CES 2019: Something seems wrong in the world of high end audio

marty

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
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707
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United States
#1
Generally, by the time the last day of CES rolls around, we see several reports in this forum of interesting audio developments presented during the show in Las Vegas. But this year? It's almost as if CES didn't even occur. There have been some interesting videos from Bob, but as far as I can tell, no "boots on the ground' reports at all! Did anyone even attend? Or perhaps more depressing, does anyone even know anyone who attended?

Maybe it's just me, but this lack of activity suggests an evolving fundamental change in the world of high end audio as I have known it. I understand that we are getting older, that the audiophile herd is thinning, and interests, fortunes and priorities change. But the degree of abject apathy regarding this year's CES seems worrisome. I have noticed this as well on other forums such as Myles'. Yet there is often good activity when new gear that costs more than 5 digits gets discussed in these pages. So, what's the story? Or did everyone just stay at home to watch football this weekend?
 
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RogerD

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May 23, 2010
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BiggestLittleCity
#2
I’m more interested in home theater right now as my 2 channel system as a whole has reached perfection. Of course i’m Retired and have different priorities. I see no need to spend tens of thousands of dollars now on my stereo system...in fact I view my system as the “anti high end” system....but I think most have figured that out. Will I get my phono rig going again? Yes...but that’s it. YMMV
 

asiufy

Member Sponsor
Jul 8, 2011
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almaaudio.com
#3
I think it has more to do with the show itself than with the business/hobby.
I was there for the past couple of years (even got to see one of "THE Show"s), and the decline was obvious. The show is a victim of its own overall success, as the more people come to the main show, the harder (and more expensive) it is for the smaller business to come, either as attendees or exhibitors. Hotel prices are notorious for going up tenfold during CES.
That said, the rooms generally sound good, and the venue itself is fine.
 
Likes: DaveyF

DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
6,135
141
63
La Jolla, Calif USA
#4
The question also becomes as to how many shows does this industry need in a calendar year? Since the shows are costly for the exhibitor to attend, they obviously have to off-set the cost with the expected return. Many of the shows probably give little to no return for the exhibitor.
The shows on the West Coast of the US were very well attended in the past, but some of the exhibitors still complained that their return was severely lacking. Unlike some shows, the Munich one comes to mind here, the exhibitor is really getting nothing more than his name out there ( CES being a good example) ( which might have some indirect value) and the cost is anything but cheap!
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
6,311
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North Shore of Boston
#5
CES used to be where Pass Labs would announce new products. I've read nothing about it this year.
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
4,479
1,113
415
Utah
#6
Generally, by the time the last day of CES rolls around, we see several reports in this forum of interesting audio developments presented during the show in Las Vegas. But this year? It's almost as if CES didn;t even occur. There have been some interesting videos from Bob, but as far as I can tell, no "boots on the ground' reports at all! Did anyone even attend? Or perhaps more depressing, does anyone even know anyone who attended?

Maybe it's just me, but this lack of activity suggests an evolving fundamental change in the world of high end audio as I have known it. I understand that we are getting older, that the audiophile herd is thinning, and interests, fortunes and priorities change. But the degree of abject apathy regarding this year's CES seems worrisome. I have noticed this as well on other forums such as Myles'. Yet there is often good activity when new gear that costs more than 5 digits gets discussed in these pages. So, what's the story? Or did everyone just stay at home to watch football this weekend?
CES died several years ago for highend and only a very small group haven’t given up but I’m not sure after this year. I only saw 6 suites that can pass as highend, Lamm, Nagra, VTL, ELAC, B&W and Audioquest which was a static display. The only novelty was Dohmann’s new Helix turntable in the Lamm room. I don’t believe that the lack of participation has anything to do with the state of the industry but rather apathy of the organizers, they were sold out just to other types of businesses.

david
 
Feb 8, 2011
24,171
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Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada
#7
Maybe it's the end of the high (hi-end). And Hi-Fi has been replaced by Wi-Fi?
Here's a very short article from last year (one year exactly to the day, yesterday):
https://www.cepro.com/article/is_this_the_end_of_high_performance_audio_at_ces

Read it, it only takes less than two minutes.

So What Happened?
"Maybe the writing was on the wall last year at CES 2017 when two of the suites in the high-performance area were occupied by AARP and Serta Mattress. The running joke among attendees was the elderly audiophiles there could take a nap and check in on their retirement status while listening to audio.

But unfortunately, that joke might be ringing true. Audiophiles are diminishing in number as the earbud generation takes front and center."
 

RogerD

VIP/Donor
May 23, 2010
3,634
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BiggestLittleCity
#8
Bob, why is that as technology improves that high end pricing does not benefit? The only logical answer is that manufacturers and dealers have a marketing strategy that targets a “exclusive” clientele. A flawed strategy? Or a product of the continuing world wide gap between high wealth and the decline of the middle class.
Will at some point the bell curve readjust?
 
Feb 8, 2011
24,171
1,172
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Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada
#9
Roger, quality engineering, personal services to private lifestyles, exclusive support, long-lasting life's enjoyment (solid quality music recordings), unique best in class?





A selective choice...a free way of living.
 

RogerD

VIP/Donor
May 23, 2010
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BiggestLittleCity
#10
Best in class has always been subjective. Digital is the best example of technology without pricing benefits....extreme price levels are not justified.
 
May 30, 2010
16,306
1,257
420
Portugal
#12
Maybe it's the end of the high (hi-end). And Hi-Fi has been replaced by Wi-Fi?
Here's a very short article from last year (one year exactly to the day, yesterday):
https://www.cepro.com/article/is_this_the_end_of_high_performance_audio_at_ces

Read it, it only takes less than two minutes.

So What Happened?
"Maybe the writing was on the wall last year at CES 2017 when two of the suites in the high-performance area were occupied by AARP and Serta Mattress. The running joke among attendees was the elderly audiophiles there could take a nap and check in on their retirement status while listening to audio.

But unfortunately, that joke might be ringing true. Audiophiles are diminishing in number as the earbud generation takes front and center."
Bob,

The world of the high-end is changing. CES is no more the center of it since a few years ago. Manufacturers are presenting their new products at other shows such as Munich or Warsaw and, on the positive site, we have many more smaller high quality high-end shows around the world. BTW, last year Lisbon high-end show had a very large number of young ( less than 40 years ...) visitors.

If, by snobbery, people consider that someone owning a Devialet is not an audiophile, then the number of audiophiles is decreasing fast. But if you also count the DIY people or the young people buying chinese tube amplfieirs at eBay as future high-end consumers the future will not be so dark as some people like to consider.
 
Likes: asiufy
Feb 8, 2011
24,171
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Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada
#13
Oh I agree Francisco, we see the technological changes and innovations of the modern world.
Still some hi-end audio products were on display @ CES 2019.
And for strictly pure hi-end audio business there are several other shows (Munich, Japan, California, Italy, ...) just for the ultra hi-end clientele.

By the way, the word "snobbery" is not in my French dictionary, it does not exist, it is an illusion, like an imaginative brain tumor, like entering a black hole after eating @ the best Italian homemade spaghetti house restaurant of Sicily, like a movie cartoon, like Star Wars, like Avengers: Infinity War.
It has been discontinued, as of January first, two-thousand nineteen.
 
Last edited:
May 30, 2010
16,306
1,257
420
Portugal
#14
Oh I agree Francisco, we see the technological changes and innovations of the modern world.
Still some hi-end audio products were on display @ CES 2019.
And for strictly pure hi-end audio business there are several other shows (Munich, Japan, California, Italy, ...) just for the ultra hi-end clientele.

By the way, the word "snobbery" is not in my French dictionary, it does not exist, it is an illusion, like an imaginative brain tumor, like entering a black hole after eating @ the best Italian homemade spaghetti house restaurant of Sicily, like a movie cartoon, like Star Wars, like Avengers: Infinity War.
Bob,

Why do you think that Munich is just for the ultra hi-end clientele? I think you are just reading the reports written for the ultra hi-end clientele or hairdressers! :) Dealers who have been there told me the show was mostly filled with reasonable cost high-end. For example, Sonus Faber has six collections of speakers in their catalogue, four of them are moderate or low cost and sell like cakes in China ...
 
Feb 8, 2011
24,171
1,172
435
Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada
#15
It's a more challenging world for the audiophiles, versus Las Vegas.

Cell phones (made in China, Korea, Singapore, India, archipelago, ...) are smaller devices that weight nothing (paper thin display that you can roll) and sell for over $1,000 by the boat loads (billions of people from the globe's four corners).
 
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Folsom

VIP/Donor
Oct 26, 2015
4,694
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#17
Despite what you'd think from posts from previous shows... CES is a trade show, for people in the trade. Why advertise to dealers who aren't going to change anything, instead of directly to buyers like at a regular show???
 

sleepysurf

Well-Known Member
Sep 8, 2010
33
2
155
#18
Over the past few years, it appears that high end manufacturers have abandoned CES, in favor of participating in more consumer-oriented regional shows (Axpona, RMAF, Capital, etc.), which have all been growing. For example, the upcoming Florida Audio Expo in Tampa (Feb 8-10) has almost 100 manufacturers. I suspect manufacturers are realizing they get more exposure to prospective buyers at such regional shows, at least domestically. In Europe, the massive shows (like Munich) apparently still dominate.
 

Elliot G.

Industry Expert
#19
Generally, by the time the last day of CES rolls around, we see several reports in this forum of interesting audio developments presented during the show in Las Vegas. But this year? It's almost as if CES didn't even occur. There have been some interesting videos from Bob, but as far as I can tell, no "boots on the ground' reports at all! Did anyone even attend? Or perhaps more depressing, does anyone even know anyone who attended?

Maybe it's just me, but this lack of activity suggests an evolving fundamental change in the world of high end audio as I have known it. I understand that we are getting older, that the audiophile herd is thinning, and interests, fortunes and priorities change. But the degree of abject apathy regarding this year's CES seems worrisome. I have noticed this as well on other forums such as Myles'. Yet there is often good activity when new gear that costs more than 5 digits gets discussed in these pages. So, what's the story? Or did everyone just stay at home to watch football this weekend?
Marty,
CES as a high end entity died a while ago. With the growth of regional shows and most manufacturers not looking for new dealers this show became a looser a long time ago. Its way to expensive and yields very poor results. The MOC also has had a huge effect on this show since foreign distributors would rather go to to Munich. I was a dealer for a long time as you know and most of my dealer friends stopped going a long time ago. I do participate in RMAF and Axpona since they are truly audio only shows and are more cost effective and also have end users present. I don't think many people truly understand the cost of doing Vegas. One manufacturer who is well known and produces tube gear told me it cost them well over 50k to do that event
 

marty

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
1,634
707
275
United States
#20
Marty,
CES as a high end entity died a while ago. With the growth of regional shows and most manufacturers not looking for new dealers this show became a looser a long time ago. Its way to expensive and yields very poor results. The MOC also has had a huge effect on this show since foreign distributors would rather go to to Munich. I was a dealer for a long time as you know and most of my dealer friends stopped going a long time ago. I do participate in RMAF and Axpona since they are truly audio only shows and are more cost effective and also have end users present. I don't think many people truly understand the cost of doing Vegas. One manufacturer who is well known and produces tube gear told me it cost them well over 50k to do that event
Elliot
I just came across an article in PS Audio's Copper magazine that essentially said the same thing. Sad, but fortunately I have enough memories of the old CES i retrospect to bring many smiles to my face. I gotta get to the Munich show one of these days but will hope for good times at AXPONA this year.
https://www.psaudio.com/article/no-ces-for-you/
Marty
 

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