Hong Kong Audio Visual Show 2012

When it comes to audio, you really don’t need a weather vein to know which way the wind is blowing. The astonishing popularity of the CanJam events, especially the one at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, should be a pretty clear pointer, and if the penny still hasn’t dropped, just count the headphone stands at the Hong Kong Show.

In fact, anyway you cut it (number of stands, area occupied by those stands, number of companies represented on those stands, variety of merchandise, from high-end 'phones to amps, cables and storage solutions, represented by those stands) headphones are probably the single biggest growth area in audio, with every company under the sun seemingly trying to jump on the band wagon -- including some that should definitely know better.

The main hall area in Hong Kong played host to everything from major players like Sennheiser, Shure and Audio-Technica, down to specialist booths selling everything from exotic amplifiers to augment main systems through to portable alternatives and cable upgrades. Where a headphone used to be a headphone used to be a headphone, it has suddenly blossomed into its own market sector, and just about anybody has some sort of technology or expertise that might apply. What is clear is that the huge strides made in recent years have only chipped away at the potential, and while we’re sure to see plenty of wrong turns or dead ends along the way, the sheer level of market interest is driving this thing so hard and fast that the existing major players can’t keep the lid on it. In fact, some of them are having trouble just keeping up, as a whole new generation of market leaders emerges.

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