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Vicoustic’s César Carapinha on the future of the recording studio

Responsible for the first 3-in-1 acoustic panel, standalone bass-trap and portable modular wall, Portugal's Vicoustic is a research-driven global success story. Continued from part one

Vicoustic has both consumer and pro operations – the products are, interestingly, exactly the same, and Carapinha says the consumer division “just happened”; a reflection of his dedication to “inexpensive, good-looking acoustic solutions” – with the consumer side focussing on home cinema, listening rooms and home studios. (Read part one of PSNEurope‘s visit to Vicoustichere.)He comments that the balance of its business is increasingly tipping away from the previously more important professional recording studio market: “This is what’s going to happen: the average recording studio, as it was before, it will disappear, and only the top ones will remain. Ones that have a large volume, so they can put [record] a lot of people – something that you cannot record in your own house – they will stay.”

Custom products and installations for corporate clients are also an important source of Vicoustic’s revenue: for example, the company partnered with Microsoft last year to develop an acoustic solution for its Seattle, US, R&D lab, where the technology giant was testing the Xbox One’s Kinetic voice-recognition technology. “I don’t have any problem licensing a product […] if someone wants a specific thing, we’ll do it for them,” Carapinha says. “We already did [something] for Nato: an acoustic panel to put inside shelters…” Bomb shelters? “That one I cannot reveal! It was an interesting product.”

He continues: “The product we developed for Microsoft is in our catalogue, but for some clients [like Nato], we don’t mind doing something exclusive.”

Carapinha ends our conversation with “a really nice story” about one of his favourite installations. “There was a guy with a restaurant, [and] he was very unhappy because people never went there a second time,” he explains. “The restaurant was so noisy – there’s a snowball effect: when a bunch of people are in a room that’s very reverberant, they start to talk louder, then your neighbour starts to talk louder [and] it gets so noisy that people won’t go there again.

“And he was almost about to close the business. All the typical solutions would make him have to close the business for a few days while they build a second ceiling […] that’s what a normal builder would do. He didn’t want to do that – to close a business that was already not good.

“So, we proposed a solution that [meant] he just needed to let us go in during the night. We glued some panels onto the ceiling and the next day it was sorted. The guy was so happy, he told us: ‘Can I be your reseller? Because I think I’m going to close the restaurant and start selling your products – this is amazing!’ I will never forget that story.”