The Audio Engineering Society Convention took place in New York City at the Javitz Center from November 30 through December 3, 2001, postponed from its regularly scheduled dates due to the events of September 11. There was so much speculation during the 2-month period between the show’s original dates and its actual occurrence that it was difficult to discern the facts from the fiction.
Many manufacturers decided to cut their losses and drop out of the show, some citing the proximity of the show to NAMM as a reason. Others suffered from the end-of-year budget crunch. Some tried to switch their focus to the LDI convention, hoping to get exposure for their new products there. As it turned out, the AES show floor was indeed much smaller than originally planned, but this did not in any way deter from the excellent experiences of those that chose to exhibit at and attend the show.
In fact, AES 2001 will be remembered by most as a huge success. Attendees did not stay away as anticipated. The show floor was crowded, and the majority of the manufacturers I spoke to were quite busy. There was no shortage of innovative technology in all segments, and the overall feeling of the show was a throwback to the shows of many years ago when things were smaller and a bit more intimate.
All of this indicates a pretty clear trend: As our industry trade shows grow larger—demonstrating the growth and success of the industry—we nevertheless lose something along the way: the intimacy and depth of connection that only happen with the accessibility of a smaller show.
We should look at the success of the 2001 AES show as a great example of what can be achieved. Maybe large exhibits will trade in their ivory towers for the smaller and more intimate pavilions that were so successful at this past AES show. Who knows? Maybe we attendees will actually be able to see the row numbers well enough to locate all the booths we are trying to visit.