CES, which is short for Consumer Electronics Show, has been around for some time. The first show was in June, 1967, in NYC. This show evolved from “The Chicago Music Show” of which there is precious little on the Internet. In 1978 CES moved their January or winter show to Las Vegas (there was also a summer show in Chicago until 1995.) Since that date every consumer audio journalist worth a paycheck (and many without paychecks) have been forced to gravitate towards Las Vegas in Early January, effectively ruining the holidays with negative anticipation for any and all who planned to attend.
I was one of the throng for many years. I even remember attending the Chicago show (which was by far more fun and more compact, yet more densely packed with new, relevant, products than any Las Vegas show I can remember. The earliest Las Vegas CES badge I have in my possession dates from 2000, but I’m sure I began attending the Las Vegas show in the mid-90’s.
The last CES show I traveled to was in 2013. Even by then I was convinced that the signal-to-noise ratio had dropped precipitously – the number of non-relevant non-audio product introductions had vastly outnumbered high-performance ones. Also, the number of “journalists” had swelled to the point that there was no way to get into more than a couple of the press events on press day due to the logistics of getting from one event to another only to find that folks had cued up for the event an hour earlier and the line had gotten so long that there was no way to gain entry. So, what had been, back in 2000, a very useful day of press conferences (all of which were under complete embargo until after the events took place), turned into a completely wasted day by 2013, when not only could you not get into all the scheduled press conferences, but in many cases the content of those conferences was posted, on-line BEFORE or during the event. So, why attend press day at all?
Which after about five seconds of consideration raised the question – why attend the Las Vegas CES?
By 2012, if you kept your name on the CES press list, you could receive enough press releases about new products being introduced prior to the show that anyone with a touch of larceny could write an entire show report without even attending CES, if they were so inclined. And while that idea had undeniable appeal I never tried it, although I was sorely tempted…
By, 2013 I was convinced that the only good reason to attend CES was to see people in person, not for the products or the live demonstrations (I’ve written about the dismal level of demos at the show many times in the past). But, in 2013, despite my serious reservations, I trundled off to CES, covered the show, and returned home. The day after I got home and tendered my show report I came down with a case of the flu that was so severe that I spent two weeks flat on my back, in bed, unable to think a strenuous thought without breaking out into a copious sweat. It was, without a doubt, the worst case of the flu I’ve ever had. And, yes, I had gotten my flu shot.
The most prominent thought during my illness was “I will never, ever, attend another CES as long as I live, if I live…” While I’ve never been very good at keeping promises to myself, this was one gold-standard promise I have kept. Only “a very great fool” in Princess Bride speak would put themselves into a toxic environment for no other reason that force of habit. I now see people “in person” at the Chicago Axpona show in the spring and the Rocky Mountain show in the fall. Neither has proved to be a hazard to my health, like the Vegas CES.
To all my compatriots who are still making the trek. My God bless you and keep you safe from all the hazards of Las Vegas. If you can survive the show and come away with your health intact and any unique insights into the world of high-performance audio, my hat is off to you…I’ll be watching (and reading the press releases) from the comforts of my home office.
Don’t forget, during CES what happens in Las Vegas, definitely does not stay in Las Vegas…