Final Thoughts on CES 2019

By Douglas Weinstein
Published on: February 1, 2019

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Okay, this is the last post for CES 2019 – I promise! But something’s been on my mind as far as the high-end audio situation at CES and I wanted to put out my own thoughts on what we (as in, the consumer technology industry) might discuss as a possible solution to weak vendor participation and anemic attendee visits to the upper floors of The Venetian.

Goals of high-end vendors. For everyone who exhibits at CES, you want to be available to meet with your global distribution network and/or supply chain partners. Additionally, you want to be accessible to the press and at the same time, the droves of bloggers and geeks that pervade the show (the guys walking around with plastic bags grabbing every piece of literature! Let’s be nice and call them ‘influencers’). And there is certainly nothing wrong with The Venetian, per se, as a venue. But presenting hi-fi in hotel suites is so yesterday and so uninspiring. It not only doesn’t speak luxury, but it personifies the perception that performance audio is for old white guys who want to talk about the minutia of speaker cross-over points. And we all know that the high-end is so much more than that.

Goals of CTA. Our trade organization wants to promote performance audio and video just as much as the vendors do themselves. But we have to realize that they have concerns that have to do with fiscal responsibilities as well as space allocation as the show has morphed into a gigantic spectacle over the past decade. How to ‘brand’ performance audio in a new light for a new audience is the question. Because, IMO, that’s exactly what needs to happen.

Scenario #1. Why not re-invent the wheel? First things first, get the hell out of The Venetian! Move performance audio to another location and make a fresh start.

I’m not saying The Aria is the place, but somewhere new and happening is in order. Maybe support it with talks and performances – demonstrate hi-fidelity in real time. Weigh in with your opinions.

The important thing is to give each vendor some space to demonstrate their products in a setting conducive to a luxury presentation. And – this is critical in my opinion – demo spaces should incorporate streaming from both audio and video sources. The fact is, Millennials are growing up streaming video and TVs are getting bigger. That’s just the fact, jack. The biggest opportunity for performance audio is to be part of the larger eco-platform that makes up the modern home – the A/V system. Our goal should be – “hey, great that you got that 82″ TV and you’re streaming Netflix and Amazon. Now, about those Sonos speakers? We need to talk about better options because they just aren’t EVER going to deliver the performance that matches that gigantic TV. Ever”

You don’t necessarily have to have demo rooms filled with ear-blistering sound – look, if you are a distributor or dealer and you’re interested in B & W or any other performance audio company, you don’t need a loud demo. Everyone knows the stuff sounds great and if you’re really a tweaky bastard, you’ll be wanting a pair of demo speakers to set up in your crib as you pour over every sentence in your ‘oh I can’t wait to publish this’ review. Let’s get over this illusion that you NEED to demo. What I would suggest is a luxury space that befits the category, where you can lay out a ‘booth’ with furniture and art that compliments the aesthetics of your products. For those with big bucks, sure, spend the money for a large demo room if that is what you think you need to do. But audio is art, and art is audio. Great art. Great audio.

And – very important – get all of the performance audio players in one space. From headphones to microphones, from portable to fixed, AR/VR/AI, make it a candy-land of good sound and good vibes. And, don’t forget the boys at Wolf Cinema or any of the other performance video companies. Show the aggregate (and the aggregate value) of the high-end. In a luxe setting. IMO

Bottom line is that perhaps it’s time to re-think how performance audio is presented – and the importance that our industry places on it so it’s not just an afterthought as the last of the vendors depart The Venetian. Let’s re-create, lets’ recreate, let’s listen to some good tunes.

Okay, glad to get that off my chest! Carry on with what you were doing . . . .


Douglas Weinstein

Douglas Weinstein

Doug is the Editor and co-founder of the Technology Insider Group and Technology Designer Magazine. Previously, he was the Executive Director and co-founder of the Elf Foundation, a non-profit organization that created Room of Magic entertainment theaters in children's hospitals across North America.

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