After years of anticipation, the NAMM Show expanded this year into ACC North, a newly built, 200,000-square-foot facility that is packed almost entirely with pro audio exhibitors. Among those many manufacturers presenting their latest and greatest offerings, reactions to the new building were largely positive on the first day, and foot-traffic from convention-goers was strong.
With two floors, both 25 feet high, it’s an enticing space for presenting loudspeaker hangs and the like, but there’s a caveat: The new building is separate from the rest of the convention center. To get inside ACC North, attendees either have to leave the main convention center and then wait on security lines to get into the new facility, or they have to go upstairs inside the convention center to take a small pedestrian walkway—dubbed the Skybridge—between the two buildings’ second floors.
Accordingly, there was some trepidation whether attendees would make the effort to see the pro audio area, but concerns proved to be largely unfounded.
“We’ve been getting excellent traffic, and it hasn’t been just other manufacturers and exhibitors; it’s been quality pro-audio people and we’ve been busy all day,” said Margie Kirby, head of marketing at Allied Professional Technologies, which is presenting Linea Research amplifiers and Luminex network switches inside ACC North.
David Claringbold, CMO for d&b audiotechnik, concurred, noting, “We have been pleased with the success of the pro-audio addition to the show. It’s been an excellent opportunity to get our upcoming release, the d&b Soundscape, in front of customers. The important word here is ‘customer’—we are moving ever closer to a world where our audience is at the center of our sound-experience thinking, not at the end, so NAMM is the perfect setting to share the d&b Soundscape and that new way of thinking.”
By creating a new space specifically for pro audio, NAMM is looking to not merely cater to its existing exhibitors but attract new ones. That worked in the case of audio networking giant Audinate, which is a first-time exhibitor. Josh Rush, VP of marketing for the company, opined, “So far, we have been really impressed—it’s been packed. We weren’t quite sure at first what to make of it being split out, but certainly in our booth, we’ve been happy with it.”
For longtime exhibitor Electro-Voice, moving to a pro audio-centric space provides an opportunity to strut its stuff yet also be a better neighbor to fellow exhibitors. The loudspeaker manufacturer has a considerable demo room at the back of the second floor, inside which is a massive video screen, concert lighting and more than 100 loudspeakers.
“This accommodates us in very positive way, because we’re a loudspeaker manufacturer,” said Guy Low, the brand’s content & creative manager. “In order to communicate value and quality, being able to turn it up makes a big difference for us! We don’t have to be concerned with noise-level ordinances on the main floor now. We were in Hall A for years, and of course, you’re in the thick of it down there, but here we are on Day 1 and we’ve had some good traffic. We’re still in the middle of our first demo session and the turnout is very good.”
Some exhibitors on the first floor were reserving judgment for a day or two, perhaps less impressed by the traffic they were getting than their counterparts on the second floor. “We weren’t quite sure about being upstairs versus downstairs, but I think the fact that we have the Skybridge here on the second level brings a lot of traffic here,” offered Rush of Audinate, which is highlighting its new Dante AVIO adaptors at the show.
“People are going to become familiar with the layout of the new wing, and that will take a little bit of time, but we’re optimistic that this will be a positive change with NAMM accommodating pro-audio manufacturers,” said E-V’s Low. “We make sound, so actually having enough space to do that—not only our new products, the Evolve 50 and the ELX 200 lines, but also our whole portfolio—is very positive. People can experience the scope of our products properly now.”
The rest of the convention will fully reveal how the addition of ACC North will affect pro-audio exhibitors, and doubtlessly there will be tweaks made for the 2019 NAMM Show, but as the first day of this year’s edition came to a close, the new facility’s exhibitors seemed largely pleased. As Allied Pro’s Kirby summed it up, “It’s been a phenomenal day, really.”
Words by Clive Young