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‘An unparalleled event’: Top pro audio exhibitors talk NAMM 2020

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. PSNEurope hears 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, colourful 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 organisers 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 recognise 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 recognise the importance of having a manufacturer working closely with them in understanding how to optimise 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 organiser’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 organisation 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.

David Bruml, sales director, Funktion-One

After a successful first year, we decided to return for 2019. It was remarkable to see the development of the show in a year. NAMM 2019 was, undoubtedly, amongst the most positive trade shows in all of my many years of exhibition experience. Such a remarkably diverse mix of people from all sectors of the music industry and beyond – from major musicians, through to top level entertainment venues, tour and event production companies, sound rental users and system integrators.

All trade shows are melting pots of potential connections, but NAMM excelled in this regard – the organisers clearly have a highly developed sense for how to choreograph and stage a great convention. Since being involved with the show we have been highly impressed with the calibre of both its organisation and the visitors it attracts. It’s important for Funktion-One to be present with our US distributor, Coherent Distribution, at the US exhibition, and NAMM ticks most of the boxes for us in what we’re looking for from a major trade show. It has now become an established part of our exhibition calendar.

Find Funktion-One and Coherent Distribution, together with FFA Audio and NST Audio in Area ACC North Level 2, booth 18007, where its Vero VX will make its US trade show debut at NAMM 2020, while the booth will also feature the F124 bass enclosure and loudspeakers from the Evo Series.

Will Eggleston, USA technical marketing, Genelec

Going to NAMM is like going to the Mardi Gras of music shows. It’s not just the sounds, but the colour and vibrancy of all those who attend. Over the past 24 years, Genelec has remained inside NAMM and seen the changes morph with the times. We began the NAMM journey in a small demo room overlooking Halls B and C, then moved to Hall E for a couple of years where we met more new customers than ever before and then to Hall A which also had great traffic.

Now, with the recent addition of the new ACC North Hall, our position reflects the advancing importance of pro audio and participation at NAMM. NAMM brings us close to our varied customer base, be it basement hobbyist, professional musician, or even the ever-expanding audio production client. It is also held in Southern California, so it is a short drive for customers from the film, video, post-production, TV, etc. sectors to meet with us and check out our latest offerings.

NAMM has grown with the times and attending the show gives us the best opportunity to match faces with names and spend valuable one-on-one time making sure their purchases are best suited for their clients or our users. NAMM is now also the home of the TEC Awards, which has always been an important event for Genelec as we have fortunately had the honour and privilege to be recognised by our peers for Genelec Oy’s hard work, dedication and innovation.

Pascal Dietrich, chief marketing officer, KLANG:technologies

NAMM has become one of the main trade shows to internationally launch new products. The location, the positive vibe, the variety of people and products you can find make it so special and interesting to attend—for both visitors and exhibitors. Especially for KLANG, being a specialist in in-ear monitor mixing, we need to provide hands-on demos for sound engineers and musicians. There is no other trade show offering this opportunity and attracting high class attendees from around the world.

With a stronger focus on pro audio, it offers a highly professional and much calmer atmosphere for valuable in-depth discussion. Emerging collaborations like the Audio Engineering Society bring the educational and workshop part to the show. Of course, KLANG will be contributing to the AES in-ear monitoring academy.

At this year’s NAMM show, KLANG and DiGiCo will be launching exciting new integration options, following the company’s acquisition last year and, of course, there will be a few surprises, too.

James King, director of marketing, Martin Audio

Martin Audio is really looking forward to being back at NAMM after its first foray to the show in 2019. The show, with its additional pro audio focus, support and marketing, has become an instant hit, not only as a US based show but one that is drawing increased international interest. The show’s organisers have won a significant battleground, simply by doing the one thing that too many other shows with arrogant attitudes fail to do: listen. They have been very proactive in understanding the needs and challenges of the pro audio industry and have tried to accommodate this or have provided alternative suggestions wherever possible.

From our perspective, we weren’t ready to embark on a major stand presence, but we were keen to be able to demonstrate our products. As a result, the organisers were supportive of us participating in The Loudspeaker System Showcase in the Arena – which this year will feature our WPS line array and new BlacklineX powered systems – all without the need for a booth.

This year they were also helpful in accommodating us with a meeting room, no. 19317, off the show floor so we could more easily meet with clients and have meaningful discussions away from the louder parts of the show. The show is also the perfect opportunity for brand partnerships and so we have once again tied up with D’Angelico Guitars and their wonderful showcase of established artists and new talent.

Another of our Wavefront Precision models, WPM, will provide sound reinforcement for all performances while in their smaller demo area, BlacklineX Powered will be utilised. We know from conversations with other exhibitors that 2020 will see a record level of attendance internationally as many brands are using both the timing of this event and its growing reputation to be a launch platform for the year and are therefore encouraging their international customers to attend.

John McMahon, SVP president of marketing, Meyer Sound

Meyer Sound has increased its presence at NAMM this year. The dedicated audio hall has been a great draw, so we are expanding with a demo space in 2020. The timing of NAMM is ideal for many of our customers before the 2020 touring and festival circuit begins in earnest. It also gives our North American team a chance to jumpstart the new year ahead of our major European show, ISE, which takes place in February.

Between these two shows, 2020 will launch with incredible momentum, building on the great success of our new ULTRA-X40 point source loudspeaker in 2019. In the demo room, there will be listening opportunities with our ULTRA-X40 point source loudspeaker, the UPQ-D1 loudspeaker, the LINA compact linear line array loudspeaker, and the Amie precision studio monitors.

Since we will be in Southern California in January, we decided to take advantage of the typically beautiful weather with an outdoor terrace space for hospitality. We will welcome attendees to our Sonic Lounge following the demos. We will also be offering a pair of Amie precision studio monitors for show attendees to enter to win. With both the Parnelli Awards and TEC Awards happening alongside NAMM, we can celebrate the successes of the previous year as we launch into the new one. We are honoured this year to be up for the Indispensable Technology Audio award for the ULTRA-X40.

Additionally, several of our collaborators are up for recognition. Trade shows in general are a great place to connect with customers from around the world. In a digital world, there is still nothing that generates business like quality face time and listening opportunities. We always welcome the chance to provide listening experiences and find that demos at trade shows can get our latest product heard by a large number of existing and potential customers in a short timeframe.

Paul Tapper, CEO, NUGEN Audio

NAMM represents our single best opportunity annually to connect with our pro audio customers – to hear what’s important to them and showcase the unique technology and tools that NUGEN Audio can offer. We aim our products, support and sales primarily at professionals and semi-professionals within the music industry. NAMM delivers a fantastic, concentrated burst of meetings, planned and unplanned, with exactly those we’re aiming at serving. It is always an amazingly exciting and stimulating time, which generates ideas that take the rest of the year to explore and realise.

At NAMM 2020, the NUGEN Audio booth (14101) will once again be in the ACC North Hall, in the newly created pro audio area. The focus of this area generates considerable benefits for attendees and exhibitors, making it easier for people to find what they are looking for by bringing related solutions together in one space.

Maurice Patist, president, PMC USA

Apart from the fact that January in Southern California is much warmer than it is in the UK, there are many good reasons why it pays for a company like PMC to be at the NAMM show. It is a very well organised show that has become increasingly attuned to the pro audio market. It now attracts a really good cross-section of professional equipment manufacturers and that, in turn, makes it more appealing to a wider range of people. Many of today’s musicians have their own project studios so it makes sense for a big convention like NAMM to cater for all their needs, whether that’s a new guitar or drum kit or a new pair of studio monitors. Also, people come from all over the world to attend NAMM and that’s another advantage for a manufacturer like PMC.

At this show, we can be visible to a much larger audience and meet customers that we might not otherwise reach. As our loudspeaker products are very high quality, we always have an acoustically controlled demo space on our booth (16117) so that visitors can hear how good they are to work with and how quickly you can get ideal results.

As we are working closely with Dolby as a strategic partner for its Atmos immersive audio solution, our NAMM demo room will feature a 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos enabled PMC monitoring system that will allow visitors to hear the full benefits of Dolby Atmos music mixing. Indeed, NAMM’s West Coast location is genuinely important to PMC, and for much more serious reasons than just the warm weather.

Matt Czyzewski, president, Renkus-Heinz

NAMM is unique thanks to the intelligent, engaged, and broad audience it serves. While NAMM has always been about the music, its base today is broad thanks to the fact that we experience music in our lives in many different ways: the car, the coffee shop, the office, the local pub, arenas, and on our own personal devices and home systems. Because of this, NAMM serves as a chance to listen to the needs of musicians, integrators, and end users across retail, hospitality, house of worship, and more. It’s an opportunity to find a shared focus on how we all serve the same client: the audience that consumes sound and music. Renkus-Heinz is right in the middle of that shared goal of putting the audience at the heart of professional audio.

At booth 17907, we will be highlighting the ICLive X Series and Directivity Control Series. The reason those two series will be featured is that we see them as collaborative products designed based on feedback we’ve received from the musicians, integrators and end users we’ve met at past NAMM shows.

Mick Olesh, EVP sales and marketing, Waves

Our booth (15302) welcomes all visitors and users, and we recognise that they relish and value the benefit from having Waves product specialists on hand, offering one-onone demonstrations of new products as well as catalogue items. In addition, Waves features daily presentations by top artists, producers and engineers from every genre out there, that engagingly elaborate on the tools of the trade and invaluable “behind the scenes” tips and tricks.

On the studio front, being able to demonstrate in real time, such products as the Waves Abbey Road Studio 3 plugin, Waves’ expanding line of virtual instruments and a new line of all-encompassing distortion plugins to name but a few – offers an opportunity for users and media contributors to receive first hand in-depth explanations and a rare setting for asking questions on how these tools function and how they benefit the users requirements and workflow. From a business point of view, while today’s phone and video networking technology enables working with people the world over, face-to-face personal meetings have an undisputable added value. Waves’ business involvement with third party brands, especially its technology being used and embedded in numerous branded audio products, makes personal meetings all the more productive. NAMM has become a decisive format for introducing new products and we are excited to introduce an impressive choice of new Waves developments and tools at the January 2020 show. In addition, we look forward to, and cherish, meeting personally with the community of Waves users, learning from the essential feedback they offer us and meeting up with our colleagues within the pro audio industry.

Robert Hofkamp, director of US operations, Void Acoustics

Void Acoustics is again looking forward to showcasing some of its touring, commercial and club professional audio system ranges at NAMM 2020. In its third consecutive year exhibiting at this show, the US team will be based at booth 17603 and deliver daily live demonstrations in the demo hall. NAMM forms an integral part of Void’s annual marketing strategy.

As the first audio industry show of the year, NAMM serves as a great launchpad for releasing new products. The audience turnout is always impressive, with attendees present from all over the world. Year on year, the show continues to grow, and with that growth all exhibitors benefit from exposure to an ever-increasing new customer base and the latest technological developments in the audio industry.

Given NAMM’s popularity and optimal timing at the start of the year, Void uses this show as an anchor point for connecting with existing clients, as well as attracting new customers. The recent addition of the dedicated pro audio halls has made NAMM our number one US show of the year. The timing is brilliant and the show offers us maximum return on our investment.