Why I don’t exhibit at UK audio shows

Howard Popeck writes: I wrote this in 2008 and unearthed it today. My views haven't changed.

It’s not just the many £1,000s exhibitors pay for a decent room, nor the standing up for hours on end talking happily to (in the main) very receptive, enthusiastic decent folk, nor the hernia-inducing activity of lifting, unpacking and so on. It’s not that, not really.

Moreover the rather happy feeling one gets as a successful exhibitor producing under the circumstances a tolerable-to-good sound is just not enough to compensate for the fact that for myself and many of my colleagues, it invariably ends up as a loss-making situation because when one tracks where the profit comes from (exhibition, internet, word of mouth), the exhibition does not bring in sufficient profit to cover the costs – in my direct personal experience.

Obviously my own absence and that of a few others I know will not detract from the generally good feeling to be had by one and all through attending. And I really really want these shows to be a success. And perhaps for some, they are.

There’s no question that meeting customers, friends and family of customers, and so on is a pleasant and in some instances humbling situation. Nothing wrong with a bit of humility from time to time. But it seems to me that show visitors in the main value the experience as a convivial and well deserved day out and not part of the pre-purchase research activity. In the nicest sense, lookers not buyers.

Thus an accountant might take the view ­– and it’s one I find hard to argue with – that an exhibitor is paying for rash self-indulgence with no measurable return on time, effort nor money.

My own view and that of other non-participating exhibitors would change if fresh faces appeared at shows. A influx of new blood. No one it seems, and I include myself in this, knows how to achieve it. Any thoughts?

Why are shows as we currently know them failing to deliver what visitors really want?

If they have been asked, then why haven't shows evolved?



3 thoughts on “Why I don’t exhibit at UK audio shows

  1. I’ve too have lost heart in the shows, albeit as an attender. Also my view is shared by many which is there is very little thats good to listen too. Exhibitors complain and blame the rooms that they are in but IMHO they just make a real hash of setting up. I remember entering a tiny room that was fantastic. It was the importer of Audiopax, a Scots guy who was really friendly and informed us that he was an ex recording engineer. He had really set everything up well and it showed. What done it for me was that he had seemed to use room treatments properly, most other exhibitors do pay some attention to this but nor much. Usually they just seem to throw a few pot plants in corners and the odd panel here and there. So it is possible to get something good out of a tiny room. The thing is I can count the times this has happened on 1 hand after 4 years of show going. The other thing is that most of the exhibitors either don’t seem to care or know much about their stuff (If they do they don’t want to engage with the show goers) or they just spout their doctrine on transmit only mode and expect the punters to swallow it whole. There are a few good guys though, I have always found the chaps from Martin Logan to be enthusiastic and happy to talk as well as a few other guys, even if their setups were pretty poor.

  2. Here is my take as a semi regular exhibitor at shows. Howard is spot on with his analysis, but there is more than simply a financial return.

    In my experience ‘seasoned’ enthusiasts attend shows for social rather than educational reasons, so they, in the main are not the reason for attendance.

    Since we attend mainly to show an approach rather than individual kit, the success at a show I perceive is summed up in the response, ‘that’s a great piece of music, what is it’ or ‘I just had to come into your room because the music drew me in’. These responses are not about the sound we make – everyone has a view on that, most would disagree with each other – but on what a system is supposed to do, reproduce music as joyful, sad, introspective …

    While most people do not tie that experience to a purchasing decision, exhibiting could be seen as economic folly. However we know we have influenced people to investigate what they have heard. It also doesn’t do any harm to plough a little of our profit back into entertaining a few people who share our enthusiasm for music.

    1. Thank you. Your point re entertainment is well made. However a few, possibly more than a few are really struggling and the ‘suits’ there might not countenance any investment of time and money that didn’t stand a better-than-even chance of achieving even a tiny profit. That’s the commercial reality – as I understand it – for many.

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