Show Review: PLASA 2015

Last week saw the annual PLASA Show bring its three-year stay at London’s ExCeL to a close, with the promise of a ‘revamped and reinvigorated’ event at the city’s Olympia venue from 2016.

As for 2015, Audio Media International was on the show floor throughout to capture all the latest news and industry opinion from the audio quarter…

CADAC was sporting an eye-catching booth this year, showing off three CDC six consoles – debuted at Prolight + Sound 2015 – alongside its Live 1 analogue mixer, CDC four system and the flagship CDC eight.

AMI caught up with CADAC sales marketing director Richard Ferriday during the show, who commented: “For us this show is all about CDC six. We started shipping last month and sales are going really well so far – we’re shipping them as fast as we can build them. In the past CADAC have traditionally been the expensive option when it comes to mixing consoles; time moves on, the industry is changing and we appreciate that now we can’t expect people to pay more money for a console than one of our competitors would ask.

Boasting one of the largest audio booths at the show, SSE Audio Group had a number of its key brands out in force, with a showing that included L-Acoustics’ X-Series, Sennheiser’s wireless mic range, and the tradeshow debut of Avid’s Venue S6L live mixing system.

A quieter affair?

Despite what many thought was a lower turnout of audio exhibitors compared to previous years, Gareth Collier, UK sales manager for Nexo, felt the show exceeded expectations: “It’s been a long show, but it’s been good so far. It’s better than I expected. It doesn’t tend to bring a lot of audio people in if they know it’s going to be a bit light on the ground, but this year there has been a fair amount of audio customers come through the door.”

The manufacturer showcased its STM system alongside the M6, its smallest line array and a product Collier reported as being “stunningly successful for us, worldwide and particularly in the UK."

Autograph Sales and Installations’ stand was where offerings from Meyer Sound, Clear-Com and DigiCo were dislpayed. On show were Meyer’s LEOPARD, which AMI reviewed earlier this year, and the MJF-210 stage monitor. From Clear-Com, Autograph displayed the manufacturer’s classic analogue party line system, its HMEDX wireless and Freespeak 2 wireless, and its HelixNet digital party line system, with the latter on display in anticipation of a free upcoming software update, which promises to expand a base station from four channels to twelve channels, eliminating the need to rely on three stations.

Autograph additionally showcased the SD10 live console and one of the first S21 digital consoles off the production line, providing visitors with the first opportunity to trial the unit’s production software; an opportunity which resulted in, as Autograph’s Chris Austin pointed out, an overwhelmingly positive reaction from clients.

Austin also noted the strong student presence at the event: “It’s great – we’re really supportive of that. We believe really strongly in training and education; we do a lot of training days with the colleges and the theatre schools on their premises, so we’re really happy to talk to those people because they’re only two years away from being industry professionals and we want to be able to use them on our shows and installations to further the industry.”

d&b audiotechnik reported a strong show, with its booth boasting the first UK tradeshow showing of its V-Series point source loudspeakers, in addition to its VG subwoofer, installation amplifier range and D20/D80 mobile touring amplification units.

Richard McLean, technical sales specialist for d&b was confident the next year for the company will be a strong one: “We’re very much growing into new market segments at the same as development and working with our more traditional market segments. With some great new products as well – having new products for new solutions to new to applications is always a nice thing.”

An Olympian year ahead?

One major talking point was the news of PLASA’s move to Olympia next year. Exhibitors were keen to weigh in with their thoughts on how things may change for the 2016 show.

“I think one of the challenges they’ve had with this location is getting people to come out to it,” McLean put forward. “I think there’s a lot of people who are based in central London who don’t come out to ExCel because they can’t pop in for an hour or so.” 

Austin added: I’d be surprised if any of the people that have come here have had a bad show. I love ExCel – it’s purpose built for exhibitions, but there’s no place to take your clients in the evening, there’s no hotels, and people say it’s hard to get to.”

However, for McLean, the 2016 move could turn out to be a winner: “I think having the show on a slightly smaller scale is probably no bad thing; PLASA Focus in Leeds is always a great vibe, and I think a big part of that is because everybody has a relatively small stand and its very easy to see people.”

The 2015 show marked the end of another era for PLASA, and Christopher Toulmin, director of PLASA events, felt it was a pleasing end to its time at the venue: “It was good to end our stay at ExCeL on a high and we are excited to be moving back to West London in 2016 for a new, refocused PLASA Show at Olympia. We have listened to a great deal of feedback and are making some significant changes to ensure that, next year, we will deliver an event that is better aligned for the needs of the market. With the continued success and support of the industry for our Focus events, next year’s London Show will build on what we have learned.”