See You In Munich…

Is the 2022 High-End Show going to happen?

By Roy Gregory

Covid-19 has left the audio industry a changed place. While there are those who hope or have a vested interest in a return to status quo ante, that’s a bit like hoping for a return to the hi-fi heyday of the mid-80s. It ain’t happening… In a world where French supermarket shoppers wait patiently while someone else picks over the produce, it’s safe to say that what we buy and the way that we buy it has definitely changed…

For years now, the underlying pulse of the audio industry, the rhythm of its activities, has been defined by hi-fi shows: shows that provide launch platforms for new products and that increasingly, provide copy and coverage in magazines and online. But not all shows are created equal, attract the same number or profile of visitors, or attract the same depth of coverage. Since the demise of CES (which at one time ran twice a year and was, indisputably the premier international high-end show) the US has lacked a national event, while the Eastward shift in the industry’s centre of gravity has focussed annual attention firmly on Munich. Likewise, when markets like the US and UK could each really do with a single big show, what’s happening is a proliferation of smaller events. Given the cost, time and effort involved in attending even a single show, manufacturers are tending to delegate responsibility for the multitude of regional events to their local dealers, with the inevitable result that these become ‘selling shows’ rather than exhibitions – with different goals, cost pressures and priorities.

Which is why, for many US and European manufacturers, the tempo of product development and the target for new product launches are dictated by the dates of the Munich High-End Show. After a hiatus of two-years, it’s once again time for the Munich Show, an event that has now taken on even greater significance. But, in the current climate of persistent uncertainty (if Covid wasn’t enough, a genuine shooting war being fought on the very borders of Europe is further undermining confidence) the solid sun around which so much of the audio industry’s activity was centred suddenly seems obscured by clouds. There are many – particularly international travellers – wondering whether the show is actually going to happen. There are many – assuming that it does happen – wondering exactly what form it will take.

So, with four weeks until the doors open, let me be as clear as possible. Barring major calamity (a new and particularly virulent Covid strain or the Russian war of aggression spreading beyond the Ukraine) –

The 2022 High-End Show is definitely going to happen!

Why can I be so confident in that prediction? For a number of reasons…

The industry needs it and the public is ready for it.

The industry as a whole – be that the show’s organisers, the manufacturers, distributors, dealers or indeed customers – want (are even desperate for) the show to go ahead, meaning that it’s going to happen unless events conspire to prevent it. Step back a little and examine the context in which the show is happening and that looks unlikely. Not only has Germany had one of the most organised and disciplined national responses to the Covid pandemic, it’s a response that depended on the German people – and they took it very seriously indeed. Vaccination levels across Europe hover between 75 and 85% of the population being fully vaccinated, with most of the central European countries achieving in excess of 200 inoculations per 100 people. Currently, there are no health or travel restrictions in place across Europe and no limitations on the size of events.