T.H.E Show 2021 Marketplace And
Welcome to the second installment of T.H.E. Show 2021 coverage spotlighting the marketplace and the seminars!
Ah, the marketplace! In my opinion, as an avid attendees of shows (not just as Director of Marketing for T.H.E. Show), the marketplace doesn't always get its due. Overlooked or taken on as an afterthought, often, I see attendees walking through the marketplace basking in the glow having listened to their favorite songs on mind-blowing systems.
But the marketplace is where new companies and designers dip their toes into the proverbial holy waters of audio. If they swim, the next year, they usually get a room or a larger booth. It's safe to say my team and I were quite pleased with how many new marketplace exhibitors we had this year to complement our beloved annual staples. The stories of some of these exhibitors were nothing short of fascinating - even heartwarming.
Some folks were living out their audio dreams, post retirement, premiering new (and much needed, I may add) products they developed now that they finally had the time. Others showcased components that one wouldn't always associate with hifi or audio but ended up opening so many minds, and so many doors!
For my team and me, of course T.H.E. Show is about getting as many quality exhibitors in front of as many attendees. I would say it's safe to say this is a primary modus operandi for audio shows (heck, trade shows) globally. But we aren't the biggest show in the world, much less the US and we know that. Our strength lies within our innate and unique ability to make very special connections with our exhibitors and attendees on the human level (hence all of the projects surrounding "T.H.E. HumanSide"). What stories are behind the exhibitors signing up? What makes them especially valuable - above and beyond the usual? What can give attendees a super memorable and very personal experience?
This year, we had to get creative. With the health and safety guidelines in place, we knew we had distancing parameters, an attendance cap, and more to make our jobs even more adventurous. So we focused on our motto, "Small but Mighty," and dove even more deeply into the stories behind the exhibits. Who was premiering? Why were new folks compelled to show this time? What would really resonate with the attendees? Would new exhibitors be able to network and connect with their fellow contemporaries to create new and beneficial opportunities for all involved? My team and I were staunchly committed to building bridges, not just setting up spaces.
Before diving into the marketplace and seminars I will say this: by no means is this piece meant to be an impartial journalistic review the way one may normally be used to reading. This is coverage of T.H.E. Show 2021 from the point of view of someone on the team. So, it's a sneak peek into what it's like to stand a show up, especially the first in the country in what hopefully is the Covid wind-down (with fingers crossed and breath held).
Our marketplace was spread out this year, still in our usual International Ballroom set up but "socially distanced" in some ways. This year's marketplace offerings got creative. We had Leonard Dodd of ErectorBot, a 3D printing company out of Anza, CA, who offers disruptive solutions to all sorts of wonderful audio "problems." ErectorBot brought with them samples of products they printed, including speaker parts, sound proofing, etc. More importantly though is Leondard's WAY of thinking. His solutions (via his 3D printing) come from years in the automotive design industry and are malleable and adaptable to say the least. Anyone who got to visit with the ErectorBot team at T.H.E. Show 2021 should consider themselves very lucky indeed!
Dr. Mark Waldrep was in full effect as usual, with crowds buzzing around his booth and swarming to his seminars. Always a pleasure to speak with, he offered unique and articulate perspectives on the state of digital music presently, where he believes it will go in the future, and took great time and care to answer as many questions as he could.
Elusive Disc is always a pleasure from start to finish. Set up days with them are fun because we as T.H.E Show team get a sneak peek of what is going to be on offer for the attendees and their booth is always a social watering hole where folks come to peruse, dig, and dive deep for their favorite, and yes, elusive vinyl. The name, Elusive Disc, I would say, is most appropriate as I saw lots of people leaving their booth with bags of vinyl looking equal parts happy and bewildered, realizing they found something they'd been looking for for a long time.
Awedyo Audio premiered with us and we were delighted. The little known secret to this bunch of rising stars is that some of them are under 21! This was a young, very hip group next generation audio enthusiasts who were ready to answer any and all questions about starting one's journey into hifi. With products that would be considered on the more affordable side of the scale, it's any wonder their booth was energized with folks who were looking for the perfect entry point into audiophilia. Make no mistake, despite their young age, Team Awedyo knows their stuff. And they are most enthusiastic and welcoming to all who are new to audio.
Periodic Audio offered a really fun booth set up which literally looked like the Periodic Table come to life. Dan Wiggans represented with a podium, digital audition display and lab coat to boot and it was nothing if not well received! A few things of note that made Periodic Audio so delightful for attendees was definitely the price point and quality, the ability to audition the components, and really, how personable Dan is!
Merryl Jaye Art is always a treat in the marketplace. A former vocalist and songwriter in a traveling band, Merryl Jaye offers a treat for the eyes with her incredible reproductions of photographs made into paintings, which can double as sound treatments for your listening rooms.
Analog Shoppe's booth is always well attended and this year was no different! With boxes and boxes and crates and crates of vinyl, they offered a true "record store come to life" within our marketplace this year, and boy, were our attendees delighted at the prospect of shopping for albums with other people! The social aspect of vinyl jukie-dom was in full swing and Bob Donnelly was more than happy to be the ringmaster. Speaking for myself, as a bonafide vinyl addict, I was thrilled to see so many on the hunt for vinyl again.
Cable Support Plate came to us this year for the first time. Ever. Meaning it was not only their premiere with us at T.H.E. Show 2021, it was their audio show premiere and we were nothing short of delighted to have them. Spearheaded by John Bring, a retired engineer for a rather reputable and somewhat infamous company, the company offers an ingenious solution to a problem that all of us audiophiles have experienced likely at least once in our lives - the almighty power cord being too heavy or bulky and often times slipping out of place. Cable Support Plate offers a sort of cradle that Mr. Bring designed and 3D printed himself (see? More 3D printing is popping up) in a myriad of shapes and colors to match your system's needs.
A/V Roomservice and Norman Varney's booth were worth a repeat visit. Aside from offering some remedies to sound continuances (the idea that extra buzzes and resonant "hangovers" are halted so the sounds in your music actually begin and end where they should) in his Equipment Vibration Protectors and Cable Vibration Protectors, Varney's background in electrical systems design is not only fascinating but adds a tremendous amount of clout to back up exactly why his products are an appropriate addition to any system.
Jamie Chen appeared to be making her premiere with us at T.H.E. Show 2021. Little is known about this soft spoken speaker designer other than the loudspeakers she showcased were lovely and met positively by those who were at her booth. I can honestly say that I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to spend more time there.
David Solomon of Qobuz (our official streaming sponsor this year) gave a wonderful seminar on the state of music streaming. Robustly attended with many hands in the air, I stood at the back and watched as grown adults got excited and encouraged to speak up and ask questions - some expected, and some not. It's a breath of fresh air to experience the type of community David Solomon and Qobuz offer for audio enthusiasts, novice and experienced. All are welcome on the journey, as far as Qobuz is concerned and we couldn't agree more!
Mark Waldrep, or Dr. Mark, as I like to refer to him, was in full form as usual. After more than a year of being at home, it was clear Dr. Mark had a lot to say. The two seminars he gave were packed (socially distanced, yes, but still packed) and broached topics about Apple bringing their A game (no pun intended) and an extensive study he had been undertaking for the past year or two. I don't want to give up the ghost on that topic in case it's meant to be published later, but Dr. Mark always encourages people to think objectively and outside the box.
Julian Margules has been with us since 2019 and brings a beautiful holistic perspective to audio which he dives into during his seminars. If you give 60 minutes of your time to Mr. Margules, he will take you on a valuable journey visiting everything from speaker design to business acumen to family, to the importance of travel and understanding how other cultures receive and consume music and audio. He's ever articulate and calm and his exhibit room was always full, especially after he spoke.
Wayne Carter, aka T.H.E. First Human (as chronicled in our web series and award winning documentary short film, "T.H.E. HumanSide,") is a bridge builder if ever there was one. Rather than a seminar, Wayne's hour is more like a town hall meeting. It's a chance for attendees to air their concerns and questions, throw out ideas and connect with one another on how to push the audio community forward. If there's one thing I know about Wayne Carter, it's that he believes that listening to people is just as valuable, if not moreso, than speaking to them.
Leonard Dodd of ErectorBot gave a very eye opening seminar on 3D printing solutions and how it can positively impact and augment the audio industry. And before you roll your eyes and think to yourself that yes, you know speaker parts and components can be 3D printed, that is NOT at all what he was offering. Okay, that was a small part of it, but if you got a chance to connect with Leonard and the ErectorBot team, you know just how much 3D printing has yet to be utilized fully in audio and how exciting it can be!
Emiko And Jiles McCoy
It's been almost exactly a month since T.H.E. Show 2021 opened, and in the past 30 days, I've had a lot of time to think about what this year's show meant for us. You know what the first thing I thought about was? The people. It is the people who make T.H.E. Show what it is. Not just our team. Our exhibitors, our attendees, our esteemed members of the press and media. The saying that it takes a village is no lie. Putting on T.H.E. Show 2021 was one of the most unique experiences in my career thus far - equal parts exciting, terrifying, and humbling.
But we had the support of so many for that, we are beyond grateful. Now, it's time to work on the program rollouts for T.H.E. Group and more - including, yes, T.H.E. Show 2022. While I may be the author of this piece, make no mistake T.H.E. Show is a team effort and our core group, Maurice Jung, DJ Robertson and myself know that "thank you" doesn't even begin to cover it, but we'll try. THANK YOU for supporting T.H.E. Show and in turn, for allowing T.H.E. Show to support everyone in audio.