EM readers will be familiar with many of the legacy brands under the Harman Professional Solutions umbrella—AKG, Crown, dbx, DigiTech, JBL, Sound-craft, and Studer. Other names—such as AMX, BSS, Martin—are less connected to the personal studio and may be unfamiliar. What this remarkable portfolio provides Harman is a resource of technologies that can be integrated into systems that touch consumers at every level—from performance venues and recording studios to convention centers and retail stores.
To demonstrate the power of such integrations, the company recently launched the Harman Experience Center, a multiroom facility in Los Angeles that encompasses more than 15,000 square feet. This spring, I was lucky enough to get a personal tour.
Divided into areas dedicated to various market segments, the Experience Center serves as an idea resource showcasing cutting-edge technologies such 4K video encoding, digitally controlled lighting, AV over IP, and high-end collaboration products. For example, visitors can see how lighting design and architecture can be merged in the Architainment Solutions area, as well as interact with room elements using voice commands in the Voice Enabled Cognitive Hotel display.
Situated in a blue freight container is the Experience Center’s project studio where musicians and engineers can compare individual components. The full line of AKG studio microphones hangs on the wall opposite the desktop shown in Figure 1, ready for visitors to try. On the outside, I was able to audition the entire range of AKG headphones; the A/B comparison was simplified because the same song played simultaneously through every model (see Figure 2).
In another display, I was shown the new JBL EON One Pro, a rechargeable battery-powered portable P.A. with a linear speaker array and an 8" sub that boasts 6 hours of playback. This portable, lightweight system includes a 7-channel analog mixer (with 4 phantom- powered XLR/1/4” combo jacks and hi-Z switch, 3.5mm and RCA inputs, EQ and reverb), Bluetooth wireless connectivity for streaming audio (such as backing tracks from a mobile device), as well as a tablet stand, a USB charging port, and even an accessory mount so you can attach a video camera on top to capture a gig. An audio pass-through connection is available for hooking up a second P.A.
I finished off my Experience Center visit in a club-sized room with a series of demos that integrated sound, lighting, and video systems. These were scaled from the relatively simple needs of theatrical and performing-arts venues, to house-of-worship P.A.s, and finally to dance and concert venues with automated lighting, fog machines, and projections mapped to specific places on the stage. The room is big enough (and available) for events with a live band or DJ.
Harman is opening other Experience Centers in China, Singapore and London. For more information, visit pro.harman.com.