So…I just completed my first business trip in one and three-quarters years. It was a week that felt very familiar, yet also very strange — often at the same time.
Despite the travel horror stories I have heard recently, both my trips through the airport were seamless, and I am very grateful for that. Especially after hearing that one of my coworker’s flights was cancelled the day before she was to leave. (Not to worry — ever the professional, she made it with time to spare.)
While I attend CEDIA Expo to cover the show for Residential Systems, I am also editor of the Official Show Daily, which means creating the Day 1 edition — for distribution on the first day of exhibits — on the load-in day for most companies. The challenge is finding newsworthy items before the show begins, which we typically do with press conferences and the education program. There were no pre-show press conferences this year, which left education.
Fortunately, the CEDIA education program was in full swing — with many of the sessions being recorded for on-demand access post-show. I ducked into an “Ask the Experts” session on audio and acoustics, not knowing what to expect. The room was lightly populated — I would say there were fewer than 20 people there — but that was enough, as the attendees peppered hosts Gerry Lemay of Home Acoustics Alliance and Adam Pelz of Bespoke Cinemas for the full 90 minutes allotted to the session. If you arrived with a question, it got answered.
When the show floor opened the next day, the typical crowd gathered before the doors awaiting entry were not there this year. Instead, those that were there entered through various entrances for the sake of safety. Also, as you are no doubt aware, there was plenty of floor space to be had, which the CEDIA Expo team used to make ultra-wide aisles.
You were never in a deep crowd, which may have been to CEDIA Expo’s chagrin, but I appreciated the space. Interestingly enough, though, as you looked down the sparse aisle, you saw people at nearly every booth — and it stayed that way for most of the day.
As I spoke to exhibitors throughout the day, they said pretty much the same thing: they had a steady flow of attendees and were able to have productive conversations with them. Most were happy they decided to exhibit. Day 2 saw lighter traffic, but, still, more exhibitors seemed to be content with the level of conversation that was happening.
I knew going in that there would be a dearth of my beloved home theater demos, but I was still bummed to be at a CEDIA Expo and not see clips from Marvel movies and The Greatest Showman. Still, there were a few sensory treats to be had. Origin Acoustics shook the floor of its section of the convention center with its new outdoor subs. Kaleidescape had its content flowing, but without theater seats, so you did a standing demo. I did get to sit for GDC Technology’s Espedeo Supra-5000 demo, which is super quiet, DCI-approved, ALPD 4.0 laser-packing projector that is designed for small spaces where building a hush-box is impossible.
I was also treated to a demo of DMF Lighting’s modular lighting, which I was aware of, but seeing it in action — how quickly it could be changed and adjusted — made me appreciate it much more.
I was happy to greet familiar faces on the show floor, but the evening dinners were my favorite part of the experience. Getting the chance to sit with peers and friends once again, picking up the same rhythms that were always there, and meeting some new faces really brightened my spirits.
As far as health and safety went, I decided to mask up for the duration of the show. If I was on the show floor, I was masked. I shook hands, but also made use of the hand sanitizers on the show floor and washed my hands regularly. Avoiding Covid-19 was a prevailing thought throughout the entire trip, both because of the unpredictability of how it affects those vaccinated and also because, even if asymptomatic, I didn’t want to spread it.
All in all, it felt good taking this step toward normalcy. If you were there, I hope you stayed safe and had a great experience. If not, we’ve got plenty of coverage, with more to come — including new products from those who pulled out of the show but still have announcements.
There is a lot happening in this industry right now, and we will do our best to bring it all to you.