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Events are back! Futuresource’s perspective on pro audio at ISE 2022

Audio focused on the commercial markets, but there were also interesting announcements in the live sound space, where events are also 'back'

“Events are back!” has a double meaning for the professional audio industry. In the context of ISE, it was fantastic to be networking and having face-to-face meetings once again this year at pro AV’s largest trade show. The enthusiasm around being back was noted from almost everyone the Futuresource team spoke with and for many, it marked another key milestone in the return to a ‘new normal’.

For professional audio, the return of ISE has not only allowed for positive conversations and for big deals to be closed, but it also took on a symbolic meaning this year, against the backdrop of a revitalised live events market and opportunity within the industry. The pains and strains of supply issues, component shortages and geopolitical problems were never too far away, but the show was a breath of fresh-air for many, and conversations were positive.

From a manufacturer standpoint, many were pleasantly surprised at the attendance. For pro audio it took quite a while for attendees to make it all the way to hall 7, but when they did make it they stuck around. There were some manufacturers which didn’t attend for a range of reasons, and there were also issues with shipping products from Pro Light and Sound the week before. However, those that weren’t at ISE are likely to be at InfoComm and/or NAMM, having only been able to commit to one large trade show in the timeframe.

In terms of product releases, there wasn’t the swathe of audio releases we’ve seen in the past, and the list of releases is filled by ‘debuts’ of products which had been released over the past two years. The lack of brand-new products isn’t necessarily an indication of industry health or a major lack of new products, but just a shift in the way that companies announce products. Throughout the pandemic we’ve seen brands shift away from a trade-show or specific date-centric types of release, towards a free way of announcing products, using social media, press and virtual engagements to generate awareness. The fact that ISE was also delayed meant that many decided not to prolong their roadmap just for the show.

All that said, there were still some very interesting a powerful introductions at the show, which tell a lot about the direction the industry is heading. Audio this year at the show focused on the commercial markets but there were also many interesting announcements in the live sound space. Clearly there was a message of diversification, which is only expected considering the events of the last few years. Conferencing was again a big focus, but brands also showed diversification into recovering areas such as background music. From a technology perspective, beamforming, beam-steering and immersive sound were big topics at the show. At the same time, broader themes around demonstrating ‘in-application’ solutions, sustainability and key areas of opportunity were also noted.

Futuresource has written an extensive free report on ISE 2022, covering a range of key pro AV technology segments. To access the report, click here.