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Top Pro Audio Exhibitors Discuss NAMM 2020, Part 1

Leading pro audio brands give insight into their return to the NAMM show this year

Following the introduction of its dedicated pro audio section three years ago, the industry has taken to NAMM like never before. We hear from some of this year’s top exhibitors about the show’s ever-growing appeal to newcomers and what keeps existing attendees coming back for more….

Paul Narvaez, marketing director, Adam Hall North America

We are excited to be showcasing our products at NAMM 2020. Although the fundamental role of trade shows for the general public has changed dramatically in recent years—not least due to the massively enhanced opportunities with online channels to gather information about new products—NAMM continues to provide Adam Hall with an unparalleled and innovative environment to bring together industry professionals and end users.

As we increase outreach and awareness efforts throughout the US, we are committed to providing excellent service and support to our customers. That’s why the NAMM show continues to play a vital role for us. We appreciate all the artists and industry professionals who support us and we look forward to the continued growth and success of Adam Hall and its brands throughout North America.

David Kirk, marketing manager, Allen & Heath

NAMM is a show we always look forward to, not least because it’s a welcome opportunity to swap a dreary British January for the sun-kissed palms of Anaheim. More importantly, NAMM is an eclectic, colorful celebration of our industry and a potent reminder of why we’ve all chosen to be part of the audio world. Other shows have tried to capture the carnival atmosphere of NAMM, but nobody has quite recreated the same magic.

The primary purpose of trade shows for us is to enable that first-hand contact between customers, the brand and products. For all the communication channels we have at our disposal, there is no substitute for meeting customers face-to-face.

NAMM 2020 will be many people’s first chance to see our new Avantis console, taking its place alongside dLive and SQ in our 96k digital mixer trilogy. As well as the console itself, we’ll be highlighting our Everything I/O family of expansion options, including the latest Dante boxes. We will also be shining the spotlight on our dLive Wings ultra-compact mixing systems. The decision to move away from the sheet music and guitar pedals and take space in the pro audio hall was not one we took lightly. As a company we’re proud to make mixers for everyone from the gigging musician to venues and rental houses, so there was a concern that we might lose contact with some of our customers by giving up a prime slot on the main show floor in 2019.

Happily, we still had a very healthy mix of visitors coming to catch up with us in the pro hall, and the show is definitely attracting more of our installation and live sound customers than it did in years gone by. NAMM is also a good opportunity to sit down with our distributors, particularly some partners from Asia Pacific and Latin America who don’t always make it to the European shows.

Liz Wilkinson, marketing officer, AMS Neve

NAMM has always been an important show on the AMS Neve calendar and in recent years it has become even more so, thanks to its growing commitment to professional sound. As well as providing a global opportunity to showcase our brand and products, NAMM acts as a fantastic meeting point for all the key players in our industry, whether they are customers, distributors, other manufacturers, influencers, opinion makers or members of the press. NAMM is also a really good place to see what new technologies and trends are being introduced to the market and how people are reacting to them. Being able to spend time discussing these developments with customers is valuable because the feedback they provide often informs future product development.

As a high-end manufacturer, we want to tailor our products so that they deliver the right features and functionality to support our customers’ workflows. NAMM’s strong emphasis on education is another reason why we see this as an important convention. The seminars and panel discussions that run alongside the exhibition help to broaden its appeal and bring in young people who will be the customers of the future.

The ability to gain recognition through industry awards is also an incentive. Over the years, AMS Neve has won nine TEC Awards at NAMM and we hope to add to this tally in years to come. The NAMM 2020 show will be extra special for AMS Neve because it coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Neve 1073 mic preamp/EQ, which was launched in 1970 and has gone on to be used in more high-end studios and on more famous recordings than it is possible to count.

Over the last half century, many iconic products have carried the AMS Neve name and we’ll be showcasing quite a few of them on our booth, number 14008 in Hall ACC, North Level One. We will also be launching an exciting new product, but we can’t say too much about that at this stage.

Alex Lepges, marketing director EMEA, Audio-Technica

As a manufacturer with a very broad product offering, Audio-Technica is very well served by the NAMM show. The MI industry is important to us and that side of the show has obviously always been extremely strong, attracting significant numbers of domestic and international visitors. But with the increased focus on pro audio at NAMM recently, the event has really strengthened its position in the calendar as far as Audio-Technica is concerned. The show organizers have done a very good job of listening to the pro audio industry, catering to its needs and delivering a quality audience at NAMM.

And while Audio-Technica’s presence at the show is handled by ATUS, from a European perspective NAMM has assumed a real importance over the last couple of years. We’re seeing a lot of European press and customers who make the show a priority visit and the fact that it’s at the beginning of the year makes it a great launchpad for new products. We’ve really benefitted from the changes to the event and the drive to broaden its appeal to pro audio visitors—and so NAMM remains among the most important shows of the year for Audio-Technica.

Andrew Bishop, owner, BishopSound

We’re still a small and relatively new company, so NAMM 2020 will be our first. At this stage, it’s impossible to know how we will do but we are very excited as we feel NAMM represents a huge opportunity not just to introduce our range to the US market but also to show it to visitors from around the world. In the past, NAMM might not have been an obvious choice for a PA manufacturer, but in the past few years it has grown into an all-encompassing event for music related technology, very much including pro audio and PA equipment.

Importantly for us, we will be introducing the first of our British made PA speakers at the show and we are hoping that this will generate interest as, sadly, there aren’t many British made products at the show these days. Given the UK’s excellent past track record in audio, we think that a resurgence might spark interest from potential customers.

David ‘Webby’ Webster, global marketing director, CODA Audio International

It was a really significant change for the better when pro audio got its own hall. Having a dedicated space makes things a lot easier for pro audio customers on a practical level. The days of walking long distances between appointments and searching for manufacturers are thankfully gone and it’s now far more streamlined. It’s a truly international show, so now that the pro audio sector has been better catered for, it’s pretty much unmissable. You can be sure that you’re getting in front of the widest possible range of influential global visitors.

There are also many benefits to it being a January show. It’s the beginning of the financial year for many and rental companies are taking stock of their potential needs for the forthcoming year, so the timing is definitely spot on. The annual Parnelli Awards grow in stature year-on-year and are a strong draw for engineers and rental companies, fostering a sense of community. The prospect of the sun shining in Anaheim in comparison to the cold European winter also has its merits.

Amnon Harman, CEO, d&b audiotechnik

d&b has attended NAMM for the last few years and we have thoroughly enjoyed participating. It has evolved to encompass pro audio, and is particularly relevant for many installation segments such as clubs, performing arts and houses of worship. It seems likely this trend will continue, and the pro audio audience will continue to grow. Since we recognize the growing relevance and importance of the show, we took the launch of a major new line array, the KSL, to California at the beginning of 2019. We took advantage of the show’s growing pro audio visitor list and planned a launch event—including a demo and a party at an art deco theatre the day before the show.

At d&b, our role as an audio technology and solutions provider has evolved from that of a loudspeaker system manufacturer, to being viewed as consultants to our customers and end users. They recognize the importance of having a manufacturer working closely with them in understanding how to optimize technologies to deliver the best possible sound.

We look at all major trade shows, including Winter NAMM, as being less about pushing black boxes and more as an opportunity to build stronger relationships with our current and potential customers, and to demonstrate how we can help them inspire their audiences through the art of creative engineering with holistic concepts such as the d&b Soundscape, as well as our long-term technical support and after-sales service.

The latest innovations we will highlight at NAMM, such as the A Series, are a result of our Applied Evolution approach to product and technology development, empowering d&b users to create environments where the audience shares the highest level of sound quality. We feel this vision has a strong resonance with the NAMM audience. Winter NAMM 2020 will see another addition to the SL family—the KSL sub—in flyable and ground stack versions. We are especially excited about the upcoming show given it also coincides with the opening of our new demonstration and education facility in Los Angeles, California. The facility underscores our continuing commitment to expanding our presence in the US market, and we look forward to visiting with our customers and partners at the new facility as well as on the NAMM show floor.

Austin Freshwater, general manager, DiGiCo

The buzz and excitement about NAMM 2020 is even greater than in previous years. We are expecting the show to continue to go from strength-to-strength and see increasing numbers of visitors focused on pro audio. The collaboration and ambition of the management team at NAMM allows the team at DiGiCo to challenge themselves on what can be achieved from events, by pushing new ideas and concepts to reality, allowing us to create a great experience for our customers.

Personally, it will be my first visit to NAMM. I know we have lots of customers from all around the world already booked to visit the show, so I know I’m going to be back-to-back every day. I will have to make the time to walk the show properly, as with an increasing focus on pro audio there will be a lot to see and learn about the latest activity, trends and launches across the industry.

As always, we will strive to do something different—last year there was a random mermaid! This year will be no exception, so I encourage everyone to come by and say hi, there will be plenty of things to discuss once we reveal the stand.

Dan Page, sales and brand manager, DiGiGrid

NAMM is a very exciting opportunity to engage with the widest possible international customer base. The attendance continues to grow year-on-year and the show attracts a truly global audience with interests that range across a very wide spectrum. There’s no doubt that a growing pro audio focus, placed into a dedicated space, has added value to the event for companies like ours. It places us in the path of both high level audio professionals, who are seeking solutions for large scale or highly complex productions or studio setups AND the music ‘enthusiasts’ who constitute an important sector of the market.

Perhaps as much as any major trade show, NAMM embodies the kind of progressive and inclusive outlook that is so important in our industry. Initiatives in education, networking and the live performance events are huge incentives to attend and NAMM’s January timing makes it widely accessible to all. In spite of the scale of the event, there’s a really personal element to the proceedings—the organizer’s attention to detail is refreshing in that you feel the focus is very much on making it as easy as possible for exhibitors to make strong connections with visitors.

We’re looking forward to the show in 2020, where we’ll be exhibiting a wide range of DiGiGrid products for SoundGrid applications alongside our partner, Waves (booth 15302).

Christopher Spahr, VP sales and marketing, DPA Microphones US

DPA Microphones has had a significant presence at the NAMM show for decades. Through that time, we’ve seen NAMM grow significantly, increasing the opportunities for exhibitors both large and small. The new pro audio section in the ACC North Hall has proven to be incredibly beneficial to our brand as it attracts the contacts more interested in the pro gear. It’s the perfect place for us to meet with pro audio customers, dealers and retailers, most especially, of course, in the MI space—and we look forward to attending the show each year to meet new friends and see old pals.

This year, we are most excited about our TEC Award nomination for our 6066 CORE subminiature headset microphone in the Sound Reinforcement category. The prominence of this award is an outstanding driver of attention to a product and brand and helps to showcase companies in a higher light. This is just another outstanding way in which the NAMM organization serves its exhibitors in an incredible way.

Additionally, with DPA mics set to be featured on the main show stage, as well as within the RCF room in the Hilton, this show continually presents a unique opportunity for us to showcase our gear in real-world applications. We are excited to see which artists will perform with our mics this year and can’t wait to catch some great performances.


This story originally appeared on Pro Sound News sister site Pro Sound News Europe with the headline “‘An unparalleled event’: Top pro audio exhibitors talk NAMM 2020.”