In the previous Mix Blog Studio, I looked forward to this year’s all-online AES Convention, and in particular, the Showcase. The latter is the online version of the AES trade show component and is on now through October 23.
I’ve been nosing around the interface and checking out the way it’s set up. It took me a while to get a sense of how the AES folks had organized things, but once I did, I found quite a bit of information and content available and events to attend virtually.
One troubling aspect is how few companies, relatively speaking, are taking part. The exhibitor list has a total of 67 entries. I went back and checked the exhibitor list for AES 2019 and it was well over 200. I don’t know what the fee structure is for companies to be involved, nor if that’s the problem. Perhaps it’s just companies being careful how they spend their money in uncertain times, and not being sure of the impact of a virtual trade show.
If you’re not already attending AES, you can register for the showcase for only $25, and your admission lasts until the end of the week. Once you’re registered and logged in on the AES 2020 site, you click on Visit Showcase, and you’ll see a screen showing five clickable categories you can explore: Exhibitor Alpha List, Exhibitor Collateral, Product Categories, Scheduled Events (Online webinars or demos) and Show Specials (Discounts, Special Offers).
I had to chuckle a little at some of the nomenclature, specifically “Alpha List” and “Collateral.” But it is AES, so I guess it’s okay to use techy terminology like that. In any case, if you go to the Exhibitor Alpha list and click on a manufacturer, it takes you to a dedicated AES webpage for that company, and you may or may not see product information. For instance, I clicked on Prism Sound, and at the top of the page was info and a photo of one of the company’s existing interfaces.
To get more information, I scrolled down to the Online Contacts section, which showed the names of company officials who were available for live chat or who can be reached by email. Clicking on the Scheduled Events tab got me to a teaser for a “very special announcement,” which turned out to be for The Dream ADA-128, an interface/converter unit that supports 128 channels and offers cards for a variety of I/O formats.
The Prism event included a recorded video showing off the new unit and a live video Q&A session. Having been to many trade show press conferences—often where you can’t hear the speakers very well (it’s amazing to me how many people working in the audio industry don’t know about mic technique), this is a better experience in many ways. I assume other companies will have product announcements similar to this during the show.
After going through several companies’ Showcase pages, I discovered that the “Collateral” field is where a lot of the action is. It’s where all the press releases, white papers, videos and brochures are available for download or streaming. If you click on the main Collateral button, you can see these listed alphabetically (I guess that makes it an alpha list, too). You can also sort them by type. That’s a good way to scroll through and see what manufacturers are promoting at the show.
The Scheduled Events tab unveils all the live events that will be going on, some of which you wouldn’t have been able to experience if the show was in person. For example, API will be holding an event called API Showcase Live for an hour each day, with varying start times. The company describes it like this: “We will be LIVE from the API factory with product demonstrations/info, see what’s new, [and] get answers to your questions…”
In addition to the live events, you can find a selection of on-demand video content. For example, “Make the Most of Your Vocals with Jack Joseph Puig” is a tutorial that appears to have been shot at last year’s AES show. “Mojave at AES Show,” features greetings from Dusty Wakeman and Colin Liebich, as well as info on recent Mojave Audio microphones from David Royer.
And it wouldn’t be an AES show without show special pricing and swag, and you can find that in the Show Specials category. For some reason, photos from that category are all out of focus, which I assume is due to a glitch in the content management system that AES is using.
Overall, it certainly seems worth $25 to attend the AES Showcase. The structure is a little clunky, but there’s lots of product and tutorial information to discover.