As the main event for pro audio manufacturers, dealers and end-users, the AES Convention reflects changes in the marketplace; in the recording business, a healthy AES Convention signals a healthy high-end market. According to Brad Lunde, president of Las Vegas-based dealer TransAudio Group, high-end recording gear sales are up, and in a market segment that’s more professionally driven than ever, purchases are more solution-oriented.
High-end customers are looking for products that offer a very specific or quantifiable improvement or resolution to a problem, claims Lunde, who has designed TransAudio’s booth to address changes he sees in the market. And, as professionals who are earning a living by these products, they need to be very careful about which they invest in they’re perfectly willing to invest in expensive equipment if it solves a problem for them.
Instead of taking an individual brand approach, where each of the TransAudio brands gets its own 10×10 booth, the TransAudio camp is set up this year in a bandshell-shaped booth designed to encourage communication, problem-solving. The focus of our booth is relationship building, so that people can trade information that’s relevant to a task, or to a purchase, or a problem. We want to put the end-users in front of the designers themselves, give them the opportunity to talk directly to the company about what their problems are, and find out how a given piece of gear can resolve that issue.
Boulder, CO-based Grace Design (Booth 1041) vice president sales and marketing Doug Wood attests to good health in the high end, pointing to the proliferation of producer/engineer-driven project-centric studios as an influential factor. We’re doing very well in the high-end and audiophile markets, says Wood. And, while we still sell a lot of product into high-end commercial rooms and live touring companies, a lot of our products go to the producer/engineer rooms because they’re looking to spend the money for high-quality gear. Grace’s latest product, the M902 reference headphone amplifier addresses the high-end market in which the previously released M901 has been popular.
Waverly, IA-based Chandler Limited (Booth 619) founder Wade Goeke reports good news as well, citing an increasing need for high-end equipment to augment digital audio workstations. Higher-end equipment is really more and more important, as customers who aren’t happy with digital on its own want really high-quality equipment to take their DAW system to the next level, says Goeke.
People are spending the money to get a good signal chain a good preamp, EQ, compressor, and a nice old microphone in front of their system. Our newest product is a portable mixing system to go with Pro Tools, a 16×2 rack mixer, and then there’s an auxiliary rack that fits all of our other modules EQs and compressors so they can have the sound of a million-dollar console in the size of 10 rack spaces.