Can ProLight & Sound meet the challenge

The end of March sees the audio community gather in Frankfurt for the ProLight & Sound Exhibition. Chris Fitzsimmons examines the potential impact of an ever growing ISE on the show.

As noted in our ISE write up, one could be forgiven for thinking that ISE is rapidly invading ProLight & Sound’s patch as the premier show for installed sound technologies in Europe.

In a recent conversation with a leading electro-acoustics consultant I was told: “what’s really nice about ISE now is that all the people you need to see are there.”

Couple that with the number of audio companies choosing to make major new product announcements in Amsterdam and you have the case for the prosecution. Why should I go to ProLight & Sound? Bosch Security Systems are not even exhibiting there.

Firstly it’s important to put ISE in perspective. Three or four launches does not make an industry. If you want to see what the world’s largest audio manufacturers have to offer, for any market, then go to ProLight & Sound.

The organisers are also continuing to try and improve what the event offers visitors in terms of additional attractions. The Media Systems Congress, which runs alongside the show, has been moved into the brand new Portalhaus building, and will cover systems, solutions, standard, legal issues and other topics concerning systems integration, media technology and network technology.

Many of this year’s conference sessions are hosted by ALMA – the International Loudspeaker Association, with a number of papers being presented in several sessions. These sessions are grouped by topics such as “Loudspeakers – Opportunities and Challenges” and “Measuring PA loudspeakers and Arrays”.

In addition presentations will be made by various vendors and industry groups. Meyer Sound’s John McMahon will be speaking about steerable column array technology, whilst Jeffrey Lange of Aviom will cover Networking designed for audio “Breaking the limits of Ethernet”. Both of these will take place in the Portalhaus on Friday March 26th.

The show floor itself has also been re-organised, Gone (hopefully) are the long walks behind halls 8.0 and 4.1, as the pro audio and installation vendors have now been placed in halls 9.0 and 8.0. However you’ll get a little exercise if you’re interested in microphones as they are now in 6.1, bridging the divide between ProLight & Sound and the Musikmesse.

One thing that hasn’t changed, sadly, is the website. This remains one of the least accessible trade short web portals in existence. At the time of writing, the congress programme isn’t loading properly, there’s no floor plan, and the exhibitors list remains its usual, clunky self. Compare this with ISE’s interactive, searchable and zoomable beauty of a map and it’s somewhat laughable.

On the plus side, there is a site-wide WLAN, which you can purchase access to easily for the twitterers and bloggers amongst you.

2009’s event was judged a success as the organisers managed an increase in visitor numbers, including those from overseas. The marker for this year will be that metric again, in addition to an inevitable comparison with the strongly competitive show held just eight weeks earlier in the year in terms of visitor value.

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