Audio-Technica has announced the opening of a new System Solutions Test Lab at its U.S. headquarters in Stow, OH that’s designed as a space for analysis, development, testing, demonstration and troubleshooting of the company’s commercial products in applications including presentations, huddle rooms, classrooms, boardrooms and more.
Integration with Audio-Technica’s technology partners is a key part of this laboratory in order to refine and demonstrate interoperability in real-world applications. The main application will be to serve as a network hub for consultants, integrators, end users and reps to experience systems remotely (via conferencing apps), but visitors are also welcome to visit in person.
Mark Donovan, Audio-Technica applications engineering manager, Professional Markets, explains, “Commercial products, especially for video conferencing, are best experienced from the far end as an end user will experience it. This is not possible by simply walking into an office and showing someone the physical hardware. They want to know how it will sound in real applications, including through Teams or Zoom or the conferencing application of their choice.
“And much more than a demo room to drive sales, this space gives us the opportunity to walk integrators through our hardware and software solutions before they get on site to install them, to increase their level of comfort and familiarity with these systems, as well as to remote-in to troubleshoot in real time if they are experiencing problems in the field. We welcome consultants and integrators to experience this facility in person, and to invite end users as well.”
The space hass data, power, and audio drops located in strategic locations throughout the room to support connections for devices in the ceiling, on the walls, or on tables. There are 70 network data connections, 54 duplex 115-volt power outlets, and 18 analog audio connections.
The room measures 28.5 feet by 18.5 feet, with an open ceiling, and is isolated from external noise with a 0.25-inch recycled rubber membrane that is installed between the wall framing and the drywall. The steel ceiling joists start at 9.5 feet and extend up to the second floor decking 11 feet from the floor. The drywall is covered with sound absorption panels of varying depth and width to reduce reflections. “This gives us a very quiet and controlled test and demo environment,” notes Donovan.
The data and audio feeds all go back to a 44-space equipment rack that houses a variety of audio, video, and network devices that allows the team to patch combinations of equipment together (not only from A-T, but from other industry manufacturers) as they might be used in the field to both demonstrate functionality and to assist integrators in determining the most efficient way to configure the equipment.
Equipment in the System Solutions Lab includes gear from the following manufacturers, which include industry-standard brands that are most often paired with A-T in the field:
Preamps, mixers and DSP: Audio-Technica, Biamp, Bose, Crestron, Symetrix, QSC and RME
Amplification and loudspeakers: Genelec and Xilica
Video: AVer, Samsung and Visionary Solutions
Computer and network: Hewlett Packard and NETGEAR
“In the short time we have been using the space, it has kept very busy, as integrators and end users have been taking advantage of the opportunity to remote-in and experience our systems in a real-world application. We look forward to expanding the scope of the activities taking place in the room, including plans for a rep training series with a hybrid in-person/remote model,” Donovan concludes. “Additionally, the room also lends itself well to content creation for short informative ‘how-to’ videos about various aspects of our commercial lineup, so we have something in the works along those lines. And from an internal R&D perspective, we can easily bring new product into the space and provide real-world test conditions, allowing us to uncover any potential problems early in the process. And furthermore, this space makes it very efficient for us to have a stronger grasp of the benefits and real-world conditions of these systems, which is something that is very valuable to our sales team working with the marketplace.”