In early April, the Frankfurt Fair and Exhibition Centre once again featured worldwide unveilings of new MI and pro audio products augmented by subsequent debuts of pro live sound and lighting manufacturers’ wares, all showcased in over a dozen sprawling large halls linked via modern airport-style people movers. Between the halls, outdoor stages featuring both live music and product shootouts, with food trucks and beer gardens offering respite from the hustle of the show. Indoors, surprisingly superb cafes and restaurants allowed for an enjoyable, relaxed meal, some with service from a waiter, just steps away from exhibits.
Frankfurt is a lovely modern city increasingly suited for its annual Musikmesse and Prolight + Sound (most recognized by its PL+S acronym). As it was well-classified by a key character at a major world-class American console manufacturer, Messe/PL+S remains “the second-most important show we do in the world,” sharing this fact as we stood in a less-than year-old apartment hotel’s restaurant at Messe’s brand-new adjacent shopping and hotel district, still under construction, complete with “green” roof featuring a park.
Reportedly the “world’s largest trade fair,” the Messe company is co-owned by the city of Frankfurt and German state of Hesse in 60 and 40 percent shares, respectively. According to the company, approximately 100,000 visitors attended the show last month, with 144 visitor nations—up from 130 in 2016—to see its 1,922 exhibitors from 55 countries.
Hall 3, the center of PL+S, featured most of the world’s pro class live loudspeaker system manufacturers alongside the most important mix console/surface and networking manufacturers in the business.
Meanwhile, for some large firms such as Harman—where new MI, high-end touring as well as lighting products were showcased—Hall 4 provided an ideal opportunity to reach a wide range of potential new users. Harman PR director David Glaubke specifically noted its successful display featuring Martin professional lighting amongst its audio brands such as JBL Professional and Soundcraft. “It’s been very busy,” he noted enthusiastically.
Some key product unveilings in Halls 3 and 4 included new (and smaller) digital consoles/work surfaces from Solid State Logic and Yamaha—the SSL Live L200 mid-scale live console suited for smaller tours and the two-thirds-smaller CS-R10-S surface for the RIVAGE PM10 Digital Mixing System, respectively; new I/O from Allen & Heath for its dLive mixing system (superMADI and AES3) and SSL’s expanded Network I/O range, among others.
Likewise, there was new sound reinforcement gear from the likes of L-Acoustics (Syva loudspeakers and the P1 digital audio processor), Martin Audio (Wavefront Precision Series multipurpose line arrays, plus XE and LE Series stage monitors), and the aforementioned JBL Professional, among others. Specifically, JBL’s entirely new VTX A12 is a line array solution intended for mid- to large-size touring applications and high-end fixed installations, while its new EON ONE PRO personal line array system turned heads thanks to upgraded features from the original EON ONE, such as rechargeable battery operation, additional inputs and power, and more.
Those around Messe are indeed building up a next-generation trade show environment in Frankfurt. However, the combination PL+S/Musikmesse event hasn’t proceeded without some challenges. Thus it was no surprise that many manufacturers were happy to hear that next year’s Messe will feature a more considerably consolidated floor plan between pro audio and live sound and lighting halls. “As the partner of the [MI, pro audio and lighting] sectors, it is our responsibility to provide a future-oriented marketing platform with target-group specific formats and events. We take this very seriously and, accordingly, we will once again enter into an intensive dialogue with exhibitors and associations with a view to 2018,” stated Detlef Braun, member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt, following the close of the show.
According to Fani Angelova, brand manager at Antelope Audio, the word of a truly consolidated Musikmesse and PL+S in 2018 is welcomed news, reasoning that some marquee brands missing from the festival will reappear in the new year—not to mention it will create a more logical flow to the show’s layout. Antelope, among dozens of other pro audio manufacturers were, for example, showcasing in Hall 9, where PL+S companies were hundreds of steps away in Halls 3 and 4. “It’s hard to know where to be,” admitted Angelova.
The collective hope is continued consolidation beneficial to all parties involved for an even more successful Musikmesse and Prolight + Sound in 2018 when it returns next year, April 11-14 and April 10-13, 2018, respectively.