Since its grand opening in March 2010 by Harman Chairman, President and CEO Dinesh Paliwal and Blake Augsburger, Executive Vice-President and President of Harman Professional Division, the new Customer Experience Centre at the Soundcraft Studer facility in the UK has proved a hit with visitors from all over the world.
The Centre has hosted International Distributor and Dealer meetings, training courses, educational and industry visits and hundreds of product demonstrations in the 900-square-meter area which incorporates demonstration studios for the range of Soundcraft, Studer and other Harman equipment as well as a fully-equipped training room and customer acceptance test rooms. The relaxing Internet Caf area is a quiet place for visitors to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or cold drink, collect their emails or have a relaxing lunch.
Guests enter the Centre through a time-tunnel-like museum corridor, with historical products from Soundcraft and Studer on display, including mixers and tape machines dating back to each company’s beginnings. Pride of place naturally goes to a Studer J37 Tape Machine as used at Abbey Road studios in the 1960’s and 1970’s, including on the classic Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Mixers on display include the original Soundcraft Series 1S and Series 2 consoles from the 1970’s, and the original E54 from Studer, dating back to 1954. The Centre recently hosted a visit by members of the Institute of Broadcast Sound, and the museum pieces brought back happy memories for many of the group.
In the Broadcast demonstration studios, a central Studer Route 6000 system is the hub of an audio network which feeds Studer OnAir 2500 and 3000 consoles, along with a Vista 5, Vista 8 and the new flagship Vista 9 console, with shareable sources including microphones and a multi-track DAW system that can be fed to any station. The Live studio features Soundcraft Vi6™, Vi4™, Vi1™ and Si Series digital consoles with a complete Gibson band setup.
“We often get several different groups in the Centre at the same time,” reports Keith Watson, Marketing Director. “We may have a group of national broadcasters swapping stories over lunch with a group of live touring engineers and maybe a recording guy, when people from differing areas of the audio industry mix together it always seems create a great buzz—and of course, everyone always enjoys the tour of our state-of-the-art production facilities downstairs.”
The Centre is a permanent active demonstration facility for many Harman products. The training room features a BSS Soundweb London-based audio system with a BLU-10 able to control and mix all the audio sources such as AKG wireless microphones, audio players and also to control the integral projector. JBL wall and ceiling loudspeakers are powered by Crown amplifiers, and of course the whole system is wired for Harman’s HiQnet system. HDTV is fed to the Caf area, while a JBL Ontime system plays background music.
“We plan to add more active and real-life use of Harman products to the Centre” adds David Neal, Director of Marketing Communications, “so that our visitors get a full picture of what Harman can offer them.”
The Centre has become so busy that the company appointed Zoie Ireland as a full-time administrator to manage and maintain all aspects of the Centre.
Photo Caption: Zoie Ireland (left) with Andy Trott, Vice President & General Manager of HARMAN’s Mixing and Microphones & Headphones Business Unit.