New York, NY (January 11, 2024)—Every year, we present our take on which companies you should keep an eye on in the coming 12 months, and here’s the 2024 edition of Companies To Watch—a comprehensive, four-part, alphabetical and analytical list of pro audio companies on the move, as determined by the co-editors of Mix. Don’t miss Parts 1, 2 and 3!
2023 was an interesting year for Sennheiser, which kicked things off not with a new product, but instead by forming a brand-new executive management board, with leaders drawn from across the company’s three primary divisions—Professional Audio, Business Communication and Neumann—as well as internal authorities on Supply Chains, Corporate Functions and Development. The new products did come, however—Neumann entered the interface race in the Spring with the MT 48, which was a top buzz product at the NAMM Show in April. The company also threw its hat in the immersive audio ring when it unveiled a working prototype of its AMBEO 2-Channel Spatial Audio live renderer at NAB 2023, adding immersive creation tools to its immersive playback systems. Nonetheless, it was the company’s playful side that was on display a few months later when it introduced a limited-edition run of its legendary MD 441-U microphone…as a Lego kit. With the new year upon us and NAMM only weeks away, one can only guess what will the company do next.
Let’s be honest: Shure is always a company to watch. While the venerable mic manufacturer could arguably coast on the reputation and sales of its iconic legacy offerings, instead it keeps doing a little—and sometimes a lot—of everything. Lobbying the FCC on behalf of RF mic users everywhere? Check. Hosting an ongoing “Celebrating Women in Technology” panel series? Check. Growing the next generation of audio pros with the PAMA/Shure Mark Brunner Pro Audio Scholarship? Check. That doesn’t even get to the gear—in 2023 alone, Shure launched the GLX-D+ Dual Band series of wireless systems, the MXA902 Integrated Conferencing Ceiling Array, the MVX2U Compact Digital Audio Interface and the SM7dB broadcast mic. It also updated Wireless Workbench, acquired wireless software company Wavemark, and joined the Q-SYS Technology Partner Program for good measure. If there’s anything Shure didn’t do in 2023, that probably means it’s on the agenda for 2024.
Sony had largely disappeared from the pro-audio world over the last decade, save for the presence of the C-800 as the aspirational mic of the hip-hop world. Then unexpectedly, new mics appeared (the C-100 and C-80) awhile back, and things got revved up a notch in 2023. Sony began promoting its RA360 immersive audio format in earnest, and hand-in-hand with that, unveiled its new 360VME Virtual Mixing Environment which combines a measurement service, software and headphones to reproduce the sound field of a reference studio. Since Sony knows a little something about making physical products, too, it also launched MDR-MV1 Reference Monitor Headphones for sound engineers to use for immersive music mixing. With the spatial music and mixing markets taking off, Sony’s timing to re-engage with the pro audio market is perfect, and 2024 may see that effort now bear fruit.
Terri Winston is one of the true unsung heroes of the recording and music industries. While a professor and director of the sound recording program at City College of San Francisco, Winston faced the fact that only about 5 percent of audio and recording professionals were women, and decided to do something about it, establishing Women’s Audio Mission in 2003 as a nonprofit focused on young women in areas typically underserved by public monies. At first, she would load gear into her trunk or in a shopping cart and host recording workshops for girls and young women in neighborhoods around the Bay Area. That soon turned into a recording studio in San Francisco, with a much-expanded curriculum, then a satellite facility in Oakland, and another in San Jose. By the time of WAM’s 20-year anniversary in October 2023, more than 22,000 women and gender-expansive individuals had been served through the training and mentoring programs, with 2,000 in the past year alone. Last year, WAM received a $1 million donation earmarked for a five-year expansion plan into Los Angeles and Nashville. We can only hope that New York, London and others soon follow. We as an industry are all better off for the work Winston began 20 years ago.