Genelec has completed a new demonstration facility at the company's U.S. headquarters in Natick, Massachusetts, where visitors can experience the full range of Genelec professional audio products in configurations from stereo through immersive 9.1.6. The new Genelec Experience Center, the first in the United States, joins existing Genelec demonstration facilities in the U.K., Germany, China and India. Here's the full story in the company's own words...
This latest Experience Center is a total rebuild of a former surround sound demo studio designed in-house in 2004, with Will Eggleston, Genelec Inc. U.S. Marketing Director, providing the acoustical design. Earlier this year, Eggleston called on world-renowned studio architect and designer Francis Manzella, President and Principal Designer at Francis Manzella Design Ltd., to create a new aesthetic and acoustical treatments for the renovated space, which serves as a mix room, a theater and a research and test center for new software and other products.
"Sadly, we lost Fran the day before we broke ground," says Paul Stewart, Genelec Inc. Senior Technical Sales Manager, who devised the room's wiring scheme. "It was tragic losing such a talented and great guy, but I have to say that we really did consider him every step of the way as we worked on the finishing touches to this room and kept his spirit in it."
He continues, "Once we received the plans from Fran in April, the next challenge was finding a contractor that we could work with during the coronavirus pandemic that was familiar with working on his projects. Fran had suggested that we reach out to Ken Capton at Solar 2 Studios in Michigan. The results speak for themselves. They did a fantastic job." In addition to integrating new lighting and overhead trussing, fabric treatment and cable management, a significant part of Solar 2's work was their construction of an encapsulated and heavily damped ceiling.
The Solar 2 Studios team worked almost around the clock for 17 days straight to complete the room's custom fabrication, says Eggleston. "But the biggest hurdle was demolition of the old floor and hanging ceiling traps, which was done by Paul Stewart and Andrew Eggleston," he says. "They busted their butts for four days, filling a dumpster five times."
The new space is configured to handle formats from stereo through surround to immersive 9.1.6 through a range of Genelec's Smart Active Monitors (SAM). The installed speakers demonstrate the breadth of Genelec's product line, which offers solutions suitable for any size of critical listening space. Three 8351Bs are installed for L-C-R, four 8341As support the left and right side and rear channels and six more 8341As are located overhead for the front, mid and rear height channels. A 7370 subwoofer handles low-end extension for the overhead speakers, while a 7380 sub supports the LFE channel and manages extension of the center, side and rear channels. Two W371A Smart Active Woofer Systems are located left and right and are paired with the main left and right 8351B monitors.
More and more content companies now specify immersive audio deliverables, says Stewart, so the time was right to build this new Genelec Experience Center. "Immersive content is obviously on the rise. Our customer base needs instruction and guidance on going beyond stereo or 5.1, and we need to be able to work with the same tools our customers are using. So the main purpose for this studio, first and foremost, is as a place for people to experience what an immersive room feels like," he says.
In addition to the broad range of hardware, Genelec's software technology is also available for demonstration in the new room. "Whether you're building an immersive or a stereo system, the Genelec Smart Active Monitoring system is a very practical, intuitive way to build your room. And one of the keys to a Genelec system is GLM, the Genelec Loudspeaker Manager. That's what brings this room together really tightly. If you're looking for a fully calibrated system, this is the way to do it," says Stewart.
The room is wired with multiple AES/EBU and IP runs to every speaker position. "If we were to use our new PoE speakers at every location, we could run a separate, independent 9.1.6 system in the room over IP. We also have an Avid Pro Tools system, so it's a pretty flexible room," he says.
"This will be a venue for also creating in-house content, including webinars, and for software and hardware testing," says Eggleston. "Once COVID-19 is under control, we look forward to welcoming professionals in all aspects of audio to use the space to experience our products, and even mix here in an exceptional immersive environment."
Stewart provides some final thoughts: "There's a lot of technology in this room. There's also a lot to feel, and it's easier to articulate it when you've actually sat in this room and experienced it yourself. And so, this is our new domain, and I intend to sit in here a lot. This room is designed to look forward and move into the future with Genelec."
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