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Pro Audio Centers In On Experience

By Clive Young. Pro-audio manufacturers are creating Experience Centers to help their customers—and themselves.

There’s an old saying, “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want,” but when it comes to pro audio experience centers—permanent multi-use facilities that are showrooms, training facilities, trade show booths and more all rolled into one—you may get more than you knew you wanted.

Harman Professional Solutions opened a 16,000-square-foot experience center in Los Angeles last November, and Shure created one inside its new downtown Chicago office in the National Building this past spring. Now QSC has announced that it, too, will have an experience center when it opens its new EMEA headquarters in Sinsheim, Germany late next year.

Shure To Open Downtown Chicago Office

The L.A. outpost isn’t Harman’s first; it may be the company’s flagship experience center, but it joined facilities already operational in Singapore and Shanghai. The company opened a fourth center in London this past April.

“The facility showcases [our] product solutions in a variety of entertainment and enterprise market applications, and demonstrates the integration of brands including JBL Professional, AKG Acoustics, AMX, BSS Audio, Crown International, dbx Professional, DigiTech, Lexicon Pro, Martin, Soundcraft and Studer,” said David Glaubke, director, global communications, Harman.

In keeping with that, Harman’s L.A. facility sports a grand entrance corridor that uses lights and audio synched to a giant LED video wall to underline the breadth of the company’s offerings. Elsewhere onsite are a 6,000-square-foot soundstage for live entertainment audio, video and lighting demonstrations for house of worship, nightclub, performing arts, and touring applications; a café, boardroom and training center—practical-use spaces that demonstrate Harman products in restaurant, corporate and education settings; and a product showroom that presents solutions for retail, meeting environments, hotel rooms, home recording, networked AVoIP and more.

QSC To Build EMEA HQ, Experience Center

For Shure, its new experience center serves to answer a number of aims. “Our primary goal was to create a realistic setting that would allow our customers and integrators to explore the features and benefits of Shure products,” said Mark Humrichouser, vice president of Americas and Asia/Pacific sales. “In a sense, we also wished to ‘reclaim’ our Chicago roots, and begin the next chapter in Shure’s story. We understood the importance of our Chicago heritage—and meeting the Shure standards for performance—which inspired and directed every aspect of the experience center development.”

Shure’s experience center acts as a central hub for customers, partners, integrators and staff, where they can do everything from demo gear to host artists passing through the city. “Given our increased focus on the integrated systems market with products like Microflex Advance, the experience center provides a dedicated space for our valued clients to truly understand and experience the features and benefits of these products in a real-world environment,” said Humrichouser.

    While QSC’s EMEA experience center won’t open its doors until December of next year, plans are already underway for it. “The experience center will showcase the latest conference room technology from QSC, including a fully automated room with integration for soft codec applications like Skype for Business and Zoom,” said Markus Winkler, senior vice president, QSC Systems. “For QSC, an experience center is a place where the AV industry can come experience a real-world demonstration of the Q-SYS audio, video and control platform, and QSC loudspeakers and networked amplifiers.”

    Intended to draw enterprise customers, integrators, programmers, consultants and channel partners who are interested in learning more about the company, QSC’s experience center will share space within the new headquarters with sales, technical support, operations and marketing for the EMEA region, as well as a dedicated training center for all Q-SYS training courses.

    In an era where people are doing more and more over the internet, these pro audio manufacturers are specifically moving in the opposite direction, each investing in permanent, real-world spaces to engage their customers, employees and others.

    “Face-to-face interaction with our clients will always be of utmost importance when it comes to customer satisfaction,” said Shure’s Humrichouser. “Being able to showcase the full feature and benefit sets of our products to prospective clients is best experienced in a real-life scenario, hence the experience center. This sort of face-to-face interaction is critical at trade shows as well.”

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    Harman’s Glaubke sees the centers as a win-win for his company and its customers, allowing it to present its various brands in a focused, real-world environment rather than an exhibition booth with competitors literally only feet away. “Instead of spending less than an hour with a key customer on the floor of a loud trade show, we can host them at the experience center and spend a full day or more focused exclusively on their needs and demonstrating how our solutions can help,” he said. “It also allows for a discovery process where customers can learn about products that solve a need in another area. They may be initially interested in Martin lighting, but discover we have an AMX product that solves their video content distribution problems. It’s a completely immersive and engaging experience that goes far beyond what we could achieve at a trade show.”

    Harman Professional Solutions •

    QSC •

    Shure •