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MidiWare and whereabouts: On the road with the Italian Genelec distributor

In the first of two instalments, Dave Robinson talks to Francesco Borsotti and his team about problems and solutions in the world of monitoring

“We are very proud because Genelec is a big brand. They are much bigger than us.”

MidiWare’s Francesco Borsotti is a straight-talking man. And he’s obviously pleased with his company’s recent distribution deal with Finland’s finest.

“One of the strong points of Genelec is they don’t break, they are so reliable… so we have to find a way to sell customers something new!” he laughs.

MidiWare, based on the north-west outskirts of Rome, will celebrate 30 years in business next May. The company began as the very first Italian distributor of sequencing software such as C-Lab (remember that?), Opcode (ditto!) and Steinberg. Previously, Borsotti had worked as a musician, session player and Yamaha DX7 programmer of some repute.

“When programmes like Cubase developed audio functions, we started looking around for some audio lines to add to our portfolio – and we started distributing microphones and speakers, like Earthworks and KRK,” explains Borsotti “We added more and more, and now we represent lines including SSL and Microtech Gefell, and in the MI division we do Moog, RME, Arturia, Novation and many others.”

Genelec is the latest, and a highly significant, addition to the Midiware portfolio. When Gibson took back the distribution of KRK monitors over 18 months ago, Borsotti’s company had a hole to fill. Genelec was a perfect fit.

PSNEurope has spent much of the last day-and-a-half with MidiWare’s managing director Borsotti, Gino De Dominicis of the new MidiWare Pro Division, team member Fausto Demetrio (pictured), and Genelec’s international marketing director Lars-Olof Janflod. In that time, there have been visits to leading Rome studio Forward (think AIR or Angel as a comparison), along with producer/mixer Fabrizio ‘Simoncia’ Simoncioni’s Garage Studio and bass player/producer Ronny Aglietti’s RonnyStudio (pictured right), both near Arezzo in Tuscany. While the second and third facilities were designed by the young and talented Donato Masci of Studio Sound Service, the common link between all three studios is the monitor brand.

Now Janflod, De Dominicis and PSNEurope are on the road again, with Borsotti at the wheel, navigating the notorious autostrade traffic. Time to reflect on what’s been seen, the Italian studio scene in general and the requirements of Genelec customers.

PSNEurope (PSN): Is there is a big expectation from Italian customers with a brand such as Genelec?
Francesco Borsotti (FB): It’s been pretty easy to take on Genelec. The new generation of monitors are great and it’s a good reason to take them to old customers and show them how great the new generation is: the Auto Calibration, the SAM (Smart Active Monitoring) applications and so on.

PSN: It’s strange – you want them to be the brand you can trust, but you don’t want them to last forever!
FB: That’s why I was so pleased about the new products coming through because we can say, it’s
time to change. We have a plan to push SAM, with the 83XX series – that’s 8351, 8320 and 8330 at the moment. but also new amplifiers. It’s a totally new system but with much better performance,
including the AutoCal.

PSN: At the famous Forward Studios, Gino, you demonstrated, for the first time, the AutoCal system with the 8351As in an unfinished pre-production room to three inhouse engineers. Did they like what they saw and heard?
Gino De Dominicis (GD): They were very happy with it, and what we did with the room. I know the [untidy] ‘signature’ of the man who will work there. I know my chickens, as we say in Italy!
FB: The first time [the Forward engineers] saw auto-calibration, they were very sceptical. Very sceptical. And yesterday, they were very happy.
GD: Few people know about the basics of acoustics. They expect from AutoCal a sort of miracle that can fix all the problems – and also their problems. So, you have to explain how sounds travel into the room. And then, you show the AutoCal. And once they understand the basics, they get it. I’m very focused on explaining this stuff. You can’t expect a miracle because a room must be treated, BUT you can have help by using this system.
(Pictured, above right, is De Dominicis demoing AutoCal to the editor.)

PSN: It’s all about getting a better sound in limited circumstances?
FB: It can’t be perfect. You’re not gonna solve your problems, just because it says ‘Genelec’. But, it is
going to help a lot. The top professional guys, they know that monitors are tools for mixing – and the tools must be precise. And with Genelec, you know that the tool is going to be precise as it can be. That’s what we try to explain. One thing that Simoncia at the Garage told us, is that he could also mix with other monitors, but it was easier to get the perfect mix [with the Genelecs] because he doesn’t have to use a lot of energy understanding [how the room works].

PSN: Educating the marketplace is key for MidiWare then?
GD: Fausto and I travel around the country, including to the audio schools to introduce our solutions and show pupils the best way.
FB: We need people to know about what they are using… so they can make their own informed decisions. For the last seven years, MidiWare has been involved in three different projects, sponsored by the European Community, about music education and interaction between teachers and schools. We hope to confirm a fourth project soon.
GD: It’s about solutions, not just gear.

Building for the future
PSN: How can big studios such as Forward (pictured) still survive today in Italy?
FB: Massimo [Scaparo, the studio owner] says he tries to strike a balance between quality and price.
GD: We have smaller studios than that one, which still work, because clients like the atmosphere there.
FB: But most of the big facilities have closed down.

PSN: So where are you finding Genelec speakers are being used?
FB: What we’ve seen in 30 years of technology is kids using our technology and growing their bedroom studios, and getting better. And now they are building their personal studios, and that’s where we can really do a good job: giving them solutions, and offering professional sound. If they are investing between 30 and 50 thousand euros you get real results – and we are there to help. Integrating the digital environment with the analogue: it’s a perfect combination, getting the best out of two worlds. And Genelec is going in the same direction: the best results from an analogue speaker but with digital technology.