PALM Expo 2015 – A visitor’s perspective

The PALM Expo show, now in its fifteenth year, is a reflection of the pro-audio market in India, which has grown and matured over the years.

An increase of 53% in the floor space from last year goes on to prove that this market is showing robust growth. Every major brand is trying to establish itself here and get a piece of the pie. For global players, the Indian market is a golden opportunity.

One section of the venue, as always, had a shoot-out between line array speakers and this time there were 11 brands competing for attention. Beta Three, E Wing, FBT, KV2 Audio, Montarbo, Outline, Pope Professional, EAST, two systems from Sound Capitol Pro Audio, TW Audio and ZSound were outside, belting away turn by turn, trying to woo all those interested in investing in line arrays for stage sound systems.

Global giant Yamaha signalled its intention of aggressive marketing in India by taking a separate hall away from the main expo hall. Displaying its vast range of musical instruments as well as stage PA speakers, mixing consoles and installation solutions, Yamaha also held live stage concerts where the new TF series consoles were being put through their paces.

Bose and RCF (via HiTech Audio) decided to show off their wares in individual Demo Qubes, away from the noisy main hall. Here in the 100sqm space, they had their respective speaker systems, which could be auditioned at loud levels without disturbing others and also meant that visitors were able to give their full attention.

The main hall of the Expo was a melting pot of manufacturers, dealers, distributors and visitors, who thronged the alleys and made deals, networked with peers and generally had a good time over three days in a typically loud, Indian manner.

Avid had a range of live consoles on display like the SC48, S3L and Profile. Their Venue consoles are very popular in the Indian live sound market and visitors were filling their stall for demos and trying to pick up tips from the obliging staff of reseller Ansata Computer Systems.

Fairlight was making a strong come back to India with partner SRSG Broadcast India. Sales engineer Joe Hammer of Fairlight was kept very busy giving demos of the Zynergy edit controller and EVO.Live console. Since Fairlight has teamed up with Auro Technologies for native 3D Audio creation, an Auro 3D demo was also being played back on the stall.

Midas was conducting training sessions, which were pretty well attended by young engineers wanting to gets their hands on the PRO2C console. Digico, Soundcraft and Behringer consoles were also there and pulling in the crowds. Genelec speakers were on display on the Sound Team stall. Elsewhere, Tascam products designed for DSLR cameras were on display too.

Sonodyne is one Indian manufacturer that is going from strength to strength. Its product range is growing every year and now covers the residential, install, live and cinema segments. Its SRP and SM series of active near field studio monitor speakers have found many admirers and can be found in studios all over the world, giving some reputed international brands stiff competition.

Ahuja is another Indian brand that manufactures in India and besides its own products, is also OEM to many international companies. Its core strength is its affordable range of PA amplifiers and PA speakers used in schools, colleges, railway stations, banks, hospitals, factories and more. Its products are now sold in over 50 countries, it has a very wide dealer network all over the country and its products are very popular in India.

Who would have imagined that retail giants like Amazon and Snapdeal would be at the PALM expo? But yes, they were there too. E-commerce is picking up in India in a big way. The smartphone revolution has made e-commerce sites grow at alarming rates and they see exponential growth in the musical instruments and project studio market here.

The heat wave in the country made it uncomfortable for exhibitors and visitors that turned up over three days, and to add to the discomfort were some exhibitors giving super loud PA speaker demos. The entire hall got too noisy at times and people had difficulty carrying on a normal conversation. But despite all that, the show was a sign that the Indian market is taking on a new level of importance for global manufacturers of pro-audio gear.

Anil Chopra, director of the PALM and Music Expo summed it up by saying: "A show only serves as a platform for the market and the credit for the growth of the PALM goes to the Indian market. The Indian market can afford pro-audio, pro-stage sound and lighting equipment which any European, American, Japanese and Korean market can afford. There is no brand internationally that is not coming to India or which has not put into action a strategy to enter India. We are talking about a strategy to reach 500 cities and towns. This is no exaggeration. It is a very large market and if you look at tier four cities, you are looking at a 1,000 points of sale, which is beyond the breath and financial strength of even the multinationals to cope up with.

"There are over a million cafes coming up in India. Each of them require loudspeakers, amplifiers, lighting equipment. Multiplexes are mushrooming. Educational cities are coming up. Every school and college needs an auditorium. Indian weddings need good AV equipment. India is a vast country with a huge young population. The North and South are two very large distinct markets; again further divided into East India and West India.

"Each market segment has its own idiosyncrasies and its own purchase motivations and the major factor of after sales service. And so, certain brands become strong in certain markets. The PALM show has been reinvented again and again and today has a nice mix of pro-AV install, music recording, stage sound and light and the DJ segment. PALM plays multiple roles to multiple markets and has built up a loyal visitor base of 20,000 plus. And that is what has made it, the sixth largest show in the world."

PALM Expo 2015 took place at the Bombay Exhibition Center in Mumbai, India from 28-30 May.