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Inside Blitz’s new EM Acoustics investment

Blitz has placed one of its largest ever orders with EM Acoustics, marking a number of firsts for both parties. Daniel Gumble spoke to EM Acoustics founders Mike Wheeler and Ed Kinsella and Blitz sound and theatre director Aron Ross to find out more

Left-right: Mike Wheeler, Rob Handyside Aron Ross, Ed Kinsella

Event production company Blitz, a GES company, recently placed two major orders with UK loudspeaker systems manufacturer EM Acoustics, with the firm’s rental stock investment being its largest order to date. Blitz’s first order was for the new system in the ICC at London’s ExCel centre – the gear is owned by Blitz but lives permanently in the ICC – representing the very first HALO-A and HALO-B install in the UK. The install is comprised of 16 HALO-A, 12 HALO-B, 6 ST-215 subs, six EMS-61 and six EMS-121X. The speakers are powered by eight DQ20D amps. Blitz has also made its largest rental inventory investment to date, including EM Acoustics’ large format HALO-A system and the mid-sized HALO-B. So what inspired Blitz to invest so heavily in the UK manufacturer’s new lines? We spoke to EM Acoustics founders Mike Wheeler and Ed Kinsella and Blitz sound and theatre director Aron Ross to find out…

How did this deal come about?

Mike Wheeler: Blitz Communications has been a customer of EM Acoustics for many years, and already stock a range of our equipment. This particular deal came about as a result of our ability to provide the right product, at the right time, suiting an exact and rather large-scale need that they had. Rob Handyside (Blitz’s chief sound engineer) came along to the launch of HALO-A at LH2 Studios last June, and that was really what set this particular ball rolling. Blitz then took a number of systems out on test for a variety of events, proving our kit in real-word situations. This process was backed with full support from us as the manufacturer.

Our philosophy as a company meant that Aron and Rob had the personalised support they needed – both technical and commercial – which we are sure aided their decision-making process.

Aron Ross: I have been looking for a large format line array for a while, as we do a lot of shows in bigger rooms that demand a bit of volume and power. I missed the demo at LH2 but the rest of the sound team came back raving about the system. I heard the HALO-B at the EM factory and was immediately impressed – even one cell a side sounded great.

At this time I was attempting to replace the aging PA in the ICC auditorium. The system there was old and, in my opinion, too small for the room, so I knew HALO would be a contender. We heard several different systems that were excellent and would have suited the space, but I just kept coming back to the openness and clarity of the HALO.

We do a lot of speech and simple stuff, but occasionally need the power for playback, or live music, often in the same show, and the EM system delivers both delicacy at low volume and effortless power without sounding strained or changing in tonal character.

What can you tell us about the significance of these two orders?

Ed Kinsella: The combined orders for the ICC install and Blitz’s rental stock represent not only a significant sale, but an excellent early endorsement of the new flagship HALO-A and HALO-B systems. The purchase is comprehensive, including subwoofers, a generous selection of our signature passive point-source loudspeakers, stage monitors and a lot of amplifiers – both as individual units and our flagship DQRack touring solution. It represents a big statement for EM Acoustics in the UK rental market to have a company making an investment of this size in these systems.

AR: Both are huge for Blitz. We now have a seriously powerful line array that can cover any room or outdoor show with ease. We also have in the HALO-B, a medium format line array that gives us another option for our clients in any size venue. For our rental stock, I wanted to be able to do pretty much any of our large shows entirely with EM, but also have the ability to split it into a bunch of smaller systems as needed. If we just had a small amount of the system we would not be able to utilise it effectively. Although saying that, I already need more. Mike and Ed may have to work some overtime… The ICC contract represents a couple of firsts for EM Acoustics.

How significant is this contract in establishing the brand as a force in the UK?

MW: Yes, this is the first install of both HALO-A and HALO-B in the UK – and it’s a significant vote of confidence for EM in the corporate market in the UK. EM Acoustics has always had a very strong reputation within theatre; the ICC install and Blitz’s rental purchase puts us front-and-centre in the corporate market sector.

Does EM Acoustics’ relationship with Blitz represent the first step in a sustained bid to compete with the dominant PA brands?

MW: Yes. EM Acoustics has been competing with the other players in the theatre industry for many years with great success, but we recognise there is a much wider industry out there and we are, with an expanded product line, naturally spreading into different market sectors. This is the first step on a path that looks to be very interesting for us.

Can you tell us about any rental projects you have in the pipeline?

MW: We are in conversation with a number of rental companies, though of course we can’t go into detail at this stage. The fact Blitz has moved forward with such a significant step forward with EM Acoustics further solidifies the brand and confidence in the exceptional new products – and that’s a great foundation to build on. Watch this space over the coming months.

AR: We do a huge range of projects, from AGMs and conferences to bands and theatre. We are also seeing more and more live acts and performances as part of all types of shows. I am looking forward to seeing how our clients, visiting engineers and productions enjoy using our new systems.

What next for EM Acoustics?

EK: We have now completed an intensive product review and update period – the PLASA London show in September will see the unveiling of the updated product range, and there are further significant, groundbreaking elements that will be added over the latter part of this year. Everything is gearing up for a very exciting 2020, with a complete and coherent product line to offer to the widest possible market.