With my 3-1/2 days in SoCal at an end, I can look back and reflect on the show. Here are some random thoughts:
One major change is that booths were reorganized to group similar exhibitors. In the past, guitar gear was all over the place. While there was a critical mass of guitar-oriented exhibitors in Hall E, the remainder of them were sprinkled throughout the other halls. I have to admit that it made my job easier in getting to visit the scores of requested exhibitors but by the same token I felt sorry for the “orphans” who for whatever reason were not located in the expected section.
Speaking of Hall E, it used to be where the “cool kids”—at least from a TGP standpoint—hung out. While there are still a few exhibitors of interest downstairs, the section reorg has dramatically accelerated the occupancy of white-label pro(sumer) audio vendors who had started trickling in a few years ago.
Speaking of multi-year trends, in 2018, I’d say that we can declare the NAMM booth babe officially extinct. I don’t know if the #MeToo movement had any effect (I suspect not) but whatever the reason, it’s no longer a thing.
The recurring gear theme I noticed most this year was increasingly sophisticated reverb. Source Audio and Mad Professor both introduced multi-mode reverb pedals while Line 6 debuted HX reverb algorithms across the Helix line. While spring reverb is still appreciated, cavernous spaces and freeze reverb are very much in demand.
That's about it for this year. Look forward to seeing folks again next year!