plus various products such as their new SoundStage multi-room speakers and Black Platinum Power devices stood out. This underscored the industry's push towards better home media connectivity, better streaming media devices and the increase in demand for higher fidelity equipment.
The press conference also gives the perfect move back towards the exhibit floor. As mentioned earlier, there weren't many other companies with displays that captured my eye or attention. That said, both Sunfire with their XTEQ Subwoofer series and Onkyo showing their Hi-Res music download service along with a few other new pieces of equipment stood out the most.
In summary, it was definitely an experience attending CE Week. Though I only attended one of the two days of the exhibits, it was enough to cover all those companies in attendance and hit the conferences and meetings I had planned. There might not have been as much to cover as I had originally hoped concerning high-end audio, yet what there was and the people and viewpoints I learned was enough to make it all very worthwhile.